Black★Rock Shooter (anime)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Brs anime 8930.jpg

The little birds fly in the blue sky.
The ocean mirrors the blue of the sky.
The deep azure is heaven's ocean.
In the blue of the sky, heaven's tears lie.
In the tears of heaven, the little bird flies.


Black★Rock Shooter is a 2012 anime series based on the 2009 OVA, in turn based on characters by Ryohei Fuke and the song "Black Rock Shooter" by Supercell. The anime began airing on February 3, 2012, running on NoitaminA's timeslot during the Winter 2012 Anime season, and had a slightly retooled plot from that of the OVA: Mato Kuroi enters junior high school and meets a girl, Yomi Takanashi, who seems to be completely distant and aloof. An attempt to become friends with her ends up into a nasty run-in with Creepy Child Kagari Izuriha, who seems to be obsessed with Yomi to Yandere levels. Mato ends up wanting to be friends with Yomi anyway, and meanwhile, Black★Rock Shooter seems to be in another world, still fighting...

Tropes used in Black★Rock Shooter (anime) include:
  • Adaptation Expansion: Compared to the OVA.
  • Adults Are Useless: Mrs. Takanashi seems to have an inkling of what's going on between Kagari and Yomi, including the fact that Kagari's paralysis is actually a psychological problem, but lets it continue because she feels sorry for Kagari.
  • Alternate Continuity: Relative to the OVA.
  • And I Must Scream: By episode 6 Mato is trapped inside Insane Black Rock Shooter, and can barely influence IBRS, who goes on a rampage.
  • And the Adventure Continues...: To an extent. Mato narrates she will grow up with her friends. In The Stinger Black★Rock Shooter says she will continue fighting - though it's implied this will have better results than last time.
  • Arc Words: "The tiny bird" and "world of many colors".
  • Back for the Finale: Pretty much everyone.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Each of the mini conflicts between Black★Rock Shooter and the other selves represents an emotional triumph/downfall.
  • Black Blood: In the Otherworld. There are also flecks of the character's personal color mixed in. Note that when Mato fights Insane Black Rock Shooter, she actually bleeds red.
  • Blade Lock: B★RS does this with each other other-world character in the OP credits.
  • Blessed with Suck: If your "other self" dies, all your problems will go away...but you'll get Laser-Guided Amnesia to forget what plagued you.
  • Blue and Orange Morality / Emotionless Girl: Other selves don't have emotions; they almost can't even be said to have Blue And Orange Morality because they act under pure instinct. The exception is Strength, and that's entirely due to the trauma of her real self.
    • However, it's stated in the last episode that they protect their real selves because they love them.
  • Body Horror: Black Rock Shooter's transition to Insane Black Rock Shooter is messy.
  • Book Ends: The first episode starts with a zoom out from B★RS's left eye. The last episode ends with a zoom into her right eye.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience/Color-Coded Secret Identity: As usual, Black★Rock Shooter/Mato is blue, Dead Master/Yomi is green, and Black★Gold Saw is Red. Meanwhile, Strength is grey, and Chariot/Kagari is yellow. Insane Black★Rock Shooter is purple
  • Conspicuous CG:
    • Appears mostly in the Otherworld. According to the official website, part of this was intentional to add to its strange, dreamlike quality.
    • Vehicles and background characters are also CG in the real world.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than the OVA. Rather than dealing with the subtle hues of The Power of Friendship, characters often and regularly go psycho. In addition, unlike in the OVA, merging with B★RS is an extremely traumatizing experience for Mato.
  • A Darker Me: A particularly interesting take on this trope. The otherselves are explicitly said to shoulder all the suffering that their human selves are experiencing. They are still the same person, just much darker and violent.
    • This is interestingly inverted in the case of Strength and Yuu. Once Yuu accidentally teaches Strength to feel emotions, Strength manifests in the real world as friendly, caring, and sociable, completely unlike the rather psycho and unhinged original Yuu.
  • Determinator: It doesn't matter how much punishment B★RS takes, she keeps pressing on. She might even reach into Implacable Man territory since she doesn't show much of the damage she takes.
    • More straight to the trope is Mato Kuroi in episode 8. Insane B★RS breaks both of her legs over the course of a savage beating, but once Mato puts her mind to fighting back, she still manages to stand up and wield the Rock Cannon.
  • Domestic Abuse
    • The relationship between Kagari and Yomi is basically this. Kagari gets better. Yomi....really doesn't...
    • The real Yuu was a victim too. She finds the mindless fights to death of the Otherworld better than her real life.
  • Dysfunction Junction: We could just say everyone, but if you want specifics, then Yomi and Kagari's vicious bond is bad enough as is and even Mato has her own unhinged moments.
    • Scratch that, even the counselor isn't a mentally balanced person.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: So, so much.
  • Everyone Lives: Even the other selves.
  • Evolving Credits: B★RS is shown in pain, with metal bursting out of the star on her jacket near the end of the opening. After merging with Mato and going crazy in Episode 5, those scenes turn out to be part of the transformation process into Insane B★RS. Her completed form replaces them for episode 6 onward.
  • Fictional Document: Li'l Bird Li'L Bird Colorful Colors, which is a picture book about a colorful bird flying through colorful environments then turning black and dying. This may be connected to other selves' use of Color Coded for Your Convenience.
  • First-Name Basis: Mato using Yomi's first name with Kagari in earshot causes some problems. Even so, Yomi also uses Mato's first name shortly afterward.
  • Foreshadowing: Pay very close attention to Yuu for the first four episodes. Notice how she never interacts with anyone besides Mato, Yomi, or Saya. Arata only first notices Yuu's existence as her problems are starting, and forgets she existed once her Otherworld self is terminated. Or the fact that if you look closely she has no shadow?
    • It's likely that the following line isn't just filler:

"So for our protagonist to accept death..."

    • Strength's color theme is gray yet she has orange eyes. This is a major hint that's something about her is different.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Eri Kitamura is playing a girl with issues and a persona with a wheel preoccupation. Puella Magi Madoka Magica, anyone?
    • Would you believe that Saya has the same seiyuu as Enma Ai? Both are capable of inducing Mind Screw on their victims! Saya also used to have a Hime Cut back then.
  • Hope Spot: Episode 5. Mato finally merges with Black★Rock Shooter. All indications are she is about to save Yomi from herself...and after she merges, we find that B★RS has already killed Dead Master. Mato snaps
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episodes are named after parts of the original Vocaloid song.
  • Fundamentally Female Cast: Mato lampshades it at one point, noting that her strange dreams of the Otherworld seem to always be about a lot of girls.
    • It's explicitly stated that the Otherworld is created from the hardships of young girls.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In episode 6, Saya projects herself into Black★Gold Saw in the hopes that Mato will hear her voice from Insane Black★Rock Shooter and stop her deranged rampage. In doing so, she tells her story. Yuu/Strength continues this in Episode 7. She's interrupted, however, when her own identity issue speaks up.
  • Info Dump: Episode 5 has a massive one from Yuu as she finally breaks out the true nature of the Otherworld.
  • Late for School: Invoked by Mato and immediately deconstructed when the bread rips and falls out of her mouth once she starts running.
  • Layered World: Much more apparent than the OVA.
  • Leave the Camera Running: After Yomi abuses her cell phone and buries her head in her pillow in episode 4, the shot is held for 30 full seconds with no changes except the cell phone's backlight shutting off.
  • Meaningful Name: More so than the OVA (see below); the third trailer hints that there will be more wordplay on Yomi's surname of "little birds playing".
  • Mexican Standoff: Each other-world character does this in a circle during OP credits.
  • Mind Screwdriver: Yuu --Strength, really-- explains what is the otherworld and what are the otherselves. May or may not also apply to the OVA.
  • Mood Whiplash: The second trailer. Watch as they intercut cheerful music with an emotional scene between Mato and Yomi, and Kagari slowly going psycho!
  • Mooks: The zombie robots in Dead Master's realm.
    • Giant Mook: And there is a gigantic two-headed version of them.
    • Black★Gold Saw also has Mooks. They are likely pre-Otherselves of girls that Saya is psychologically conditioning for this purpose.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Are you suffering? No problem, just have your otherself killed by B★RS! You'll forget the pain immediately!
  • Mythology Gag: The Spider Tank-type enemy from the PSP game also appears here.
    • Episode 5: "Do you want to save Yomi?"
  • Nightmare Fuel: Invoked in the storybook. It ends with the little bird blackens and dies. Who on earth would write a book like that for kids?! Mato's reaction is writing a Fix Fic at the last, blank page of it.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Everyone.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Mato and Yomi are given this treatment when they're connected to their other selves.
  • Rainbow Motif: Li'l Bird Li'L Bird Colorful Colors.
  • Shout-Out: The only thing missing from the scene where the original Yuu's house is burning is Sephiroth's theme.
    • In episode 7 when Hiroyuki Imaishi is in full swing, he also sneaks in Studio Gainax homages. Strength strikes a comically exaggerated Gainastance and B★RS sword surfs like it's Daicon VI.
  • Sigil Spam: The opening gives each of the otherselves, including Insane Black Rock Shooter, their own logos. They never show up in-story, however.
  • Split Personality: Although the Other Selves seem to be "real", the original Yuu's description of her other self sounds exactly like the common belief about the cause of Dissociative Identity Disorder: creating someone else to take the pain.
  • Tarot Motifs: "Strength" and "Chariot", so far. (One could stretch and have Dead Master be Death and Black★Rock Shooter the Star. This would possibly make Black★Gold Saw the Devil, based on appearence)
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Kagari calls Mato this in the first episode. Like she can talk.
  • There Are No Therapists: There is one, but she's a Psycho Psychologist. Later revealed to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist since her goal is keeping the Otherworld alive for a Childhood Friend of hers.
  • The Stinger: In the last episode after the credits. Strength is revealed to be alive.
  • Tin Can Telephone: Kagari speaks to Yomi via one of these, possibly since they seem to live next door to each other.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The posters and trailers makes it look like Chariot is an important character, and Strength isn't. It's actually just the opposite.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Even more obvious than in the OVA, what with Yomi and Dead Master being redesigned to wear glasses. The website makes a token attempt to avert this by not revealing the voice actors for the "other selves".
    • To be honest, 95% of the people who are watching it have seen the OVA or would have guessed in all of, oh, I don't know, 5 minutes maybe. The series' only worse-kept secret is that Mato is BRS.
    • The website also showed a figure for Insane Black★Rock Shooter well before she appeared.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: It doesn't quite go to Gainax Ending because it's actually pretty darn comprehensible, Unexplained Recoveries aside.
  • Uh-Oh Eyes: When someone is affected by their Otherself, their iris becomes gear shaped.
    • Interestingly, this is the same design that Kagari's Creepy Doll has.
  • We Help the Helpless: Black★Rock Shooter is introduced in a heroic light, reflecting Mato's own caring nature and going to great lengths to fight suffering. Several What the Hell, Hero? moments later, we learn her world's population is made of suffering. At best a Destructive Saviour, her lack of emotion or comprehension make B★RS's actions more sociopath than hero.
  • Wham! Episode:
    • Episode 5. Yu might not actually exist. Mato merges with B★RS and finds that she already killed Dead Master. B★RS becomes Insane Black★Rock Shooter.
    • Episode 7. Yuu and Strength switched places before the story began. Also, Yomi regains her memories of Mato and Dead Master is hinted to be reviving; the same is implied for Kagari/Chariot.
  • Wham! Line: Episode 3: "I don't understand what you're talking about."
    • Episode 5: "I don't have to kill you yet."
    • Also in Episode 5: "The manager? I'm the only one for the team"
    • The cake goes to this line in Episode 7: "Your greeting is rather late, Mato Kuroi. I see my Strength has been relying on you...My name is Yuu Koutari. Strength is down here right now, just as you are."
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Huke has long had an illustration and power-up concept based on the trope. Now it's not just Insane Black★Rock Shooter, but all Otherworld girls who run on it.
  • World of Symbolism: And this time they aren't even subtle about it.
    • Mind Screw
    • Black★Rock Shooter resides in a tear-blue, checkerboard world littered with jagged blades and other weapons.
    • Chariot's is made of broken dolls and toys, some more familiar than others.
    • Dead Master's is a misty graveyard. When Yomi's pushed over the edge, the undead overflow in a Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Strength resides in an oppressive, Lethal Lava Land, going back to Yuu's burning house.
    • There is a white, colorless desert the Otherworld girls spawn from or are discarded into.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: According to Yuu, all of the other selves will eventually and inevitably die. Subverted in the ending.