Brynhildr in the Darkness OVA (Review)

Brynhildr in the Darkness OVA Kotori apronMuch Ado About Nothing”

The view from Igirisu:

We’re back to the original opening title sequence so turn it up loud! This is a very disposable comedy episode, really just a chance to see the characters we know and love (well, I do) one last time. It’s far from being the most sophisticated episode of an anime ever, and I think the people making it probably realised that and at times it’s almost as if they are acknowledging that to the viewers. The title alone does that (let’s face it, nothing much happens to relate to the Shakespeare play), but also there are lines that function as a commentary on the writing as much as the characters:

  • “That just seems a little strange to me.”
  • “You’re just making this up as you go along.”
  • “Looks like someone’s got a dirty mind.”

That last one could apply equally to most episodes, and the fanservice in this one is no better or worse than the rest of the series, which is actually quite unusual because OVA episodes even of otherwise fanservice-free anime tend to go really big with it. Here, it’s really just more of the same, perhaps with a little more abandonment of logic. Don’t think too hard about where Kazumi got those aprons from, because you’re unlikely to come up with a good answer. But the episode services the fans in a different way, by having all of the girls basically confess their love to Murakami, or as good as. They all want to marry him, anyway, even Kana, and the different ways they express their love are amusing. For Kotori he basically wins by default because he’s “the only guy we know”, Kana just wants him to buy her cake, but at the other end of the spectrum we have Kazumi and Neko, who are both deeply in love with him.

“I want to be with him forever.”

In a way, it’s really refreshing because they are actually getting on and saying what they feel, and that’s rare in these kinds of harem set-ups. Their battle to decide who gets to marry him is hugely silly, and a little uncomfortable to watch in terms of gender stereotypes. Murakami seems to have no choice in the matter himself, reducing him to a piece of meat with no opinions of his own (and as a main character he has been so much better than that). The challenges also represent a hideously clichéd idea of what it means to be a wife: cooking and giving a massage after a hard day, plus… ahem… endurance. But we have to give the writers a free pass to some extent, as these are girls who have not experienced much of the real world, and therefore their understanding of how things work is probably informed by hazy memories of their parents and not much else. We probably also have to acknowledge some cultural differences, from a Western perspective.

The only thing I really disliked about the episode was that the vast majority of it turned out to be a dream. It was a bad idea when Dallas did it, and it’s never improved as an idea since then. In fact, it’s a lazy writer’s trick that has tainted many a work of fiction that is otherwise magnificent, particularly children’s fiction such as The Box of Delights and Alice in Wonderland. It’s always a bitter blow, because it says to the reader/viewer: you just wasted your time with that, because none of it happened. But let’s cut the writers some slack here, because this is an OVA episode and they are hardly known for their intricate plots, and at least this is something different to the wall-to-wall fanservice we might have expected. Most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.

I hope you’ve had fun too, reading our thoughts on this series. The last few anime we have tackled on an episode-by-episode basis have been quite heavy on fanservice, so if you’ve had enough of all that you will be pleased to hear that we’re moving on to a series that has none at all. Join us next week, when we embark on our Girls’ Last TourRP

The view from Amerika:

Listed as episode 11.5, I felt it was worth watching in order and put this on.  Last I saw, Valkyria was in the observatory about to lead to a big, scary conflict.  I tuned in, on the edge of my seat, and the first thing we get is a flashback.  I get the idea…  Before a big event, a quick recap is not unwarranted; it’s probably a good idea actually.  “You can’t fall in love with Murakami!  He’s an idiot!”  I find it funny that I’m laughing knowing what’s coming…

But it wasn’t coming.  It didn’t show up at all!   Instead Kazumi runs to talk to Murakami, and slips in the grass in a way that I thought only I did when I was younger and had such a bad wipeout that no one could possibly reproduce it.  But there she is, feet slipping on the grass and rocketing out from under her.  Alas, I didn’t end up at the bottom of a hill with a girl on top of me.  No, I ended up caked in mud at the bottom of a hill with my friend still screaming because a fishing hook got stuck in his backside when he threw the rod back too emphatically.  He’s whimpering like an idiot, and I’m lying in the mud completely filthy.  I think Murakami had a far better experience even if it does lead to Neko detonating the ground all around him.  Or did he…?

Yes, he has good luck, certainly, but he never seems to get the things he really wants.   Yeah, the more I think about it, I realize all I need to know is how to fall down a hill better!  I do have luck; I even have GREAT luck!.  Allow me to illustrate!  Before I got out of the mud, which truly was a roll down a hill flopping like fish the whole way, my friend had successfully disengaged the fishing hook from his backside and I didn’t have to help him!  That is a victory!  Yes, I admit, we took a bus to the nature reserve where this happened; this was before either of us could drive so I had to board the bus caked in dried mud after a several mile walk but hey… no helping remove a hook from my friends rump… I call that a win!

Ok, I admit, I didn’t have 4 girls all willing to go through challenges to please me, and that’s a bit of a letdown really.  Even Kotori raises her hand when asked who wants to be with Murakami.  Mind you, I’ve never had that question asked in a group of girls, so maybe I’d be surprised.  If one of you distracts my wife, I can perhaps find a harem of telekinetic witches to ask, but we do have a lockdown on at the time of writing, so I might have to wait a while…

Anyway, back to the episode and the luck-comparison contest.  The girls proceed through some challenges to win Murakami’s heart.  Barring the girls wearing very … no, let’s be honest, nothing, the cooking challenge nearly kills him; he throws up twice, violently and passes out.  I had food poisoning in 2001, and I can tell you, there’s not much else you want to do but die when that’s happening.  The sexy girls are the last thing on your mind!  By comparison,  I had a delightful dinner with friends a few months ago and the food was excellent, but they specially prepared mine because they cook with a bit more spice than I can handle.  What I can handle is effectively a grain of any spice… maybe half a grain.  I did try one bite of the food as it was meant to be and wondered for days if I’d ever feel my tongue again.  I say again, I do have luck: how many people can claim to have friends that specially prepare a meal for them?  So round one, I do think I come out ahead of Murakami.

The endurance test.  Murakami has a number of lovely girls go skinny dipping in a hot bath for him until they all pass out, call out for help and he has to help each of them out of the water.  Right… well… um… I had ice cream tonight so yeah…. There’s that.  Forget the endurance test, it ends up a draw anyway. He gets no points for this!

The massage test: each of the girls has a chance to work the kinks out of Murakami.  Kotori however, almost suffocates him and causes a nosebleed. He blacks out then has his main love nearly break every bone in his body!  Well, here, my friend, I’ve got you beat!  I have a great life with a great family, great friends and a great job!  I don’t have stress!  My wife even teases me that I enjoy my job entirely too much, which means I’m not in need of a massage.  But had I been, based on all the friends I do have, who end up karate chopping me, hitting me playfully, or in some way saying “idiot” to me as I tease them for one thing or another, they help get the muscles loosened up anyway.  So ha-ha-haa, Murakami.   In your face!!!

And you know how I know I’ve got you beat for once and all?  This whole episode ends up being a dream of Kazumi’s.   Yeah, they pulled the “it’s a dream” card!  You poor dolt!  The one and only part that happens to be true is the kiss you get with Kazumi, which just upsets the girl you actually want to be with.  Let me sum up for you, Murakami: Mike 1, Murakami 0.

You gave me a fun episode when I expected to have an exciting one.  Not what I expected, but two can play at that game.   ML

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
This entry was posted in Anime, Entertainment, Reviews, Television and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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