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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