For no particular reason, and to stretch my dwindling episode queue, I decided to give the Black Rock Shooter OVA a try. I’ve seen images of whatever it is all over the place and figured it was just another video game. Turns out it was originally an illustration that was turned into a music video for Supercell, which spawned the 53 minutes of confusion and drudgery I just watched. No video game—yet. They’re working on it.
This thing has two stories and we jump from one to the other. From the first illustrations I saw I expected the first one, that of a skinny girl with a huge weapon on one hand and a scar on her hip, battling something or other (turns out it’s another weird looking girl), but after we see BRS get skewered it’s off to the other story, a thoroughly dull one about a girl named Mato entering middle school and befriending another girl, named Yomi. Right about this time we head back to BRS, where she seems to awaken in a new wasteland of smashed temples and cathedrals and heads off looking for her enemy. We jump again and watch as Mato and Yomi become fast friends. Back and forth, back and forth.
Of course we have to make the connection. BRS sort of resembles Mato, and her opponent, who is never named (indeed, neither of them talk until the very end) is supposed to be Yomi. Then there’s the five-pointed star imagery. There’s one on BRS’s back. They’re on the phone straps the girls use, they’re on her basketball shoes and on her wall. So with all that in mind we watch as the two girls become closer while their other selves try and smash the shit out of each other, until the show can develop something. And it takes forever. Taken alone the schoolgirl story is incredibly dull for a long time. And the battlers do nothing but battle, as if there’s nothing more they can do. The fight scenes are fluid and stylish, but sooner or later you have to move along.
Things finally do in the schoolgirl world. Mato befriends Yuu, the basketball club manager, Yomi feels left out and grows sad. It’s dull, but at least it’s a change. Around the same time a third battler appears in carnage-land, but she doesn’t do anything and we never see her again. Nonetheless, we know it’s “Yuu.” When Yomi vanishes (sort of in a puff of smoke) and police are called in we should feel concerned. But all I felt was “All right! Now maybe something interesting will happen!”
And we get sort of a conclusion. BRS breaks out of her chains and confronts her enemy one more time, who tries to run off and then sort of commits suicide, leaving … Yomi. I’m not getting the symbolism here, if there is meant to be any. I guess Yomi is freed from something. In the “real” world a distraught Mato has a cosmic experience (involving stars, of course) and meets her other self. The next thing we see (after endless credits) are the three girls back at school, happily chatting, except now Yuu is the one who feels left out. I smell a sequel.
My response to all of this is … what a wasted opportunity. The concept that actions on our world connect or at least reflect those on another isn’t the newest, but this had potential. I would have loved to know more about why they were fighting. But the schoolgirl plot is so unsubtle and predictable … If they had done more with that angle they could have made the concept so much richer. As I said, the fight scenes look good, but the schoolgirl world is hampered by uninspired character designs and art. In fact, I suspect they took five minutes to invent the schoolgirl story so they’d have a plot to support the action scenes. They could have done much more.