28 July 2014

[Anime Review] Black Bullet

What comes into your mind when you are presented with the words 'Black Bullet'? Sounds like a story that involves guns and bullets, duels taking place in the middle of the nights, and perhaps adding some kind of espionage and assassination plot as creamy toppings on the cake.

The elements as mentioned are present in the story but those are just the tip of an iceberg.
So what exactly is this story about?

Screen Capture: Black Bullet Title

The Story

Screen Capture: Overview of Tokyo Metropolitan Area protected by Varanium Pillars.

A near future, where humans have been defeated by the viral parasites named Gastrea.
They have been exiled into a small territory and live in despair, side-by-side in terror.

In this world trapped in darkness—

Rentaro, a boy living near Tokyo and member of the "Civil Security"—an organization specializing in fighting against the Gastrea—is used to accomplishing dangerous tasks. His partner is Enju, a precocious young girl. They fight thanks to their peculiar powers until one day, when they receive a special assignment from the government. This top secret mission is to prevent the destruction of Tokyo...

Set in a near future, this thrilling heroic-action story... starts now!

(Source: Baka-Tsuki)

Screen Capture: A Gastrea initiating an attack from above.

Design Direction & Focus of the Story
The human race is on the brink of extinction from a mad rampage of vicious monsters known as 'Gastrea' and they are down to their final stronghold. They have built gigantic pillars around their territory made of a material known as 'Varanium' which causes some kind of irritation to the monsters and prevents them from closing in.

Awesome! Now that we have secured our borders, it is time for us to strike back at the monsters, reclaim the lands which we once lost, and save the human race from extinction! Unfortunately, it is not that simple as the weapons possessed by the human race cannot even put a scratch or dent on those monsters.

Some politicians discovered a miraculous formula to defeating these monsters once and for all, though effective, the method appears to be disgusting and shunned by many folks. While there is an impending doom of extinction awaiting to strike at the heart of the human race, there are folks who are still clinging to ideals that are less disgusting and rejects the proposition.

The protagonists believe in the miraculous formula and work hard to save the human race from extinction even though there are folks who reject the idea and prefer to be 'clean' even though death awaits them. It is like a battle between survival of the smartest against human ideals of being 'clean' and uncertainty avoidance at all costs.

The Characters

Screen Capture: Satomi Rentarou - The Male Protagonist

Character Design
The characters are designed with pleasant looks, set around the age of high school students, and dressed in modern era clothings with a certain degree of realism without the need for advanced synthetic floatation devices.

The personalities of the characters are designed with a certain degree of realism. There is no extremely intelligent god-like characters or stupid characters meant to be sent to the slaughterhouse.

Screen Capture: Aihara Enju - A Female Supporting Character

Character Development
The main characters are very well-rounded, with noticeable growth as the story progresses through the acquisition of new knowledge and experience from encounters during their adventures.

Screen Capture: Tendou Kisara - A Female Supporting Character

Character Relationships
While there are pre-defined character relationships at the beginning of the story, their relationships became stronger, changes took place as the story progresses, and also break when things do not work out. Just like real life, friendships are formed and broken due to certain circumstances which challenges the norm.

The Visuals

Screen Capture: Overview of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area at night.

From the characters and props to environments, the illustrations in Black Bullet are very well done. While it has some serious and gore contents, there is also a good mix of beautiful visual effects and characters.

Screen Capture: Satomi Rentarou battling against a Gastrea: Model Spider.

At certain points of the story, the visuals will transform into less saturated colors to give the scene a cinematic look and feel.

Screen Capture: Satomi Rentarou fires off a varanium bullet from his pistol.

Boom! A varanium bullet has been released from the gun of a beholder.

Screen Capture: Close-up view of Satomi Rentarou and a police officer.

Clean lines, full-sized characters, and serious looks.

The Audio

Screen Capture: Credits of the Opening Song during the Opening Animation.

The opening song is titled 'Black Bullet' by fripSide, which is named exactly after the title of this Anime series. fripSide produces new age music with a well-balance mixture of rock and techno which fits well with the theme of this series.

Screen Capture: Bicycle braking into a stop with smoke rising.

The sound effects are well-made, selected, and matched closely with the activities taking place in the series.

The Presentation

Screen Capture: Young girls looking across a distance.

The story is presented in a serious tone, narrated by many different characters through their deep thoughts. The pace of the storytelling is not too fast, not too slow, great for anyone to follow without being left behind.

Majority of the story is presented through the eyes of the male protagonist which created a lack of information such as the history of how the apocalypse began and why certain behaviors can be observed in the common streets. Perhaps this is a deliberate design to create a cliffhanger effect, making the audience curious, and anticipate for a second season.

Screen Capture: Satomi Rentarou and Aihara Enju on a bicycle.

There is a good mix of comedy in the story to make it less boring and more dynamic to the viewers.

Screen Capture: Tendou Kisara shouting at Satomi Rentarou for not informing her of a time sale for bean sprouts.

Black Bullet has a good mix of beauty, action, and suspense packed nicely into one nice package. ^^;
This story is not just about fighting, but also brings the audience up-close with the characters and seriousness of the situation surrounding the last bastion of human civilization. It makes you think while watching!

The Verdict

STORY 9 Excellent
Amazing plot which takes into account how a post-modern society fares during an apocalypse though there are certain noticeable flaws.
CHARACTER 9 Excellent
Good-looking characters with distinctly unique personalities and behavioural changes as the story progresses.
VISUAL 9 Excellent
Good illustration of the characters, environments, and visual effects throughout the entire span of the series.
AUDIO 9 Excellent
Amazing opening song, ending song, and sound effects which matches very closely to the activities in the story.
Presented with a comfortable pace but a lack of information about the world leaves the audience lost which requires a Season 2 or OVA to close the gaps.
OVERALL 8.8 Greater Than Great
Black Bullet is a greater than great series which will definitely worth your time watching and enjoying but a Season 2 or OVA will be required for closure.

(out of 10 points maximum)

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