On its own, this is a stylish but fairly unremarkable OVA. It's saying dark, interesting things about the possessive side of friendship, but it's also slow and underplotted.
The full history of this franchise, though, is weird.
Black Rock Shooter was originally just a character in a series of drawings by an artist known as huke. The character's at once underdressed (bikini) and overdressed (long black coat), with enormous pigtails and big weapons. These pictures got uploaded to huke's Pixiv profile... and then one day a Vocaloid synthesiser band, Supercell, made a music video about her. The song and character became sufficiently well known on the internet that eventually this OVA happened. And more. Here's a list of Black Rock Shooters:
- 1. The original illustrations.
- 2. The Hatsune Miku song and music video.
- 3. This 2010 OVA.
- 4. A eight-episode 2012 anime TV series based on the OVA.
- 5. An RPG for PlayStation Portable, which later got a manga adaptation.
- 6. A web minigame.
- 7. Innocent Soul, an alternate continuity manga.
- 8. Black Rock-chan, a four-panel gag manga.
- 9. Arcana, a Japan-only social game for Android devices.
- 10. Dawn Fall, a twelve-episode 2022 anime series.
- 11. Fragment, a 2022 mobile phone game.
This 2010 OVA doesn't have enough plot for a full series, but I'm planning to keep watching the other related anime. Hopefully they'll expand it.
Anyway, I should talk about what I watched this morning.
It's set in two worlds. There's a real world and an Other World, or dreamworld, or magical realm, or something. I was assuming "dreamworld", partly because the first transition between them involves Mato waking up in bed and partly because the girls in the Other World appear to have super-strength, can smash through scenery, jump impossible heights, survive fatal injuries, etc. (I think. Unless the girls in that opening sequence aren't actually the two girls we see fighting later, because one of the first two got killed.)
What happens in the Other World looks cool, but is mostly unimportant. Girls fight. That's it, really.
In the real world, though, our heroines are schoolgirls. They do ordinary stuff. They brush their teeth, make toast and complain about having to wake up their little brothers. (Well, Mato does anyway. We never see Yomi's home life, but she's just returned to Japan from Germany and she uses very formal language when talking to her mother.)
Also, importantly, Mato makes friends with Yomi on their first day at their new school. This was a challenge since Yomi is bad at this whole "making friends" thing, but before long they're inseparable and doing everything together.
This lasts for half the OVA. In ordinary anime terms, that's the equivalent of a full episode that's more or less plotless.
Halfway though, though, is a story development! A year has passed, so Mito and Yomi are starting their second year... and they're now in different classes! This will put a small crimp in their friendship. They can see each other in breaks and after school, but they can't sit together all the time. You wouldn't expect this to be a significant obstacle, but no. Mito makes another friend, in basketball club. Is this bad? Does Yomi have the right to assume that Mito belongs to her alone and to get moody when she's left out of basketball conversations? We could definitely have that conversation, but you'll still understand her feelings when she starts drifting into "third wheel" status. Ouch.
This is a delicate little story, despite its showy-but-mute Other World fighting interludes. It also has a short but important scene after the end credits. Calling it "plot-light" would be an understatement, but I don't mind it. It's nice and mildly interesting. I'm keeping my expectations in check for the 2012 anime series, though.