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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