If Isshuukan Friends is a model of restraint (stylistically if not emotionally) then Gokukoku no Brynhildr is a bacchanal of shameless excess. If this series took itself too seriously it would be mostly an exercise in unintentional self-parody, but fortunately that’s not a danger – I’m convinced that Gokukoku knows exactly what it is, and what it isn’t. And it’s because of that approach that I find myself laughing with it rather than at it.
Let’s start with the beginning, Kuroha walking into a classroom covered in bandages from head to toe and responding to Ryouta’s alarmed enquiries by saying “It’s just a cold.” I mean, how utterly shameless is that? That hilarious moment sets the tone for the episode, which manages to create a certain genuine tension and concern for the characters while still being unrelentingly silly from wire to wire.
So it turns out that the escaped witches have to take a pill every day or else their skin will start to split apart, and then their organs will melt. And that will be bad. Of course this is a logical (in context) security measure against an escape just such as what we’ve seen here, but what really sells the moment is that the pills are called “death suppressants” – that and the way Kuroha relates this to Ryouta with a perfectly straight face. Kuro and Kana only have ten pills between them, and Kuro has been trying to stretch out her supply so she can make it on the class trip to the ocean – thus her rather startling entrance to school, and her state when Ryouta walks into the derelict house and finds her covered in blood. Sadly, she accidentally starts a fire boiling water and burns the abandoned house down, taking her remaining DSPs with it.
It’s at this point that things start to get really silly (yes, I just said that). It turns out that Ryouta has eidetic memory, and happens to have read a book about prescription drugs (must…not…question…) that tells him what company made the pills, and in which factory (Dresden Pharmaceuticals, Takayama). To get past security Kuro enlists the help of fellow escapee Kazumi (Ichimichi Mao), whose power is hacking (is that really magic?) and who requires payment in death suppressants for her services. But Google has been selling info to the JSDF, apparently, and the baddies at the lab know someone’s been checking around for info on the pills so they send their attack dog Saori to ambush the escapees at the phrma lab. And it’s there that she uses her slicing magic to cut the strap on Kuroneko’s blouse (naturally) and thus reveal to Ryouta that it is indeed Kuroneko after all – her moles just migrated when she grew breasts. And she doesn’t remember him because the price for using her magic is to lose memories (ah – so this show is like Isshuukan Friends after all!).
There’s more here – a ranking system for witches (C to AAA – the strongest – with Neko and Kana being B and Saori being AA) and an explanation of the switches on the witches” necks for starters. But at this point I’m not too worried about the mechanics of the story, which I don’t think hold up too well to close analysis. I’m just enjoying the ride – the comic moments and the general atmosphere continue to be quite a blast in my view. I imagine things are going to get quite a bit more gory and bleak (there’s a scene at the end of this episode in fact, though I’m sure it’s a fake-out), and I don’t know if the magic will hold up for 12 episodes. But for now, Gokukoku no Brynhildr is still good fun as long as you don’t take it any more seriously than it’s taking itself.