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Black Rock Shooter OAV review

July 25, 2010

No doubt one of the most anticipated and hyped anime releases of this summer is the “Black★Rock Shooter” OAV.

Was pleasantly surprised by this anime, absolutely adored the terrific story of Mato and Yomi’s friendship that included another world in it which by itself and the events that take place therein is highly symbolic.


Will not judge it by the hype or media campaigning it receives, nor will any hype about an anime influence my views. Perhaps my expectations may be raised by it, but that does not trigger any positive or negative predisposition on my account.

Before you brush this review of the “Black★Rock Shooter” OAV off as just one of many, do hope that it will bring you an element most BRS reviews do not contain, being that I have near no knowledge of the Black Rock Shooter lore, nor am I any sort of BRS fan.

My knowledge is limited to knowing the character, concept, story and such apparently originated from Supercell’s song ‘ブラック★ロックシューター’ which featured illustrations by artist Huke. From there it gained a life of its own, soon spawning thousands of fanart imagery and recently even scaled PVC figures by Good Smile Company.

As such, my experience of “Black★Rock Shooter” and loving it is based solely on having watched the OAV itself, how I experienced its characters, story and animation.

Telling us the story of Mato and Yomi, two girls that befriend each other after entering high school, the OAV manages to cram in all the necessary character build up and markers that define the relationship between Mato and Yomi without feeling rushed or having omitted anything.

Running under an hour, they still manage to build everything up as such that it is never confusing but all expertly well paced.


When the scene cuts between the normal and other world become more frequent, thanks to this good writing and pacing, the viewer has already caught on the action in the other world are a metaphor for the events in the real world. Whether the other world possesses physical link back to this world is hinted at the end, but if that is indeed so is ultimately still left up to the viewer’s discretion.

Due to this short time frame the writers were forced to hit the right notes at the right time, which they achieved, not unlike “Candy☆Boy” managed to do do in its short run. Nearly all scenes between Mato and Yomi, every word, every expression be it a smile, a frown or a gaze immediately convey everything there is to know about the two girls and their feelings.

Although there is not a word spoken in the other world, viewers can still palpably feel the tension and emotions between Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master.

Do feel that those with a penchant for shoujo-ai, yuri or simply endearing stories about friendship are more likely to enjoy this OAV than those hoping to see flashing battle scenes, because the scenes where Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master duke it out aren’t predominant.


The animation by studio Ordet is terrific, it features a less often seen but nonetheless exquisite style when it is used well, as is undeniably the case here.

Most striking is the visual artistry of the other world with its checker-board pattern and symbolic value that links back into the normal world as Yi from Listless Ink interestingly wrote.

Actually wonder if -although also possibly some sort of alternate universe sci-fi world- the other world isn’t more of a metaphysical plane showcasing a visualization of the characters hearts and the emotional battle of their psyche’s, such as Yomi being imprisoned by her own jealousy, a dark emotion which she ultimately can overcome only thanks to Mato’s perseverance.

Have read some understandably lament the lack of true explanation about the other world, but personally feel it wasn’t absolutely required, as it being unexplained adds to its symbolism.

An all star cast provides the voice acting, with Kana Hanazawa who starred as Kanande in “Angel Beats!” voicing Mato, Miyuki Sawashiro who also does Saeko in “Highschool of the Dead” voices Yomi, while Yuu is voiced by Kana Asumi who also did Poplar in “Working!!”.

So if you’re looking for an endearing story to watch about the unique friendship between two girls with some inspiring and flashing metaphorical visuals, definitely give “Black★Rock Shooter” a go as you needn’t be a fan nor have any prior knowledge to fully enjoy it.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2010 10:21 pm

    Great review!

    I agree completely. The pacing is there. The art, the animation, and the characters are all there. And it really managed to excel with such a short time.

    I don’t know what the other world really is. If it is just all within her mind, or if it really exists and Yomi and Mato simply spirited over for a short time to work out their conflict. I liked that it’s left unexplained though.

    I definitely enjoyed the yuri. Certain parts actually remind me of Saki x Nodoka, such as special attention to the name exchange scene and the giving of cell phone strap. Very yurilicious.

  2. July 26, 2010 10:57 pm

    The mystery about the other world suits the story, for it lets the emphasis remain on what matters most, how the girls relate to each other and feel about each other.
    Indeed, also do like the fact it can be watched with or without ‘yuri glasses’ so to speak, without seeing anything remotely shoujo-ai or yuri in it, it remains a powerful tale of the girls’ friendship. ^^

  3. July 28, 2010 3:24 pm

    I thought it was great!
    look i see looks of people not understand something.
    how on earth can you fit everything in 50mins?
    of course you cant and so thats why they had to skip parts. im hoping this will lead to a sequel like TV series so that then you can have you bg story. OVA’s like this cant be masterpiece but BRS turned out to be good. thats like my main message lol

    nice review, glad to find someone that likes it as well ^^


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