Black Rock Shooter, from art, to song, to several figures, to this OVA. The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally come… about 6 years ago. Nothing wrong with that, as there isn’t some kind of limit on how old or new something can or has to be, to be looked upon and reviewed. So, how does it hold up?
The OVA begins on an otherworldly island, where we find Black Rock Shooter (BRS), and Black Gold Saw (BGS) fighting each other. This assuredly takes place before the story, due to BRS not having the scars on her waist. I won’t go into any more detail here, as this scene is largely irrelevant and undoubtedly the only way they could work BGS into the OVA. All good in my book as more action scenes with either of them is just fine. After this fight, the title shows up and then we truly begin our bitter sweet story.
Here, we’re introduced to our main character, Kuroi Mato. We catch her waking up for her first day of high school life, with a burst of energy. If you’re one to linger in bed, that’s the way to do it. So, she gets ready and heads on out early. Get this though, we’re alluded to toast, but we aren’t given that overly cheesy anime cliche of running out the door holding the toast between your teeth. She has left early to visit a part of town that gives her a nice view of the area, and so she enjoys the view and spring breeze, while capturing the moment with her phone. Perhaps she enjoys the moment for too long as upon taking the picture, she realizes the time, and rushes off in a hurry – although she still stops to look before crossing the street.
A quick train ride later, and shes arriving at school, where she gets a glimpse of Takanashi Yomi arriving by car. We quickly learn that they’re classmates. They then head to an opening ceremony, which welcomes the new students to the school. Afterwards, Mato quickly breaks the ice with sheer determination, as we see her make up her mind to approach Yomi. But, not have anything planned to say, she awkwardly brings up Yomi’s height. To add to the awkwardness of the situation, we learn Yomi is self conscious of the fact. But hey, it all works out when you learn you live close to each other and bond by learning each others names, train buddies? I think so. The two become fast friends; both join sports clubs, which take place adjacent to each other, so the two are never too far apart. Mato shows Yomi her favorite view of the town from before, and gives her a matching phone accessory: a blue star. From there we see their friendship through out the year, all in a light-hearted montage with an upbeat soundtrack playing in the back.
We rejoin them as they enter their second year of high school, where we learn they’re no longer in the same class. While they try to remain positive about this fact, particularly Mato, we can see the gloom in their faces. We’re also introduced to Yuu, the Basketball clubs Super Manager, who is also now in Mato’s class. From here it goes downhill for Yomi as we see Mato’s friendship with Yuu grow, while Yomi ends up in the sidelines. All the while, a touching piano piece plays complimenting Yomi’s feeling of detachment and jealousy. To those of you who have seen a friendship grow apart with nothing you can do to prevent it, I’m sure you’ll be able to relate; I know I sure can. Due to these feelings, Yomi leaves school early without telling Mato much to her surprise.
Mato is quick to pick up on Yomi’s absence from her life, and almost 2 days go by with Mato missing her friend when she’s informed of Yomi’s disappearance. She immediately takes off and runs all the way home, this time not bothering to stop and watch the road before crossing the street like before. Before, she was in a hurry to catch the train. This time, she’s in a rush of despair to learn anything about what happened to her friend, and of course wanting to be of some help to finding her. Yuu tries to cheer her up at school the next day, to no avail. With the day coming to an end, Mato receives a text from Yomi while sulking in her bed. Finally, after all the unanswered texts she’s sent… but it’s blank. But, it isn’t meaningless just because it’s blank. With new found determination, she rushes out of the house on her bike to the place which overlooks the town. There in the grass she finds the star accessory she gave Yomi. As she holds it tightly near her heart, wondering where her friend is, it lights up and envelops her in light.
Enveloped by the light, Mato is asked by Black Rock Shooter, “Do you want to save Yomi?” She answers her by stating that she doesn’t want to save her, but rather that she wants to walk with her again, laugh with her again, and finally see her again, right now. The delivery of these lines, coupled with a piano arrangement of the Black Rock Shooter song, make for a very touching scene, while also introducing us to the title character, as well as showing the start of her adventure, which you’ve been treated to bits and pieces of through out the story in between scenes.
The story is really two different halves that are being told at around the same time. The first half is how these characters formed their friendship and how it blossomed. The second is saving Yomi, not with violence, but rather with a genuine embrace. After all, the other world which BRS inhabits is truly a physical manifestation of emotions, or at the very least the conflict which occurs within the world. The anime definitely makes this clearer, and goes deeper into that aspect.
The Black Rock Shooter OVA’s animation over these 6 years does not show its age. In fact, it looks just as good as a show you’d find on air today, if not better than some shows. While the soundtrack isn’t all that special, it does do its job well, and conveys the emotions throughout the show quite well, especially the final scene where Mato is enveloped by light; it goes into the final confrontation between BRS and Dead Master, with the same song carrying over that strong emotional build up. It’s not entirely a slice of life nor an action show, but rather a bit of both. Normally, I’d think that is a strange combination, but it works thanks to how they put it together. Going from all slice of life to all action would make for two very different halves of a show, and would be even stranger. Instead, BRS mixed it up, and due to that, made its own identity. I definitely recommend this OVA, specially if you can relate to some of those darker, lonelier feelings.
PS: I feel this OVA highlights the beauty of friendship, while also illustrating how fragile they can be, not to say that they’re irreparable.