Anime: Brynhildr in the Darkness (Blu-Ray)
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Retail Price: $69.98
When it comes to mystery and sci-fi anime series, it’s a rarity to find a true entertaining gem that satisfies a fan of the genres, and Brynhildr in the Darkness provides evidence that there are still intricate series capable of achieving that status. The anime series is based around aliens, witches, and an average young man with a hole in his heart, but the end result ties all of these elements in perfectly. When Brynhildr in the Darkness first begins, we are introduced to a lead character and protagonist Ryota Murakami, a teenager with mental scars from his childhood. Murakami and his best friend at a young age (Kuroneko) were instantly connected with a love of the stars and adventurous personalities, but one ill fated day brought an accident with Murakami falling from a prominent height – pulling his friend down with him. While Murakami was lucky enough to survive the fall, he’s told his friend didn’t survive the incident. From that point, Murakami never quite forgave himself and spent his life trying to prove one thing that he knew Kuroneko was sure of – the existence of aliens.
The story begins by establishing this all important relationship between two characters, only to reveal the devastating loss of the person he held dearest which is an instant success in reigning in viewers to discover the mysteries of Brynhildr in the Darkness. Now in High School, Murakami has become a more secluded individual, but is quickly thrown into a different life after a new student appears looking like a grownup version of his former friend, who goes by Kuroha. Once Murakami notices the resemblance, his certainty of her supposed death has left him massively confused. When he discovers that Kuroha has abilities differing from an average human, Murakami’s search for answers is fueled, hoping to confirm his friend’s beliefs. Murakami encounters a small group of “witches” these women experimented on in an alien lab which includes Kana, Kotori, and Kazumi, whose life expectancy is deteriorating consistently.
The surrounding characters are actually all important to the story, and over time grow to become enjoyable characters. Kana, for example, is granted visions of those who are set to die which is utilized in many episodes to save the lives of the core characters. Kana is a great example of a character that is more grounded in the group, and a great use of a character with physical limitations providing the utmost importance to the story of many others. Kazumi begins the series as an openly (and sometimes overtly) sexual and carefree character, but as time goes on you find out that her entire personality is a fabrication to hide important fragments in the make-up of her true personality. Her depth of emotions begins to build as the series nears the end, mostly in the revelation of her compassion for Murakami that feels doomed from the moment it begins. To finish rounding out the important supporting group of these strong characters is Kotori, the most innocent and fragile of the group. In the beginning, there is a major suspicion around her presence (you must find out for yourself!) and the questions surrounding Kotori make a great character introduction for the entertaining mystery series.
When it came to the series conclusions, the anime felt as if it quickly attempted to wrap-up storylines that could have been extended. I will credit Brynhildr for going back to darker places to alter the sometimes light tone, but I would have loved if that was a little lengthier. (When you want more of an anime it has to be pretty decent!) The anime also threw in a twist that was uprising, but there were subtleties that made it a probable reveal as well. Without complete giving away what I’m referring to, I’ll warn you that you can expect some emotional distress before the series end. One frustrating complication appears at the end of Brynhildr in the Darkness causes a major setback for two major characters, but the final moments offer an optimistic notion to the future for the remaining characters.
Brynhildr in the Darkness provided satisfaction from the opening moments of the anime until the intense finale. The animation of Brynhildr made distinguishable characters, often portraying a character expression that reflected the overall demeanor of each individual. Character designs that stood out over others includes Murakami who maintains more average and traditional features, he’s a visually appeasing character that precisely captures his personality. Kazumi and her pastel colors (and random outfit from time to time) also made for a memorable character design. I couldn’t be happier that Sentai Filmworks dubbed the anime series because the voice cast was all especially enjoyable in their respective roles. Blake Sheppard was probably my personal favorite of the voice cast for depicting that persistent and kind-hearted Murakami in every scene. Christina Stroup deserves additional recognition for her role of Kana. The role is actually a computer Kana uses to share her unspoken words, and it usually is best heard in comedic moments to lighten the mood. The entire dub cast brings great qualities to Brynhildr in the Darkness, and it is 100% a well produced final product by Sentai Filmworks.
Overall Score: 8/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Murakami is one of my new favorite anime protagonists, and his discovery of grief and regret makes a fascinating watch for the 12 episodes of Brynhildr.
-The relationship between Murakami and Kuroha is both truly sad while also promising in polarizing ways.
-I wasn’t sure I’d come to like every character in the core group as much as I did, but Brynhildr in the Darkness made me a fan.
-The complete dub cast deserves another moment of praise for creating their well adjusted character personalities.
-The opening theme (both) are incredibly great songs to use for Brynhildr, and the sentimental ending theme is a nice way to conclude each chapter.