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Annotated Anime: Brynhildr in the Darkness 3

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Literally burning down the house

This episode is full of super-convenient plot elements that I am nevertheless prepared to forgive. A random fire razes Kuroha and Kana's house, destroying what little of their medication remained? Contrived, but I will forgive it. Murakami suddenly reveals that he has a photographic memory out of nowhere? Unlikely, but I can buy it. One of the witches is a magic hacker, who can do whatever she feels like to any computerized system anywhere? Okay, I'll bite.

Basically I'm willing to forgive this show anything right now because:

A) It has an awesome OP, one of the few memorable ones this season.

B) This show just did something amazing that I never thought any anime would accomplish. More on that later.

Connecting everyone

This episode of Brynhildr in the Darkness is brought to you by Radio Shack.

Frankly I'm so high on Brynhildr right now that the show could introduce fifteen tsundere loli witches with big brother complexes who all chirp "Onii-san!" in unison and I would even be okay with that...well, okay, maybe not so much. But the fact that I would even consider it is saying something.

Anyway, we learn a whole bunch about our favorite witches in this episode. They need to take pills, called "death suppressants," every day or they will literally melt to death -- and by the way, nice homage to The Wizard of Oz there. Things look bad enough when Kuroha and Kana only have ten pills left between them, but then get dire when a woodfire burns down the house and destroys the remaining pills. Desperate, the witches and Murakami hatch a plan to raid the factory that manufactures the pills before time runs out. To do so, they will engage the help of Kazumi, the escaped hacker witch -- whose situation is just as bad as Kuroha's, even if she plans to keep that to herself.

Oh dear

"Look, the important thing to keep in mind is that this could be worse."

"How?"

"We could literally be on fire."

It's a crazy, all-or-nothing plan, but it's totally justified given the alternative. All too often, anime characters undertake stupid, reckless plans at the drop of the hat that should result in everybody getting killed, but these plans somehow work because the main characters have plot armor that doesn't allow them to die. I appreciate the fact that, for once, the urgency of the situation is such that the super-desperate plan is actually justified. At this point, the witches can either go for broke or lie down and wait to die, so you can't hold anything they're trying against them. It's actually pretty refreshing.

Other useful witch facts: Witches are given power rankings from C to AAA, and all our friendly witches rank B or below. In fact, Kuroha, Kana and Kazumi are so low-ranked that they were considered defective and were about to be destroyed before they escaped. Now, I have a serious bone to pick with the Witch Power Ranking Committee here; I can understand Kuroha being low-ranked, but Kana? She can predict the future with 100% accuracy; do the bad guys really think that ability is less useful than a close-combat ability like Saori's? And as Murakami points out, Kazumi's hacking abilities could cause massive social unrest. I really think whoever's ranking these witches needs to get their priorities straight.

Scary switch

Yet more witch facts! The metallic thing on the back of all the witches' necks are called "hahnests," and ejecting them causes witches to melt immediately, as we've already seen. There's also a "no magic for you!" setting, and a third setting that no one knows much about. The witches have been told that flipping that last setting will bring on a "fate worse than death," which leads me to believe that the last setting actually empowers the witches; perhaps freeing them from their dependence on death suppressants. After all, if the bad guys want to make sure that the witches never learn that they can free themselves, the best way to do it is to make them too scared to flip the switch. In any case, I will be shocked if the last setting doesn't end up being positive in some way.

Factory raid time! Kuroha is supposed to distract Saori, the AA-ranked witch whom the bad guys have deployed to kill the escapees, while Murakami sneaks up behind her and flips the "no magic for you!" switch on Saori's hahnest, rendering her harmless. Once they get inside the factory though (with the help of Kazumi's hacking), Murakami realizes that Kuroha intended to sacrifice herself all along, in the hopes that her death will allow him to steal enough pills to save the other two witches. Naturally, he isn't about to let his maybe-childhood-friend die, so Murakami goes after Kuroha, against her wishes. That's when the amazing thing happens.

Eeeek

There are good witches in the world. This is not one of them.

You know how female characters in anime are always taking clothing damage, and it never serves any purpose other than lowest-common-denominator fanservice? Well on this show, Kuroha takes clothing damage and it is not only 100% relevant to the story, it communicates plot-critical information in the most expedient way possible. Let me restate that: this show has Kuroha's shirt get ripped open, and it's actually good storytelling. How is that even possible? What dark gods do the writers of Bryhildr worship that they managed to sidestep the "fanservice is always tacky and pointless" rule, and where can I sign up?

Also, the way the reveal works makes perfect sense; it stands to reason that the moles under Kuroha's arm would have moved forward as her chest expanded post-puberty. It even makes sense to put those distinguishing marks on her chest as opposed to anywhere else on her body, because if her moles were on an arm or a leg or something, Murakami would have seen them and would already know Kuroha=Kuroneko, as opposed to finding out at a climactic moment. This anime showed a boob and it was totally justified by in-story events!...okay, now I'm just repeating myself, but I'm still not quite over it yet. 

Yaaay!

HALLELUJA

Murakami is of course euphoric to learn that, as he suspected, Kuroha has been the girl he's always loved all along, but no sooner does he realize this than Saori presumably kills her. We know she can't "really" be dead, since we're only at episode 3, but Saori does something that paints the walls with Kuroha's blood, so at the very least she's not in very good shape right now. Naturally, Murakami is burning with the righteous anger of a thousand suns, and I'll bet a lot of episode 4 will be devoted to him fighting Saori to save Kuroha; I don't know how his photographic memory is going to help him win out against an evil assassin-witch, but I'm sure the show will think of something.

Really, the totally trite thing for the show to do now would be for Murakami to develop amazing superpowers of his own out of his love for Kuroha and defeat Saori, but you know what? I'm so into this show right now, I would be totally okay with that. Even that, I would give a pass. This might be love.

I hope you'll all join me for episode 4 where Saori will presumably get what's coming to her, Kuroha will presumably find a way to put all of her blood back inside her body where it belongs, Kana will presumably ask for more cake, and whoever heads the Witch Power Ranking Committee will presumably be fired for gross incompetence...because come on.

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures


 


 


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