The 13 episode ride on an enormous bug packed with corpses is finally over.
Every season, I have my formulaic line up of series. There’s the one show I’m generally excited for, the mandatory fanservice show, and the one generic action show. This season I got my mandatory Jojo which will continue on for the next few seasons. Hitsugi no Chaika and Ping Pong carved it’s way into my heart as a fondly remembered series with the former getting a second season in the Fall. Date A Live was the fanservice show of the season which already got its biased yet objective review from me. So all in all, it was a pretty damn good season.
But then there’s the odd one out. The ugly duckling colored black while its siblings are comically muscular, ugly but full of heart, questionably acceptable, and one with huge eyebrows.
I’m sorry if you don’t get my joke but whatever, let’s talk about Black Bullet.
By the way, you can more or less tell how much I liked the series depending on the amount of art.
The last episode has 3-4 episodes before set this up as a great war about to happen. Instead, it’s just mucking around and the final episode focused on the end stages of the war for only half the episode. Rentaro plants the bomb into the Aldebaran but it doesn’t go off and he decides to go back in and detonate himself by applying some force at point blank range. Rentaro gets his leg melted off so Shoma decides to do it for him. Just like that, the fight ends and then we get a short post-war scene with Seitenshi and then the scene at the dojo. Kisara’s elder brother stops by to settle things with Kisara and some incriminating documents she found. While the series didn’t give too much into Kisara’s character, we know enough that she wants to get back at her uppity family. She kills her brother in a fight and Rentaro freaks out about it. Cue the casual post-war days with everyone and a last hug between the still innocent Enju and Rentaro who is scared of being insensitive about others dying.
You know what time it is, a character list.
- Rentaro: Blue hair, capable of fighting, and is the straight man to the rest of the crew. While reminiscent of Toru from Chaika, Rentaro somehow just turned out to be average. Yes he’s special with his mechanical limbs and whatnot but his angsty attitude and the fact that’s voiced by Yuki Kaiji don’t really help his case with liking him. If anything, Yuki Kaiji can do the angsty teen voice quite well but Rentaro has some trouble getting grounded as a character to take seriously with all this crazy shit going on. Not much his fault than it is his circumstances.
- Enju: With all the death going around, I was surprised Enju made it out alive. Even more surprisingly, she wasn’t annoying. I think lead females are actually getting more likable these days. That or maybe I’m just getting better at picking shows that I know won’t annoy the hell out of me. Enju is okay, I don’t hate her as much as I thought I would and that in itself is a feat.
- Kisara: The resident, large breasted, high school supervisor of Rentaro and Enju’s “security” company. Since children are not the type of girls I go for, Kisara was the only vessel for the fanservice. She’s essentially a main character but does absolutely nothing in the first half of the series. Even in the later half she barely does anything other than cut a few Gastrea. Then she decides to go berserk on us in the last episode. Out of character but whatever it takes to either boost sales of the novels or keep the mystery to increase sales of the blu rays.
- Tina: Understandably the fan favorite. Tina is introduced as an enemy but then becomes an ally and partners up with Kisara. She’s the strongest in terms of rank and gets a lot of screen time in the halfway point. Not much for me to complain about Tina. She undergoes the character change like Enju did offscreen.
- Hiruko: Undeniably the best characters in the series. Kagetane and Kohina served as the primary villains of the first arc and got killed off while Rentaro went to muck about with Tina and in the last few episodes came back to assist Rentaro. Maybe it’s Rikiya Koyama voicing but the two are very fun to watch and if there’s any excuse to watch this, it would be to see these two in action.
- The rest are literally only for show. We don’t get to see too much of the other two Initiator-Promoter duos until the later half and even then they don’t do anything. For some reason though, Tamaki gets an honorable mention. I just love the dude’s voice.
To me, the glaring issues of Black Bullet are two things. Pacing and story telling. The only reason I decided to keep up with the series past Episode 1 was honestly because of the fact that in the beginning, the police officers note that Rentaro looks too young to be a civil officer. That’s right. The 5 second, in universe comment that at least showed some sign of self-awareness was the factor that made me think this series might be self-aware enough for me to enjoy, like Date A Live. Things were honestly quite entertaining in the first few episodes. That is until we reached Episode 4, the episode were Kagetane was “killed”. Mind you that him dying does affect the series for me a bit but the most annoying part of Episode 4 was that it just completely went off rails after the fight. Then something this rushed happens again but then drag out an event that they call “Third Kanto War” but it didn’t feel like one at all.
In terms of storytelling, Black Bullet likes to introduce characters and then immediately kill them off to create mood and tension. While I sort of liked it the first time they did it at the end of the first major arc, characters dying kept happening. Now normally, I’d expect people to die but then sometimes, human cruelty to their only chance at survival just seems impossibly stupid. Why do the people hate the Cursed Children? If they’re the only hope we got against combating the Gastrea, why in the world would people try to kill them? It makes no sense. Couple that with the sad excuse of the human being that was the bodyguard for Seitenshi. Just to fulfill his own personal grudge, he’s willing to screw over the entire city. What kind of person is that?
In the end, the series was just another action series I watch every season. Compared to Machine Doll a few seasons back, I didn’t enjoy this as much. But if anything, it’s better than Mahou Sensou, but that’s not saying much is it? Black Bullet is entertaining but sometimes felt really stupid and the breakneck speed in which the rushed portions go through really just detract from that. Overall, it was just average, I’m sure I’ll forget it sooner or later since the loli’s weren’t exactly my thing and Kisara went full psycho in the end. If numerical scores mean anything to you, I give Black Bullet a 6/10.