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Black Rock Shooter DVD Review

by Luke Ryan Baldock

Black Rock Shooter DVDDirector: Shinobu Yoshioka,

Starring: Kana Asumi, Kana Hanazawa, Miyuki Sawashiro, Eri Kitamura, Mamiko Notot, Manami Numakura, Ayumi Tsunematsu,

Running Time: 250 minutes

Certificate: 15

Extras: 3D CG Animatics; Making Of Black Rock Shooter; TV Spots; Clean Ed

Teenage angst is hard to get right; the problem is that from an adult perspective it often seems ridiculous. Obviously the problems facing teenagers aren’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but from at the time they are the most world shattering and complex issues one can imagine. BLACK ROCK SHOOTER is an anime that looks at teenage angst, while at the same time trying to mix elements of fantasy and action. This is something that the show is damn successful at.

The show begins with two girls meeting each other and feeling an instant connection in terms of friendship, as they each offer something that the other feels is missing from their lives. Mato Kuroi is a dependent and imaginative girl, while Yomi Takanashi is a fragile character who is currently under the thumb of wheelchair bound Kagari Izuriha. This complex triangle is what kicks off the show and comes across as a middle school WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? Izuriha is a manipulative and cruel young girl who blames Yomi for her current condition. The early episodes introduce this thriller element in a melodramatic and hyperbolic way, which is the genius part of this show.

It’s obvious, to anyone who isn’t a teenage girl, that the issues raised concerning popularity and jealousy towards developing friendships, simply aren’t that important. But to these young women finding their own personalities and discovering who they are, nothing could be more crucial. When a close companion makes friends with somebody new or reaches a new level of popularity, it’s as if the world collapses and has to be rebuilt from scratch. It may seem immature, but the show is actually mature enough to realise that this is something that must run its course. In order to emphasise such matter s, BLACK ROCK SHOOTER takes the events to the next level.

Meanwhile, because teenage bitchiness may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the conflicts are also mirrored in a metaphorical dream world in which the girls battle among 3D landscapes where arms become guns, swords, and implements to repeatedly bash each other’s heads in. These sections take a front seat towards the tail end of the series and are gradually increased so as to perfectly relect the quarrels in the real world.

Watching every episode back-to-back may be quite daunting and draining, and the lack of an English dub means that some scenes become cluttered with text as the subtitles attempt to translate dialogue, background lyrics, signs and writing, as well as giving explanations for Japanese sayings. It’s not too confusing, but a few shots required a pause. The animation is inventive at times and uses pale colours to extract just as much life as bright and bold shades. BLACK ROCK SHOOTER is a show that will polarise its audience, which makes it all the more fun and affecting for those that do enjoy it.

4 StarsBLACK ROCK SHOOTER is out now via Manga Entertainment

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