Black Bullet Ep. 3: We’ve got ourselves a stage five clinger

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Rentaro really ought to give the girl some space.

Episode Summary
Rentaro and Enju track down the mysterious case that Seitenshi so badly wants them to recover. Just as our hero goes to pick it up, however, Kagetane attacks. Rentaro survives the encounter, but he loses the case. Kisara then informs him that the case contains a catalyst that can bring about a State 5 Gastrea, which is capable of bypassing the Monolith defenses. As a result, they must stop Kagetane at all costs. Seitenshi then launches an operation in which multiple Promoter-Initiator pairs enter the woods to track down the masked villain.

Notes
• The anime continually overuses that shot of the Cursed Children standing on some river bank, staring at the city with a forlorn expression on their faces:

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The shot tries so hard to be evocative that it simply becomes a joke. I can understand one girl staring at the city with sadness in her eyes. Perhaps two, but that’s a stretch. But all of them? What, did they organize a ritual “Stare at the city” event? And how long do they decide to stare at the city? “Are we done yet?” “I don’t think the audience is sad yet. Keep staring.” “Okay.”

• Woe to the Cursed Children! They’ve never known their parents. They don’t even know anything about the world! Uguu, won’t some guy with a heart of gold take it upon himself to save these girls’ souls? Enju’s family! You know what to do, Rentaro. You know what to do!

Look, everything is contrived to a certain extent. Storytelling itself is a collection of contrived elements. Which is why it is even more damning than ever that we have an anime all about wayward little girls in need of a young man’s guidance. Hey! I’m a young man! I can do the guiding! Where do I sign up and when do I get my loli!

• This whole “I am human” thing from Enju doesn’t carry any weight. Usually, when the question of humanity is broached in fiction, we’re dealing with some sort of facsimile. For instance, an android. Sure, it talks and acts like a human, but it doesn’t actually have a human brain. It hasn’t had a human childhood, i.e. it hasn’t undergone a process of physical and mental development that you would expect of any human. Its impulses are derived from a collection of silicon chips. An android might have A.I., and as such, it can learn new things, but the very basis of its A.I. is nevertheless deliberately and necessarily programmed by some creator. Is it human or is it not? What constitutes humanity? There’s enough ambiguity here that the question of an android’s humanity is actually worth debating.

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As for the Cursed Children, again, the question of these girls’ humanity just doesn’t make any sense. These girls are not facsimiles of anything. They are simply girls… with special powers. You could argue that they are dangerous. You could even argue that they’re an abomination, but that’s a stretch. But the question of their humanity is hollow and shallow. Once again, it’s Black Bullet trying to tug away at your heart strings without actually understanding the very tropes that it employs.

• Also, there’s only one way for Enju’s classmates to be this hateful: it’s learned behavior from their parents. Which implies that their parents must rant about Cursed Children to a certain extent in order for the kids to inherit such toxic beliefs. But how believable is this, really? First of all, we all know that the only way to fight back against the Gastrea threat is to rely upon the powers of the Cursed Children. So are the majority of the adults just completely unaware of this fact or what? Second, most of the Cursed Children are sequestered off to the outskirts of society. It’s not like they’re stealing people’s jobs, or corrupting the city’s youth. They’re practically out of sight and out of mind. So once in a while, a Cursed Child wanders into a city to steal some food… how is that any different from any desperate homeless person? My point is simply that Black Bullet hasn’t really done enough to establish this utter hatred for the Cursed Children. Their presence in this story doesn’t seem large enough to warrant such the level of animosity directed towards them. The anime wants us to simply believe that discrimination is taking place, but it doesn’t really want to embrace the issue head-on.

• Or you could laugh at this ridiculous screenshot:

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• So this is the Gastrea that is the source of the infection from the first episode. Man, they just look like oversized bugs and spiders so far.

• This elusive Gastrea that everyone has been chasing is defeated in a single minute by Enju. As a result, the girl can go right back to sobbing into Rentaro’s crotch. Then of course, when a child cries over the loss of her friends, Rentaro goes, “You have me.”

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He even goes on to assert, “I care about you more than anyone else does!” Dependency is cool! Look, this is the wrong message to send. Of course she has him. Just like any child has his or her parent(s). Of course parents care about their child more than anyone else should or does. When a kid comes home from school and is in tears because he or she doesn’t have any friends, do you think a parent fucking grabs the kid by the shoulders, and screams, “You have me!” C’mon, that completely misses the point. You would even have to question the parent’s motives, i.e. why are you making this about you?

But more importantly, have you ever wondered why the girl is so brazenly sexual with Rentaro? Sure, it’s because this anime is basically pandering bullshit. But it’s also because the girl is completely dependent on the guy. In other words, if she loses him, she loses everything. As a result, she needs to possess him. It’s one way for a child with no control over her situation to gain her bearings albeit in a twisted, fucked up way: “My life is over if I lose this guy, so I’ll make him mine.” Sex is simply one way to deepen the bond between them, and that’s not a good thing! It’s completely fucking unhealthy! Nevertheless, the anime plays off the girl’s developmental issues as a goddamn joke, because haha, a loli wants to marry her guardian. What a kneeslapper!

Sure, it’s a tragedy that Enju’s lost her friends at school. The solution to said strategy isn’t to “bravely” take the reins yourself and become everything in the world to the girl. One of the solutions is to help her create a strong sense of self so that her emotions aren’t completely contingent on the actions of others. Another solution is to help her find a friend she can safely befriend, i.e. if she loses this friend, she doesn’t also end up losing her home. This is why it is wrong to focus solely on the relationship between her and Rentaro. Too much is riding on this relationship. That’s why I took such an exception with the cold opening. Sumire’s message to Rentaro oozes of self-indulgent martyrdom: “It’s me… I’m the only one who can save her soul!”

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• Speaking of inappropriate father figures…

• Why does electricity surge from Rentaro’s fist when he charges at Kagetane? Does he have special powers too? I mean, what’s up with that?

• Kagetane then uses a move that is literally named “Maximum Pain.” For a guy who won’t even show his face, he’s at least quite straight-forward with his combat techniques.

• So after telling the girl that she has him to depend on, Rentaro then forces Enju to run away by aiming a gun at her. Ah, the martyrdom… But it’s all for nothing anyway, because he fucking wakes up in a hospital bed with a hot anime babe looking over him. What did he even sacrifice? That’s why it’s so goddamn self-indulgent.

• Hey, hey, the guy just recovered his senses. Let’s tell him all about how Kagetane has in possession a catalyst that can bring about a “Stage 5 Gastrea.” Ooh, infodumping time too! You should know that the Monoliths protect people from the Gastreas… but they’re also useless against Stage 5 Gastreas just because.

• When Rentaro naturally clenches his fist at the news, Kisara acts all surprised and shit: “You’re planning to go? Can you win? You’re going to die!” Lady, if you didn’t want him to idiotically charge off after Kagetane in his current state, then why did you fucking tell him the news?

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• She then pulls back the covers to reveal that Enju has been snuggling the unconscious Rentaro this entire time!

could you not

‘Cause every hospital allows that!

• Seitenshi has great timing! She calls as soon as Rentaro regains consciousness! Man, what if she had been just five minutes too early? “Sorry, Seitenshi-sama, but he’s still recovering from his multiple stab wounds and gunshot wounds.” “Oh, it’s okay I’ll call back later.”

• Ugh, it’s not like I’m going to pursue Kagetane for you guys or anything…

• Sumire then shows up with a bag full of ammo, grenades, and other combat-related knick knacks. She then drops it all on the ground.

• And then we’ll top it all off with a loli fistbump! Fuck yeah!

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• Afterwards, our duo heads deep into the forest where they encounter Gastreas of varying “Stages.” They’re all just animals with red eyes. Whatever.

• They then stumble upon Kayo, some little girl we had met back in the second episode. Remember this dude? Yeah, Kayo “belongs” to this guy. Still, this small detail is of no real consequence. Rather, because Rentaro even dares to acknowledge the existence of another Cursed Child, Enju is now super jealous of Kayo: “I will not accept such a woman.” Enju is the same girl who had begged Rentaro to save another Cursed Child back in the second episode. Enju is the same girl that had sobbed buckets of tears earlier in this episode because she had lost her friends at school. But ah, instead of embracing the chance to make a new friend, Enju is filled with envy. Duh, this relationship between her and Rentaro is totally healthy!

• Oh well, we all know Kayo’s going to die anyway. The anime cuts to a shot of blood trickling down one of Kayo’s arms. That’s usually a sign that she isn’t long for this world.

• Rentaro shows his concern for Kayo! Kayo is surprised! How… how can anyone worry about me? My own master doesn’t love me! But Rentaro is a cool guy! He’ll love all the lolis!

• When Kayo confesses that she has taken the lives of a Promoter-Initiator pair under her master’s orders, Rentaro doesn’t quite have… uh, the most measured response:

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Really, dude? Anyway, just another stupid scene in which a Cursed Child is taken aback by Rentaro’s “kind nature.”

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8 thoughts on “Black Bullet Ep. 3: We’ve got ourselves a stage five clinger”

  1. I’m just surprised that the Cursed Children all look so neat and clean as they stare longingly at the city – I thought these kids were all hated, etc.? But apparently their camp has perfectly functioning bathing facilities and washing machines?

    1. Can’t have the lolis looking unappealing?

      Hell most of them have their hair done up and everything. They look like they just survived a minor natural disaster five minutes ago instead of living in a broken down wasteland.

  2. “The anime continually overuses that shot of the Cursed Children standing on some river bank, staring at the city with a forlorn expression on their faces”

    I thought that scene was really cool and evocative in the opening, but then I found out it was meant to be a literal thing that happened and not symbolic >.>

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