You know those anime where you have no choice but to call bad? You know, those types of anime that people consider as “consensus bad”. The most obvious trait is that it’s incredibly easy to poke fun at the bad aspects, no matter how good the content may or may not be, to the point where finding the flaws of each episode brings pleasure instead of pain. Guilty Crown was the anisphere’s punching bag in the beginning of the year, but that soon gave way to the currently airing Sword Art Online. No one can honestly dispute that either of these anime have a story that’s as sophisticated as their production values. Black★Rock Shooter also fits into this description, but it’s kind of a forgotten child. I only say this because this is the only anime out of the three that I’ve seen, and one is quite enough for this year.
Perhaps my biggest gripe about Black★Rock Shooter is how convoluted the melodrama turned out to be. Since it apparently wasn’t enough to extend the (almost entirely) preteen cast’s problems into an alternate world, where middle school disputes are framed in a foreign and rather violent way, scriptwriter Mari Okada saw it fit to extend the dialogue to conceptual extremes. Characters rarely say what they exactly mean, laying metaphors upon metaphors, and wax philosophical for no other reason than for the average viewer to get lost. In fact, I got so lost in the words that I ended up ignoring them in favor of paying attention to the mood of the anime as it progressed. There are obvious visual cues to the range of emotions each character is feeling at each moment, which are further exemplified through the actions of each alternate self in the alternate world, so you’re not completely lost when watching the anime. It’s just hard to pinpoint exactly what those emotions stem from, their reasons for being there, because the dialogue is hard to digest and harder still to cope with all the yelling and screaming of middle school girls.
Not that I hate yelling and screaming middle school girls, mind you. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) Madoka Magica and Chu2koi, two series that are a bit uncannily similar to this one in its drama and its usage of alternate realities. Much like how those alternate realities served an actual purpose in the aforementioned anime, Black★Rock Shooter’s alternate world, containing its alter ego inhabitants, is a distinct place that was accessible both narratively and metaphorically. Actions performed in one world affected the events in the other, and vice versa, causing events that I really didn’t expect to happen. This could be easily explained as convenient ass-pulling, but I find going THAT far into hating a show to be a bit tiring. Not only that, having really awesome post-apocalyptic battle sequences represent middle school problems just feels unbalanced in significance. I suppose it would make sense if you take into account how hormonally unbalanced middle school kids are, but it certainly didn’t rid me of that weird feeling that the plot may just be really bad in the first place, that the animation is stuck with these frivolous girl problems and is forced to just deal with it. Though I say that I don’t hate teenage drama, and take the time to analyze it, I do not sympathize for the characters in Black★Rock Shooter as easily as other shows. That’s because, even though there’s guns and explosions everywhere, it doesn’t mask the fact that, in the end, this is just silly middle school drama. As a grown-up, it’s embarrassing to try to understand.
I don’t even know where my train of thought is going anymore, so I’ll end it here. I’m guess I’m trying to say that, despite all the ways people can judge Black★Rock Shooter as being really freaking dumb and shallow, it turns out to be good entertainment in its cute attempts to be downright apocalyptic. Its emotional highs and convoluted lows create this sick balance where you’re unsure of what to do with all the feelings this anime made you experience. I appreciate the obvious aspects of Black★Rock Shooter, such as the creativity in its production values and the raw emotional power it held. However, it’s just too easy to disregard as “trying too hard” and just laugh at how silly it is.