Seeing as I had no confidence in the summer season, I decided to invent a backlog of shows to watch from one of three different areas. The seventh show on this list was Black Bullet a show that began airing this past spring and that I had never attempted to watch because I thought I would drop it. I marathoned it, and these are my thoughts on the series.
I had pretty much cut down the amount of shows I was watching by the time the spring started. As far as Black Bullet was concerned, all I knew about it was from the first chapter of the manga. Actually, check that, I think it was just as far as Rentarou being woken in the typical little sister style typical of the harem genre that I checked out. I later added a bit more information with this review I glazed over since the reviewer called that one show the smartest anime in years.
Black Bullet is definitely not the most intelligent anime in any number of years, though perhaps it holds the edge over the much-maligned Sword Art Online. However, this is a show about ideas; badly and laughably executed ideas, but ideas nonetheless. That gives it an edge in my book, and that’s probably why I enjoyed this show much more than I really should have.
The story centers on a group of girls born around ten years prior to the start of the series. That was when giant insects began ravishing the Earth and infecting people as hosts to further spread the havoc the brought upon humanity. These girls happen to be born as carriers of whatever infects the rest of the people, but it gives them super abilities as long as they are able to maintain over half their humanity. Unfortunately, they are viewed as cursed so aren’t very popular with the local people. A few of these young girls are able to partner with a so-called civil servant to really just battle with whatever the evil entity of the particular arc is.
The story in Black Bullet progresses in a way that is similar to Index, though with significantly less punching of women in the face. Rentarou, using the replacement body parts grafted onto him by mad-scientist Muroto Sumire, manages to win a number of improbable battles and brings the defeated to his side; provided they don’t die first. Along the way, he also happens to pick up a harem of 10-year-old girls with super strength and high rank along with batshit crazy high school girls.
Besides that, what actually makes this show work are the moments of shock and absurdity that seem to happen at least once an episode. It leads to legendary moments like a railgun that can destroy a giant monster not having any ammunition loaded. Then, that same railgun can be destroyed by Rentarou because future consequences, then not being made a pariah. There’s the first villain, Hiruko Kagetane, who decides to help Rentarou because plot. How about also having a class of small girls express their desire to marry Rentarou, then have them blown up by terrorists? In addition, there are numerous Rentarou Jesus moments where he starts crying at how terrible the world is. Yet, he continues to fight for the same people who bring injustice to the whole world. Then, there’s the final absurdity where he finds out that his boss, Vague Kidney Disease’s Tendou Kisara, is just a more brutal version of Charles Bronson in the Death Wish films. Sequel hook, my friend; sequel hook.
Through it all, there are only two pillars of consistency as far as the characters are concerned. Saitenshi, the 16-year-old girl (because non-violent girl needed for light novel sales) who rules the Tokyo area, acts like she has her own death wish or a messianic complex. At least she’s consistently like that. Then there’s the female lead, Aihara Enju, the cursed child that works under Rentarou. When she’s not trying to convince Rentarou to be her future husband, she’s actually a consistent and hard worker. That’s why it’s not really a surprise when she plays second fiddle come the latter stages of the series. I think Enju’s character development is one of the few bright spots with the characters in this series. She starts as a little sister character that is a bit annoying, and she becomes a support figure to everyone.
So as to the question of how I managed to enjoy the show to some degree despite what was written above. I’ve emphasized a number of times that I am a fan of shows that are willing to embrace ideas even if they fail in the most comical fashion. Black Bullet fits that case by trying to take on issues like racism, post-war militarization, crony capitalism, PTSD and enforced social hierarchy. It manages to fail at addressing all of these. The act of simply trying is better than staying in a safe area and just accepting being an action harem show.
Ultimately, that is what drove my enjoyment. It was like seeing a late-80s or early-90s action movie with all the ham-fisted writing and attempts to make the stars more sensitive, but unbelievable. The action was still fun to watch as the body count in this show was much higher than I expected. I think I have come to the conclusion that I did enjoy this show unironically, even if it’s filled with characters that have no basis in reality, a plot that is not exceptional in anyway, fails to execute its ideas and makes Rentarou the most attractive man in the world to all under-18 women. I’m not embarrassed to admit I liked it, but would I recommend it to anyone else? Oh hell no.
Next Week: Shipping and a card game, but mostly shipping.