Tuesday 8 April 2014

First Impressions: Brynhildr in the Darkness

Brynhildr in the Darkness

The Spring 2014 anime season just keeps getting better and better, as Captain Earth isn't the only new show on offer from the makers of some of my absolute favourites. Brynhildr in the Darkness (or Gokukoku no Brynhildr if you prefer) is a brand new show based on the ongoing manga by Lynn Okamoto - author of a little title that goes by the name of Elfen Lied.

The story focuses on Ryouta Murakami, a boy who's childhood friend (who he simply knew as 'Kuroneko') died in a tragic accident he feels responsible for. Taking on her wish to prove that aliens exist, Ryouta now spends his days dedicated to the stars. However things take a strange turn when a new student turns up at his school who looks exactly like Kuroneko would if she were still alive. However the girl, named Neko Kuroha, lacks Kuroneko's distinct moles and claims they've never met. Later, the two meet at an observatory and Neko warns Ryouta that if he leaves that night he will die. Wanting to believe her but at the same time feeling the need to prove her correct, Ryouta leaves only to be saved from death my a super powered Neko - revealing herself as a 'magic' user that has escaped from a research lab.

Now anyone who's watched Elfen Lied will know that it's mainly known for three things - violence, gore and nudity. While that displayed all three things within the first five minutes, Brynhildr is much tamer on this side of things - although that pretty powerful opening sequence might be foreshadowing something a little more brutal. Not that it needs the visual violence, because the opening story about Ryouta's childhood is pretty grim as it is. The rather cliche idea of someone who can foresee people's deaths is one that could very easily fall flat, but Brynhildr manages to present it in an interesting enough manner while at the same time only giving brief snippets about just who Neko is. Is she Kuroneko or is this all just one big coincidence? We'll have to keep watching to find out...

The visuals and character design are also extremely similar to Elfen Lied, not just because the two share the same author but because they are also animated by the same studio - Arms (who's main forte seems to be fan service-heavy shows like Ikki Tousen and Samurai Girls). I wouldn't go as far as to say the animation is anything standout, but its good quality stuff and the colours really pop in the darker/night time scenes. The episode only really introduces Ryouta and Neko (but the OP teases more characters to come), both of which get off to a great start. Ryouta's adherence to logic and science shapes his character well, and while Neko has the whole 'mysterious anime girl' thing going for her the exchanges with Ryouta set her apart from the usual silent types.

Brynhildr in the Darkness has gotten off to a fantastic start, but the fact its only 13 episodes long and based on an ongoing manga could prove to be a problem. Elfen Lied shared the same problem when it aired, leading to an extremely open ending that's never going to get any real conclusion. But at the same time, cutting the manga story short might have worked wonders for Elfen Lied because boy did that story get weird. So the length might not be so much of a problem, it's whether Brynhildr will be able to wrap everything up in a neat little package.

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