Brynhildr in the Darkness Ep. 1: Skittles in my french onion soup

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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8 thoughts on “Brynhildr in the Darkness Ep. 1: Skittles in my french onion soup”

  1. Agreed. I hate it when these shows pander unnecessarily for the teenage male audience. I mean, c’mon, the way Neko is curled up like that in the fetal position, gasping and covered in water droplets…ahem ahem, it doesn’t a genius to construe the veiled reference to something more debasing. And the way the cool and distant Neko suddenly breaks character and goes the Hazugashii Route, letting Ryota touch her and this is right after he goes weird on her in the classroom. The ~~Uguu scene came completely out of the blue.

    The one thing I can’t stomach easily is the whole predicting the future bit. It’s a dangerous facet of sci-fi and by Chaos Theory, we know how even simple changes in parameters can change the outcome drastically, aka these are non-deterministic systems. So unless they deal with this correctly, this won’t be any more impressive than reading tarot cards and saying prophetic stuff. Also, why is Neko the one to save the world? Surely, she is so special that only she, and no one self in a population of 8 billion can do what she can?

    All in all, the mid part of the episode threw me off, but I am sticking with the 3 episode rule on this. If this goes the way of a supernatural harem anime, I’m jumping ship.

    Side boob on pretext of looking for moles, FTW.

    1. I have to agree as well. I’ve read the manga and that scene with Kuroneko at the pool was elevated from merely merely eye-rolling to almost disturbing. I suppose it’s interesting to see how much weight the direction, narration, and animation all combined have when setting the tone. Or… well, making something skeezy as fuck. Talk about uncomfortable to watch.

      Whether or not you call Brynhildr a supernatural harem series is probably up to how you qualify a harem series. Are there a group of girls with special powers who all want to jump Ryouta’s bones in some capacity? Yep. Is this what the story is about? No, not really. It’s not Index or Infinite Stratos. The focus is mostly on the five main characters escaping the expected Evil Amoral Government Science Organization and simply surviving, probably as a prelude to uncovering some great revelation about aliens or somesuch.

      So basically… just like Elfen Lied, only a little more savvy. It all hinges on your tolerance for skittles.

      As for the predictions, how they’re made is never explained (to be fair, how would you explain knowing the future?), but it’s acknowledged that simply by seeing it, the outcome could have potentially changed. About as smart as that Nicholas Cage movie, I guess.

      1. Well, I considered Steins;Gate to be a harem-like, so it’d only be fair if I extended the same courtesy to this anime.

    2. The one thing I can’t stomach easily is the whole predicting the future bit. It’s a dangerous facet of sci-fi and by Chaos Theory, we know how even simple changes in parameters can change the outcome drastically, aka these are non-deterministic systems.

      These are stories for the laymen. If the story wanted to be scientifically sound, we wouldn’t even have a hot, sexy transfer student character.

  2. Interesting to see the Lied artist getting a production value higher than a porn this time.
    Nice simile there, mate.

    I have to admit I’m interested too, even despite the common anime trappings, though to be honest I think that was only done to help built a false sense of security and familiarity for when the real shit goes down.

    “Ryota thinks, “Because that’s not a crime or anything.” Great, the protagonist recognizes sexual assault when he sees it!”
    Yeah for the first time in a while I’m 100% on this protagonist so far. Even though it ended on a slightly comical note, I most enjoyed his reaction to seeing Kuroha again in the classroom. If someone we really cared about died and we’d focused on fulfilling their wishes, focused on their death so deeply, and suddenly see them alive but older out of nowhere, we’d also freak out. It’s just natural, and it’s made more real by how the class reacts and he doesn’t give a damn about the social norms he’s violently breaking.

    I really, really hope they don’t ruin his character somehow, and I hope they give Kuroha more character, too.

    On a side note: “Kuroneko”/”Neko” Really? Haven’t we had enough female characters named after cats in anime yet?

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