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.