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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「極黒のブリュンヒルデ 」 (Gokokoku no Brynhildr) by (Tokisawa Nao)

「きみを待ちながら」 (Kimi o Machingara)
“Waiting for You”

Toss another log on what’s shaping up to be a pretty vigorous fire this season.

I had pretty high expectations for Gokukoku no Brynhildr. Not masterpiece level or anything, but this looked like a series with a spark of originality and wit that would be a nice change of pace from the standard fare on every anime schedule. The big name here isn’t the director or A.D. but the creator of the source material – Okamoto Lynn, who’s best known as the creator of Elfen Lied. I wouldn’t say that’s a great series, but certainly it’s one of the most provocative and shocking anime we’ve seen in the last decade, and it manages to be that while telling a pretty good story with fairly complex characters.

Elfen Lied was also the showpiece for Arms Studio, who’ve had other commercial successes but nothing with the artistic merit of Elfen Lied. So seeing them reunited with Okamoto-sensei (shepherded by inconsistent veteran director Imaizumi Kenichi) is quite the interesting prospect. If we’re seeing a new golden age for sports anime, we might just be in the midst of a horror renaissance as well – there are several more shows on tap for this year, the most intriguing of which are Parasyte and Tokyo Ghoul (I don’t know that I’d call Watanabe Shinichirou’s Terror in Tokyo a horror series based on the early returns).

The first episode of Brynhildr in the Darkness did indeed have some scary moments, but what really struck me in watching it is how funny it was. And then I remembered that you know, Elfen Lied was pretty damn funny sometimes too, in spite (and occasionally even because) of its spectacular levels of violence. My sense all along has been that this series is going to be less graphically brutal and more sad than Elfen Lied, but it’s really too soon to say – the premiere isn’t giving all that much away. What it does illustrate is that Okamoto can write very good dialogue, and the staff and cast assembled for the adaptation seem capable of translating to anime.

We start in the past, with two small children – a boy named Murakami Ryouta (Satou Rina) and the girl he calls Kuroneko (Taneda Risa). The two play together all the time though he doesn’t even know her real name (which is odd, though not impossible). She’s a strange little wisp who has three moles under her arm and believes in aliens, for whom he helps her search. But she senses that deep down he doesn’t believe her, and tells him she knows where a real alien is, even acquiescing to his demand to be taken to see it. This leads to the accident that defines Ryouta’s life. As the two children are tiptoeing across a pipe halfway up the face of a huge dam (don’t ask) he slips and falls – and then makes the decision he’ll always regret, grabbing her hand when she offers it. He lives, she dies (or so they tell him) and he dedicates his life to becoming an astronomer so he can find aliens and prove her right.

In the present, Ryouta is now a brainy (the top-testing 11th-grader in Japan) would-be astronomer played by Ohsaka Ryouta. It’s when the transfer student shows up (it’s always when the transfer student shows up) that things get weird. She’s a dead-ringer for his dead friend, and the teacher introduces her as “Kuroha Neko” (at which I laughed enthusiastically, and I’m confident I was meant to). This starts a chain of events that displays snappy dialogue, clever direction and some very funny gags – the first of which is when Ryouta demands that Kuroha-chan “show me your armpits!” in front of the entire class. A classmate almost dies when her knee is sucked into the pool filter in a rather silly but still rather creepy-in-an-Another sort of way scene. Later, when Ryouta is star-gazing at the school observatory with the 200-inch reflecting telescope (again, don’t ask) Kuroha shows up and tells him that two students were supposed to have died that day – the girl at the pool was the first, and he’s the second. And if he wants to live, he better not miss the last bus.

Reading all that back it sounds kind of silly – but really, would you ever have called Elfen Lied realistic? Okamoto is a highly stylized writer who isn’t striving for photorealism, but a kind of absorbing surrealism in a realistic setting, and it’s working for me here. I love the Hitchcock-style instrumental OP and the over-the-top nature of the pool scene, and the dialogue between Ryouta and Kuroneko (or not) is excellent. She reveals odd things about herself little by little: she thinks multiplication tables are something you eat at. She’s ridiculously strong despite having “squishy” arms (and stomps Ryouta at arm-wrestling to prove it). And she has an old-school military phone in her bag, on which she receives a call telling her that Ryouta is “going to die either way”. At this point she casually tells him “It’s fine if you miss the bus after all”, which is another very funny moment – though she soon reveals she intended to save him anyway.

I smelled the mudslide coming long before it happened, but again, it was well-staged. At this point Kuroha saves Ryouta using some very unnatural abilities, then tells him that she’s a witch who’s escaped from the scientists who made her that way with “surgery and drugs” (which of course implies something other than witchcraft altogether). Is she really Kuroneko? Well, she doesn’t have the moles – but the degree of coincidence is a bit too much to write off here. I’m thinking clone or alien myself, but that will obviously be revealed in the episodes to come, as will the reason she’s been tasked with “saving the world from ruin”. In any event I’m quite interested in finding out – this was a vastly entertaining premiere, with characters who aren’t idiots, and doesn’t seem to be trading on the nauseatingly familiar cliches and tropes most anime rely on. I still don’t really know whether Gokukoku no Brynhildr is horror, science-fiction or comedy – I suspect a healthy measure of all three – but so far at least it’s working beautifully.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「いちばん星」 (Ichiban Hoshi) by (Risa Taneda, Aya Suzaki, MAO, & Azusa Tadokoro)

April 8, 2014 at 6:37 am
55 comments »
  • April 8, 2014 at 6:49 amdarkerthanblack

    I was waiting for this!!! I love the manga!!! For now they are doing a good job on this episode.

  • April 8, 2014 at 7:03 ambanzemanga

    Weirdest scenarios and reactions. When the girl was drowning, only the teacher and a few people were panicking. There rest were watching like if it was any other normal day.

    In the mudslide, the guy was had his feet buried, and all of the sudden it was all gone. First reaction when your feet are buried is to dig your feet out with your hands, but no, he just stares at the coming boulder. Also, that slam towards the side rail with all that mud would have broken his spine and be long dead.

    Not really a series to expect much other than criticism.

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:25 amGuardian Enzo

      Do you really think a person would have time to dig themselves out from being waist deep in mud before a boulder can fall a hundred feet or so?

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:31 amSDFGS

      that’s a natural reaction. there has been multiple psychological experiments seeing if a person would help a complete stranger on the street who is having a heart attack and unfortunately there has been a large amount that either ignores or just watches it. Plus having the ENTIRE class freak out would be a bad thing, plus its unneeded. In those cases as long as a few people know what they’re doing then its fine, any extra people helping would get in the way, what you expect the boys to do, all get in the pool and help the teacher pull her out? Sheesh.
      Plus I agree with Enzo, no one would have had the right amount of time to dig themselves out.

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:34 amActus

      Not everything happens like in drama. When someone is injured, only a select few actually go and help, others merely look blankly at the scene as it is something out of the ordinary. On the contrary, as unsympathetic as it may sound, it would not be reflective of reality if everyone tried to help.

    • April 8, 2014 at 9:27 amSwarz

      This is something that really happened, and I’ve seen the video of it.
      A person was cut up on city road in broad day light. And how many of the surrounding people do you think decided to help him?…. None. What’s really more sad was, while an arm, and a leg cut off, the man was still trying to get up. Still what all the bunch of onlookers did was surround him and watch while taking videos…

    • April 8, 2014 at 12:44 pmSK

      Unfortunately the Bystander Effect occurs quite often, which is why you should do as the teacher did and specifically tell someone to go get help, rather than just shout “get help”. The more onlookers there are, the more individuals assume that someone else will do something about it.

      Also, the obvious first reaction while you’re calm and have a clear head is not always the first reaction you have when something unexpected happens and your life is suddenly in danger.

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:51 pmewok40k

      Call it “deer in the headlights” effect. Many people faced with danger just freeze over, and it actually often saves them in many of the dangerous life scenarios. (E.G., many predators tend to chase running victims).

      Anyway series looks promising with techno-mages fighting death flags.
      Especially as Kuroneko looks almost like expy of certain other character with same name…
      (I am calling Kuroha Kuroneko because I think somebody might have removed her stigma/cloned her/whatever…)

    • April 8, 2014 at 10:12 pmbanzemanga

      @Guardian Enzo
      I agree that there is not enough time to dig himself out. The guy just got hit by a mudslide and he wakes up without a single injury and no panic.

      @SK
      I understand the bystander effect. But even with the bystander effect. Look at the girls around the teacher. They are standing so far back instead of supporting each other. Look at their hands, all down. The reactions are so freaking out of place.

      • April 9, 2014 at 12:37 amOkay

        Pshaw, looks pretty shocked to me.
        http://i.imgur.com/vLTzxTz.jpg

      • April 9, 2014 at 12:46 amOkay

        Also if someone got hurt or is drowning during PE class in school, I highly doubt other students will go and try to help them, it would probably only the teacher. Come on, you should know this if you’ve been to school…kids rarely want to get involved.

  • April 8, 2014 at 7:07 amonion warrior

    is this a thriller anime? great one for mood switch from all the sugary and hyped up animes ^^

    love how focus Ryouta is and doesnt get distracted easily XD everything is science to him…

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:37 amAex

      Show Spoiler ▼

      • April 8, 2014 at 11:42 amonion warrior

        haha~ this is great! when was the last time we had a thriller anime goin on XDDD

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:58 amKF

      It’s a tragedy…

    • April 8, 2014 at 9:32 amAnoBakaDesu

      The author is Lynn Okamoto, i.e. Elfen Lied. And now you know.

      • April 8, 2014 at 11:43 amonion warrior

        im sensing “psychology” abuse here XDD

  • April 8, 2014 at 7:07 amThe Last Idiot

    actually, this anime is already on my watch list already since the plot has already captured my attention…

    but the kurohaneko-kuroneko part seems to be an open book already.

  • April 8, 2014 at 8:08 amhaseo0408

    Many people point out to me how similar this series is to Elfen Lied but I think that´s only the initial reaction, after reading all the chapters available I have to say the story has its personality and the characters are unique and to my taste I think I like this more than Elfen Lied. Also, I like the way it pictures the very best and worst of human nature, makes you wonder why humans are so afraid of people with powers when we can be real monsters.

  • April 8, 2014 at 8:17 amTerrorhunt

    Watched it yesterday and I like what I’ve seen so far, but as a fan of the manga, I personally felt that this adaptation is a bit too soon. While I have zero doubt with Studio ARMS’ capability (as proven with Elfen Lied), I would have prefer if they’ve waited bit longer. I enjoyed the adaptation of Elfen Lied, but I prefer the manga as not only it felt complete, but also because it left a much bigger impact for me at the end.

    That being said, I would prefer if Studio ARMS remake Elfen Lied much closer to the manga and allow Brynhildr manga to properly progress.

    P.S: I’m still going to follow this anime and see what surprises are ARMS going throw out.

  • April 8, 2014 at 8:37 amzztop

    Okamoto Lynn, the man behind Brynhildr:
    http://www.anime-planet.com/images/people/lynn-okamoto-64.jpg

    The manga currently spans 6 volumes and is still ongoing.
    PS. Gokukoku,極黒,in the title, literally means ‘Extreme-Black’.

  • April 8, 2014 at 9:05 amGermanguy

    Oh yes, i found this Anime interesting..

    But…

    The Sound for the OP, dont fit at all. Hope this was just a Fast replacement version, and we will get the Final OP with Episode 02

    • April 8, 2014 at 6:11 pmhaseo0408

      Actually, I really like the OP as it is now, I wouldn´t mind a version with voices but the current one fits the series mood very well. The images in the OP are the thing that worries, as a reader of the manga I have to say that the pace in the first episode was great but if this is only a 13 episodes series then we have some serious problem if they plan to adapt all of the images in that OP.

  • April 8, 2014 at 9:11 amDvalinn

    I, for one, welcome the horror renaissance. Nothing better to offset a slice-of-life happy show than with something dark and disturbing. Kind of a sweet-and-sour thing.

    This is definitely a show that forgoes the three-episode-rule and landed on my to-watch list already. Because really, the first episode already managed to create an interesting premise, characters who have potential and the feeling that I hadn’t seen this a thousand times before. No idea whether the show can deliver on its potential, but I’ll definitely find out. The fact that it’s from the guys who made Elfen Lied (which I loved back in the day) is only the cherry on the cake.

  • April 8, 2014 at 9:13 amAltherion

    Solid first episode. If they keep up this style of adapting, it’ll be great. Interested to see how far they push in the original material since they seem to only have one-cour to play with.

  • April 8, 2014 at 9:39 amPancakes

    I’m going to keep watching just to find out what the twist is here. Like Elfen Lied I laughed more than became touched or shocked by the violence/sadness, largely due to the over the top, melodramatic nature of the show. Brynhildr looks to be a tamer Elfen Lied currently, not as much glorified violence as tragicomedy thriller. That’s not to say it’s going to be bad, far from it, but the potential for a train wreck does exist. Going to need a few more episodes though to see how things unfold.

  • April 8, 2014 at 10:11 amShanHaxx

    Let’s hope this Kuroneko will have a bit more luck than the one in Oreimo.

    • April 8, 2014 at 10:00 pmhaseo0408

      Don´t jinx it dude!.

  • April 8, 2014 at 11:06 amHakumeiJin

    This episode definitely interested me in watching some more but before any of that, a Parasyte anime? Never would have expected that especially after all this time but definitely looking forward to it now.

  • April 8, 2014 at 11:15 amCTT

    You had me sold at Elfen Lied and “die”

  • April 8, 2014 at 11:30 ammagoiichi

    Looks like it’s shaping up to be the kind of good adaptation I always hoped it would be. The OP and ED are good.

    It looks like there might be an anime original ending, there’s a character in the OP that I don’t recognize. So either I’m not as far in the manga as I thought, or it’s an anime original character like Rabou in Noragami.

    I’m fine with either, I’m just glad it got an anime at all.

    • April 8, 2014 at 12:14 pmWanderer

      You’re not the first to say that. From what I hear, the character you don’t recognize comes from chapters of the manga that haven’t been translated yet.

    • April 8, 2014 at 6:18 pmhaseo0408

      Those characters you don´t recognize appear around chapter 60 and some of the events describe in the OP are from chapter 90 onwards. I´m good with an original ending, I just hope the studio this incredible story trying to adapt such huge amount of story with so little time.

      • April 8, 2014 at 6:37 pmmagoiichi

        The only characters I don’t recognize is the white haired chick and the church looking people. So not anime original characters, but anime original ending confirmed? Or they might pull a Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge and tease us with characters that don’t even appear in the first season only to make us wish that there was a second season.

        I’m still waiting for that second season of Crime Edge by the way, don’t tease me bro TvT

      • April 8, 2014 at 6:39 pmhaseo0408

        I´m not teasing you, it´s just that I have a bad feeling thanks to those images.

      • April 8, 2014 at 8:44 pmmagoiichi

        I meant for the anime studio that does Crime Edge not to tease me. If the ending is anime original, I just hope it is done well enough to make sense.

  • April 8, 2014 at 3:00 pmBlackBriar

    So this is where Xenovia and Vali/Yukina Himeragi and Motoki Yaze Risa Taneda and Ryota Ohsaka went to after they were finished with High School DxD New and Strike the Blood. Interesting show nonetheless.

    • April 9, 2014 at 4:00 amc2710

      “No senpai… This is OUR fight”

  • April 8, 2014 at 5:30 pmZephyr

    Having read some of the manga before hand to do the preview, the thing I gotta say is that they really adapted things here nearly frame for frame, which is nice. The vocal-less OP made things really interesting though, and it was pretty fresh OP in many ways. Ultimately, show seems worth watching for sure.

    Wonder how it’ll work out when it’s all said and done though, but I guess that’s part of the fun!

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:11 pmkoge

      I don’t think I’ll be picking this show up – but more anime need to embrace the instrumental OP.

  • April 8, 2014 at 5:40 pmAmiluhur

    I’ve no idea how much budget ARMS received for this project, but the entire thing looked dirt cheap. The animation was really bland, there’s also some awkward characters movement during pool scene, and the bus is CG. Other than that, it’s a pretty solid first episode. And as a manga reader myself, i’d say that it’s very faithful in adapting the entire first chapter, although few things, such as poolside wreckage and the sudden revelation at the end would probably get anime-only viewers scratch their head. I’m definitely going to watch this show till the end, if only to see how faithful it’ll be compared to manga.

    • April 8, 2014 at 10:42 pmx

      lol. No matter how “cheap” this looks, this is still better than many of their other animes before this one IMO :p. There’s a lot less inappropriate distractions, no out of place weird colours (that I could notice), no weird lens flare effects, … etc. With ARMS, I’d rather they go frugal than mess up the animation by trying to be too fancy :p.

    • April 8, 2014 at 11:05 pmGuardian Enzo

      It didn’t look all that cheap to me to begin with. It’s obviously not a BONES or I.G. show, but I thought the animation was decent and the direction was quite stylish (not that the latter costs anything extra).

  • April 8, 2014 at 5:55 pmbolton

    Brynhildr, so far, is executing really well. The drama mixes seamlessly with the comedy, not many shows can do that. The only really weird scene was the pool filter incident, how it comes about is cheesy and how Kuroha waits until the last moment to save her (this is what I assume happens) is just silly. But, and while I thought it was strange at first, I am enjoying the small things like how Ryouta didn’t look for Kuroha’s armpits in the swimming scene, and how in the end, we learn that he still had his hopes, which allowed me to think that he just didn’t want to betray them. There’s mystery, and violence is guaranteed to happen in the future, but the fact that this show doesn’t take itself too seriously is something I really like. How Kuroha believes she is a magic-user when the origins of her abnormalities is a strange and obscene object implanted into the back of her neck and injections is hilarious; a clever and well thought-out joke that links to Ryouta’s tragic memory of Kuroneko, and her strong belief in aliens.

    Kuroha may be a little too moe for my tastes, but the show so far seems good. I can definitely see the series going either way.

  • April 8, 2014 at 6:51 pmRiktol

    1) I am jealous of his telescope. Damn his eyes, why don’t I get to have nice things like that?
    2) I was shocked when he apologised. I have apparently internalised that, in anime, people wilfully create needless drama by not apologising simply and clearly.
    3) I think I need to watch Elfen Lied before someone spoils the whole thing in the discussion. When am I going to find the time for that?

    • April 14, 2014 at 4:17 pmKob264

      Just watch the first 5 minutes of the firs episode alone, the time will apear out of any of your subsecuent free time. If that doesn’t hook you then Elfen Lied isn´t for you.

  • April 8, 2014 at 11:18 pmTaiakun

    Well no wonder I was getting an Elfen Lied vibe!

  • April 9, 2014 at 3:54 amCringe

    Cringe Meter Log:
    Joining NASA to search for aliens – cringe
    Standing up to express shock when tranfer student comes in – cringe
    Walking up to Kuroha and screaming “Show me your armpits” – uncontrollable cringing
    Fatal error. Commencing shutdown.

    • April 9, 2014 at 4:04 amActus

      Well aliens is not really what you see in the movies. It’s definition could be any extra-terrestrial life form – which includes all forms of life, including bacteria, etc (or perhaps viruses depending on which school of thought you belong to). This is really what is being done, so it’s not too far-fetched.

      • April 9, 2014 at 7:18 amc2710

        That or organisms that are not native to the environment

  • April 9, 2014 at 4:01 amc2710

    Totally sold on the show.

  • April 9, 2014 at 5:17 amTheMoondoggie

    >Loli dies
    >Someone who looks like her appears
    >She’s probably her! Show me your armpits!

    Oh well. This just made everything more interesting.

  • April 9, 2014 at 5:32 amI come in peace

    Searching for planets in habitable zones and studying their atmosphere for biosignatures and red edges? Passive and Acive SETI? Water hole? Fermi Paradox? ALH84001? Melt probes in Europa?

    Let’s be honest, in this context, the aliens they are referring to is exactly the type that appears in movies.

  • April 20, 2014 at 3:10 pmjhpace1

    Yes it’s late but…

    Having just watched episode 3 (with all the darkness that episode 2 and 3 entail), for some reason the intro music, Gokokoku no Brynhildr by Tokisawa Nao, as well as the animation done, really struck me. This might be the best intro of the season, IMHO.

    - heavy violins Romantic (i.e., provoke an emotion)
    - fast, bittersweet beat
    - animation that puzzles:
    : girls rising to the sun as if they were sunflowers
    : girls bleeding from wounds, but those wounds go away when the world around them is swept with disaster, leaving the girls untouched, as if they are going backwards in time. Or the plot is saying: when these girls are healed, the rest of the world is wrecked.

  • April 29, 2014 at 10:10 amHunterWulf

    Why isn’t this series getting any coverage here aside from this entry, i just watched episode 4 i have to say it’s one of the best shows this season, it deserves way more attention.