I must confess I did a bit of a double-take when the new OP for Gokukoku no Brynhildr kicked in – I thought it was some kind of in-episode montage. Pretty odd choice to change the OP 10 episodes into a one-cour series (turns out the anime and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas share the same production company), and I loved the instrumental OP – but I confess this one was pretty good for what it was. Thrash metal seems to fit the batshit tone of Brynhildr, and the animation itself was excellent.
With that setting the tone, we got an episode that turned everything up to eleven, even by Brynhildr standards. I again have to say that I admire just how fearless this show is, and the way it makes no attempt to smooth the transition between its comedy and drama – it just dumps them out there and lets the chips fall where they may. That means when it comes to a character like Nanami, who made such an impression in such a short time, there’s no hesitation in going the full-on tragic route. Her death was pretty heavily foreshadowed, but it was quick and anything but painless.
Nanami had it pretty rough, even by teeny witch standards – because of her ability she wasn’t even allowed to meet any of the other girls. That lends a certain poignancy to her scenes here, as Kogorou shows up at the observatory and Ryouta decides to put him to work figuring out how to remove the beacon from Nanami’s harnest before it’s too late. Nanami is initially willing to face her death, knowing that she’s finally got people who’ll remember her – but when everyone declares their willingness to be her friend she realizes that she wants to live after all. Sadly, before Kogorou can get to work Kurofuku loses patience (foreshadowed at the end of the last episode) and sets off the eject button. Any doubts Kogorou had about “magic” can surely be put to bed now.
This is a pretty sad turn of events, especially given the fact that in the end Nanami used her last moments to erase the memories of the other girls because Kuroneko had said “we’ll be heartbroken if you die.” When he realizes this it hits Ryouta pretty hard, but it turns out that Nanami has “inserted” herself onto his memory (“I used up a lot of your capacity”) so she does live on in a sense, though Ryouta has to remember her for all of them.
This being Gokukoku no Brynhildr, from this tragedy we go into full-bore sex farce mode without a hint of apology. This is loaded with yet more great comedic material, starting with the kerfuffle over the indirect kiss Kazumi and Ryouta shared in Akiba (she doesn’t bother with the “indirect” part at first). Kuroha first fells a few trees in her rage, then storms off to sing a hilarious song about how this doesn’t bother her, only to react even more hilariously when she discovers Ryouta has been listening. They share an indirect kiss of their own, then we learn that Kuroha has lost her memory of karaoke – her fumbling attempt to cover this up is very funny, but it’s a serious plot point. This segues into a sequence focused on final exams, which Ryouta initially tries to shame the girls into caring about (I’m kinda with Kazumi on this one – if I think I’m dying in three weeks, I sure as hell ain’t spending any of them cramming for finals), though it’s Kotori’s suggestion of a bribe for the top scorers that carries the day.
The prize is a trip to the ocean (you knew he’d let everyone go anyway) but the real fun when after the tests Kazumi proposes a side bet – as soon as she says “If I finish second to you, I want you to give me something” you could pretty well guess what was coming next. Not to be outdone even by itself, though, Brynhildr saves the comic highlight of the episode for what happens next – it’s Kuroha who finishes not just head of Kazumi but Ryouta too. Kotori suggests she should ask for a prize, and after a moment she issues a stammering “S-sore ja… I would also like a virginity.” You just can’t put a price on comedy gold like that.
The final act of the episode brings us into serious mode again, as Ichijiku reveals to the Committee of 300 (or so) that he’s loosed Valkyria (Noto Mamiko) at last, and he hasn’t even bothered to wait for their approval (which they weren’t likely to give). He’s attached seven A-class witches to keep her in-line, which means the world now has seven less A-class witches to worry about. Clearly Valkyria ups the ante power-wise from what we’ve seen before, and my sense is that Ichijuku intends to use her to wipe out his masters at some point – though I very much doubt he can control her any more than those dead witches could. It’s a shame there’s only three episodes left as I’d really like to have seen more of this series – there’s a lot of story to be told, and not enough time to tell it.