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. Continue reading

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Black Bullet: Episode 8

Bring it on, shitcan. I’m ready.

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What woman will throw herself at Rentaro’s pants this week? Whose smiles will be protected? Find out in this exciting installment!

We open on a soldier spotting a Gastrea at night, a defensive garrison on fire, and little bug Gastrea ripping him apart to blood splatter.

…Well, damn. Go on.

So Rentaro has been roped into being an elementary school teacher.

…Damnit.

Naturally, Seitenshi has nothing to do with her day except visit this school in rubble.  I saw episodes of Mr. Rogers’ trips to the Land of Make Believe that didn’t challenge my suspension of disbelief as much.

Okay okay, she’s ACTUALLY here to see Rentaro since an emergency has cropped up.  Which kind of brings into focus the inanity of having your top Promoter as a schoolmaster. Not ONE person wanted to do this besides Rentaro?

What? Go on. I dare you to say it. Say it. “But you can’t take a random person off the street, they wouldn’t be qualified…”

Yeah. See? Continue reading

Black Bullet: Episode 7

Until I can tame the frothing beast within…

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Well, TLDR, take everything I said last week about where Black Bullet was slipping, and magnify it.  If your gut reaction was “Wait, how did it get worse?” Worry, not, dear reader! We have you covered.

First, let’s recap the five problems I had.

1) Too much focus on Rentaro.

2) Absence of Enju.

3) Laughable villains

4) Awful pacing (admittedly, this existed in early Black Bullet)

5) Loss of the apocalyptic atmosphere.

Well right from the starting line, we’ve just about reached zen with issue 2.  Enju has been beaten into a coma by Tina.  Yep, Rentaro’s going to wear the big boy pants and save the world ALL BY HIMSELF! Aren’t you excited for his special day?

For the record, it is at this point that I am done. Lack of Enju was bad enough when she was in the background cracking sex jokes and then ignored.  Now we’ve just cut out the pretense.  I’ll get into this at the end.

After the credits, which are still queer, Rentaro and Kisara are watching over Enju in the hospital. Rentaro collapses from exhaustion.  Well, Black Bullet, you win this much: you’re equal opportunity by giving Rentaro a totally pointless shower scene.  He’s complaining about how Tina’s rank is far higher than his own, and how without Enju he’s doomed.

See how easy that was to say? Well it escaped the writers on Black Bullet, because this scene drags on for almost 2 mins.

Oh, the jerkass bodyguard arrives and says that now that Rentaro lost Enju, he doesn’t need to be Seitenshi’s bodyguard.  So while you might THINK the scene has changed, it’s really an extension of the last one.

We all know why this is happening, to set up low expectations so we cheer when Rentaro beats the bad guy.  There is no tension anymore.  Kagetane held our interest because Black Bullet could go in ANY direction! It was keeping its options open by not following any single formula.  Yeah that’s not the case here.  Continue reading

Black Bullet: Episode 6

…Nnggguh…

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Well, it’s over.  Officially over.  Everything was going so well, Black Bullet.  Sure, our first date kind of had problems, and we haven’t sat down for a nice slow evening yet.  But it was all so exciting and your flaws still held a certain charm to them, like boyish immaturity instead of frat boy immaturity.

But now your anniversary card just scratched out your ex’s name and sloppily wrote mine. You didn’t even try that hard, it got all scrunched up towards the leaf of the card. And you missed a letter.  It’s like you don’t even care anymore.  So neither do I.

My acting aside, We have just about crossed the line of no return.  Actually, yes. Yes we have. Only a stalwart protagonist with gutsy determination, poor grades, and excellent flying abilities could save us from Black Hole Bullet, but we aren’t lucky enough to be on THAT ship.

We have a new OP! I don’t like it.  I realize it is more “proper” than the other, but…it lacks that charm.  There was a certain something about the way the old one emphasized dark tones, disturbing imagery, and pace.  Now everything’s so….bright.  And fast.  Which I guess just means it reflects the show now!  Yeah I am not nearly as excited by this one.

Last week I uttered the words “Strike the Blood” when discussing the “new” Black Bullet.  And how.  The atmosphere is almost identical.  That is to say: Non-threatening.

And I come back to the OP. I don’t know why this bothers me so much.  But, even if the old one was clearly done in an hour on Windows Movie Maker, it emphasized the dread of this world, as the last story arc did.

Now, we have managed to make the apocalypse BORING.

So, getting into Black Bullet the Abridged Series, Rentaro is hanging out with Tina. Because sure. Why not. This would make way more sense if we had confirmation that Rentaro knew Tina was Cursed. But we don’t have that yet. Like many things, I’m assuming we skipped that chapter.

And we are naturally fed a scene where Rentaro has so shove balls in Tina’s mouth while she whimpers.  Yeah, I am on the record: Sexualization and lolis do not bother me.  But when even I am rolling my eyes, we have gone too far.

They bond some, but since we already know Tina is the assassin, we know what’s coming.  And Romeo and Juliet, you are not, Black Adder. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Double Feature: Black Bullet 3+4

Holes, more holes in your body, which is totally not a yaoi joke.

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Black Bullet is a pleasant surprise that is quickly becoming the series I look forward to most.  With a few caveats, but we’ll get into those at the very end.  Because while there’s a few logical hiccups so far, it’s a good action series that carries you along without much complaint.

Rentaro is venting to our cute doctor, but she’s just bored, calling his problems average. She says all this to get him motivated and understand he is Enju’s family.

Nice feel good, but did we miss a scene? Why is this necessary when he said he’d search every block for her?

Enju shows up at her school, trying to force her peers to accept her humanity….but you didn’t honestly expect that to work, did you?  Ordinary Humans seem to regard Cursed Children as full Gastrea, and as we’ll later learn, they are indeed in danger of turning if their “blood toxicity” rises above a certain threshold.  It does seem a -little- harsh that not one of them is sympathetic, though maybe the ones on the fence are staying out of it, letting the loud obnoxious ones block her way.

In some good news, the case has been found.  Enju just dives right in, and relentlessly beat the flying spider thing like a boxing champion fighting a fat kid.

But her bravado turns out to be compensation, and she’s on the verge of tears, lamenting that she killed it in order to protect those she considered her friends at school, and she breaks down. Continue reading

Black Bullet: Episode 2

Protect and serve.

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Our episode opens on Rentaro being summoned to the ministry of defense. It’s a big meeting.  Every civil officer in the city has been invited, only one is absent.  Rentaro gets in a scuffle with a big guy whose outfit screams “I’m an asshole”.  We’re shown how most Promoters don’t think of their Initiators as highly as Rentaro. Well luckily before Humans can start beating each other up, the bosses intervene.  Kisara reveals that of 700,000 civil officer pairs, the asshole is ranked around 1500.  She laments that Rentaro is somewhere in the 120,000s.  Damn, this really is Japan. “Top 20% WELL SHIT ON YOU!”  It’s not like this is pass/fail, either, it’s all jockeying for position, you can’t have everyone with the same score.  Nevermind Rentaro deduces this is only the best of the best, which means his skills are good enough for THAT.  Orrrrr maybe it’s the fact his adopted father is adviser to the monarch.

Oh look, that’s who’s summoned them.

She has a misson for them. A Gastrea is in possession of a case.  And the reward is enormous.  Kisara asks what’s in the case. Any idiot can see this is a job that even the normal police could handle. What’s so special about it?  Well state secrets and all.

Too bad the laughing man isn’t going to let them leave the meeting so easily. He crashes it in dramatic fashion. And really when you’re running around in that smiling mask, you have to make the most of your entrances.

Rentaro pulls a gun on him. “How are you, Satomi-kun?”  It’s a good exchange.  We are then treated to the sight of…a little blue haired Initiator. Hiruko Kohina.  She notes that Rentaro is pointing a gun at them and asks the laughing man if she can kill him.  He keeps her leash tight, though.  After all he likes Rentaro.

He announces that he and his daughter here will be entering the race.  He says he will claim “the Inheritance of Seven Stars”.  And he says, let’s make it a gamble. Let’s bet all of our lives on it!

Well the asshole Promoter doesn’t take kindly to this, but his massive varanium buster sword is deflected without even moving an arm.  The remainder of the officers are genre-savvy enough to not let him monologue about his plans or origins, and open fire with their guns, but he’s Matrix-ing them to full stop.  Rentaro asks if he’s human. Of course, he replies, just a lot of his body is made of varanium now.  He introduces himself as Hiruko Kagetane, a member of the old anti-Gastrea task force, which is apparently so top secret most of the officers here consider it a myth.

At a loud humming, Rentaro tackles Kisara to the ground as all the bullets held in suspension fire back at the officers, wounding many.  Continue reading

Black Bullet: Episode 1

If I were a cynic…

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Late adolescent hero and his loli companion, with female entourage comprising the staff of his company? Has all the warning lights right?  How could a show with these qualities possibly rise above pointless fanservice and obnoxious harem bullshit?

We open on the year 2021, the outskirts of Tokyo…

Science fiction is going to have an identity crisis in a few years when 2020 is no longer “the far off future”.

We’re in a sort of refugee camp, and the residents are watching fighter jets overhead.  One explodes and from the clouds emerges a giant red eyed bug.  The refugees panic, calling it a “Gastrea”.  And it’s definitely desperate, the military doesn’t even check its fire as the fighter jets fire down onto the Gastrea when its above the refugees, probably catching a few in the crossfire.

There’s a small boy here, though, Rentaro, and he hears…a memory? To survive no matter what.

Pretty good scene, but you can’t fool me show of lolicon and lame humor!

The OP is nice…it’s kind of…kind of my impression what J-Pop would sound like if the world was much more depressing.

Ten years later, Rentaro is entering a building. He’s something called a “civil officer”  The police, or, security or something, have deduced that there’s a Gastrea in the building complex, and it’s apparently policy to not engage without these civil officers. Buuuut it seems the grunts wanted to be heroes, and two of them haven’t been heard from since they screamed from the room.

Rentaro is met by a man in a smiling mask, who says he was also after the Gastrea, but he’s also the one who killed the officers, who have been reduced to blood-splattered corpses on the wall. After a brief skirmish where he kills the remaining officers, Rentaro manages to snap the guy’s neck…but like all good Batman villains, he just snaps it back into place. He praises Rentaro, whom he refers to as “Satomi-kun” after asking for his name.  He’s still using the family name, almost like a teacher.  It’s just a speech quirk that adds some depth to his character by breaking out expectations that he’d just call him “Rentaro”.

This guy’s interesting. But I see where you’re going show, gonna focus on the loli butt grabbing and pantyshots too much to bring this guy back before the finale. Lame. Such a promising villain, too.

Speaking of, we see our loli running through the streets, whining about her fiance Rentaro.

Oh yeah, bring on the shit show. I’m ready. Continue reading