So years ago, Ryota had a childhood loli that he really bonded with. She was a bit of an eccentric girl because she believed in aliens. He claims to have known everything there was to know about her except, well, her actual name. But still, tragedy struck and he lost his loli. And from then on, he’s always carried a torch for her. Ryota even aspires to be a researcher for NASA one day so that he can honor his late loli’s memories by discovering the existence of aliens. Alright, this premise isn’t exactly gangbusters, but it’s solid. It’s workable.
Now, one small caveat: I haven’t seen more than a few clips of Elfen Lied years ago. At the time, those clips were enough to make me think, “Y’know what? I don’t really need to see more of this.” Whether or not my feelings on this have changed doesn’t really matter. What’s more important is that Brynhildr in the Darkness just happens to be penned by the same guy responsible for Elfen Lied. So is this a significant detail for us to worry about? Is this a sign of things to come in our 2014 anime series? Maybe, maybe not. All I really want to point out right from the start is that I don’t care how similar the two shows are story-wise as long as I don’t have to watch some poor character get diced into pieces of bleeding flesh. It’s not like we should remove gore completely from our anime, but you reach a point where it becomes gratuitous and exploitative, and we needn’t cross that line just for some cheap shock value.
In fact, everything initially seems to be going smoothly for Brynhildr in the Darkness‘s first episode. The OP definitely sets the stage with all the bloody shoujos, so you know that shit’s definitely going to go down in later episodes. Just keep the “shit going down” part in the imagination, y’know? It’s more effective that way. It’s more interesting, however, that the girls are bloodied in the real world, but normal-looking in some alternate ruined world. What portent does this hold? We’ll have to wait see. All of a sudden, Ryota’s class gets a transfer student, and the new girl looks a whole lot like an older version of his loli. So we’ve got a bit of a mystery on our hands. Neko, our heroine, can predict when people might die, and thus she does everything in her power to prevent their deaths from happening. So add in a dash of the supernatural, and a pinch of potential tragedy too, because she won’t always succeed in saving people.
Finally, our heroine reveals to Ryota that she’s a product of some sort of twisted experimentation. Y’know, this is hardly original especially considering Okamoto Lynn’s previous works, but hey, what’s important here is where Brynhildr in the Darkness decides to go with this trope, not where the trope actually begins. Great. So what went wrong? It’s like halfway through the episode, the show suddenly decides to shit itself uncontrollably. Uguu, stop making fun of this all powerful witch and her inability to do multiplication.
The way you’re feeling up my arm is so hazukashii~ So naturally, our protagonist takes a step back to take real good look at her. This forces him to admit that, “Gosh! She’s pretty cute!” Wow, that’s a shocker. Since when has anime ever had an ugly mahou shoujo? Then there’s this moment during school where the male classmates all talk about how they want to grope the poor girl:
Overhearing this, Ryota thinks, “Because that’s not a crime or anything.” Great, the protagonist recognizes sexual assault when he sees it! Good for him! But that’s not my point. My point is that the show has done some good things to establish a relatively decent atmosphere for the anime, but then spoils it all with the need to feel like your typical, run-of-the-mill romance comedy. It’s like finding Skittles in my french onion soup. I like Skittles (in small doses), but I sure as hell don’t want it in my fucking soup. And y’know, the OP informs us that the cast is full of girls. So are we going to go through this with all of the girls as we get to know them one-by-one?
Apparently, Neko’s the only person who can save the world. From what? We don’t know yet. And I suppose I’m… hm, suitably intrigued enough that I want to watch more. I’m not blown away or anything, but I’ve always been somewhat interested in stories with horror elements to them. I just don’t think horror and romantic comedy hijinks go together. So if there’s any potential pitfalls for the anime in my eyes, it’ll be all the nonsense about how Neko is such an atypical girl and how this very fact is somehow embarrassing in that trashy romantic comedy anime sort of way. Hopefully, the story got most of it out of its system in just the first episode, and we can briskly move on to meatier developments… though not literally, mind you.