Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 10

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Against all odds, Gokukoku no Brynhildr got even more awesome.

OP2: Virtue and Vice” by Fear, and loathing in Las Vegas

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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.

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18 comments

  1. d

    In terms of how the manga is structured, the end of this episode corresponds with chapter 58. Valkyria's arc goes up until chapter 101. So, three episodes to adapt 43 chapters. Lots of stuff is going to fall by the wayside.

  2. t

    I am a bit disappointed.
    this episode was way too eventful and didn't let us digest everything enough. one second someone dies after the whole friendship stuff, then Murakami is completely lost…and everything is well – exams and beach? not to mention they did too much cutting and pasting. some events and dialogues were missing, they also skipped an events revolving around Kazumi, that's also the reason I felt the pace wasn't good, and that's because the adapation, because the anime do it more slowly (sometimes too much) and subtly.
    and I forgot to mention that the professor (Kagero was his name?) was there for nothing, when in fact in the manga he did talk a bit, and further interactions with him are important.
    in the end, seeing Valkyria…I have a feeling they are going to compress 40 chapters into the next 3 episodes, because they have to stop in a reasonable place.

    well, the anime wants to pushing the story a little..but they could have done better this time. if it wasn't 1cour, maybe 16-20 episodes, that could have been better at this point. we'll see how they will do next eps.
    other than that, new OP was nice, and the episode had much more quality in terms of visuals and animation as I see it,

  3. s

    Due to comments in this ep about an arc being skipped, I finally decided to look into the manga and it turns out that it was arc an arc that should not have been skipped. It's such a shame too because it really added to Kazumi's character and her relationship with Ryota (giving a bit more depth to it) and it foreshadowed future developments. Maybe they plan on revisiting that arc but i this point i highly doubt it. They really should have just made this series two-cours; did they not have faith in their adaptation of the series? Im just of the mindset that if you have source material, plenty of it as a matter of fact, it should be used, unless there is a plan for another season and we just dont know about it.

    On a side note, i think the first OP was actually a place holder for the new one; they probably didnt have the song and the animation ready at the time…it might explain why the animation in the first OP is so basic. Not to mention that the instrumental was probably meant to be a part of the series' OST to which they decided to use for the OP. I still prefer the instrumental though i do like this new song. Oh and I think you meant "Kotori" in your sentence: "though it's Koroti's suggestion of a bribe for the top scorers that carries the day".

  4. t

    "did they not have faith in their adaptation of the series?"

    I think they had money/plan for just 1cour series. because nowadays anime industry is either 1cour or 2cour usually (of course there are rare types like YP, DnA or the ongoing like HxH and OP). I still think even less than 2cour would be sufficient.
    and since they made the plan for just 1cour, they didn't want to screw it up too much, because finishing it properly with 13 episodes would bring us only to current events (with more development considering the arc they've skipped), but still it would have been end without releasing the story…for anime-viewers only it would be like a waste… upon reaching events of chapter #100 approximately, it gives much more boost to the story and everything..

  5. I simply don't think many series (apart from shounen) get a two or more cour commitment these days – the industry is risk-averse.

    It's possible the first OP was a place-holder, but it is true that the band and the series have the same producer.

  6. s

    the industry is risk-averse indeed; Im sure you've heard about Noitomina and their decision to no longer invest in 2-cour series…man what is happening? I mean is not the end all of everything as good stories can still be done in 13 eps. But what about more ambitious projects that need the extra cours, or adaptations that need that extra length? I think what we are going to start seeing more of from here on out are brilliant series that might not get the chance to continue past one-cour, especially if they dont become a hit and that will be a shame especially if the creators had intended to go further with their stories. That's what im concerned about. I think excellent stories can be told in a single cour, hell even two hours like most movies do. But if someone has intentions to expand their story across a certain length, not having the opportunity to do so might force that person to adjust and whether the adjustment ends up with a good story or not, we will be deprived of the original creative intent.

  7. t

    I agree with you.it's a shame we've come to this. what's next?cour will be one-two months??

    BTW, noitamina are still doing 2cour series: psycho-pass, samurai flamenco, R;N. even in fall 2014 they'll have "Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso". well all are 22 eps..but that's still 2cour.

  8. m

    It's a shame that they are so averse to creating a 2-cour show. Especially here, as anyone who has read the manga will see, they are breezing through the story really fast lately. And with the introduction of Valkyria it's only likely to get worse. I'm not sure how much of the manga has been trans into English, I know 104 chapters are done (at least 30 of those in the past 2 weeks alone), but Valkyria shows up around 55. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say I'm not sure where they would choose to end the season without rushing things. Even if they went to make another season, if there's only 104 chapters total, I don't know if there'd be enough material. But there's a perfect amount (of English trans chapters anyway) to have made a perfectly paced 2-cour show. Unfortunately that wasn't the case.

  9. s

    @thedarktower; yea but all those shows that you mentioned were in the past. Im referring to the future of noitamina. Supposedly after samurai flamenco, the big wigs of noitamina have supposedly mentioned trying to avoid two-cour shows, sticking to only to a single cour. I read somewhere that the sequel to psycho-pass is only one cour. Zankyou no Terror is one cour. I dont think they will stop showing two-cour series all together right away, but they might be less likely to do it now with this kind of thinking that they are having all of a sudden. After all, Noitamina in my opinion, is not the same programming block it use to be.

  10. t

    @sonic
    I also mentioned "Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso" which will air in the upcoming fall. it was announced as 2cour containing 22 eps.
    I don't think noitamina has given up on 2cour, but maybe you're right and they refrain from it. well, we said there is risk nowadays since the industry is much more fixated on 1cour and riskless as possible, but it's kinda sad to see it from noitamina.

    interestingly, in quite the opposite, we see much more split-cour shows in recent years – fate zero, space dandy, chaika, mushishi zoku shou, WIXOSS, valvrave and even silver spoon which was aired in noitamina.
    I think split-cour is quite good thing. although the cour-break might be annoying, it has advantages as well, and in fact it's succeeding.

  11. m

    @dark
    Would you consider split cour any different than 2-cour? I think as long as it has 22+ eps than it's essentially the same thing. I do agree the break in between can work out to the advantage though as far as planning ahead with the story.

    I've always wished that some company would have the balls to create a 100+ ep show that wasn't pure WSJ battle manga or the like. I know HxH is that, but it's far more character driven than most battle shounen, and each arc is more akin to a season of American TV. Chimera in particular is about the same length of running time as a 24ep 1hr NBC/FOX/Etc show and you really get a much more in depth look at the story and the characters. If they could do that with an anime, preferably original I feel like the potential for success would be enormous. Obviously it's too risky for them to do it, but if you made a good show that was that long the money would roll in. And it'd be seasons so you wouldn't necessarily have to make it from a 500+ chapter manga. Even Shin Sekai Yori, which was amazing, can't ever get as in depth as a show like GoT which has 40hours and counting of runtime in which to develop everything. I know it was just one novel, but imagine how much more in depth it could be with no limit on episodes. If you just made it to tell the story and finished when it finished. I'm not knocking the show btw, it's one of my top anime, I was just making a point about length. I feel like if you keep going for low-risk, short term revenue, and merchandising eventually you'll be left with shows that are all the same thing over and over and eventually people will stop watching. Haha hopefully they would, so they'd be forced to change…

  12. m

    Enzo, is the whole 13 ep series/4 seasons a year style broadcasting anime specific, or is all Japanese TV like that? Do they have shows like Seinfeld or Lost that run for years but 24 or so eps a year?

  13. s

    @thedarktower
    I was aware of april is your lie being two-cour but i was saying that Noitamina wants to cut back on two-cour series. Two-cour series will still happen outside Noitamina of course, but i was just emphasizing the noitamina block specifically. As i mentioned, i dont think they'll completely stop doing it, but they'd rather invest in a single cour than two-cour and it's that kind of mindset that has me scratching my head because one of the philosophies of the old noitamina was creative freedom as well as anime gearing to a more adult audience.

    As for split cours, i personally love the idea. It allows for production companies to conserve they budget so that they can keep their production values more consistent and create tighter stories as well. I dont know why more anime's dont utilize that approach. Ive been having some very rich and engrossing conversations about the power of anime as a medium as of late, its influence on the artistic visions of those who use it, and the hurdles it has to cross to be a truly respected medium of art-making such as live-actions films and one of the many things that come up in those conversations is allowing more artistic leeway to those with a compelling vision taking more risks here and there, and giving an anime (in regards to a tv series anyway) the proper length it needs to tell its tale.

  14. maverick, it's not universal but Japanese TV does broadly fall into 13-episode seasons, and doramas usually follow that format as well.

  15. m

    @Enzo
    That's actually really interesting finding that out. It's funny to think of how being used to American programming schedules made me think it was just anime that was weird, but really it's just a matter of Japanese programming being different than American programming. It makes sense that anime would follow typical schedules.

    @sonic
    That's an interesting discussion you're mentioning. I like that you brought up live-action films. If you think about how often they use CGI in action films, specifically superhero movies recently, it's no so far off to say that it's essentially the same as animation. The problem is in America animation is used for completely different things. The only truly mainstream adult animation are shows like south park, the simpsons, family guy, and the like. But it's not as if animated characters are different than CGI Transformers or the Hulk. You would think that the more Hollywood incorporates CGI, the more likely people will be to accept others mediums that aren't live-action.

  16. Z

    A pet peeve of mine is when split cour series are labeled as different numbered seasons. It seems stupid to call the second half of the same show "Season 2" when is it clearly carrying over into the next programming schedule. Fate/Zero 2 is the most egregious example of this.

  17. t

    @maverick
    yes. although regular 2cour eventually seems the same as split, as Sonic said there is a difference. the most important one is production. the studio is able to work more on the eps,and adjust the budget better because they already know it will be 20+ eps, but with the break they are able to make adjustment better. also, the series is running much longer – people talking more about it, recommend, check the original. basically the "hype" is longer and may increase BD sales or original(manga/LN) sales
    plus, in case things weren't good enough, they can check what to improve and everything. though it's not happen much.

    split cour is a good thing. we see it more and more. it means the series isn't 12-13 eps only, and certainly it affects viewer when he is looking at the big picture of the story.

    in the end of the day, both 2cour and split have over 20 eps and are able to expand the story equally better than 1cour. but split has some other advatages.

    of course, 3/4cour or anime with 100 eps (HxH or space brothers) are better for us. but for that you need a long story and be quite sure that everything will succeed – sales or rating or whatever. it's a high risk in the industry today. not to mention the problems of taking unfinished materials (LN/manga that hat yet come to and end).

    some materials are worthy being focused as 1cour or 2cour – as pointed out SSY and it's true. but yeah, I'd like to see anime shows that aren't restricted to the common pattern. if an anime should be adapted in 20 or 30 or 70 eps..so it be. as long as it's good and cover everything up with the right pace.
    the shows of 1-2 decades ago were diverse in number of eps – Ippo, GTO, slam dunk, eyeshield, monster and so…

  18. m

    That makes sense. It does seem like split cour is the best option overall then. I don't mind the wait either. US TV has summer/winter (sometimes almost a full year like GoT) so it's no problem waiting. I wouldn't even mind 13 ep shows if they were made with no intention of a sequel. If they had more concrete endings then the format wouldn't be as big of a bother. Though it's not as if American TV shows aren't cancelled all the time without real endings either. I've never watched that many older anime, not a huge fan of the animation quality. I have that same issue with 80's and older action flicks.

    There really isn't much point in me complaining about things that will never happen anyway I guess. It's not like anything will come of my suggestions haha. But it would be nice…

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