Series Recap: Black Bullet

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Oh boy.

If there was an award comparable to AOTS about how a series the public initially latched onto as being pretty damn enjoyable ended up crashing and burning in the most spectacular way, Black Bullet would win that award.

Many series “slip”. That slow decay from a promising pilot to a mediocre ride that you could ultimately take or leave. We could argue Akuma no Riddle was like this, hitting hard at the beginning but by the end leaving many of us scratching our heads going “meh”.

Black Bullet was not like that at all. It was a sharp drop off a cliff into the Jersey River.   In this sense the phenomena is far more interesting than the series itself.

As I mentioned in my season awards, Black Bullet surpassed Akuma no Riddle for hits on my blog a couple weeks at the beginning of the season. And the latter show, as a matter of comparison, by week 8 constituted half my traffic.

Of course, Blade and Soul drew fewer hits than people looking for Strike the Blood hentai so we’ll take these numbers as purely anecdotal.

Black Bullet died suddenly. So quickly in fact that, unless you just hated it right off the bat, you didn’t even see it coming.

I expect to take heat for this one. Bring it on, my adoring public. I’m ready. Let’s start, though, with most people’s biggest hangup about the series.

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The Nymphet

In case you’ve missed my saying it (the dozen times it’s come up this season) I don’t personally give two shits about the lolicon stuff in this series.

Addendum: It doesn’t bother me -any more- than it would if these girls were above age. I am just as facepalmingly annoyed at Tina’s antics as I am Miyori’s.

I view it in much the same way I see those rape ads that say “She’s someone’s daughter.”  The admission that you don’t give a shit unless it is framed to affect you personally.  The presence or absence of contextual fanservice does not change the fact it is fanservice.  This is very much the same opinion I had of the Ragyo/Satsuki incest in KILL la KILL.  Implicit in those rape ads is the message, “Well, if no one actually cares about her, where’s the harm?”

To me, all I can hear when anyone harps on the loli antics here while praising generic fanservice in a show like Brynhildr is this: “Fuck this show, why can’t it make fanservice to arouse MEEEEE?” (or, again, dismissing the fanservice in KILL la KILL but calling the Ragyo stuff a “step too far”).

So, no, I do not care that imaginary little girls are flirting with imaginary men ten imaginary years older than themselves. It just doesn’t convince me that it is somehow worse, sorry. Maybe that makes me an awful person.

But I’ve never argued otherwise if the pegging jokes weren’t a dead give away.

Because, quite frankly, from the speculative perspective the “loli disease” makes a lot of sense.

Consider: we have never had confirmation that Gastrea have genders. And this disease clearly does not affect every newborn, as evidenced by the schools.

So, from that angle, it seems entirely likely that the Gastrea virus must affect the fetus before a certain stage of development, or it doesn’t take. Again, this is presuming there is enough anti-Gastrea work to legitimize the existence of 700,000 COs to handle Gastrea. In such a world where Civil Officers get daily work, it seems likely to be exposed to Gastrea virus in such a manner over the course of nine months.

And, each fetus starts female.  “Male” is, and I choose my words because this is the only legitimate time I can get away with it, an aberration of the Human blueprint. As this is how the Gastrea themselves reproduce, by infecting other living things, their genetic structure probably doesn’t send the signals to the brain to choose a sex chromosome.  So in this context, the “loli disease” does make a lot more sense than some shit does (as I’ve mentioned, way more sense than aliens with enough science to appear as magic harvesting the tears of little girls).

Sure. We can still say “Oh but it’s clearly there for one reason.”  Well, yeah. It’s speculative fiction. You need to come up with SOMETHING to justify your “what if”.  “The Force” only exists because George Lucas wanted magical powers in his universe without it requiring witchcraft.  Humanoid aliens only exist because the creators wanted to save money in the make up department (well okay not always).  Jaws exists because if Jaws acted like a normal shark and went about his fucking business, there wouldn’t be an adventure, just some jackass hunting an innocent shark. Amazons only exist because we like warrior women but they are safely female and therefore not a real threat to OUR society. We get to masturbate to it while STILL telling our daughters they can’t ever be that way.

So, what, you want to keep going with this?

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What bothers ME about the lolis is two fold: How immaculate they are and how Humanity reacts to them. There is one example of a “bad loli”, and that is Kohina. The rest are just the sweetest things you will ever meet and would never hurt a fly, they are so filled with optimism despite the shit hand they were dealt and won’t you feel bad when they all end up in the refrigerator?

Humanity’s blanket reaction to this is insane. Because it operates on a twisted hypocritical premise.   Humanity rejects these children as being Gastrea, to the point where mothers gleefully abandon their maternal instincts and EVERY. SINGLE ONE. ends up on the streets before the age of five. It is such a blind, paranoid hatred that makes David Duke watch this series and say, “Wait, you want to try justifying your hate just a little bit?”

Which is the joke, here.  Because the show is banking on you, the viewer, being so outraged at this behavior because of how sympathetic these girls are.  The show rides a premise to exploit Human compassion by displaying a world where, for no reason, that compassion is ENTIRELY absent.

It is in THAT sense where you can draw the pedophilia card. Not the moaning and oral sex jokes. But in the hate crimes against the lolis. That’s a fair argument. “The whole world doesn’t understand how much Rentaro, how much WE, know these girls are wonderful! And that’s why I had to touch her! Sing it, Jesus!”

People can still be victims and do terrible things. It’s totally cool, show. More girls like Kohina would have been wonderful for this show (besides being totally adorable). The only two lolis we see doing dark deeds besides her, Tina and Kayo, did so because their handlers were ordering them to commit criminal acts (I’m not counting the shoplifter as doing something “morally repugnant”).  The rest are news reports, and we’ve seen how the Tendo family uses news reports to falsify claims, so I don’t even believe that the murder of the opposition movement leader WAS committed by a loli. And whenever someone is attacked? The public automatically assumes it is the lolis.

Say what you will about our prejudices in the West, but they ARE self-fulfilling. Upper class white people presume people of color to be criminal because they get arrested more.  Now that itself is tainted data, also driven by a kind of racism in the profiling.  “We arrest more black people because arrest records will show that black people commit more crime!” It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, naturally.  BUT! Many of those arrests ARE for criminal acts, and while the application of “justice” is one-sided, it is easy to see how the ATTITUDE develops when one does not try to assess the data with a more discerning eye.

What events in THIS world lead all these people to just ASSUME all violent acts are the work of lolis? Someone has to do SOMETHING wrong for this cycle to continue.  Typically we would assume that there was a tendency for some of the lolis with perhaps the more aggressive animal types to engage in reckless, violent behavior.  But not in the world of Black Bullet! Here, there are no bad lolis, just bad ideas.

This is my problem with them. Not that they existed, but how utterly lazy they were.

The situation was, probably unintentionally, better illustrated in our next point.

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50 Shades of Kagetane

To paraphrase our good friend Moecharacter, it’s hard to discuss Kagetane because you might end up accidentally praising Black Bullet while you do.

First off, the only thing that bugs me about the Kagetane rebirth was that they never actually told us how he survived.  That’s all.

Motivation-wise, it makes total sense.  Or at least, it does not break character from what we know of him. Tendo’s answer to Rentaro about why he tried to summon the Stage 5 was that he was opposed to the Lolita Human Rights Movement.  This is a motivation that Kagetane clearly does not share, so whatever reasons he had to go along with it are his own. And arguably far more complex in that he was clearly willing to work with people opposed to his views to achieve his own ends.

His banter was fantastic, and he played this dark mirror to Rentaro in the early series. You know, back before the harem bullshit tore the series apart. Rentaro felt very much like Enju’s dad than her older brother (I mean in the nii-san context the series adopted), and Kagetane being Kohina’s father is a clear example, I think, of intended tone. It gets even worse (better?) when the cartoonier second half atmosphere takes over, as Kagetane is the ONLY parent we know of who sticks by his Cursed Daughter. Only two men truly care about lolis in this world, Rentaro and Kagetane.

It’s very clear how, despite his better interests, Kagetane took a shine to his little “Satomi-kun”. And we did get the sense in Episode 11 that Rentaro understood it the same way. But for the grace of God, here lay the other man.

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And I think that grace is best shown in the cave, when Kohina inquires about Enju, supposing if she isn’t with Rentaro she must be dead.  But Rentaro says no, she’s alive and well.  This excites Kohina into a fit of “I want to see her again! I want to cut her! I want to see her! I want to cut her!” like a little chant.

And Kagetane stares at her from behind his smiling mask.

It is so brief, and a masterfully composed shot. In it is so much room for speculation as he lets it go. And we frequently see him holding Kohina’s leash in public.

My thoughts? It was a look of sadness. As much as Kagetane may profess to hate civilization and its broken morality, I think his hermitage is just as much a product that his daughter is unstable and he keeps them isolated because he loves her, and cannot bring himself to end her. He certainly does loathe society, as when Rentaro takes command of the army, saying “This is the world you fought for, Rentaro. Now you have to deal with it,” regarding the wounded…um…Cat Ears. Damn you, Moecharacter!

But, in that sense, it makes sense. Why keep her leash on at all? Why not let her carve people up? I believe it is because while Kagetane may be something of a cynic, he still believes, somewhere, in the good of Humanity. That he can’t let her harm an innocent. That there are people like Rentaro out there who might just brighten his sour disposition towards Humanity, and it would break his heart to see Kohina tear one down.

Ah, fuck, even the villain’s in love with Rentaro.

But even that I wouldn’t hold against it, because at least, AT LEAST in Kagetane’s case, it would stem from deep-seated character values and not just because Rentaro is the only person to pay him attention.

Not that this show will ever be blatant about that sort of thing. Because gays are gross. Can’t corrupt our pure world, now.

In short, Kagetane was the hint of genius hidden inside Black Bullet. He added a much needed dimension to this otherwise one dimensional world.

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Realistic Children

It’s a common trap in creative writing to cock up your child characters.  Consider The Last Airbender franchise, a series which does a very good job of presenting children who are not flanderized to the point of acting like kindergartners, nor are they tiny adults who lack a child’s impulse control.

…In cartoon form. One need only look at the live-action adaptation to see that latter flaw in spades.

Enju was an excellent example of how child characters should be handled. She had an adult responsibility as an Initiator, as when she confronts the infected man in the pilot, and yet she was prone to getting carried away. Like surmising her Tenju Girls bracelet held a kind of mystic power because…because it was Tenju Girls! Only the greatest TV show EVAR!!!!!

Another bonus was how she had the responsibility of the Initiator as being the story’s “Muscle”, the burly fighter that takes care of business.  This made the show feel like it was about the PAIR, rather than being about Rentaro as the later series would feel, even when we brought the Gastrea back.

I’d even argue that, while her trying to hump Rentaro may have been a little on the heavy-handed side, she IS like ten. Lots of kids start masturbating before then. It’s a perfectly natural function and there’s nothing wrong with me for starting earlier than that!

…What was my point again?

Going darker (and wouldn’t THIS fit in with Black Bullet’s attempts to draw out your loli rage?), we should consider the possibility of child prostitution in the loli slums exposing her to this stuff early. I’m not saying Enju WAS or anything, just it seems likely that kind of shit MIGHT have been going on, that’s all. Kids gotta eat.

I also liked Enju’s interactions with Rentaro. They were very parent-child in a way, what with Rentaro being her legal guardian that’s just natural.  When they are in the market and witness the loli getting dragged away by police, Enju looks to Rentaro with puppy dog eyes.  She isn’t looking at Rentaro as a harem love interest who believes in the power of his dick. She’s pleading with him as her DAD.  Her dad is the strongest guy in the world, would protect her from anything, and this is one of the times she’s being exposed to the truth of the world.  It wasn’t the desperate plea like Kisara would pull because Rentaro’s dick is that big.  Even on rewatching, even with hindsight about how the harem stuff would play out later, I STILL see this exchange in the marketplace as different.  It buoyed up the early series by having Enju be a wonderfully written child character.

Sadly for Enju, after Episode 5 she would be ignored.  She mostly shows up after this point as the Robin whenever something needs a killing, or to be put in a figurative refrigerator to show how serious a situation is when Rentaro attacks it alone.  Her earlier responsibility as The Muscle, being more effective at killing Gastrea than Rentaro as in the pilot or in Episode 3 was thrown out the window.

Oh, she also existed to come and grope the older women. That’s a very important duty. We couldn’t let Rentaro handle that, as he CARED TOO MUCH about women’s feelings!

Poor Enju. She was like the Asao of this series. She might as well have NOT been in the final 2/3 of the show.

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Me. Meeeeee. MEEEEEEEE!

Oh, Raishin Rentaro.  You’ll notice I’ve used that same strikethrough joke a lot this season.  This isn’t me beating a dead horse. I’m actually just leaving it in each time I mistype his name. It has happened that much.

And can you really blame me?  Few characters made me use the word “fuck” and “douchebag” as much as Raishin Akabane. Feelings which get stirred up again watching Black Bullet.

I quite enjoyed Rentaro’s character in the early series (had to stop myself from mistyping that time).  He wasn’t “the hero”.  I don’t mean that as protagonist, I mean as….as “the Goku”, the one we’re all stalling for time for until he arrives to save us.

Well lo and behold, that’s exactly what he became. More powerful than his Initiator.  Why did we abandon the New Humanity Project again? It seems to have worked out pretty damn well. Is this like Space Obama’s stimulus plan to employ all the unemployed lolis by making them part of Civil Officer teams?

I have gripes with the Civil Officer system itself which I’ll tackle next, but in regards to how it affected Rentaro specifically, the show lost its edge when Enju became a completely optional factor.  Rentaro takes on so few enemies with Enju, we have to question why the pairing system even exists.  Tina? Enju in a temporary refrigerator and he deals with her alone. Pleiades? He and Kagetane donkey punched it, Kohina was optional. The final battle? Enju sat it out, basically. Rentaro has to save the day again!

Hey, remember how, in the introduction, shall I rephrase that as, when the series is trying to set the TONE for the coming 12 episodes, when Rentaro shot a giant spider and barely held it off until Enju arrived to splatter it into pieces? Do you remember those heady days when the world didn’t depend on Rentaro saving the day?

Do you remember when Rentaro demanded answers from Seitenshi and she basically told him she didn’t need to answer anything until he became a big shot? Remember the very next episode when she was ready to fall on her knees and suck his dick for being so special? I do. I remember because I had to punch a kitten in the face repeatedly until the Angel Michael came down to tell me to stop, it wouldn’t make God answer my prayers any faster.

Obviously judging by the rest of the series, I never found out exactly what I DID have to punch to make it better.

All of this coincides with the harem elements creeping into the series. The Kagetane arc had the women treating Rentaro…pretty normally, actually.  They might have liked him, but he was just a sweet guy who did his job mostly-competently who needed a break now and then.  Seitenshi was involved in the upper echelons of power, so to her, Rentaro was a nobody. Kisara never forgot she was Rentaro’s superior.  And Muroto basically patronized him in a bit of a cruel but playful way, as someone much more intelligent might deal with people she considers “normal”.

This made the times when they made little smiles at him, maybe paid him attention, more believable and not as grating. I mostly speak of Kisara here. Seitenshi seemed so aloof that there was no way she’d be into Rentaro.

Well, Episode 5 showed us how much that was a lie.

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And Rentaro wasn’t even special. Like any harem lead.  But, look at Kojo in Strike the Blood. When he and Himeragi went to fight Yuuma and try to save her, it causes Yuuma to fall in love with Kojo all the more because it’s a harem and characters have to act irrationally. But! Himeragi WAS there (and in fact, did ALL the work).  She cared just as much as anyone. Because Human beings tend to be rather empathetic, at least SOME of the time. The point is, that while the girls in the harem treated Kojo super special, the feeling was that of an ensemble of heroes.

Rentaro only looks good because this world is absolutely strawman. It is SO cold and ruthless (yet somehow remaining completely non-threatening) that it is the land of the blind. Rentaro has normal Human compassion and this just fucking ASTOUNDS everyone.  Which is probably why I keep accidentally typing his name as Raishin. At least make him unreasonably compassionate!

He doesn’t trust women, either. Might I add that? In the “negotiations” (about…whatever) with Sogen, HE is the one barking at the dictator, so totally certain that the little flower of Seitenshi is incapable of dealing with him, when, you know, SHE IS THE HEAD OF STATE.

I’m not saying the show would have done a good job of portraying Seitenshi in that discussion if they had let her get a word in edgewise, but maybe she had a strategy. Maybe she doesn’t want to puff her chest.  Maybe she wants to speak softly and carry a big stick. You don’t know. And I KNOW you don’t know because Raishin Rentaro didn’t give her a chance to open her fucking mouth and treat her with the respect as due the head of state. The Secret Service does not “Yo Obama, I’mma let you finish…”, they let the politicians do the politicking.

This scene was only made worse by the fact that they were jerking each other off in her limo about how awesome they were by simply not agreeing with everything Sogen said.

“Oh that’s just one scene, Doll.” Oh-ho-ho. How about when Kisara says she’s going to protect Raishin, and he says “No fuck you.”  But when Kagetane tags along with him? He voices some protests as they were enemies once, but he just kind of goes along with it. Even inviting him to donkey punch Pleiades.

How about when he locks Kisara out of a business meeting with Miyori? You know…his boss? The one who actually might need to hear this?

How about when he demands Seitenshi cancel the summit with Sogen because he suspects he’s the one after her life? A suspicion that was wrong, I remind you. So we can’t even use the “but he’s right” defense for this one. He’s just SO SURE. And when she tells him she needs proof before causing a diplomatic incident, he comes off as “That’s adorable, but this is grown-up time and I’m the man.”

But this is all okay! Don’t you remember? Muroto told us: Rentaro CARES too much. He just…he just cares, ladies. He cares TOO MUCH about your feelings.

Shinya? We need you again.

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Thank you.

Not made any better by the fact Muroto followed this up with “Have you ever tried rape? It’s awesome.”

Let’s not forget the time Rentaro got promoted, and shot a man’s finger off, simply because he didn’t like him and now Rentaro outranked him. This is our hero, ladies and gentlemen. I can tell the man is, at heart, a healer.

Fuck this shit, let’s talk about something interesting again.

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I Wanna Be OP

Time for something shocking. Ready?

I liked the first OP to Black Bullet way better than the successors.

Yes, the one clearly made in Windows Movie Maker.

The reason is very simple: Tone.

In this, as it demarcated the Kagetane arc, it serves as a very visible representation of the flaws following that arc in the greater series.

I love the atmosphere here. It’s dark, it emphasizes the Gastrea, and the whole world feels HEAVY. There’s an adventure here! A real threat!

But I think I can sum this up in a side by side.

So, if for whatever reason you have the OP in front of you (the TV size now), about 1:00 in we get that creepy moment. Where there’s the eery chanting for that brief glimpse between verses? Let’s screenshot the same moment.

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Fuck you, OP.

I can’t put into words any better than this shot comparison frames the difference in tone. One instills the feeling of dread, the other tries to be hope, yet, the rest of the intro is not dark enough to make this moment stand out against the overall tapestry they’re trying to paint.

Or how about how it presents the characters.  Against the backdrop of fire, destruction and monsters, Enju’s presented with a very “Naturo-esque” face, all optimistic and full of the confidence of youth.  Rentaro? Look at that picture above. He’s just a hardened badass.

Also summed up in this.

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It’s telling us a story, despite the clear technical (and time) limitations.

The second tells a story, too. Absolutely.  So much of it is lolis jumping and cheering, of how we love the camaraderie between civil officers, of that wacky Rentaro, he’s so silly getting yelled at by women. Shucks, doesn’t it just make you want to beat a kitten in the face?

Yes, this entire section has been INCREDIBLY self indulgent. But, damnit, this is a completely irrational sticking point for me. I think because it demonstrates so well the difference between, as I’ve come to call them, “the two Black Bullets“.

It’s the difference between heavy action and fun action.  Between Hellsing and KILL la KILL. Much like Sesshoumaru abaondons his sword for not saving HIS loli, Black Bullet, I let you die for this thing.

Okay, I’ll stop beating this point into the ground. Let’s get back to something substantive.

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Light Switch Apocalypse

Black Bullet seemed to waver between if it wanted the Gastrea threat to be holding Humanity at the brink of civilization, or just a minor inconvenience as the world rebuilds from world war 3.

Either one works. The zombie apocalypse is not fresh territory, no matter the form it takes. In that Black Bullet held a certain charm, combining zombies with kaiju in a concept that…it’s just so Japan it’s endearing.

But zombie stories always have different emphases. I Am Legend (the novel, now) is about how the last man handles it, and indeed how society endures. The Walking Dead is about how those small pockets of Humanity who manage to survive endure the hordes of zombies (even when, from any scientific angle as presented, the zombies should have rotted away to nothing months ago).  The Resident Evil series is about the virus itself.

Black Bullet seemed to be going for something close to many of those “brink of Humanity” stories, like Battlestar Galactica or perhaps the Matrix, or even the Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. The safe zone exists, and everything else is now off-limits to mankind.  While we knew they could at least communicate with the outside world, the degree was unknown, and judging by the fact the Civil Officers were wetting their pants at the idea of leaving the barrier, it seemed safe to say this was Humanity at the brink.

But then comes Episode 5, and not only does it seem to be completely safe to leave safe zones, but the Gastrea don’t even show up. So safe is travel between safe zones that the heads of state can freely just visit for friendly chats. The hell? When did this happen?

Perhaps this is pace. We know Black Bullet was being squeezed out really, really fast, some four chapters per episode or maybe even more. While the time may have come in the print edition to explore what the world is like with Humanity’s politics, for the series it was too soon. It gutted the menace of this world. I went into all these at length when it came up, but the final arc was little better. Because it was too late.

If the president of the Osaka zone is okay riding in his plane through the countryside without fear of Gastrea attack, if Tina can manage to the Tokyo zone from Sapporo, where is the danger? Where is the dread? If Tendo can just up and decide he wants to go to China, what am I supposed to be feeling about the threat of the Gastrea?  Even the barriers aren’t perfect. Stray Gastrea enter the safe zones enough to keep 700,000 people employed worldwide.  One would think that even just the areas SURROUNDING the cities would have lighter concentrations of Gastrea due to the fields.  After all they aren’t magic, they disrupt Gastrea biological functions.  So what does this say about the open wilderness, if Gastrea will STILL wander into the barriers, even if only in small numbers?

Oh wait…yes. Yes they are magic, as demonstrated in the final arc. They all pile up outside the barrier, waiting for it to collapse. Once it does? BOOM! Time to rush the enemy base! Yeah! Wooo!

When you start treating your menacing zombie apocalypse with cartoony science, it is impossible to take it seriously anymore. Tokyo just puts up a giant erection and calls “base”? Please.

This isn’t even counting all the little things that were meant to wring to drama, but were completely inconsistent with the series. Like when Enju attacks Tina, Rentaro calls her on the phone to get her away from the rank 93 murder loli. Only because, not answering her phone is dramatic and suspenseful! Only for the very next arc, for the entire military to be equipped with earpieces as two way radios.  And so on and so on.

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Is this Anime or a World of Warcraft Patch?

At episode 13, Black Bullet seemed to realize it was made of shit. Just to mix things up, Episode 13 was actually a good episode. You know, a change of pace from the usual is good for your legs.

Except…except…they just went too overboard.

It was like they crammed the absurdity meter to 11 and forgot to go back and scale it back to something believable.

And it starts RIGHT at the begining.  The jerk who hates Rentaro for his dashing good looks and superior penis dooms Tokyo to die by dumping the floodlights meant to light up the battlefield. This crisis is immediately resolved, naturally, by Seitenshi having every citizen light a lantern to send to the sky, which conveniently lights up the battlefield. Somehow.

Which, I admit, I can overlook because of the poetry involved.

And when Kisara confronts her brother? He just laughs, “A true villain never dies!”

Hey, dipshits, ever hear the phrase “Every man is the hero of his own story”?  While some, like Kagetane, can call themselves villains because they at least recognize they are going against the moral grain, self-indulgent jackasses are not of this sophisticated caliber.

Nope, clearly not, as immediately after she kills this jackass, Kisara declares herself “Evil”.  No slow build up, no hook to see in season 2.  Just, outright “MWAHAHA!” from Kisara.

It would have been much more effective if Kisara recognized herself as committing a grim but necessary act. Keep it subdued so we, as the audience, think she can still be saved. Think it can still turn out for the best.  But no. Absolute black and white.

It was a shame because the seed was planted SO WELL! Kagetane merely tells Rentaro earlier, “that woman has a darkness inside her.”  What a magnificent way of foreshadowing and framing this scene. No need for exposition, no need for rambling monologues about our evil, just show us that Kisara can take things further than they need to be, and let us worry about the consequences.  But, as the Quantum Kagetane Principle states, as soon as Kagetane is off-screen, the show descended into its own shit again.

They even tried to revive the duality between Enju and Rentaro, but it was SO heavy-handed, it felt more like Rentaro was looking for the smallest excuse to throw himself into Enju’s lap, rather than a profound character epiphany.

So while I did kind of love Episode 13, it went WAY too far in its attempts at wringing out drama, even if it was actually of the character driven variety for once.

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Some Good Left

One thing I will absolutely praise Black Bullet for: Its fights were above average. On about Nobunagun-levels, so even when they were below the series standard, they were still about average quality.  The Kagetane and Aldeberan battles were exemplary. They were high energy, and made good use of their CGI. It wasn’t too obnoxious when applied, and they avoided applying it every single time, mostly reserving it for the kaiju fights with the Gastrea.  I’d go so far as to say that was pretty clever.

And um…uh…

I liked that the blonde loli was a lesbian?

Okay you got me, besides the above and Kagetane, I can’t think of a lot to praise the series as a whole over. It was pretty? There was that, but not above some odd proportion quirks.

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The Verdict

Watch the first arc. Absolutely watch it.

After that…make a value judgment about just how much crap you want to put up to get to more Kagetane.

There were some great ideas here. But a lack of will to apply internal logic to the universe, coupled with the transformation into a cliche harem series, turned what very well might have ended up AOTS into just another boring trainwreck of bad jokes and eye-rolling sexualization.

This is arguably one of the most frustrating types of shows: one that begins with promise and then phones it in. Between this and Akuma no Riddle, I am starting to believe that the STUDIOS adopt the Three Episode Rule.

On the whole, Black Bullet rates below average, only because the competent portion was half as long as the ridiculous portion. If there was more balance between the two? Or if the talent had been interspersed throughout the whole thing? I could rate it as an absolute win.

It’s not unwatchable. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’d like to see my (incomplete) ride with Black Bullet, you may do so here.

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2 thoughts on “Series Recap: Black Bullet

  1. Gonna be honest as a lolicon (i find this term dumb as i like basicaly all female body types in anime and would never even think of a real kid in a sexual way, that’s just nasty but since i have been aroused by lolis before according to the BS on the internet i am a lolicon -_-) this show did nothing for me even in the fanservice department maybe its because as you said Enju actually acts like a child, when the lolis start acting like real kids that’s when my brain goes “wait that’s an actual little girl not a 16 year old with a very petite body lady-boner off” and even then said fanservice was so shameless and blatant it was just UGH for me

  2. Very well written and thoughtful look at a horrid series. I agree with you that they phoned it in the last few episodes. Especially with that conclusion for Kisara. Absolutely black and white is right. It felt like a giant middle finger to the audience to me. It was the final sign that this series is something I never ever want to watch again.

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