Black Bullet: Episode 5

I’d use the phrase ‘backdoor pilot’ but only because it has the word ‘backdoor’ in it.

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Welcome to Black Bullet’s second pilot! Or something…Our heroes are training, and this is the first chance we have to see Kisara show off her skills. I don’t…I don’t entirely think the Isayama Yomi jokes are uncalled for at this point. In fact I’m pretty sure we even crossed the Asian demarcation for infringement.  Naturally, no training session would be complete without a panty joke.  Thankfully we don’t have to SEE the panties.  Black Bullet’s at least keeping its leash on.  Even more impressively, the fact Enju can block bullets with her varanium boots will come up later in the episode, even though, and this is a shocker, we didn’t actually draw the audience’s attention to it as a super important point. I know right? We can do the business of Chekov’s Gun AND make loli jokes, how crazy is this?

Some days I feel more jaded than others.

What’s important is that Kisara has a job for them. Rentaro has been requested to be Seitenshi’s body guard.  Specifically, there will be a visiting dignitary, Saitake Sogen, President of the Osaka zone.  Seitenshi suspects his visit is meant to coincide with the fact that Tendo is off visiting China.

Two things. First, it is a shocker to me that international travel is even POSSIBLE judging by how packed the outer-barrier was last episode for a region that was, supposedly, a place where varanium magnetic fields would be disruptive to Gastrea.  You mean to tell me it’s completely safe to fly from safe zone to safe zone over the vast expanses of wilderness? (and with fifty foot kaiju running around, I’d consider five miles to be ‘vast’, personally). This must either take a HUGE escort or perhaps the world isn’t as dangerous as we thought. I mean that was the whole reason I was easily able to swallow this city-state business: the idea that zones were relatively isolated from one another.  But apparently, as we’ll learn, not only is there a loose sense of a “Japanese Confederation” between the five safe zones, but frequent talks, trade, and travel to foreign NATIONS.  And the way they speak, yes, they mean present nations, not just the other four districts.  In short, the implications that the -head of state- is willing to put himself at jeopardy for, what basically amounts to a social visit, makes the world of Black Bullet far less apocalyptic and safely in the “post-apocalyptic” area. He apparently doesn’t assume the worst. You’d think proxy ambassadors would be the de-facto practice when getting noticed by a giant wasp gastrea will get your delegation eaten.

It’s almost like how Walking Dead ran out of time in its narrative ages ago, but we accept the fact that the dead-flesh zombies haven’t all rotted away in the Georgia heat.  Well this is the twisted evil twin of that.  Here the apocalypse seems much more dire on paper than how it’s being played out for us.

Second, this seems to mark a shift in Black Bullet’s tone.  It feels much more like…well…like Strike the Blood, really.  Vague political conflicts are developing rather than the much more focused threat that was Kagetane.  And we’ve just veered off those rails completely, it seems.

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Either way, Seitenshi wants Rentaro to be her bodyguard for these negotiations, though exactly WHAT they are negotiating isn’t clear.  In effect, it’s like the two leaders, on the phone before this gathering, said, “I’m rather unclear where we stand with each other.” and the other replied, “Oh, well why don’t you come visit and we can have a negotiation to find out how we feel about each other.”

Seitenshi even introduces her personal guard to Rentaro.  Naturally they are upset that an outsider is…no, wait. He’s actually rather nice.  Huh. Pulled a fast one on me, Black Bullet.

…For all of ten seconds.  The guards jump Rentaro and drag him to the bathroom, saying that Tendo wants the captain here to be next to Seitenshi’s ear.  He orders his underlings to break Rentaro’s limbs.  I was kind of expecting a hilarious scene where Rentaro just kind of lets them try to break the Varanium arm, then twists it back on them to break THEIR limbs, but instead he just pulls his gun.  Right. My way wasn’t badass enough.

Well if you remember the conversation he had with Tendo last episode, it’s no real surprise that finding out Tendo wants Rentaro to turn down the job assures our spunky hero that accepting could only be a good thing.

But first…saving lolis.  A girl is being harassed by some clearly-jackasses.  And yet she SCREAMS “I’m a fucking Cused Child” so loudly you have to wonder why they weren’t more terrified of harassing her.

She pokes Rentaro, and is pretty evasive with him.  She also pops enough caffeine to give a grown man cardiac arrest. But this doesn’t bug Rentaro in the least.

Her name is Tina, and the humor is a bit hit and miss.  Though my personal favorite gag is Rentaro throwing his hands up in frustration and giving her his phone number if she runs into trouble reporting to the police (if we are generous, we might say he’s figured out her nature, though that would be REALLY generous).  She instantly calls to his phone, and Rentaro’s “I am too old for this shit,” face as he answers his phone with “Moshi moshi?” is priceless.

Really, the Rentaro-face will be a recurring theme, and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

We find out Tina is an assassin, and we confirm our suspicions that she’s Cursed.  But she also seems to be very well supplied, suggesting that even though she is from outside-Tokyo, perhaps she is employed by someone close by, or there are collaborators in Seitenshi’s circle, hence why she might tap Rentaro as a possible aide.

Or the writers could be damn lazy and say “Sure, some random child walked from Sapporo to Tokyo carrying a small trailer’s worth of guns and explosives without being noticed.”

So we meet a new character, who happens to want in Rentaro’s pants, Miori.  She stumbles into Rentaro’s place and passes out. Enju asks who she is….at first this seems like natural exposition dialogue.  But then we remember…Enju’s been here for a year.  She doesn’t know this person yet even though she has a rather entangled business relationship with Rentaro’s work as a Civil Officer? It never came up?

Kisara also arrives, and Rentaro asks Enju to remove one of them.  His phrasing makes it sound like dumping the bodies into the river isn’t out of the question…and frankly that might be preferable.

A catfight breaks out, but the saving grace is that Rentaro and Enju move the dining table across the floor and into the kitchen so their food doesn’t get knocked over, all while wearing the “I have zero fucks to give” face.  Buddy, you and me, both.

So, Rentaro goes to protect Seitenshi…wait…Saitake Sogen? Shogen last arc, Sogen now…I’m sensing a theme here. Perhaps a childhood bully of our writer that he takes his revenge on twenty years later by making him the obvious jackass in his work…

Anyway, Rentaro describes him as a dictator. All of the heads of the other four areas are, really.  Except ours? Oh, well isn’t Tokyo SPECIAL!

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Here I was hoping for Seitenshi to come into her own….and she falls flat on her face. Rentaro and Saitake are just shoving her around this conversation.  It actually feels like Rentaro is more stately than…our head of state. Basically we learn that Saitake wants to use the Railgun Cannon thing to be deposited on the moon and use it to blow Gastrea up from orbit. His belief is that the nation which emerges from the Gastrea threat first will be the best equipped to lead the post-war world.

Implicit, of course, is that he might use the cannon on other nations.  And since he is a mustache-twirling villain, he doesn’t object.

But really it’s just a giant cannon. It would be no more (arguably less) effective on Human nations than nuclear weapons. Actually, considerably less.  Because at this point, Humanity is confined to the safe zones.  Nuclear war between nations would never occur, because one bomb would wipe out a safe zone utterly. What does one gain from that, really, in this world? The more safe zones the better at the current time.

But, let’s remember what he said: The first nation to recover.  It would be a super dick move to restrict the cannon’s use only to those areas who submit to Japanese authority.  “You don’t like us being in charge? Well that’s cool.  But maybe we sit and watch that Class 5 wreck your barrier?”

And it doesn’t make him a bad guy because he’s theorizing about the post-war world. If the U.S. and Britain had been more willing to do that, there might not have been a Cold War. Or maybe it would have just extended the current war, we’ll never really know. But just assuming the world will be rainbows after the Gastrea disappear is hopelessly naive, and quite frankly, Tokyo is a shit place right now. What happens when those assholes have NOTHING holding them back from slaughtering the Cursed Children wholesale? No sense of self-preservation, just fear and racism?  Even WITH self-preservation we see them have trouble acting like reasonable people.

In short, Black Bullet WANTS us to get involved in this political drama, but it has failed to really think about the consequences of the side it wants us to side with.

Good thing Rentaro is here, though, because now is when Tina takes her shot.  But it’s like hiding under the covers, the monsters can’t get you once you hide and know they are there.  So Seitenshi emerging from her car is base. So she doesn’t take more shots.

I have to say I’m not very impressed with the slower-paced Black Bullet.  The “hilarious” socializing worked, more or less, but if it becomes a recurring feature, I will bring the hammer down.  I am less than impressed with Seitenshi’s first outing, and Rentaro handles the position of political insider poorly, as well.  He was way more relatable as the guy trying to piece a life together after this shitty hand he was dealt, and trying to help others stay afloat in a system that could give two shits.  But now that he’s part of that system….it feels wrong. We’ve seen Mr. Smith goes to Washington, thank you. That angle is lost in favor of the same kind of dynamic we saw in Fullmetal Alchemist or…nngh…Galilei Donna. YOU CAN GUESS WHICH ONE IT FEELS MORE LIKE.

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