When a show is as absurd and over-the-top to begin with as Gokukoku no Brynhildr is (not that it happens very often) the kind of overdrive we saw kick in this week has a surreal effect. I think the difference is that for all the craziness that unfolds every week, it felt very personal – it was all centered on the characters on the ground. Now we’re talking about a threat to all life on the planet, and the impact is dulled a little, at least for me. On the other hand, with the whack cred Brynhildr has built up I can’t really say any plot development plays as a stretch – I completely buy this new stuff because it’s certainly no crazier than the old stuff.
That said, it was unsurprisingly the character stuff that was more effective than the major revelations this week. I really buy into the weird and weirdly sentimental relationship between Ryouta and the teeny witches – and even as absurdist as Brynhildr is stuff like Hatsuna sacrificing herself for Murakami-kun really gets to me. As wild as this show is the relationships actually feel pretty grounded (yes, I just said that) – Ryouta is a competent and genuinely selfless protagonist, and the plight of the girls is genuinely heartbreaking.
But then, this week was mostly about the big plot bombs dropped all across the landscape. First off, it turns out that it’s Kotori and not Kuroneko that’s #1107 – though the lab fears both of them. Kotori because she’s holding the “Grane”, the superalien they need to form their super-race after it hits the “Earth reset button” and wipes out all the rest of the planet (the other witches just have lowly man-eating “Drasil” incubating inside them). And Kuro because her power is even greater than Valkyria – it’s just that it’s been sealed, because it’s unstable.
The latter we find out because Nanami – still plugging away inside Ryouta’s head – appears to him after he’s nearly cut in two by a blast Valkyria was aiming at Kuroha (who she didn’t want to kill, but not as much as she didn’t want to disobey Ichijiku). Apparently the limited can be removed by pressing the top button on Neko’s harnest, but this would have a 99.9% of killing her in the process (my guess is she’ll have to risk it after the events of later in the episode). Fortunately Ryouta is restored by Hatsuna, who can apparently project her resurrection outwards but melts herself in the process. Still, Ryouta’s heart doesn’t start beating – so it’s up to Kuroneko and Kazumi to perform CPR (Kazumi sure wished they’d switched jobs). It was a big weekend for CPR in anime.
Meanwhile a completely new and, and as far as I can tell un-foreshadowed element comes into play – a bunch of people who look like grade schoolers dressed as medieval Inquisitioners for Halloween who’re resisting the lab. They’re the “Hexenjagd” (which is German for “witch hunt”, fittingly), and they arrive in the person of the Nun’s habit-wearing Miki and a boy called “Initilalizer” possibly played by
Kaji Yuuki (nope, Miyagawa Junko), who has the ability to suppress the witches’ powers. Ichijiku escapes with Kotori and Valkyria, and Miki explains the truth about what’s living inside the witches’ bodies. She’s about to put an end to the witches present (obviously not worried about them being victims as well) but Ryouta bargains for an extension using Kazumi’s ability to track down Ichijiku as bait. An agreement is struck, and Kazumi uses so much hack that she hangs up – but not before pinning down Ichijiku’s likely hideout. Everyone but Kana and the exhausted Kazumi heads for the house in question, but as they do something seems to be happening to Hatsuna’s body. Is she regenerating herself, or is her Drasil hatching? Given what a problem that would present for Kana and Kazumi on their own, I’m guessing the latter.
As if all that weren’t enough with one episode to go, we also learn that Ichijiku couldn’t care less about his masters or their plan, and is simply using the Grane as a way to revive his long-dead (I’m guessing) kid sister. So he’s a complete whack-job rather than an evil megalomaniac, but it doesn’t seem as if it will matter for the Earth if the Grane manages to fulfill its assigned part. It hatches before he can yank it out of Kotori’s body – perhaps it was listening to what he was saying and felt threatened – but not before Ichijiku carelessly blurts out that he doesn’t give a damn about Mako-Valkyria (which she seems to be the only one who hasn’t figured out), so she’s likely to turn against him in the finale.
I can’t even begin to guess how all this is going to end, but I do hope Gokukoku no Brynhildr doesn’t completely abandon its sense of absurdist fun in the quest to deliver a conclusion that does more than it needs to. This is what happens when long manga get one-cour adaptations, of course, but I really don’t care if all the loose ends are tied up – I’d like something a little more micro than macro, though I think I’m unlikely to get it. Still – this is a show that’s damn good at what it does and has so far never lost its nerve, so I’m going to trust it to come up with something suitably unhinged next week.