Beyond the Darkness (Brynhildr)
Once in a while, a show comes along that leaves controversy in its wake. Whether it’s because it was over-hyped, under-hyped, poorly adapted, rushed, or just plain over the top, polarization’s the name of the game when it comes to a highly subjective medium, and Brynhildr ended up being a great poster child for this in particular.
Let me start off by saying this off the bat: Gokukoku no Brynhildr isn’t something that’ll be everyone’s cup of tea. There are obvious (major) omissions from the source material, the pacing shifts back and forth like no one’s business, slices of life moments turn into slices of death (and oh are these scenes dramatic) within a span of a few minutes, the main character clearly has some issues that need to be tended to, things don’t quite get explained from time to time, development tends to be a hit/miss… the list goes on. Clearly, Brynhildr’s not the shining example of how to adapt a series, but even then—even despite all these negatives—I must say I came out with fond memories of the series in the end.
In many ways, I’m not even sure why. Almost any other series with such negatives would’ve earned a trip straight to “dropped”-ville, but Brynhildr didn’t really ever come close to that for me. When it’s all said and done, there’s just a kind of artistic charm to a series such as this, and it’s something that started way back in the beginning of the first episode.
Yes, I’m talking about the opening sequence. The first and only vocal-less opening sequence I remember seeing in all my years of watching anime (okay, that’s an exaggeration, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some, but they’re pretty rare), it’s also one of the better sequences in general that I’ve seen in a while, and a perfect representation of what the Brynhildr universe is all about—blurring the line between life and death and living an actual life versus dying without ever getting to. It wasn’t particularly flashy, but it was different, subtle, and it worked. Here was a show that was clearly intended to be a bit ridiculous, over the top, hilarious, jaw-dropping, shocking, simple, and complex at the same time, and it’s the kind of show that you could switch your brain off and enjoy watching for what it is (entertainment) on a weekly basis.
Really, there’s so much you could have fun with in this show, and despite the rather rough-shodden development, there’s a cast here you’ll enjoy watching purely due to the circumstances they’re in. There’s just a kind of charm in seeing characters who’ve never been able to experience life do so for the first time ever, and it’s also refreshing to see a main character who’s generally quite competent (even if Murakami does have a few screws loose) in supporting them. Each episode also tends to have some memorable dialogue for one reason or another—whether it’s in the comedic virgin jokes or the more serious discussions about death—and the interactions between a cast that by all means shouldn’t be together normally are things that make this show a worthwhile watch by themselves. Add in crazy supernatural powers on part of both the cast and the villains, and it’s just icing on the cake of a story that’s equal parts Sci-Fi, Horror, Comedy, and overall hard to stomach at the same time.
With that said, again, Brynhildr’s not something for everyone. To make it tougher, the ending was controversial for even people that liked how the show was going. It clearly could’ve used an extra-cour to expand on things and it might be arguably better to go straight to the source material instead, but who knows? I enjoyed it when it was all said and done, and I think I can speak for a fair amount of people when I say others did too—at least, up until the last few controversial episodes. If there’s anything in the aforementioned that gets you interested, I’d give it a watch. Who knows? You might just find yourself with a surprise source of entertainment.