August Anime Challenge: Brynhildr in the Darkness
This month’s anime challenge is Brynhildr in the Darkness. The plot starts ten years ago, when childhood friends Ryouta Murakami and Kuroneko set out to proof the existence of alien life. But a tragedy strikes; there is an accident which gravely injured Ryouta and kills Kuroneko. In memory of his dear friend, Ryouta now searches the night sky every night in the hope that his friend was right about the existence of aliens.
Back to the present we find that Ryouta is a top student at his school and currently the only member of the schools Astronomy Club. Everything he believes in gets challenged one day when a new transfer student joins his class, a girl named Neko Kuroha. She is a dead ringer for his old friend Kuroneko, and even her name sounds similar and there is something strange about her… She has superhuman strength and predicts death. He becomes entwined in a world of magic and witchery; his life will change in a new direction for ever.
This challenge sounds intriguing doesn’t it? We hope you all will join us this August as we explore Brynhildr in the Darkness!
Disclaimer: Please note that this anime contains scenes of Blood, gore and violence as well as some nudity. It was rated R+ in some countries. Viewer discretion is advised.
Week 1 - 06 - 12 August
Episodes to Watch: 1 to 3
When you hear harem anime, the first thing in your mind is the image of a semi-awkward and half-useless (but likable) clumsy or clueless male character surrounded by competent but sometimes over-eccentric female characters. The male is usually prone to nosebleeds, is easily dominated by a third of the ladies in the group and at the end of the anime you still do not have a clue if he will end up with any of them. Such is not the case with Brynhildr in the Darkness!
In this anime we have Ryouta Murakami, and he is refreshingly competent, which gives a change of pace from the generic harem anime we are all used to. He has a high intellect and a photographic memory, with a dream of becoming a NASA researcher due to a promise he made to his dear childhood friend, Kuroneko. Proof of him working toward that goal is the fact that he ran the Astronomy Club in school, and for a long while was the only member. He is also a very protective person, when he is faced with protecting a group of women from an evil organization; he goes all out in keeping them safe.
Why this harem anime is different is maybe because it is based on a manga written by the same person that wrote Elfen Lied: Okamoto Rin, an out-of-the-box artist who creates characters that are not generic and stories that you cannot put down. In fact, he is so amazing they even named an asteroid, 49382 Lynnokamoto (1998 XG5), after him! How many Mangaka can boast about that?!
Week 2 - 13 - 19 August
Episodes to Watch: 4 to 6
Last week we watched episode 1 to 3 and it is time to dissect a part of it. The first episode already dealt with interesting themes through the eyes and experiences of the character Ryouta Murakami. His character deals with themes of survival guilt, regret as well as personal honor (or obligations born from a sense of honour).
Right in the start of the episode we are shown what the accident was in the past that shaped to be the person in the present. We see him and Kuroneko trying to cross the dam wall using pipes as a path. Ryouta slips and as survival instinct goes, reaches out a hand and grabs Kuroneko. She can’t save him and they both fall to the bottom below. We see in the story that he wakes up in hospital and that on that when he is released he finds out that Kuroneko did not make it.
Ryouta says in the beginning of the anime “Kuroneko, why did I grab your hand”, the thought that she dies because he slipped, he reached for her, but she died because of his accident lays heavy on him. He is filled with survival guilt and regret, a heavy burden for a small child to bear. It leads him to his sense of honour and obligation; you see she was into aliens and the existence of alien life. That young child decides to fulfill his dead friends search for alien life. As he grows up, he joins the school’s Astronomy Club, searching the skies at the local observatory every night for signs of alien activity. In fact his sense of obligation is so deeply ingrained that he plans to become a researcher at NASA when he finishes school.
That is just a little background of what we learned about him in episode 1. There are more, like when a girl that is a dead ringer for Kuroneko arrives at school, her appearance and name very similar to his childhood friend, hope sparks in him. It cause for a very interesting scene in school. There are strange things happening that fringes on the supernatural, but you know what, we just can’t spoil it for those of you who have not year watch episode 1. In fact, go, watch episode 1 to 3 and also watch this week’s challenge episode 4 -6. You will not be disappointed. This anime is great. Just be warned that depending on which version of the anime you have, there may be nudity in it, and blood and gore.
Week 3 - 20 - 26 August
Episodes to Watch: 7 to 9
Last week we watched episode 4 -6 and quite a lot happened. We learned more about Kana, the paralyzed witch that we met in episode 2 as well as Kazumi, the genius hacker we met in Episode 3. Episode 3 and 4 are in a sense one big story thus let’s rewind a little and start this catch-up with episode 3.
In episode 3 the abandoned house where Kana and Neko stayed burned down because Neko tried to boil water. With the destruction of their home, they also lost their ‘death repressant’ pills that are the only thing keeping the witches alive. Ryouta offers the girls a place to stay, the observatory. The group decides that they have to take action to get pills before the girls die horribly. They decide to do a pill heist at a factory and we are introduced to Kazumi. At the factory they encounters the witch Saori, who is working for the place from which Neko, Kana and Kazumi escape. A fight ensues and as the episode ends it seems all is lost for our heroes.
In Episode 4 Ryouta cunningly forces Saori to use her time manipulation ability but dies in the process. Thanks to his cunning plan however, Saori resets time and that forces her to overspend her abilities. Neko and Ryouta, now alive see her die because of her power overuse. Our heroes rush home, getting there just in time to medicate Kana who is close to death. A lot more happens in episode 4, we have a funny scene at the hot spring behind the observatory and a new witch knocks at the observatory door, but that is for you to go and watch if you have not watched episodes 4 – 6 yet. Enjoy the anime challenge this week as we watch episodes 7 to 9!
Week 4 - 27 August – 02 September
Episodes to Watch: 10 to 13
We have reached our final week of the challenge and it’s time to reflect on some of the episodes we have seen before. In episode 5 and 6, Ryouta and Neko fought their most powerful enemy yet with the help of Kotori, the new ‘witchy’ addition to the Astronomy Club. In Episode 6, just after defeating their enemy, Ryouta and Neko finds out that Kotori is dying, that she refuses to drink the life-saving medicine the witches need because they are running out. They luckily work through her depression and suicidal thoughts with her and the three of them return to the observatory.
At the end of episode 6 Ryouta suggest they get the help of one of his scientist friends, to see if they can find a way to replicate the witches’ medicine. In episode 7, after Neko’s help demonstrating her paranormal power, Ryouta proves to the scientist that witches exists, he gives the scientist the fertilized alien egg (to know how the Astronomy Club got their hands on that, join the challenge and watch the earlier episodes!) as well as one of the pills the witches has to take to stay alive.
Later in the episode, Ryouta learns that synthesizing and making the medicine would take six months… It is disheartening because by then all the witches will be long dead since, by now, they only have a month’s supply left at best. When he tells them about it, the witches hide their disappointment by saying they expected this, but we see Kazumi go outside and tears of despair rolls down her cheeks.
Episode 5 and 6 were strong episodes dealing with issues like depression, despair, selflessness in dark times and suicidal thoughts. But there were plenty moments in the anime that gave it a lighter tone too like Neko going to karaoke and Kazumi and Ryouta shopping in Akihabara. The anime is a beautiful, dark masterpiece and we cannot help but to root for these witches that they will overcome each obstacle and find a way to live on! If you have missed out on watching Brynhildr in the Darkness we urge you to try it out. It may be one of the darkest harem anime out there but it touches you and makes you invested into the characters to the end. For those of you that are part of the challenge, we hope you enjoy episodes 10 to 13 this week!