Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 02

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I’m not sure what to make of Gokukoku no Brynhildr yet, but I am sure I’m enjoying it so far.

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.

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  1. D

    The speedline riddled reaction shot close up on Kana's face when cake was mentioned made me laugh harder than any anime has managed to do in a long time.

  2. m

    So I take it that you don't know the story?

    It's going to be a wild ride. Enjoy the sweet parts while they last ^_^; … this show is primarily hard drama.

  3. I haven't read the manga but I know the author and yes, assume this will be bloody and tragic. But oddly enough, I felt even during Elfen Lied that there was a certain irreverence in the approach to the material that kept it from being too soul-crushing.

  4. m

    Oh, don't get me wrong, I _love_ Elfen Lied. In fact, I consider the Elfen Lied anime a prime example of an excellent hard drama with a great happy, hopeful ending. I was mentioning it because several less perceptive blogs were rating it as a silly comedy harem show, and that is really off…

    I wonder if they will go for an anime-original ending again. As long as they manage to pull it off like in Elfen Lied, I'll be a happy camper 🙂

  5. m

    The manga bounces back and forth between serious and funny. There's always the looming sadness hanging over the funny moments like there was in this ep, but I'd say it has more comedy than Elfen Lied. Because it takes a little bit to really get into the thick of things it's hard to judge the show based on the first 2 eps, but I think 3 will see the start of the real seriousness.

  6. M

    I feel pretty similar when watching this as when I started watching Another(and yea,Elfen Lied). I'm VERY curious to see what happens next,maybe moreso than in any other show this season even,but I'm not getting my hopes up too much since I'm worried that it's ending will fail to meet the(relatively high?) expectations the show is setting up earlier on.

  7. J

    I don't think the nosebleed is supposed to be random… This show is mixing darkness with light humor really well. You get that sense of hope and happiness as imminent demise slowly approaches. A form of darkness with truly the most impact.

  8. m

    The nosebleed issue will be explained next episode. You are right, it is very distinctly non-random.

  9. Well obviously it's not random in the sense that it's foreshadowing something with Kurohaneko, but it is random in the sense that it came completely out of nowhere, which is what I was going for there.

  10. C

    [Edited for typos]
    For me, this ep moved Brynhildr from the 'must watch' list to the 'on probation' list. The first episode was intriguing, all I had hoped for (thanks in part to your Season Preview). The second episode was so cliche-ridden that it made me worry which path the show is going to take: I don't need another "why am I watching this when I've seen these characters and plot points a million times" story, especially after last season. I'm heartened to see that those who know the story are predicting it will stay interesting.

  11. n

    Man, your description of Kana was brilliant and utterly hilarious. I'd prefer a monotonous, robotic voice to that tsuntsun moegirl voice but, oh well.
    But having read through the manga… I don't know what can 13 episodes bring. Not expecting much from this anime adaptation.

  12. R

    ….what Burger King did you work at??? Wow.

    That being said, I never managed to finish Elfen Lied, the anime or manga, not because it wasn't interesting, but just because it wasn't quite the sort of series that was far up enough in my alley that it wouldn't be crowded out by other stuff. I get the same feeling with Brynhildr, where everything actually is quite interesting, but I'm just having a hard time connecting. It's almost entirely a matter of perference, but there's not as much other stuff in the way, so hopefully it'll grab me soon and I can get invested, because it is interesting.

  13. Lake Forest, Illinois…

  14. C

    The fact that cake being liquefied was featured made this series gain a very fun place. Liking it very much and couldn't agree more with your thoughts on this.

  15. J

    This series isn't quite as terrible as Elfen Lied was after two episodes (Hey, the MC actually has a personality trait. Even if it's outrageously bloated to absurdity and doesn't mesh with his words or actions at all. Take the 'I can't explain it, it must be maigc' last episode).

    I actually quite liked this episode until the halfway point, then it reminded me it's by the same author as Elfen Lied. Kana is just dumb plain and simple. When is the last time anyone has tried feeding (Or drinking yourself) a glass of viscous liquid lying face up? She'd choke. It'd have been easy work (And a cheap sweet moment) to have the MC prop her up to feed her.

    But no. The writer doesn't care. Why should I?

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