Final Review: Black Rock Shooter 2012

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Black Rock Shooter 2012 is an original work that and follows the 2010 OVA of the same name. It aired in the NoitaminA time slot during the Winter 2012 anime season and was simulcasted by niconico and Funimation.

Black Rock Shooter has an initial story similar to its OVA. It features the same cast in both parallel worlds but approaches it differently. The show is still ultimately about friendship at the end of the day and not so much about Black Rock Shooter and its own world. The concept is very interesting though not unique. Pacing wise, it initially seemed like stretching the OVA content for a few episodes was a huge mistake. However, as the show progresses, it turns out the pacing was just right. Conclusion wise, the show adds quite the depth to some of the characters as well as meaning to the parallel world. While this meaning is blatantly obvious from the get go, it’s nice to see some confirmation. The show does walk down the thorny path of the characters in the real world entering the world of “Black Rock Shooter” let alone knowing about it. It’s overall smooth but something I personally would have liked to see avoided. The show does wrap up very tightly though, which is rare for almost any title these days.

Art remains a strong suit of this show. It remains as detailed as the OVA and both worlds are depicted in a highly visually appealing manner. Animation is generally stiff with sloppy and repetitive movements, particularly in action scenes. Character designs for “real world” are a bit inferior to the OVA as everyone seems to a look a little more plump for some reason. There also seems to be some inconsistencies from time to time. In the parallel world, the designs remain solid and on a level equivalent to that of SHAFT works. The symbolism is very pretty from beginning to end and definitely draws out the full potential of Ordet. Distant shots remain a problem due to lack of detail.

OP is the famous Black Rock Shooter theme that effectively started this whole madness. ED theme is a song by supercell, which is completely fitting for the show but not memorable for me in the long term. Not really memorable though. Background music is solid all the way through while sound effects remain above average. Seiyuu is the same as the 2010 OVA.

Enjoyment? Progressively gets better. But why did it take me a whole year to finish a measly 8 episodes? Various things happened so I put this off, especially since it aired in a season where my interest was piqued with other titles, including Bakuman, Shakugan no Shana, and Aquarion EVOL to name a few. To be honest, Black Rock Shooter is a slightly above average title. To me it’s barely better than what the OVA actually produced overall. Vocaloid fans will likely enjoy this mostly for just the Black Rock Shooter appearances or for the soundtrack. Non-vocaloid fans are more toss-ups depending on whether he/she likes the parallel world approach and/or the all female cast.

Overall, Black Rock Shooter 2012 is a decent attempt at this whole parallel world business. Not many shows have attempted this field and many are really just average at best. To name a few memorable ones: Noein, Persona 4, and .hack//Sign (any of the .hack titles actually) are all similar in some regard. Out of them, Noein and .hack//sign are the most memorable though Noein is far closer to what Black Rock Shooter is trying to do. It’s not a terrible show and a really simple show to kill time given its length. Like or dislike, one may as well watch so that you can say you’ve been exposed to Vocaloid in some form despite Black Rock Shooter not being directly related to the franchise.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Relatively unique parallel world setup. Real world is boring.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Okay but not much really stuck out.
  • Character Development (2/2): Surprisingly solid. In a mere 8 episodes, all four main characters are flushed out entirely. Gold Saw remains a mystery to the very end, which is a bit disappointing but she doesn’t play that big of a role I guess.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Kagari effectively drops out as a main after the half way mark and to some extent Yomi. Yuu is really only useful after that.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Seems uneven initially but is actually very solid.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2): The idea of “knowing” a parallel world exists is rather off the wall and that characters can enter and leave is a bit out of whack. Should have just kept them separate and use symbolism to represent conflicts as the latter is definitely what the series does best.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Expected but no real complaints as everything is resolved with little to no loose ends.
  • Total: 7/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Pretty in BRS world. Average for real world.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Ugly compared to OVA. Inconsistencies.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Cheap in action scenes with a lot of repetitive movements. Stiff movements overall. Nice transitions between camera angles though.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): It’s over 8000? but not 9000?
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): Considering this is Ordet’s first main title, there’s really not much to comment here. The BRS world is certainly prettier than the OVA though it seemed to exchange that for what happens in the real world. Not that I’m complaining since most of the focus should be on BRS’s world to begin with.
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): OP is the traditional BRS theme. ED is by supercell and fitting but not really memorable.
  • Background Music (2/2): Strong musical score.
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2): Above average
  • Seiyuu (2.5/3): Same as 2010 OVA. I wish there was more consistency across the BRS franchise (e.g. Maaya Sakamoto was BRS in the game).
  • Total: 8/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): The BRS world basically sums up the meaning of the show.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Takes time to build up. The first half is an alternate retelling of the OVA and may bore those who have seen the OVA at times. Show does get progressively better, albeit a bit more like an acid trip and cliche simultaneously.
  • Presentation (1.5/2): Short and to the point. Doesn’t waste too much time.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Some rewatchability. It’s not a terrible show and it’s short.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Noein and .hack//Sign do this better. There aren’t many shows in this space. Persona 4 is very similar with the whole “personality in a parallel world”  theme.
  • Value (0.5/1): Some right now but may diminish over time.
  • Total: 5.5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 7/10

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