Black Bullet – 07

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While Preston continues to bask in the warm, fuzzy glow of Nagi no Asukara’s finale, let’s talk Black Bullet, shall we? Last week’s episode ended with the implication that Enju had just gotten her ass handed to her (or worse) off-camera, by 98th ranked Tina Sprout. We later learn that Satomi’s power level is 2200% and Enju’s 8600%, but Tina’s is estimated to be 12900%. Not sure what that means, but it sounds impressive; you don’t see percents going into the tens of thousands often enough, if you ask me.

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But even if Tina’s power level were One Million percent, the chances of Enju kicking the bucket in the seventh episode were precisely zero. Instead, she’s hospitalized. The third meeting between Seitenshi and Saitake will happen before she’s expected to wake up, so he’ll have to defeat Tina without her. But that doesn’t mean he’s on his own. And he also gets the feeling she’s not killing people on purpose, as if, unlike the general consensus about the Top 100, she still has a soul, and is trying not to fully lose it.

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Even though Enju sits this one out, Satomi isn’t alone. Muroto-sensei tells him about the small, nifty “Shenfield” drones Tina uses in concert with remote machine guns to keep her foes at a distance. He makes full use of the Shiba training facilities. And when he finds Tina and goes after her, Miori has his digital back. But even with all this support, Tina is a 12900% handful. She’s also been warned by her master (named Ayn Rand, a very loaded real-world name) that if she keeps not killing people and having emotions or whatever, she can just kill herself.

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She’s committed enough that no amount of appealing to her humanity is enough to stop Tina from trying to kill him…but he is able to slow her down and get her to come close enough to stun her with a flash grenade. After that, he rains a proper Vanadium-plated beatdown upon her; that’s what stops her. As thanks for not killing Enju (even if that was actually just a mistake on her part), he spares her. And then she’s shot through the heart…not by Rand—whom we hear no more of the rest of the episode—but by Yasuwaki, the most over-the-top, insufferable, Worst Character Ever.

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Of course he’s the one to shoot her, right? Fortunately, Yasuwaki just fires a regular bullet that doesn’t kill her, and Seitenshi stands up Saitake in order to stop him.  She then promotes Satomi, and his first act as Yasuwaki’s superior is to shoot one of his fingers off, which is fine with us! It’s a little tidy that Kisara ends up hiring Tina, but as she says, Tina has nowhere else to go, and Tina is frikkin’ adorable. Ultimately, I like her more as an ally and a friend than as a mortal enemy, and look forward to her future contributions. Sounds like we’ll be getting back to the Gastrea. Yeah…remember those?

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Black Bullet – 06

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The title of this episode was “Tragic Irony”, and I can’t really argue with its aptness. Not only is the sleepy Tina the would-be assassin of Seitenshi and Kisara, but she’s also an initiator and mechanized soldier. Her promoter (or master as she calls him) appears to keep her at arm’s length, letting her take care of business, and so far she seems quite up to the task.

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But yeah, even Tina and Satomi themselves seem to be saddened by the fact that they’re actually mortal enemies. She wasn’t putting on a pesona when they hung out; she genuinely liked him and was grateful to know someone kind, a kind of person she’s interacted with too infrequently. But regardless, both of them are professionals with jobs to do, and neither is backing down from the other.

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The blow might’ve have been heavier had there been more than a superficial connection between the two, such as one saving the other’s life, or learning more about each other’s pasts. Instead, their friendship only lasted a total of a few hours, tops. But I’m glad the show didn’t string out their mutual ignorance longer than it did, as it allows things to keep moving along. And the tragic irony still stings.

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What also stings, or rather itches and irritates, is the show’s penchant for unimaginatively-staged infodumps. Satomi’s sensei (who also apparently “built” him) is this week’s Font of Exposition, with an assist by Seitenshi, who dug up info Tina way too quickly, even for someone with her resources. Between that and the tedious competition among Kisara, Enju, and Miori for Satomi’s attention, well…let’s just say these aren’t the show’s strengths.

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Rather, Bullet is at its best when it casts aside the catfights and lengthy explaining and gets serious. Whether it’s the seriousness of Satomi and Enju’s bond, or the seriousness of the mortal peril they end up in, good things happen (for us) when the characters and the show get down to business. Take the final moments of the episode: Satomi calling Enju and becoming relieved when she picks up. I was waiting for her voicemail message to crush him, but it’s something worse: Tina picks up for Enju, saying…nothing at all.

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