Quick synopsis: the show is set in a dystopian future where giant creatures threaten to end the human race. The humans continue to lead their lives as they would behind the safety of giant structures erected about the world in which they live, and that keeps the giant creatures out. The future of humanity is entrusted in the hands of people who have obtained some of the powers of those giant creatures within them, and fight them hand-in-hand with others.
The part which makes this show not Shingeki No Kyojin is that all those characters are also little girls. Having named my blog after this show, much like getting a tattoo of your highschool sweetheart only to break up before graduation, might seem like a bad idea in retrospect, because it most probably is. Black Bullet’s anime adaptation performed just as well as a bullet being fired: it continues to curve down over time until it finally hits the ground and makes no impact whatsoever.
The show stars plucky shonen protagonist Rentaro Satomi who conveniently is also a super soldier, our token childhood friend/ love interest Tendo Kisara, who is also a swordsman and every single flavor of loli available, from genki to yandere. The problem with the anime itself was not the setting/characters – those problems were with the light novel. The problem was mostly how the show slowly got more and more compressed at the end, with parts that needed to be done more, done less, and parts that didn’t need to be complex, made unecessarily so, resulting in an ultimately unsatisfying climax, much like your parents having another honeymoon trip at age 50.
The show started well enough, until the Great Gastrea War arc, which was pretty much the climax of the series. The premise was good enough: the officers versus what, a million Gastrea or something. Good game to Tokyo. The two main Gastrea they had to defeat were Pleaides and Aldebaran, the legendary Gastrea often mentioned throughout the series.
They simply defeat them.
I mean, it was so…anticlimactic.
It’s true that they had fights and everything, and they had drama and action and whatsoever, with Rentaro forcing himself to work with Kagetane to defeat Pleaides, and the sacrifice of Shouma in taking down Aldebaran.
The way the show presented it however, was pretty strange, especially in the last episode, where Aldebaran died in about, 4-5ish minutes. It made the war seem pretty easy, despite how the anime showed that only a small fraction of Promoters survived. In reality, it gets worse: from the light novel, 83% of the army, 45% of the Navy and 95% of the Air Force is destroyed. Did we even get to see a naval battle..? I don’t recall. It made the climax much less intense than it could have been, given how every major battle ended in like, half an episode. Does society just recover from all that? I don’t even know.
With respect to the premise of the show, the show did focus on the aspect of the world being a dystopian society, but not enough, I feel – most of this ‘focus’ was on hatred towards the Cursed Children, who had the powers of Gastrea. Yet so many things were lacking – the military had like, one weapon against the Gastrea, and it was used previously: do they not have any training? Contingency plans? Do they hold anti-Gastrea drills? Do they even use Varanium bullets? And society operates peacefully enough despite the fact that giant monsters threaten to kill them all at moment’s notice.
The show also spends a lot of time with Enju and Rentaro finding in themselves inner turmoil over having to protect both the innocent and their tormentors, since the civilians ostracise and ruin the lives of the Cursed Children, from the bullying at school to the bombing of the Cursed Children class. I liked this since it helps remind us that the show was, after all, set in a dystopian future, and it did help develop the characters. However, it didn’t do so enough – ultimately, Rentaro turns out to be a generic shonen protagonist, with 3 default modes: youthful, angry, and angrier.
My main gripes with the ending, and perhaps the show was the last part of the episode.
The show was indeed, however, following the pace of the light novel, since the second part was dedicated to the end of Volume 4, or the epilogue. While in the light novel, the victim was an antagonist who uses the Tendo Gun style and wanted to execute Rentaro, the victim in the anime was Kisara’s brother who had parts to play in creating the Gastrea War thanks to his corruption when building the Monoliths. While in both cases the man was involved in the death of her parents, her sudden transition to becoming High School Kenshiro just wasn’t the same in the anime.
In the light novel at least there was some buildup to it all. There was gradual disillusionment, warnings from others, and it all pulled through together somehow – I mean, she still gets back with Rentaro in the next arc, despite her “evil” side still being there, and it continues to be a relevant part of the plot and of her development. In the anime it seemed more as though she just turns evil, forever. Contributing this much of the episode to the epilogue also made the conclusion less satisfying since we basically get introduced to this new Kisara at last moment’s notice. It’s as though they just decided that “oh shit, our characters are as static as Figure 11 targets, let’s fest it up” and make Rentaro and Kisara straight up stab people.
The ending reveals the main problem of the show: the fact that every episode is just too packed with events and scenes. Prior to the last arc the Seven Stars Arc and Tina’s Arc was pulled off very nicely because the show was allowed some legroom when depicting the events, especially in fleshing out the characters involved in both arcs regardless of whether they would end up to be recurring/major characters. However, perhaps in order to meet the end of Volume 4, many of the events end in the Great Gastrea War arc end up unexplained and unresolved, becoming very bland, shallow, and pointless on the surface babbling, much like most of this paragraph.
Anyway, I won’t deny that I liked watching the show. I watched it every week in the barracks. You could even say I was emotionally invested in some of the characters at some point. But at the end of it, the characters were bland, the plot was rushed, the art is forgettable, the music unmemorable, and nothing can really save that. It’s a show that started with a fantastic premise, only to devolve into loli jokes and boob gropes, slowly falling further and further into a slushie-like pile of rushed plot devices and sloppy character development, before ending up as a pile of goop on the kitchen counter.
My only hope is that in spite of all this, naming the blog after the show’s Monolith 32 won’t come back to bite me in the asshole.