English Cast for Brynhildr in the Darkness

Sentai Filmworks has announced the English cast for the Brynhildr in the Darkness anime:

  • Blake Shepard is Ryota Murakami
  • Jamie Marchi is Kuroneko
  • Christina Stroup is Kana
  • Emily Neves is Kazumi
  • Jessica Calvello is Kotori
  • Carolyn Johnson is Hatsuna
  • Ty Mahany is Man in Black
  • Molly Searcy is Nanami
  • Kira Vincent-Davis is Saori
  • Nancy Novotny is Kashiwagi
  • Adam Noble is Ichijiku
  • Meaghan Avocato is Initializer

Kyle Jones is directing.

Sentai Filmworks will be releasing Brynhildr in the Darkness on Blu-ray and DVD on October 6, 2015.

Source: ANN

2014 In Review: Spring 2014 Season

Yesterday, I took a look back at the shows I was watching during the Winter 2014 anime season. Today’s post is taking a look back at the anime series I started watching during the Spring 2014 season.

The World Is Still Beautiful: After watching the first episode of the series, I thought that it showed a lot of promise. Not only did the story grab my interest, but so did the look of the animation. The series also managed to find and keep the right combination of drama and humor to tell its story. It became a series I looked forward to watching week after week. Overall, The World is Still Beautiful is a sweet series. The only real issue I had is when it was glossed over in the episodes that introduced Bard that Nike had been ordered to go to the dungeon, but for whatever reason, she never went. Livius’ temper was definitely out of control, and that was definitely not one of the sweeter moments of the series. I really enjoyed Nike as a character, and Livius’ evolution as a character was pretty decent. With the way the series ended, I suspect there isn’t going to be another season; however, if there turns out to ever be a second season of The World is Still Beautiful, I’d definitely watch it.

One Week Friends: After watching the first episode, I thought that One Week Friends was a sweet series. As the series continued, it remained a sweet series; however, the sweetness never got to the point of being so sickly sweet that it was saccharine. It’s a light-hearted show, but it’s not so light-hearted that it’s simply a barrage of jokes. Throughout the series, there was a good mix of humor and drama. The characters are accessible to the audience; as you meet each character, you’re able to get a good sense of who they are through their interactions with each other. The characters I came to care about the most were Kaori and Yuki, and I came to care about them at the end of the first episode. However, I also came to like Shogo and Saki later on. At the end of the first episode, I was worried that the concept would hold up for the series’ 12 episode run. But I’m happy to say that the series succeeded in maintaining its concept throughout all of the episodes and succeeded in keeping the concept, story, and characters interesting the entire time. I also thought that the series was brought to a realistic end. And since there are still loose ends in regards to the potential relationships, there’s fodder for fanfic writers to work with to write their own continuation of the series. While One Week Friends is a good series, I’m really not sure there’s a chance for more episodes; at least, I don’t think there’s enough material to go for another 12 episode series. There might be enough to maybe squeeze an OVA episode or two out, but that’s about it. However, I have a feeling that it was intended to end here. I also really liked the animation style that was used in the series. It has a “soft” feel to it, and it almost looks as if it could have been inspired by paintings made with watercolors. This look and feel is perfect for bringing the story of this series to life.

Captain Earth: After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that the series had potential. Admittedly, that first episode was a little hard to follow and understand at times, but my hope was that once the major exposition was done to establish Daichi and the world that he inhabited, that the series would become easier to follow. At the end of Episode Two, I was still a little confused, but there was enough interesting ideas being presented that made me want to see more of the series. At the end of Episode Three, I was genuinely interested in the characters and what was going on, especially since some of the questions I still had at the end of Episode Two were answered during Episode Three. At the end of Episode Five, though, I found myself feeling a little frustrated at just how slowly the storyline was progressing, as well as the fact as I thought I was starting to understand the story, new concepts were slowly being thrown out that I had to try to fit into my understanding of the series. It also didn’t help at that point in the series, the antagonists still weren’t very clear. It turned out that the first seven episodes were there to establish the premise and the series’ elements, and that Episode Eight truly started to move the story forward. The next six episodes focused on Amarok and Malkin working at awakening the other designer children and getting them to join their cause. Ultimately, the first half of the series had a rather slow start, and I think that the amount of designer children that were introduced helped to bog this section down. Now that I’ve seen the whole series, I can say with certainty that Liban and Bugbear really didn’t need to be there. Liban did nothing during the series after being introduced, and Bugbear only did a couple of things in the long run; the things that Bugbear did could have been done by another one of the Planetary Gears. I liked Bugbear’s backstory, and perhaps Zimbalt could have been given that backstory. Between Zimbalt’s backstory and Bugbear’s backstory, I thought that Bugbear’s was stronger. The second half of the series felt as if a lot of concepts were being thrown out to the audience and that the story was being hurried along in order to reach the series’ final destination. In the end, Captain Earth had an interesting premise that it was presenting, but the overall execution just wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been. While Captain Earth was an overall stronger mecha show than Aldnoah.Zero was, Captain Earth did still have some issues. And I have one question: Who is the girl with the recorder that appears about three times in the series around Daichi? She’s the one who ultimately leads him to the Livlaster in the first place, and then she shows up a couple more times near the end of the series. The audience is never given an explanation for her, so that’s one aspect of the series that I was dissatisfied with. She’s does some important things in the series, but we never get her name or know anything about her. All I can refer to her as is “the Recorder Girl.”

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior: After watching the first episode, I thought the show had a good combination of comedy and drama to help drive the characters and their story. I also thought the first episode was charming and fun to watch. I enjoyed watching the series for the most part, although I thought Episode Nine was one the weakest episodes in the series. My favorite part of the series was definitely the story of Kazunari and Ritsu. Some of the ensemble stories about the other characters tended to not do much for me for the most part, and with some episodes I found myself wishing that there was more of a focus on Kazunari and Ritsu. My least favorite character was definitely Sayaka. Not only was she the most annoying, she also came across as a character who didn’t really add much to the series. A lot of the times, she was either just “there” or wasn’t even at the dorm for the entirety of an episode. In a lot of ways, I think this series might have been a little stronger if she wasn’t in it. She was probably intended to be a foil for Mayumi, but I thought Shirosaki did a pretty good job of filling that role for both Mayumi and Kazunari.

Brynhildr in the Darkness: After watching the first episode, I thought the series showed a lot of promise, and at the end of episode two, I thought there was a really good setup for the story. By the end of episode four, after both Kazumi and Kotori were introduced, I found myself wondering if the series was setting up Murakami to have a harem. By the end of the series, I think I could safely say that while Brynhildr in the Darkness wasn’t a true “harem anime,” some of the girls surrounding him did act as if they were part of a harem of girls attracted to the main protagonist. I started to become frustrated with the series around Episode Nine, because I felt like the loose thread of the device was left hanging. Unfortunately, it didn’t come back until Episode 12. With Episode 10, it began feeling like the writing started to become sloppier. At the end of Episode 12, I felt like there had been a major and sudden change to the tone and direction of the story. It also felt unnatural, like they were rushing things in order to fit everything into two episodes. I ended up being disappointed with how the series ended. When I reached the end of Episode 13, I found myself thinking, “I devoted 13 weeks of my life to this show, and this is how it ends?”

Haikyu!!: After watching the first episode of Haikyu!!, I thought that the series seemed to be following many of the tropes associated with sports anime. However, the main character of Shoyo, along with his backstory, was intriguing enough that it didn’t feel like “just another sports anime” by the end of the episode. By the end of Episode Three, I found that Haikyu!! was keeping my interest, even though I’m not a fan of volleyball. At that point, I was already looking forward to seeing what was going to happen in the series as it progressed. The two practice matches that appeared during the series helped me to get a better understanding of how to play volleyball, and the matches themselves were exciting to watch. These matches also helped to set the stage for the Inter-High tournaments. When the series hit the Inter-High tournaments, the story was done in such a way that these matches were even more exciting than the practice matches had been. When Karasuno went up against Date Kogyo, I was very impressed by how well Karasuno was able to hold up against them. But much of the Inter-High focused on the hard-fought match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai; in fact, it was so hard-fought that it extended into a third set. I had anticipated which team would ultimately win the third set, but I still found myself feeling a little disappointed and off-guard when that team actually won. I knew in my heart of hearts that this is how this would have to play out, but the match had been so intense during the episode that I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for the underdog team. While the underdog team takes the loss hard, I think they also learn a lesson in humility as well. When I first started watching Haikyu!!, I never would have imagined enjoying a sports anime about boys’ volleyball as much as I’ve come to enjoy this series. While Haikyu!! may employ a lot of tropes that are associated with shonen series, the characters are engaging enough and interesting enough that the viewer doesn’t necessarily notice the tropes being used.

Riddle Story of Devil: At the end of the first episode, I wondered if the potential promise I had seen for the series would manifest itself as the series progressed. Sadly, I ended up being rather disappointed in that regard. By the end of Episode Two, I had a major issue with just how many characters were being thrown out there at once and I had a hard time keeping their names straight.  At the end of Episode Four, I found myself feeling a little frustrated because characters were being written out just as the audience was getting to know them. I also realized the weakness of knowing the fact that a student has to fail each time they try to assassinate Haru, because the series would come to an end if they didn’t. By the end of Episode Five, the only thing that was keeping my interest to any degree was discovering who the next person who tries to assassinate Haru is and how they’re going to do it. Admittedly, at that point, if I hadn’t been watching the series to write about it for my blog, I would have dropped it after watching Episode Five. The formula that had been developed started being changed with Episode Six, so the series started becoming a little more interesting again. However, after truths are revealed in Episode 11, things become very confusing and crazy in the final episode. In fact, I found myself spending most of Episode 12 feeling rather confused as I watched it. While Riddle Story of Devil wasn’t my least favorite anime I watched during the Spring 2014, it definitely ran a close second.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that there was an interesting concept that was drawing me into what I was seeing. I also thought the episode had a good mix of drama and humor. Although I was already sensing from the ending credits that a harem could develop around Sota, I thought that the premise was interesting enough that it could potentially keep the harem elements a little bit more in check. After watching the second episode, I thought there was a major tonal shift, and it appeared that the series would simply end up being a harem comedy with gags that would end up getting old fast. After Episode Two, I felt a little disappointed by the series; however, I decided to stick it out and see if perhaps the series would get better as it went along. After seeing Episode Three, I thought it was rather predictable; this hampered my enjoyment of what I saw. And after such a big deal had been made about the flags in Episode One, it was hardly touched on at all in Episode Two or Three. At that point, I was already feeling that it was my least favorite anime of the Spring 2014 season that I was watching. Sadly, my feelings for this series hardly improved for the remainder of its run. And then, near the end of Episode 11, it’s suddenly revealed that Sota is actually in a virtual world, and in a story that feels like it was inspired rather heavily by The Matrix. At this point, the narrative became a confusing and contradicting mess, and those issues with the narrative continued for the remaining two episodes of the series. It also didn’t help that the ending felt rather vague. The main weakness for this series is that it doesn’t truly understand what kind of tone and feel it was going for. It started out with hints of a harem anime with the potential for an interesting story, then it became primarily a light-hearted harem anime with some elements of a fantasy story thrown in, and then it turned into wanting to be a sci-fi story with a setup like The Matrix and suddenly became much darker and serious in tone. The first shift in tone was kind of noticeable, but it wasn’t jarring. However, the change to the darker sci-fi elements ended up being a very jarring transition, and I don’t believe that it worked well. After finishing Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, I found myself regretting having ever started it. This would also rank up there as one of the worst anime I watched during 2014.

Ping Pong the Animation: First off, I have to say that I have to give credit to Ping Pong The Animation for not being a “typical sports anime.” Unfortunately, I have to say that the pacing for the series ended up being a bit awkward, especially since the series was trying to condense about one year into the course of 11 episodes. This meant that the first seven episodes tended to feel rushed. Then, starting with Episode Eight, the pace slows down and the series spend its final four episodes focusing on one event; this would be the singles qualifiers that takes place for the series’ climax. But then, during the final episode, there’s a timeskip that takes place from the end of the qualifiers match to several years into the future. Unfortunately, with how rushed those first seven episodes were, this didn’t allow for as much character development as there could have been in order to help the audience care more for the characters. I wish there had been some more episodes for the series in order to give the story and the characters a little more room to “breathe” and to develop even more. Now that I’ve finished watching the series, I find myself wondering why Kazama’s cousin Yuri was ever introduced. Honestly, she didn’t truly add much of anything of any real relevance to the series and was quickly written out in Episode 10. When it came to the animation, I have to admit that I did have some issues with the animation style right at first; however, I became accustomed to it around Episode Three. Once the animation style didn’t distract me, I was able to better focus on the storytelling aspect of the series.

Chaika – The Coffin Princess: After watching the first episode, I have to admit that I was a little annoyed by Chaika’s tendency to speak in one, two, or three words phrases; however, as the series progressed, I just got used to this character quirk. But what I saw in that episode made me interested enough to want to continue watching the series. When Fredrica joined the cast and becomes part of Chaika’s party, I thought it added an interesting layer. At that point, not only were they being pursued by the Gillette Corps, they were now also traveling with a party member who is out to kill one of the other members of the party. Overall, I thought that Fredrica was a good addition to the party and its dynamics, and that she was portrayed realistically. When the Red Chaika was introduced in Episode Five, I thought this added an interesting twist as well; unfortunately, Red Chaika seemed to disappear after two episodes. In Episode Seven, it appeared that Chaika had developed feelings for Toru, which ended up adding another layer to the story since it was obvious that Akari liked him. I was thrilled when I learned that there would be a second season of the series in Fall 2014, and I found myself looking forward to what that second season would bring.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure: After watching the first episode, I thought that the concept of Nanana’s Collection was an intriguing one, and the interactions between Juugo and Nanana also kept me interested in continuing to watch the series. I enjoyed the first three episodes or so, but then things started to get a little confusing. Near the end, it was starting to get interesting with the final confrontation between Hiiyo and the Adventure Club in Episode 10. That episode ended on a cliffhanger, and I expected the final episode to be action-packed and focus on the confrontation. Unfortunately, that confrontation ended up being anticlimactic and boring in Episode 11; this is primarily due to the fact that so much time was spent on characters talking to each other and not having much going on in the way of action. And the very end of the final episode didn’t truly resolve anything, and some footage seen both during the ending credits and right after raised more questions than answers. To me, this was an unsatisfying end to the series, and I started to feel as if I’d wasted my time over the 11 weeks that I watched this show. At the end of the series, I didn’t see the promise that I had seen early on manifest itself like I had hoped. As the series went on, it seemed to lose its focus as various characters and concepts were added to the series. While the characters from Matsuri and their organization seemed to be important early on, those characters and the organization basically disappeared by the end. The last time we saw Yukihime and her partner was a brief shot of them in Episode 11 when they were in the mall at the same time as Juugo. Also, Juugo declares early on in the series that he’ll help Nanana locate her killer. Unfortunately, this part of the story is hardly ever touched on, and is not resolved at the end of the final episode. I wouldn’t say that Nanana’s Buried Treasure was the worst anime series that I watched during the Spring 2014 season, but I also can’t say it’s among the best, either. For me, it was ultimately a series that had a lot of potential that was never realized due to decisions that were made in regards to the storytelling. And I have to say that if it turns out that Nanana’s Buried Treasure ends up getting a second season, I would have no desire to watch it due to the various issues I had with the storytelling of this series.

Anime Spotlight: Brynhildr in the Darkness

Brynhildr in the Darkness is an anime based on a manga by Lynn Okamoto. The series is produced by ARMS and is directed by Kenichi Imaizumi. The series aired on Japanese television from April 6-June 29, 2014. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American license for Brynhildr in the Darkness.

The main character of the series is a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, Murakami has decided he wants to become a researcher at NASA, in order to get as close to space as he can and prove that aliens existed in Kuroneko’s place. However, he has no memory of what her name really was, and he also remembers the three moles she had near her armpit.

One day, there’s a new transfer student in his class named Kuroha Neko and she looks a lot like Kuroneko. Murakami reacts in surprise and believes that she’s Kuroneko; however, she says she doesn’t know him and that this is the first time that they’ve met.

During the class’ pool lesson, the cover comes off the filter, and it sucks in a girl’s leg. She can’t get it out and is having trouble breathing. Kuroha says to herself that two students at the school are supposed to die that day. The poolside by the filter collapses and the pump gets plugged, which allows the girl to be saved.

After school, Murakami gets off a bus and goes to an observatory. While he’s there, Kuroha enters. She emphasizes again that she is not Murakami’s childhood friend and tells him that two students at the school were supposed to die that day: the girl in the pool and Murakami. She then warns Murakami not to miss the last bus or he will die. After some banter back and forth, Kuroha receives a call on an amateur radio saying the situation has changed; Murakami will now need to stay at the observatory if he doesn’t want to die. Kuroha relays the message and heads on her way.

Murakami decides not to take the bus but leaves the observatory and walks down the road because he wants to verify what Kuroha said for himself even though it’s started raining heavily. As he walks, an avalanche suddenly happens, and it’s up to Kuroha to save him. Murakami discovers that Kuroha is a witch, and that she gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. It’s also revealed that Kuroha escaped from the lab she had been kept at.

Later, when Murakami is sent to deliver something to Kuroha because she missed school, he discovers that another witch named Kana is living with her; Kana was a witch experiment that ended up completely paralyzed, but she can make forecasts. Later, he learns that the witches need to take pills called death suppressants every day or they’ll die. Kuroha and Kana end up homeless after Kuroha accidentally sets their home on fire; fortunately, Murakami saves them both. Unfortunately, their pills burnt up in the fire. Murakami allows them to live in the observatory, since he’s the only person who uses it.

Murakami finds the location of the factory that makes the pills. At the same time, Kuroha and Kana decide to call another witch that escaped with them named Kazumi. Kazumi has the ability to manipulate things online, so they believe she can take down the lab’s security to allow them access. Kuroha and Murakami go to the lab and take on a higher-level witch. After a bit of a battle, Kuroha and Murakami retrieve two boxes of pills. They are then joined at the observatory by a witch named Kotori Takatori; her ability is teleportation.

Murakami goes to see a scientist friend named Kogoro to see if he can reproduce the pills, since they only have a month’s supply for the witches. Unfortunately, Kogoro determines there’s no way to reproduce them within a month.

Kuroha gives Murakami a device she was handed when she escaped, and he and Kazumi activate it while they’re in Akihabara. They discover it’s from someone who wants to kill the witches. The device basically isn’t touched on much until right at the end of the series.

As the series progresses, they meet two other witches: Nanami and Hatsuna. The man in charge of the lab, Ichijiku, is escorted by a powerful witch called Valkyria as he tries to find a particular witch; it’s one of the witches that we’ve met in the series. There’s a lot of revelations and surprises as the series concludes.

After watching the first episode, I thought the series showed a lot of promise. At the end of episode two, I thought there was a good setup for the story. By the end of episode four, after both Kazumi and Kotori were introduced, I found myself wondering if the series was setting up Murakami to have a harem. By the end of the series, I think I could safely say that while Brynhildr in the Darkness wasn’t a true “harem anime,” some of the girls surrounding him did act as if they were part of a harem of girls attracted to the main protagonist.

I started to become frustrated with the series around episode nine, because I felt like the loose thread of the device was left hanging. Unfortunately, it didn’t come back until Episode 12. With Episode 10, it started feeling like the writing became sloppier. At the end of Episode 12, I felt like there had been such a sudden change to the tone and direction of the story. It also felt unnatural, like they were rushing things in order to fit everything into two episodes. I ended up being disappointed with how the series ended.

Brynhildr in the Darkness had a promising start, but for me, the series started falling apart the closer it got to the end. When I reached the end of Episode 13, I found myself thinking, “I devoted 13 weeks of my life to this show, and this is how it ends?” This is a series that I’m ultimately glad that I was able to watch as a free stream. While it wasn’t necessarily a bad series, the potential I saw for it never truly manifested itself during its run. While it wasn’t one the worst series I watched during the Spring 2014 season, it wasn’t exactly one of the best, either. Personally, I found it to be a bit of a letdown.

At this point, I really have no desire to watch Brynhildr in the Darkness again.

Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness: Episode 13 – “Things to Protect”

Brynhildr in the Darkness focuses on a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, a new transfer student named Kuroha Neko joins his class, and she looks suspiciously like Kuroneko. However, Kuroha insists that she’s not Kuroneko. At the end of Episode One, Murakami learned that Kuroha is a witch who gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. Murakami has since met three other witches: Kana, Kazumi and Takatori.

Murakami, Kuroha, Kazumi, and the members of Hexenjagd arrive where Takatori is being held by Ichijiku, and Hexenhagd refuse to do anything since they believe it’s too late. Murakami, Kuroha, and Kazumi disagree, and they decide to take things into their own hands. However, both Kuroha and Kazumi knock Murakami out. The witches believe they are the only ones who should be risking their lives in this situation.

Unfortunately, before she can be rescued, Takatori decides to eject herself, since she believes that this will put a stop to Ichijiku’s plan and save the world. Later, Murakami regains consciousness; with help from the memories of Nanami, he finds Takatori as she’s melting. He discovers that Takatori has realized that she is the reincarnation of Ichijiku’s little sister, and she asks Murakami to tell her older brother to stop hurting people.

Meanwhile, Kuroha and Kazumi encounter Ichijiku and Valkyria, and it’s revealed that Valkyria is Kuroha’s older sister. Valkyria uses her magic to knock out Kuroha and to take down Kazumi. Valkyria carries Kuroha off and is gone when Murakami finds Kazumi. She’s still alive, but she feels that she’s dying. Kazumi convinces Murakami to go after Kuroha.

Murakami is able to find Kuroha just as it appears that Ichijiku is going to eject her. This leads to a major confrontation with Murakami and Kuroha against Ichijiku and Valkyria. There’s some surprises that happen during this confrontation; and while the “good guys” win, the ending is rather bittersweet.

Once again, the ghostly apparition of Nanami that represents her memories that are etched into Murakami’s mind showed up not just once, but twice in this episode. I still feel that Nanami became a “deus ex machina” so Murakami wouldn’t have to work so much in this episode to find Ichijiku and save Kuroha.

Now that I’ve finished the series, I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the ending. Unfortunately, this is a case where the anime was produced before the manga concluded, so there was no definitive ending. From what I’ve read on comments at Crunchyroll, it appears that viewers who have read the manga were able to understand the pieces of footage that showed up in the ending credits. Unfortunately, for people like myself who haven’t read the manga, we were left having to guess about some of the things that we were seeing.

Brynhildr in the Darkness had a promising start, but for me, the series started falling apart the closer it got to the end. When I reached the end of Episode 13, I found myself thinking, “I devoted 13 weeks of my life to this show, and this is how it ends?” This is a series that I’m ultimately glad that I was able to watch as a free stream. While it wasn’t necessarily a bad series, the potential I saw for it never truly manifested itself during its run. While it wasn’t one the worst series I watched during the Spring 2014 season, it wasn’t exactly one of the best, either. Personally, I found it to be a bit of a letdown.

At this point, I really have no desire to watch Brynhildr in the Darkness again, and I’m definitely not going to be in any hurry to add it to my anime collection if it’s ever released on home video in North America.

Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness: Episode 12 – “Hexenjagd”

Brynhildr in the Darkness focuses on a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, a new transfer student named Kuroha Neko joins his class, and she looks suspiciously like Kuroneko. However, Kuroha insists that she’s not Kuroneko. At the end of Episode One, Murakami learned that Kuroha is a witch who gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. Murakami has since met three other witches: Kana, Kazumi and Takatori.

Valkyria and Ichijiku arrive at the observatory, and it’s revealed that #1107 is Takatori, not Kuroha. Murakami finds himself begging for his life, and Hatsuna tackles Valkyria in an attempt to hang her up, but Valkyria has a different harnest from the others, so Hatsuna has no idea what to push. Valkyria attacks Hatsuna, but of course she doesn’t die due to her regeneration ability; she can only be killed if she is ejected. After Murakami gets into a debate with Ichijiku, Valkyria is ordered to kill all the witches except for Takatori. With her first attack, she is thwarted when Takatori tackles her. Ichihiku puts a gun to Takatori’s head and tells her to stop. Kuroha uses her magic to destroy the gun.

Valkyria is then ordered to kill Kuroha; when she attacks, Murakami pushes Kuroha out of the way and takes the blow instead. As he’s laying on the ground, he has a vision of Nanami that was etched into his memory, and she explains that Kuroha is stronger than Valkyria but her power is sealed away. There’s a way to break the seal, but there’s a 99.9% chance that Kuroha will die. Kuroha’s harnest hangs up on her in the meantime, and just when it looks like it’s over for Kuroha, members of Hexenjagd appear and Valkyria is unable to use her powers. Ichijiku pulls out another gun and shoots at the member of Hexenjagd that was suppressing Valkyria’s power, and he, Valkyria, and Takatori teleport out of the observatory. Hatsuna makes a sacrifice in an attempt to help Murakami, who was very badly hurt; between Hatsuna, Kuroha, and Kazumi’s efforts, Murakami is able to overcome his injuries.

We learn that Hexenjagd is the organization responsible for the device that Murakami had; he had pushed the button on it during the confrontation with Ichijiku, and that was how the organization found them. It turns out the members of this organization worked for the lab and they are a resistance movement. Their goal is to kill the witches because of the slime creatures that reside in them; if the creatures are allowed to hatch, it will wreak havoc for Earth. And if Takatori’s hatches, it will mean the end of the world. Hexenjagd, Murakami, and the other witches make an uneasy alliance to track down where Ichijiku is and go to him…

A lot of information was thrown out over the course of Episode 12, especially in regards to why Ichijiku began creating the witches. Wow, Ichijiku is one sick person. Once again, this ended up being a story where the main villain ended up doing the things he did because someone close to him died, and he wanted to try to find a way to bring her back.

The device that Murakami had finally was important to the story, and we also got to learn who was behind it. From what was seen earlier, we knew it was someone who wasn’t going to be friendly to the witches. Their outfits are kind of interesting; the female was wearing a nun’s outfit, one of the guys looked like he was dressed as a pilgrim, and the other guy almost looked like he could’ve come out of the Wild West era. Is there any significance to this attire, or was this done just to do it?

It was also a little disappointing to see Hatsuna sacrificing herself. Like Nanami, she was there for such a short amount of time, it was hard to truly care about her as a character. In the end, they both come across like “deus ex machina,” and that they were simply introduced in order to provide Murakami with information he couldn’t have easily gotten otherwise and to make sure that Murakami doesn’t die.

And the ante has also been upped. The story is no longer about saving the witches, it’s now about trying to save the entire world. That ending scene almost makes me afraid we could be heading into something like the destruction of Earth sequence that appeared in The End of Evangelion. Hopefully it won’t get too over the top.

To me, this just felt like such a sudden change to the tone and direction of the story. It also felt a little unnatural, like they’re trying to rush things in order to fit everything into two episodes. It’ll be interesting to see how the story of Brynhildr in the Darkness is ultimately brought to an end.

Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness: Episode 11 – “A Sudden Reunion”

Brynhildr in the Darkness focuses on a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, a new transfer student named Kuroha Neko joins his class, and she looks suspiciously like Kuroneko. However, Kuroha insists that she’s not Kuroneko. At the end of Episode One, Murakami learned that Kuroha is a witch who gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. Murakami has since met three other witches: Kana, Kazumi and Takatori.

Episode 11 introduces another witch named Hatsuna, who has regenerative powers that keep her from dying. She was part of the group with Valkyria. She pretends to be dead as Valkyria uses antimatter to attack police officers and causes a huge explosion that causes over 100 people to be dead or missing. Ichijiku, who is in charge of the witches at the lab, is reprimanded by his superiors for allowing Valkyria outside, because they can’t quietly handle the situation due to the explosion. Later, we see Ichijiku approaching Valkyria and scolding her; however, she gets back on his good side when she reports that she’s located Kuroha and the others.

Hatsuna finds her way to the observatory, and the other witches know her. After learning about Murakami from the others, she decides to put him to the test to see if he’s really as good of a guy as he claims to be. His actions not only prove that he’s a good guy, but it also causes Hatsuna to become interested in him.

Later, Kogoro asks Murakami to come see him. He seems to have figured out that the witches melt due to the formation in their bodies of a digestive enzyme called “protease,” and that the pills may have an effect of stopping the enzyme. He says that someone he knew back in school wrote their thesis on protease, and that he can build on this analytical data to create a pill and that it can be completed within a month. Unfortunately, the witches only have enough for a week with the five of them who are now at the observatory. Kogoro says Murakami will have to make a choice. After Murakami leaves, we learn the protease thesis was written by Ichijiku.

When Murakami returns to the observatory, he relays what he learned to the witches. They decide they should give all of the remaining pills to one of them so she can stay alive. They debate who should get them, but the discussion doesn’t yield results. The remainder of the episode sees Murakami finally getting confirmation that Kuroha is really Kuroneko, and a surprise that takes place right at the end of the episode.

Surprisingly enough, during the conversation that the witches have about who should get the remaining pills, Murakami remembers he has the device he got from Kuroha in his pocket. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t do anything with it. But with how the episode ends, I’m wondering if it truly matters any more or not.

It looks like there should be two episodes remaining for Brynhildr in the Darkness, and it appears the final confrontation will begin in Episode 12. Will this final confrontation take both episodes, or will the final episode simply exist to wrap up the loose ends?

Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness: Episode 10 – “Proof She’s Alive”

Brynhildr in the Darkness focuses on a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, a new transfer student named Kuroha Neko joins his class, and she looks suspiciously like Kuroneko. However, Kuroha insists that she’s not Kuroneko. At the end of Episode One, Murakami learned that Kuroha is a witch who gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. Murakami has since met three other witches: Kana, Kazumi and Takatori.

At the beginning of Episode 10, Nanami is taken to the observatory, where Kogoro is waiting. Murakami asks him to find a way to remove the beacon from the harnest. As Kogoro tries to come up with ways to determine what to do, Nanami and the others talk about friendship. Unfortunately, so much time is taken up with the friendship talk, that Nanami’s eject button is pushed remotely, and she begins melting into goo. As she melts, she’s able to rewrite the witches’ memory so they don’t remember her. We later find out that Nanami inserted herself into Murakami’s memory and that he can see the fragmentary secrets that she knows about the lab. This felt like a “deus ex machina,” but it wasn’t touched on again for the remainder of the episode.

Then, Murakami and the witches that go to school are studying for the finals that are coming up. Kazumi wonders why they should bother, since they only have three weeks’ worth of pills left. Through discussion, they come up with an incentive to study and do well: they’ll get a trip to the ocean. This leads into Kazumi claiming that she kissed Murakami in Akihabara, and Kuroha gets mad; she causes a couple of trees to topple over. She leaves, and Murakami finds her later, singing a song about the incident and trying to claim that she doesn’t care. Murakami knows that she does, but he’s too dense to figure out why she’s so upset.

At the end of the episode, we see that Valkyria, the strongest witch at the lab, has been sent out to find Kuroha and the others. She was supposed to be monitored by seven other witches due to the fact that she can’t be controlled outside, but Valkyria kills them all. So we seem to be setting up some kind of a major confrontation between Valkyria and the other witches.

Once again, the device from Kuroha and the code that Murakami thought he had figured out were not addressed in this episode. Considering that it’s stated at one point in the episode they only have three weeks’ worth of pills left, shouldn’t Murakami be getting off his butt and moving on this already? Honestly, I’m starting to think that the writers forgot that this loose thread is hanging out here and hasn’t been resolved since it’s been ignored for two whole episodes. With only three episodes left, they need to be getting a move on in the search for the pills.

At this point, I have to say that while Brynhildr in the Darkness started out strong, the writing seems to be starting to become a bit more sloppy now that we’re closer to the end. Elements like the device and code seem to have been forgotten or glossed over, and there really isn’t the tension that there should be about the fact that time is running out for them to acquire more pills for the witches before they run out, considering how much of a life and death situation this is for them. I’m almost afraid that the ending is going to be rushed, potentially rely on at least one “deus ex machina,” and perhaps even contain a plot hole or two. I hope I’m wrong, but that seems to be where this is headed. I’ll watch the final episodes of the series and hope that I don’t end up being too disappointed in its conclusion.

Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness: Episode 9 – “Fake Memories”

Brynhildr in the Darkness focuses on a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, a new transfer student named Kuroha Neko joins his class, and she looks suspiciously like Kuroneko. However, Kuroha insists that she’s not Kuroneko. At the end of Episode One, Murakami learned that Kuroha is a witch who gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. Murakami has since met three other witches: Kana, Kazumi and Takatori.

A large focus of Episode Nine is on Nanami, the witch that was introduced near the end of Episode Eight. She, along with her handler, are trying to track down Witch #1107. They eventually come to a bigger city near where Murakami lives, and she uses her ability to read, erase, and change people’s memories by looking them in the eyes to try to track down Murakami after seeing a sketch of him done by the police back in Episode Eight. She encounters Kikka, the girl that Murakami has been tutoring, and sees a memory of him. Nanami uses her ability to make Kikka go find Murakami and bring him to her.

Nanami asks her handler if she can go around on her own for a day. Before asking, though, she had altered nearby people’s memories to make them think that her handler had caused offense to them somehow, and several guys come over and beat him up. Nanami then uses her power to rewrite his memories so he forgets about being her handler.

Kikka brings Murakami to Nanami, and Nanami makes Kikka leave. She uses her ability to read his memory and discovers where the four witches are. Murakami figures out that Nanami is a witch and how her power works. He asks if she could be friends with him and the witches instead of chasing after them. He asks her to believe him, and she asks to look at his memories again to see if he’s telling her the truth. Murakami tries to refuse, and she retorts that he expects her to trust him when he obviously doesn’t trust her. Murakami relents, and Nanami tries to use her ability to erase Murakami’s memories from the time he was born. After Nanami leaves, we discover that her ability didn’t work on him.

Murakami warns the witches about what’s going on, and he asks whether they want to fight Nanami or if they’ll escape and try to lay low somewhere. Later in the episode, Murakami, Kuroha, and Takatori have a chance meeting with Nanami, and a climactic scene plays out. We also see Nanami’s handler finding something that jostles his memory to remember his mission and Nanami.

Well, this didn’t quite go as I had expected at the end of Episode Eight. I truly thought that we were going to be leading up to a big confrontation between Nanami and Kuroha. Instead, Nanami turned out to be a witch who was lonely and wanted friends, and Kuroha is able to talk Nanami down and tamp down any potential conflict.

However, I have a feeling that Nanami’s handler is going to end up being a major antagonist, especially after having his memory jostled. Not only is he going to be hunting down Witch #1107, he’s also going to hunting down Nanami as well. My main question about this is: how many episodes will focus on that aspect?

Another question I have regards the password for the device that Kuroha was given. Murakami seemed to believe he had the pieces for what the password could be at the end of Episode Eight, but this topic was never touched on over the course of Episode Nine. The loose threads we have at this point in the series are: deciphering what the password for the device could be and using it to hopefully get a clue as to how to obtain more pills, actually obtaining pills for the witches, Kogoro and the other scientists analyzing and discovering what the fertilized alien egg is, and the witches being hunted by Nanami’s handler. From what I’ve seen, there’s only four episodes remaining, so hopefully all of these loose ends will be tied up before the series ends.

Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness: Episode 8 – “The Clue That was Left”

Brynhildr in the Darkness focuses on a high school boy named Murakami. 10 years prior to the start of the series, he knew a girl he called Kuroneko who insisted she knew about aliens and had met one. When she takes Murakami to see the alien, an accident happens that injures Murakami and kills Kuroneko. Now in high school, a new transfer student named Kuroha Neko joins his class, and she looks suspiciously like Kuroneko. However, Kuroha insists that she’s not Kuroneko. At the end of Episode One, Murakami learned that Kuroha is a witch who gained her abilities through surgery and drugs. Murakami has since met three other witches: Kana, Kazumi and Takatori.

Episode Eight sees Murakami memorizing the map he sees on the device and is able to reproduce it by drawing it on a sheet of paper. Murakami, with some help from Kazumi, work together and find that it’s a map of Nakakaruizaa. Murakami tells the witches that this is the best lead he has for the pills; however, since it appears the person who gave Kuroha the device doesn’t appear to be a friend to the witches, he insists on going to Nakakaruizaa alone.

Murakami arrives and finds a church that’s a landmark on the map; however, the church has been destroyed somewhat recently. He learns from a shop owner that three months ago, there was a really loud noise in the middle of the night and the church was destroyed. He asks a couple of other questions, but the shop owner doesn’t have answers for him.

When Murakami returns to the church and starts looking around, he finds that on a wall that’s still standing, there’s writing in German with blood under some of the letters. Before he can examine much further, the police arrive to arrest Murakami for breaking and entering. He ends up being saved by Kuroha and Takatori, who came to the area after Kana had a forecast that Murakami would die.

When Murakami returns home, he mentions they may still have one lead left: he believes the letters underlined in blood on the wall have to do with the password for the device. Before they can test anything, they have to get the girls somewhere safe before Murakami turns the device on.

This episode also introduces Nanami, a powerful witch who has been assigned to locate #1107, which is the number for one of the escaped witches. My guess is that #1107 would be Kuroha.

Episode Eight also sees Kazumi really putting the moves on Murakami when she’s alone with him. There’s a scene with these two that has a bit of “fanservice” going on in it. When it comes to Kazumi, I like her abilities with technology and electronics, but I’m not a fan of the sex obsession that she has. So far, I haven’t felt that that portion of her personality really does much to embellish the story; in fact, I find it more of a distraction from the overarching story.

From what I’ve seen, it appears there’s only five episodes left for Brynhildr in the Darkness. I get the feeling the stage is being set for a confrontation between Kuroha and Nanami. If that’s true, then the main questions left for the series are who would win in such a confrontation, can the witches get any more pills once their supplies run out, and what exactly is the fertilized alien egg that Kogoro is now researching. Hopefully we’ll get satisfactory answers to these questions when the series concludes.