Black Rock Shooter - 4,5 (The Cruelty of Friendship)
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Never has a series managed to freak me out so much over the course of just 3 episodes. I still get a chill going down my spine every time I even think about this series, yet I still want to watch it until the end.
So this episode is a little bit harder to get into after watching episode 3 and the pace at the beginning of it made me stop at least 2-3 times before finally watching the episode in it's entirety. The story of this whole anime is still weird but having Kagari enter school after years of seclusion and suddenly becoming one of the most popular students was an unexpected development, which lead to Yomi inevitably cracking - also displayed in her alternate characters BRS' world - something that might have been foreseen half-way through this episode after her conversation with the ever-so suspicious counsellor and the confrontation between herself and some of Kagari's new friends.
I thought Kagari was a scary enough character but she is nothing compared to Yomi who manages to become more possessive and mentally unstable than Kagari was, eventually ending the episode with her cracking. It's just the development in the story that freaked me out but also the way that Kagari was depicted so emotionless and how the cutaway scenes to the alternate world and to the counsellor's house were well timed that the whole episode came together in order to be a horror masterpiece (well more like a prequel to the horror but still).
At the end of this episode I realised that this anime feels a lot like a horror and furthermore I still had no idea what BRS was fully about since I hadn't watched the OVA, just read the description, and was becoming more and more intrigued as to how the whole story would come together and what the explanations for all the events that occured might be (Koha's memory loss after her breakdown, why Yomi had snapped and the still unanswered question as to what BRS is truly about).
Wow....... I am at a loss for words. This episode managed to take any cheesy horror movie scenarios which are used left, right and centre by the Western cinema and managed to combine them to create a truly scary episode. Just goes to show that if you include young enough characters in your horror story, you will manage to freak out a few of us who aren't used to Japanese horror anime.
I'm not sure whether Yomi's new found obsession for cutting her hair/using it to make bracelets was more scary than the school counsellor telling Mato that she had to die in order to save Yomi but if we're to ignore all of "those events," we come to realise that this episode is perhaps the most important one for the anime's story progression. This whole time I was wondering if every single character in this anime was going to remain oblivious to the most obvious culprit for all of these strange activities i.e. the counsellor, and thus I was glad when Mato finally decided to confront her.
The rest of the episode was rather emotional, to say the least. I found the whole scene with Mato re-reading the story of the bird only to reveal that the story gets sadder since the bird looses all of it's colours and turns black; sure this does seem to be the the other theme that's been running in the anime and whilst it does sometimes come across as being a generic storytelling tool, it still reminds us that the characters themselves are no older than 14 and are still meant to be innocent. Meanwhile in the not so innocent realm, BRS's battle with Yomi's equivalent rages on in a beautiful manner and when we get to the end we are left in awe.
Never having paid attention to Yuu, I was taken aback as soon as Mato tries to ask a few of her basketball team members whether they know where she is, only to have them respond with the question, "Who is Yuu " And towards the ending of the episode before it truly get's even sadder for Mato, I just realised that another question has now pooped up that I want answered; Who is Yuu I have to say well done to the director and the person in charge of the storyboard, since by not even giving her a shadow (in the last scenes of the episode) they have made her into an even bigger mystery character, especially since she was pretty much unnoticeable to begin with.