Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 13 (Fin)

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“Sometimes we fail to operate logically, and act on emotions. That’s why I despise humans.” – Ichijiku Chisato, Human

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Chisato tried oh so very hard to operate logically his entire life, and if Mako could kill Ryouta and Neko all he had to do was recreate a Kotori-like vessel to restore his sister’s soul. But who is he kidding? Saving Rena was always an emotional crusade. I did not expect him to be a human shield for Mako when Hexenjagd made their appearence, but then again, neither did he. Ultimately, he was the very model of human he most despised: the kind who sacrificed his life for another; who couldn’t stand by and watch a defenseless Mako get gunned down.

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His was one of many sacrifices made in the final episode of Bryhildr, in which bodies go down left and right in melty or bloody messes. First Neko and Kazumi knock Ryouta out and proceed to Chisato’s lair on their own. Then Kotori ends the extra terrestrial phenomenon taking place on her back by ejecting herself, quite possibly saving the world from resetting (while that might have been an interesting possibility, there was no time to explore it). In the process, Chisato’s sister Rena actually awakens, only to die again when Kotori melts.

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For a finale where serious shit needs to get down, the show didn’t forget its characters and why they do what they do. Realizing that in her present state of being cleaved in two by Mako, Kazumi can’t do anything other than tell Ryouta to press on in saving Neko. While the shot of Hatsuna healing up last week precluded any possibility of Kazumi dying, I was still moved by her “last moments”, in which she laments not having Ryouta’s babies and not losing her virginity before dying, but takes solace in the fact she at least fell in love.

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Did Mako’s death rays take way too long to kill Ryouta and a surprisingly ambulatory Kana? Sure! But pacing aside, but I did like the fact Kana showed up, having given up the forcast ability she used to protect Neko when it came time to protect her with her physical body. Ultimately, none of this moved Mako into surrendering, and she just goes into a self-destructive fit of rage, summoning antimatter that Neko has to neutralize using her hidden powers. For one glorious minute Kuroneko was back, but after kissing Ryouta and telling him he’ll always love her, it’s back to business. She takes out Mako, but there’s a cost: her memories are reset once more.

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But hey, she’s alive, as is Kana and Kazumi and Hatsuna, and Kogoro managed to make a breakthrough with the pills, so all’s pretty well that ends pretty well. With Kuroneko’s memory and Kotori being the only sacrifices that stick, I’d say Ryouta & Co. came out on top in the end. Kogoro’s interest in the drasils gave us pause, but that wasn’t a sure sign he’d pick up where Chisato left off, throwing the world into chaos again. Maybe he’ll operate logically and leave well enough alone, letting his nephew and his harem/family live in peace.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 12

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This episode essentially started at “checkmate” with Mako and Chisato cornering Ryouta and his harem, but thanks to a lot of quick thinking, stalling, a trump card or two, a sacrifice, and a ghost it turns out to just be “check”; the game isn’t over. The episode relishes this standoff and explores the possibilities accordingly, keeping the specter of everyone dying just close enough to be taken seriously.

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The first thing Ryouta does is activate the mysterious GPS, because why not? Worst-case, more bad guys come, but there’s a possibility someone else could come too, which is what ultmately happens. Even so, he can’t stay Mako’s hand indefinitely (and calling her Valkyrie, a nickname she detests, doesn’t help matters). He gets in the way of her blast to save Neko, tearing out the side of his torso in the process.

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At death’s door, Nanami appears in his head and tells him Neko is more powerful even than Mako if she’s unlocked using the top button on her harnest. But with a 99.9% chance she’ll go out of control and die, he can’t do it. He’s ready for the end, but then Hatsuna, who was cut in half by Mako but healed, repays her debt, giving her life to heal him (he still needs mouth-to-mouth and CPR from Neko and Kazumi to be revived). Haruna hangs up and melts, but not completely, and a hint of life in the last shot of her suggests we haven’t seen the last of her.

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Why does Chisato allow all this to happen? Well, he peaced out with Mako and Kotori after the timely arrival of Hexenjagd (Witchhunt), a shadowy organization fighting Chisato’s lab. You’d think they’d be natural allies of Ryouta & Co., but their first duty is to exterminate all the lab’s witches, and not for the reason we thought (so the lab wouldn’t have weapons). The real reason is far more chilling: the Drasil, aliens inside them are growing. If they hatch, they’ll devour the witches who bore them and then hunt mankind.

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Chisato manages to make off with Kotori—turns out she and not Neko was 1107. Kotori has the brain of Chisato’s dead daughter Rena, and that brain, and the prospect of bringing her consciousness back, is more important than any other life to him; the one exception to his credo that all lives besides your own are worthless. He even trashes Mako behind her back, which could come back to bite him later, even if she still says she loves him.

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That “later” will have to come quick, since there’s only one more episode left, and the show has decided to make the drama and peril a global affair, as the Drasil within Kotori will melt all of humanity if it hatches. To go from Ryouta and his humble harem to all of humanity in one episode is a big leap in scale, but the way the witches have been treated thus far has been hinting at the possibility of such a leap. Can they clean up this mess in a satisfying fashion?

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Stray Observations:

  • Hexenjagd make a bad-ass entrance, but their quasi-Christian getup is kinda lame. For a show so devoted to including fanservice wherever it can, this was a wasted opportunity for Miki to show some skin.
  • Chisato’s Taxi Driver-style spring-arm holster was a nice touch, surprising his surprisers.
  • Kazumi’s brief moment of jealousy watching Neko give Ryouta the kiss of life was one of the only moments of levity in the episode.
  • Our memory’s not as strong as Ryouta’s, but it occurs to us the clues of Kotori being the real 1107—a target Chisato wanted intact—may have existed in prior episodes.
  • The blue light painting the sky from Kotori’s alien hatching looks a bit like a cocktail umbrella from space.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 11

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Valkyria is all fired up after killing the witches, but one of them, Hatsuna, turns out to have regenerative powers, and survives the attack, gaining her freedom. Hatsuna happens upon the observatory where Neko and the others are hiding out, unaware that her target, 1107, is Neko.

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When she first goes in she’s shocked to find them all dead and covered in blood, but they’re only playing possum, in case she was Valkyria, not an unwise gambit to employ considering how powerful she is. When a phalanx of riot police try to arrest her, she blows up a mountain with antimatter. Yeah, you really don’t want her thinking you’re alive when you meet her!

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We don’t learn a whole lot about what makes Hatsuna tick, but she’s a virtually invincible A-rank witch with no beacon, so she could be a powerful ally. She’s dubious of Ryouta’s commitment and utility as an ally to the girls, but when she tests him, and he risks his life to save hers when the test goes awry, he not only makes her feel silly for doubting her, she also falls for him on the spot.

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Kazumi had previously been the most romantically aggressive with Ryouta, but most of her behavior has been teasing, covering up her own nervousness and inexperience. Not so with Hatsuna, who plainly, clearly confesses to him, asks to be his girlfriend, and kisses him. It’s a quick, but he did save her life, and like the others, she’s never known a human as kind as him.

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The witches’ creator, master, and tormenter, Ichijiku Chisato, isn’t interested in kindness, but in unravelling the mysteries of life. He doesn’t care how many people suffer die if it nets him answers. He doesn’t hesitate when he sends Valkyria, whom he calls Fujisaki Mako, nor does he hesitate to speak his mind to her. Such is her psychological conditioning, one slap to her face causes her to fall into his arms, sobbing and submissive.

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Of his “toys”, Mako certainly seems to be his masterpiece, a witch who can use eight different kinds of magic, some of which we haven’t seen yet…yet she’s just another piece of meat to him, the weapon that will help him inch closer to those truths hes so interested in. Still, Ryouta has amassed a pretty impressive coven, and its not unreasonable to believe all of them working together could give Mako a run for her money.

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The only problem? Pills. There’s only a week left of summer vacation, and only a week left of pills for the girls. If only one girl takes all the remaining pills, she can survive long enough for Ryouta’s uncle to make more. In love with Ryouta or not, Hatsuna is hiding her personal pill supply from the others. Kazumi suggests they draw lots, but one by one, the others bow out, all giving their reasons.

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The old, selfish Kazumi would have said “Fine, thank you very much!” and taken all the pills. But As Ryouta noticed earlier when Kazumi included Hatsuna with the pill distribution: Kazumi has changed. She’s come to see the group as her family; they’re going to live togeher or die together. And what is her reward for this newfound selflessness? Ryouta discovers that Neko is definitely his childhood friend, drawing the two closer together than ever before. Poor Kazumi.

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And oh yeah…Valkyria has found them. Poor everyone.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 10

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Lots of changes this week, starting with no cold open and a brand-new OP. We’ll miss the first OP (a rare instrumental theme) but the new one features a rousing techno-death metal piece and introduces new characters, suggesting this show could be going another season. I thought Nanami was going to stick around for a while, but I really like where the show went instead, in perhaps its best first half-episode to date.

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In last week’s moving outing, Nanami showed up out of the blue and had a great arc, but we were a bit weary she’d be along long, owing to her non-main character billing and absence in the old OP and ED. And so it came to be: after visiting the observatory and earning the friendship of the others, and knowing she’ll be remembered and thus won’t die, Nanami’s beacon is ejected and she turns to goo. And then, no one but Ryouta cares.

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Then it’s made plain: while she wanted to live on in the memories of others, Nanami didn’t want the girls to waste what little time they had left on the world being heartbroken over losing her, so she wipes them. Since her power doesn’t work on Ryouta, she transfers herself into his memories instead, which in a welcome moment of levity, her ghost says “used up a lot of his capacity”. While her body is gone, she’s now literally living on in his head, where only he can communicate with her.

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The second half, in which the girls must do well on the upcoming finals to go to the beach, wasn’t as good, but did end up propelling several plots. Neko’s affection for Ryouta is back in the foreground after lots of hanging out with Kazumi (who wants Ryouta’s virginity if she places second to him). Naturally, Neko ends up beating them both; her clueless request for “a virginity” from Ryouta is pretty cute. But even if Ryouta saves her, her memories continue to vanish. Will she forget him, like she forgot karaoke night?

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While at the beach, Neko, Kana, Kazumi and Kotori all experience a warm fuzzy feeling they’ve rarely if ever felt in their lives: happiness and contentment. If only they could all stay on that beach, soaking up the sun. But their most dangerous opponent yet. Valkyrie, who resembles a white-haired Neko—a shironeko, if you will—is now on the loose, not necessarily under control, and itching to everyone into warm fuzzy goo.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 09

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Due to her absence in the OP or ED as a member of the “good guys”, it never occurred to me that Nanami would be around long, let along join them. When I first saw her last week, she looked like another tool under absolute lab control; water to Kikako’s fire. But Nanami’s differences from Kikako went far deeper than their superpowers, and she gradually leaves all prior girls who have hunted Neko in the dust in terms of character complexity.

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From her love of sweet things (and the dubiousness of her claim about needing the extra sugar for her powers to work) to her observation on how wonderful the outside world is, cracks in the lab’s control gradually build up, until Nanami turns on her handler, and quite effectively so. Her instant powers of memory manipulation are frighteningly wide-ranging, to the point it was only a matter of time before she turned on them. What finally does it is, ironically, meeting her target.

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At first, she dumps her handler out of a desire to take care of the job on her own, for which she believed she’d be rewarded. But as we know, the best reward any of the lab girls is a quick death. She’d know this too, but the researchers are careful. But as she takes in her freedom and observes the interactions of friends, whatever rewards she believes the lab will give her starts to pale in comparison.

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That’s because the lab will always keep her in the shadows; always make her cover her tracks from the work she does. As a result, she’s a ghost. All she wants is to exist in the memories of others, with affection, not contempt. In spite of her nightmarish upbringing and her crazy powers, she remains unfailingly human. And one fleeting day of humanity just isn’t enough.

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While Nanami initially dismisses Ryouta’s offer of friendship, and tries to wipe all of Ryouta’s memories since birth, but he’s protected thanks to his “first write” photographic memory. That failure proves key in her redemption. When she later brainwashes Neko to attack him, Neko calls her a friend. She scans Neko’s memories and learns that they were being genuine in their desire to provide something she wanted so badly, she couldn’t believe it was possible until now.

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Right out of the gate, Tokou Nanami is a compelling, complex, cute, scary character with a well thought-out, efficient mini-arc. After thoroughly exploring Kazumi’s character, the show proves it can do the same with a previously unknown character, one who starts out as a foe, at that. . For these reasons, I’m inclined to call this Brynhildr’s best and most complete outing yet.

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Stray Observations:

  • Kurofuku and Nanami travel in style, in a Toyota Supra Mark III (A70), which bridged the gap between the 80s and 90s.
  • Even the fanservice was subdued, with the girls in the bath underscoring their sudden vulnerability, and Nanami’s tendency to use her body to get attention or money.
  • Interestingly, the show takes after Brynhildr in having Kurofuku regain his memory by the same means as Kaori in One Week Friends, which also aired today.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 08

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After returning from Akiba, Ryouta drops Kazumi off and tells the other girls he’ll take care of the rest on his own. But in the wake of their “first date”, Kazumi isn’t satisfied. Under the pretense of helping him pinpoint the location on the device, she ends up at his house, ready to take the next step with him.

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While she rightfully tells him she doesn’t need a logical reason to want to sleep with him, the truth is she has one, and it’s the same reason she enjoyed their Akiba date so much: Her time on this world is cruelly short, and his could be too when he goes on the next wild goose chase. Going forward, her first time for many things could well also be her last, so she’s in a hurry to have them.

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Kazumi continues to cement her role as the most compelling and endearing of the girls, the one who embraces her mixed-up adolescent tendencies and raw humanity with abandon. She knows she may never reach later stages of life, and she’s clearly terrified. But she’s also scared of actually doing it, so when Ryouta accidentally causes her to make a strange, “freaky” sound, she halts the proceedings, admitting it’s all probably too much for him (and her too, if she’s honest).

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After a night of innocent spooning, Ryouta heads off on his own, and quickly finds he’s in over his head. Fortunately for him, the girls didn’t heed his call to hang back. For all his good intentions (and photographic memory) he’s still too weak to protect them on his own. So Kana gets a death vision, Neko storms in with her destructo-powers, Kazumi jams the radio, and when the chief has Ryouta pinned, Kotori teleports him away.

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It’s a good full team effort, but they were never going to struggle that mightily against normal humans. Nanami, the next girl sent after them (Neko, specifically), will be far tougher. Kazumi revels in her humanity and femininity by shedding clothes all the time, but Nanami’s status as a captive tool is accentuated by the belts and a hood she’s wrapped up in when not in use. Still, like the others, she wants to live, so she’ll obey her bosses. And because we know full well her bosses won’t let her live, you can’t help but empathize with her too.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 07

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Murakami Ryouta didn’t ask for a harem of escaped super-human hotties. He got saved by one of them in a mudslide, felt compelled to help her, and one girl led to another until his Observatory of Love grew to four. Their salvation is his crusade, and worrying over them is a full-time job…though he has a part-time job tutoring nosy pipsqueaks.

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At his present level of involvement in their…situation, there’s no way someone like him wouldn’t blame himself if some or all of them were to meet their doom, which could come slow when they run out of pills his uncle can’t copy in time, or fast when the next lab-assassin, Nanami, rears her twin-tailed head.

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His options are all but limited to storming the lab where they escaped from and stealing more pills, and the timing is limited to a month. This is not an ideal situation, and the chances of success with any plan are slimmer than Kazumi’s figure, but in the meantime, the girls still have their lives. If he can’t save them, he’s not going to stop them from living them.

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To that end, Neko goes to Karaoke and gets hit on, and Ryouta takes Kazumi to what turns out to be a date to Akiba. Here, Kazumi’s gentler, sweeter side really shines through; it’s the kind of perfect day you expect a show to give someone before killing them. I hope I’m wrong, because Kazumi’s kind of the life of the party.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 06

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Lucky for Ryouta, Neko, and Kotori, the “state power” perusing them sent one of the less effective AA+ witches after them. Kikako moves and acts almost comically slow, giving them any number of opportunities to get the upper hand. And I’ll admit I’d forgotten about Kotori’s teleportation ability, and the fact enough time had passed that she’d no longer be hung up.

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Ryouta has a plan, but it depended entirely on two factors he couldn’t control: that Kikako would take her sweet old time firing her mouth cannon at Neko once she had her pinned to the ground (seriously, that was way too long!), and he just happened to flag down Kotori. I did like how Kotori’s determination to smile rather than cry gave the impression she was Neko’s killer in Kana’s vision.

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I initially thought the whole episode would be dealing with Mikako, but like I said, once Ryouta realized he could use Kotori’s power, things were pretty well in hand. And oh, hey, it wouldn’t be an episode of Brynhildr if scenes of girls bleeding from their eyes and having their hands and feet sloughed off weren’t followed by a random scenes of goofy fanservice! Because as we all know, when it gets hot, girls take their tops off. There’s a wealth of rap music confirming this very phenomenon.

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Having survived Mikako (who’ll be “severely punished” for failing), Ryouta all of a sudden remembers a relative of his is an accomplished scientist at a po-dunk university (probably so he can get away with more shit). I initially thought he was that evil scientist dude we already know in disguise, and the close-up of his rather crazed eye at the end suggests he isn’t anyone to be trusted, regardless. But with the pill supply running out, Ryouta and the girls’ options are few.

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Stray Observations:

  • Mikako is far more dangerous from long range, as evidenced from Shino’s demise.
  • Shouldn’t Ryouta have brought up his scientist uncle way back when the pill thing became an issue?
  • I can’t help but be constantly distracted by the over-convenient fact that Ryouta has an entire observatory at his disposal, no questions asked, where not another soul ever comes by, with access to a barbecue and hot spring. From those perks alone, there should be a lot more astronomy club members.
  • Where the heck did Neko get that blender? Where’d she plug it in? How is she dealing with Kana’s bed sores? The show doesn’t care about these details, so I guess I shouldn’t, either…

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 05

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Brynhildr does not have an auspicious cold open, consisting of a pointless comparison between the girls boob sizes. After the OP Kazumi starts sexily teasing Ryouta again. Then something unexpected happens: Ryouta actually calls her out on it. I for one appreciated the show acknowledging the fact Kazumi was trying way too hard.

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Kazumi’s response is telling: she tries her hardest at everything; including, er…romance, apparently. Ryouta, meanwhile, has something less romantic in store for his new club-mates: a stargazing party. Sure, the girls are being hunted, and will eventually run out of life-giving pills again, but that’s all the more reason to live their lives to the fullest, while they still have them.

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The trip is a success, with everyone getting way more into the astronomy than they thought (even Kazumi), right until Kana starts having visions: first of newbie Kotori standing over a dead Neko, then of a dead Ryouta. Meanwhile, another B-rank witch Shino is on the run from an AA+ named Kikako (looking like a character out of Kill la Kill), and Neko insists on helping, out of loyalty to B-rankers.

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Kotori is the one everyone suspects of being the murderer, but Kana doesn’t actually see her killing anyone, suggesting Kikako is the true culprit. Shino doesn’t last long against Kikako’s huge mouth-cannon, and since Neko gave away their position, either she or Ryouta will be the next targets, if they don’t find a way to change Kana’s predictions.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 04

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Brynhildr continues to suffer from a highly erratic tone that shifts jarringly from one scene to the next, to the point where it even seems to be confusing the characters. To whit: Ryouta stabs Saori in the heart like it’s the most natural thing in the world for an ordinary high school student to do. After Saori hangs up and is ejected, turning into a mass of organic goop, revealing a horrifying-looking parasite, only then does Ryouta react viscerally, stomping it out like a bug.

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Ryouta has gotten mixed up in some extremely awful, bloody, amoral, supernatural shit…but aside from that one little yelp, he doesn’t seem the least bit traumatized by what he’s seen and done. The episode’s attempts to lighten the mood with some fanservice-laced mixed onsen nonsense and domestic issues fail, because the gap between the two moods is too wide. The show yanked me from unspeakable horrors to oppai-grabs with whiplash-inducing speed.

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Mix two tones on the exact opposite moods too carelessly, and they’ll compromise each other, resulting in an impotent neutral mood, or just outright confusion. As it stands, it feels like two different shows in one, both of which would be better if the opposing tone was removed. I’m more interested in Ryouta’s resolute leap into the dark, messed-up world of the lab girls, not a half-assed high school harem. Here’s hoping new addition Takatori, an AA+ witch sent to eliminate the others, steers things more towards the former.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 03

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One thing you have to hand with Brynhildr: it’s not laying the peril on thin. The present situation of Neko and Hana on the run escalates into a crisis when Ryouta learns they need to take a “death suppressant” pill every day or they’ll die horrible deaths, and they only have five days of pills left. Then the crisis escalates into disaster when Neko leaves a pot of boiling water unattended for ten seconds and burns up their supply.

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Just like that the five days are pared down to one, and then even less than that when Hana starts to bleed, having gone almost a full day since her last pill. The overarching mission, then, which provides this episode with thrust, is clear: find more pills, or the girls die. Ryouta, having already forfeited his life by getting involved, decides to take it upon himself to find a way to make it happen. Our main gripe with the plan is that the pills the girls need are commercially produced, rather than a top-secret proprietary drug formulated by the lab.

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Then again, the evil guys in white coats at the lab may be morally bankrupt butchers, but they’re butchers with scientific backgrounds, so it’s not totally ridiculous the drug would have a code Ryouta could memorize. That tiny code is the single clue that gives them any chance at all, and also reveals that Ryouta is the opposite of Neko in that he’s able to remember everything, even the things he’d rather forget.

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Neko, meanwhile, loses memories when she uses magic, even those she wants to remember. This proves important when a conveniently-placed slash by Saori (another, far higher-level witch sent by the lab to kill her) reveals that Neko has the same moles as Kuroneko after all, they’d just shifted to her boobs once she grew some. It isn’t as if I thought they weren’t the same person all along—why beat around the bush?—but this seems to confirm it for certain.

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Seeing those moles fills Ryouta with joy that his friend is still alive, but now he knows why she doesn’t remember him. If only he could give her some of his ability to remember, he could help her, but I’m not sure the rules of this show work this way. Then there’s the fact that his joy is immediately stomped out when Saori slices Neko into several pieces. Again, the show doesn’t hold back in tormenting its characters and kicking them while they’re down.

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I assume all this torture is meant to toughen them; if they can survive this, then they stand a chance against the lab. All the girls sport “hahnests” (…harnesses?) on their necks with three switches: one prevents them from using magic for a day, one terminates them (last week’s WTF moment), and the third does…something else; something “worse than death”. Ryouta’s hoping that something else is the key to saving Neko

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 02

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Brynhildr alternates between silly and dark, intriguing and repetitive this week, and a familiar pattern emerged: Vexed by her resemblance to Kuroneko, Ryouta tries to make nice with Neko; Neko rejects him and tells him to stay away; Ryouta persists and learns more about her; rinse, repeat. I was annoyed with Ryouta because he was being nosy, but I was also annoyed by Neko’s feeble attempts to keep him away, since at the end of the day she’s probably glad to have an ally.

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Frankly, if I was saved from dying by someone using magic who resembled an old friend whose dead body I never saw, a few “Go Aways” wouldn’t be enough to discourage me from trying to get some answers. That might be a selfish position to take—don’t worry about how you were saved, just be grateful and move on—but it’s a human one. Sometimes it isn’t enough to know something, we have to know why, even if knowing that isn’t in our best interests.

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And if there’s one thing the episode makes nice and sparkling clear, it’s that Ryouta would be better off turning around and forgetting about everything he’s seen these first two episodes. Neko, her paralyzed companion Kana, are military experiments on the run from their tormentors. One of their friends was captured (or two, as we get a look inside the transport) , and when she doesn’t talk, they eject her neck plug and she liquifies in a cloud smoke, which…eww.

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In one of the stranger juxtapositions of tones I’ve encountered in a while, the episode shifts from horrifying flesh-melting to Neko and Kana oging pastries Ryouta has brought them, which Neko proceeds to whiz in a blender so Kana can swallow it. This is more than a little jarring, but also shows that Neko’s determination to keep Ryouta out of her business was weak enough to be forgotten with sweets.

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That should be a little worrying for Ryouta. It’s nice that he’s helping out these girls and all, but I’m not sure he’s aware of just what a nasty business he’s stuck his nose into, and from which there’s probably no going back at this point. I did like how he experienced firsthand the satisfaction of having saved someone, and came to understand how Neko would feel responsible for deaths she knew would happen but was too late to stop.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 01

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With an odd name like “Brynhildr” in the title, I couldn’t help but to investigate, hoping the name had some significance and wasn’t just chosen because it sounds cool. And while I know my multiplication tables—I got a great deal on one at Ikea!—my knowledge of Germanic mythology is lacking, so I hope you’ll indulge me.

Brynhildr (one of many spellings) is a shield-maiden and valkyrie, who among other things, was condemned to live the life of a mortal woman for deciding a battle for the wrong king. Kuroha Neko is similarly a being that seems beyond mere humanity, who serves a shield for those prophesied to die, reported to her via walkie-talkie with an as-yet un-introduced character.

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Here’s hoping this isn’t just a show they made because they had a cool CGI model of an observatory telescope lying around, because I liked the mystery that started brewing in the first installment, as well as Murakami Ryouta, an academically gifted lad whose course in life has been defined by the tragic loss of his childhood friend ten years ago.

When Kuroha Neko transfers to his class (a student laughably comments that this is a “rare occurrence”…not in anime, missy!), looking just like that friend, Murakami is hit by shock and hopefulness clashing with facts and logic, but while ten years ago Kuroneko failed to show him proof that aliens existed, in the present he witnesses proof of a whole lot of other things he didn’t know existed.

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While his first meeting with Kuroha results in a slap to the face (you just don’t demand a girl show you her armpits, especially in the middle of class!), their second meeting at the observatory is much more pleasant and cordial, even though it only deepens the mystery of who or what Kuroha is. I enjoyed the subtle and often funny escalation of strangeness, from her apparent ignorance of times tables to strength that should be impossible with such “squishy” arms (Ryota’s term, not mine).

After this episode presented its case to me, a lot of questions popped up in my head about what’s going on and where it’s all headed, meaning the mystery was intriguing enough to hold my interest. As I’d expected, it’s also a very nice-looking show with crisp character designs reminiscent of Red Data Girl. Humor is present and fanservice is retrained; both pluses. I’m looking forward to dancing in the darkness with this shieldmaiden/honor student duo.

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