It seems like an odd way to describe a series that shows us what we’ve seen from this one already, but the word I most want to describe Gokukoku no Brynhildr with is “goofy”. It’s always odd – but interesting – to watch a show that frequently makes you say “I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to be laughing here or not.” But I’m pretty sure I am, at least most of the time – I think this series knows what it’s doing and is intentionally putting an absurdist spin on what’s increasingly looking like grim and depressing subject matter (as, for that matter, did Elfen Lied).
Given the hints dropping like anvils since it began and the author behind it, Gokukoku no Brynhildr was always destined to be a dark ride. The first sign that things are seriously amiss is the SDF convoy that passes Ryouta on his way to deliver a transfer form and school trip guide to the absent (Kuro?)Neko (at an address which turns out to be a roadside viewpoint). Inside one of the trucks are two bound and naked girls, and even if you have Neko’s arithmetical skills it’s likely you can put two and two together and get four here.
It turns out Kuroha(Neko?) has no plans to return to school – she’s saved the people she planned to save, and is now hiding out in an abandoned village that was originally going to be submerged by the dam that was presumably where Kuroneko purportedly died. Ryouta stumbled upon her as she’s hanging clothes out to dry and singing a truly ridiculous song about her own heroic exploits – the first of several moments in the ep that are extremely funny in an awkward way (again – I believe intentionally). It further turns out that she’s living in one of the derelict houses with a fellow escapee, Kana (Suzuku Aya). May I just say I love the fact that despite the fact that the house is half-collapsed and ramshackle, everyone dutifully takes their shoes off before entering – this is, after all, a country where burglars routinely take their shoes off before robbing people’s homes.
Everything about Kana is truly ridiculous, starting with the fact that she’s dressed in goth-loli attire for no good reason. She’s also almost completely paralyzed due to the experiments which also gave her the ability to forecast people’s deaths, but can move her left hand – very quickly, too – which she uses to communicate via a voice synthesizing keyboard which looks like something a court reporter might have used in 1972 but speaks with a perfectly natural tsuntsun moegirl voice. She uses this device to verbally abuse the visiting Ryouta, but she does manage to convince Kuroha to go back to school and enjoy life while she can, because “this life isn’t going to last long”.
Any doubts as to the veracity of Neko’s story can certainly be set aside after witnessing the demise of Kanade, a fellow escapee who was captured, and was one of the two girls we saw in the AAV – along with a muggle who I assume was a friend, who now knows too much. The lab boys are a pretty nasty piece of work, and the “eject” Kanade as punishment for escaping – the pop the cork on the back of her neck and she appears to dissolve in a mess of steam and goo. Kana has predicted this of course – and she also predicts another death the next day, which she warns the at-school Neko about via the Kana signal. A woman in red will die in front of the curry shop near the station, and Kuroha and Ryouta manage to prevent it by almost getting run over by her and her bike on the way and slowing her down enough to miss the car that drives into the curry shop (when I worked at Burger King as a high-schooler, a woman drove her Mercedes into the front of the restaurant, sent one of our employees to the hospital, then ordered a Whopper and fries).
It’s just a weird show, this Gokukoku no Brynhildr. There are random lingering close-ups of characters from the waist down and comedy at the oddest times and random nosebleeds and there’s that magnificently old-school instrumental OP. Somehow, put in a blender like a beautiful piece of cake (another hilarious moment, Kana crying for the fate of the cake) it all comes out tasting good to me. There’s an interesting atmosphere here, a nice mix of creepiness and gore that never feels too heavy because the whole thing has a somewhat irreverent tone. And I admit I’m quite interested to find out what’s going on with the plot, too. I’m not sure how well this show holds up to serious analysis, but in the moment it’s pretty darn entertaining, at least so far.