Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 13 (End) and Series Review

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Even by Byrnhildr standards, that was an unholy mess.  What – you you expecting something different?

Take a series that’s batshit crazy to begin with, and add trying to do a complete adaptation of 9 volumes (and counting) in 13 episodes and what do you get?  One of the most out of control, freewheeling and confusing endings in recent anime history.  I’m neither surprised or disappointed by this, because it’s perfectly in-keeping with the feel of the series as a whole, but it does leave me forced into a whole lot of guesswork about what actually happened.

As I’ve opined in earlier posts, I think the frenetic nature of trying to adapt too much source material in too little time – normally the grane bane of a good adaptation – actually works in Gokukoku no Brynhildr’s favor.  The reason is simple – the more absurd and manic the show is the better it works for me.  I recognize the obvious danger here, that I’ll use that to give the series a free pass for what are actually flaws, and I don’t deny there may be an element of that in my impressions.  But I’ll stand by the essential truth of the observation – Brynhildr is at its best when its at its zaniest.

So then, on to the finale, and what a magnificent clusterfuck it was.  To be honest I was expecting something pretty grim here – spatter and death was a given, but I wouldn’t have put anyone in the main cast off-limits and even planetary oblivion seemed a realistic option.  In that context what we got was actually pretty darn happy (though I’m still not at all sure how we got it) even if it was bittersweet.  In the end only one of the good guys died, and the baddest of the baddies was turned into a human firing range target.  Oh, and the planet survived.

That whole global apocalypse thing was actually averted pretty quickly when Kotori ejected herself.  Presumably the Committee of 300-wannabees who are trying to push Earth’s “reset button” with Ain Soph Aur (which is taken from the Kabbalah, by the way) will start over with a new host, but the interesting twist with Kotori comes when Ryouta arrives too late to save her and she tells him that she’s actually conscious of being Ichijiku’s little sister.  Her last message – aside from “thank you” to Ryouta – is “Tell him not to hurt anyone else.”  The question is begged, why didn’t Kotori just own up to being Rena earlier?  It would have saved her a lot of trouble, not to mention melting.

Not to be overlooked is the scene which precedes that, where Ryouta, Kuroneko and Kazumi arrive at the isolated house where Ichijiku is hard at work being evil.  Kazumi and Neko (it’s not clear which one) knock Ryouta out with a wooden club to keep him safe.  Setting aside the delicious absurdity of that as a safe method of subjugation, Kazumi plants the cherry (which I’m guessing is not her favorite fruit) on top by telling the unconscious Ryouta to “relax and have a good rest”.  Nothing better for healthy relaxation than a cerebral hemorrhage.

From this point it’s pretty much all a blur, to be honest.  Valkyria says that Kuroha is her “little sister” and proceeds to cut Kazumi in half.  She knocks Kuroha out and carries her onto the veranda where Ichijiku awaits, leaving Kazumi to be found by the recovered Ryouta.  Kazumi never does tell Ryouta how she feels but she does admit once he’s gone that she was in love with him, and “really wanted to have his kids”, before cursing her fate at dying a virgin.  Kazumi probably embodied the comedy/tragedy double-helix that Brynhildr does so well better than any other character, and this seems like a fitting way for her to go.  Or is it…

Ryouta definitely gets the ESPN GAR Play of the Day here, as he arrives in time to plant a flying kick in Ichijiku’s face just as he’s about to eject Kuroha (Valkyria can’t bring herself to do it).  Valkyria steps in and decides she’s going to punish Ryouta by killing him slowly for his insolence.  Things look bad, but it turns our Kana can move after all – she just needs to trade her forecasting for walking by pressing the top button on her harnest (which someone at the observatory does for her – but who?).  She’s a distraction but of course no match for Valkyria – at least until Hexenjagd shows up and stifles her magic.  That’s when Ichijiku performs an uncharacteristic selfless act and takes about  hundred bullets for her (noted: machine gun rounds will pass through a person’s body with sufficient velocity and force to cause considerable damage to the person they’re shielding, but never mind).

When Initalizer is tapped out and Valkyria gets her powers back, she decides she doesn’t want a world without Ichijiku and creates a blob of anti-matter.  But Kuro has pressed the button and awakened her powers, and with them her memories – and apparently one of her powers is to create a “micro black hole” that can suck up anti-matter.  There’s talk of she and Valkyria being “one”, and  a mid-air embrace, after which Valkyria, Ichijiku and Kuroneko’s memories are sucked into the black hole.  She’s about to fall from the cliff when Ryouta grabs her hand and saves her, but weeps when he realizes she’s lost her memories again.  And in the epilogue, Kogorou has found a way to manufacture death suppressants and both Hatsuna and Kazumi are alive.  Get all that?

I suppose one would be a fool to try and explain all that, but the urge to try is hard to resist.  As far as stuff like micro black holes, well, once you start getting into theoretical witchy powers granted by aliens I guess all bets are off.  But how the heck are Hatsuna and, especially, Kazumi alive?  I really would like to know that one – I suppose Hatsuna was able to regenerate herself after melting saving Ryouta (I’ll accept that, but didn’t she say she could only do that trick once and it would kill her?).  And once it’s established that she can regenerate others without dying in the process, I suppose it stands to reason she’s the one who did so for Kazumi – maybe she came with Kana and found Kazumi where Ryouta had left her.  So – there’s your happy ending…

A story that was built on absurdity like this one was could only have an ending like this one, I think.  It is too bad that some of the quirky charm of Brynhildr was swamped by all that plot in the last two episodes, but there were still moments that resonated – like Kazumi’s remark to the unconscious Ryouta – to remind us of what we were watching.  Simply put, this show was a lot of fun – it never lost its nerve, and managed to connect on the character front and deliver some of the funniest dialogue of any series this year.  I think the trick here was in taking itself seriously enough to give what happened between Ryouta and the teeny witches weight, but not so seriously that it tempted us to seriously question the feasibility of what we were watching.

It seems unnecessary to point out that Gokukoku no Brynhildr was never trying for realism, but it is an important fact – this is the bread and butter of Okamoto Lynn’s style.  Absurdism finds humor in subverting audience expectations, not from logic – and that suits Brynhildr to a T.  And like so much that satirizes, the series generates more emotional connection to its trope characters and situations than most shows that treat them “seriously”.  The cardinal rule of “first, be entertaining” is one that this series clearly follows – it really is a blast to watch.  Very silly, unrealistic and eventually confusing yes – but consistently amusing and surprisingly heartfelt.  I can’t imagine we’re going to see another season – even if sales weren’t projected to be mediocre I’m not sure there’s much left after everything crammed into the final arc – but I’m certainly looking forward to the OVA in September.

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ED Sequence:

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  1. D

    It was indeed Hatsuna who healed Kazumi (and pushed the top button on Kana's Harnest – you can see her silhouette in that scene http://i.imgur.com/xdsUlZm.jpg). She did said that she could only do that trick once and then it would kill her, but she only thought it would kill her, she didn't knew for certain.

  2. V

    Normally I enjoy freight-train nature of pace in this anime but I would have preferred if this episode slowed down. At least some part was heartfelt like you said. It's interesting you say that Kazumi embodying the comedy/violence because it really feels like she is like the centrepiece of this anime. The anime began to take off after the introduction of her. It was her straightforwardness and desperation that developed the romance. Without her, the main characters wouldn't be in rush to advance the relationship further. Kuroneko wouldn't probably display her jealousy openly.

  3. E

    So, anyone care to explain how Kana reached there in time? Someone provided another helicopter for her?

  4. J

    Maybe the Hexenjagd? Not sure though lol

  5. s

    I dont know man, these last two eps were not my cup of tea. Brynhildr may be ludicrous, but there was a certain polish to all that zaniness two which these last two eps did not have. They were extremely sloppy and as such, i did not have as much fun with it. ……..Kazumi…cherry….least favorite fruit…hahahaha…where does your inspiration for such comments come?

  6. J

    Tommy gun in .45 ACP, and other full autos, could have had hollow points… not like they were crew-served machine guns.

    Good review, answered some questions I had.

  7. d

    Looks like the big bad was right, "this one won't die unless she's ejected" and Kazumi wrong about herself. Hatsuna was sliced in half, which should kill someone– but obviously alive longer than humans would be. They survived death with their magic pills, what's a little slicing in half if they can still breathe and talk?

    Nope. Real world physics need not apply to this show — nor internal consistency. Big bad having self sacrifice? Not having it was what valkyria liked about him.

    Whether bullets would go through him or not was irrelevant since she was done for. I just assumed they did hit her and they were too cheap to animate it. No point if she suicides anyway– thus neatly wrapping up this arc in a little bow by deus ex machina really.

  8. E

    By your logic Mars of Destruction is a decent show too

  9. D

    This was a very fun show. It wasn't entirely logical in the last episode, due to the need to rush things, but I don't blame a show for that – not every manga can expect to get a two-cour series, and I'd rather have a half-decent ending than no ending at all. The characters were entertaining, the story was imaginative and tense where it needed to be, the internal logic was decent enough.

    Overall, it was my second or third favorite show this season (after Knights of Sidonia which took first place).

  10. D

    Incidentally, the comment above regarding hollow points is correct.

    If a submachine gunis firing hollow point ammo in 9mm short or .45 caliber (common) the bullets, after passing through the torso, will not have enough energy to inflict injury. Sometimes they won't even break skin, and at most they should bruise.

  11. a

    as u can see some strange thing is happened when hatsuna was turned into goo i think she was being recovered and she pushed kan's button and also saved kazumi

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