Archive for September, 2010
Iâ€™m guessing that a teen will think all this love triangle/body dimorphism stuff is much more dramatically fascinating than I do. I just found it wearying. This is another one of those stories that wouldn’t have anything to tell if people would only honestly talk to each other….
This is a key storytelling lesson. It’s okay for characters to keep secrets from each other, as long as they must. Tetsuo can’t admit to his fellow macho gang members that he’s experiencing severe psychological problems, because they’d perceive that as weakness. Kei can’t tell Kaneda that she works for the resistance, because she can’t tell anybody.
Sometimes, authors mistakenly add secrets in the belief that secrets are inherently interesting. They’re not, especially if keeping them shatters realism.
An interesting example of an interesting secret appears in the original Dominion Tank Police OVA.
When we fade back to the present day, Buaku waxes philosophical, then changes the subject. Leona never knows Buaku’s history, and Buaku never shares it with her. He wouldn’t. It’s a special secret for him, something that he wants to keep secret. That’s the kind of secret to keep.
Compare this to the typical fantasy story of a Boy (or Girl) Prophesied To Save The World, who is kept completely in the dark about it until his (or her) country is invaded. Especially if said Boy (or Girl) slacks off in his (or her) training. I don’t care how much of a burden it’d be for the kid to know; tell him (or her) so the he (or she) will understand the importance of said training and buckle down. What sane person would not tell the savior of the world at some point about said prophecy, especially if it was due to come true soon?
Black Rock Shooter (OAV)
Origin: Originally a sketch, then a Hatsune Miku music video of same
Director: Shinobu Yoshioka
Made in: 2010
Genre: Fantasy / action / high school / drama
Premise: The anime cuts between a couple of girls getting to know each other in junior high, and their
Show x Show: It’s a Studio Ghibli film crossed with White Reflection
Length: one hour
Junior high girls and fighting avatars? Yeah. It’s weird.
What’s the junior high material life? Like a Studio Ghibli film, and I mean that honestly. Very high animation rate, with minimal dialogue. A lot is conveyed by facial expression.
What about the
Can I show it to my Mom? Sure, but the fighting stuff doesn’t make sense.
Can I show it to my kid brother? Sure, but he’ll be bored by the junior high school girl stuff.
Can I show it to a
Does the art quality vary from shot to shot? Nope.
Quality of action sequences: Very high.
Music: Interestingly, all the music is instrumental. You’ll never hear a vocaloid sing, and the fighting sequences have no dialogue at all.
Availability: Not yet released in America; fansubs exist.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
In reading through some of the reviews of Black Rock Shooter, I’m surprised at the amount of attention paid to its story.
From bakareviews’s review:
…what it lacked was fluid cohesion and a solid story.
One of the biggest questions I had going into this was what the story would be like….The core problem with Black Rock Shooter lies with the storytelling. The pacing is horrid, with pretty much nothing happening in the first half.
From autaku’s review (since removed):
[The] somewhat extraneous scenes become particularly problematic as the film progresses and it becomes increasingly obvious that the main story would benefit from a longer runtime.
It’s clear to me that Black Rock Shooter is an art piece.
Both stories are structurally simple, and clearly presented through imagery. The first several minutes of the junior high sequences include no dialogue; just images of a girl’s first day of junior high school. All of the vocaloid sequences have no dialogue at all.
The junior high story, moreover, focuses on jealousy between three girls, and the eventual disappearance of one. That’s it. There’s no depth beyond one girl getting jealous of another and disappearing.
As such, the story’s not the most important element of the piece. It’s a music video, which makes it more of a tone poem. It’s meant to evoke emotion, as its imagery clearly does, from the bright junior high school scenes to the dingy environments of the vocaloids’ fights, BRS creates moods and feelings.
In fact, BRS reminds me of the first segment of Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second, in which a boy is on an
Some fans also worried about the commercial side of the production. To quote autaku’s review: “is this nothing more than a lengthy advertisement to sell more merchandise?”
That’s disproven, in my opinion, by the fact that most of the film’s running time is devoted to the junior high story. If the project’s staff were motivated primarily to make an ad for BRS figurines, why did they spend so little time on those characters?
Black Rock Shooter is an art piece, using the characters as inspiration for a
Quick note: To my delight, I’m the guest host on this month’s episode of Life and Times of Anime, where I and regular host Matt discuss the first five episodes of Highschool of the Dead, and the regular hosts discuss Mitsudomoe. They’ve put a lot of hard work into the episode, so check ‘em out.
I’m tired of reading bad anime and manga reviews. I bet you are, too.
Here are a few core principles that I intend to live by in writing anime reviews. Will you join me?
No Value Words
Words like “good,” “fine,” and ”terrible” only communicate my preferences, not information about the work itself. They just say what I like.
Instead of saying that a show has “good characters,” I will describe what was good about the characters.
The only exceptions to this are elements
No Plot Summaries
People can read plot summaries on Wikipedia, ANN, MyAnimeList, or a number of other sites. It’s not worth their time to read my
I Will Research
I will read others’ reviews of a work I’m about to review. Where possible, I will build on their points.
Anything in episode 1 of an anime or volume 1 of a
Exceptions can be made for older works.
Is there anything else I should add?