What They Say:
Haunted by memories of his childhood friend Kuroneko, Ryota Murakami has dedicated himself to discovering the truth behind the claim she’d made before she died: That aliens from other worlds walk among us. Believing that becoming a scientist is the path to the truth, Murakami pursues his studies by day and peers through a telescope at night. But when a girl named Kuroha Neko joins his class, the answers he’s sought may be closer than he ever expected.
The audio portion of this release is about what you’d expect from a standard DVD edition — nothing more, nothing less. Both English and Japanese dubs are available on all three discs in standard Dolby Digital 2.0. No cut outs or stoppages were recorded throughout all 13 episodes. Equalization seemed normal and volumes stayed consistent throughout.
This standard edition comes to you as a 480i anamorphic release. Colors seemed diluted at times, but that may just be due to the overall art style. Considering the simplicity of said art style, there is no serious strain on production and the art stays consistent throughout. I experienced no disruptions at all while watching this series. One more thing to note is that series is entirely uncensored and features frontal nudity.
As always, this standard release comes encased within clear shrink wrap. The package itself is actually rather nice looking, featuring the four main girls of the series in black and white while bathed in blood. The back side of the release contains thumbnails from various points in the show and details the original Japanese cast underneath a brief synopsis of the series. Overall, I’d put the packaging of this particular set maybe a step or two above most standard DVD releases.
Just like most Sentai releases, Brynhildr sports an unanimated main menu on all three discs that loops the [first] opening song to the series. The menus display character portraits to the side of the episode titles that obviously change colors when highlighted. Apart from that, there really isn’t anything to note. The menus remain average on all fronts.
The special features of this release include: Textless OP/ED themes, trailers for other Sentai Filmworks shows, and one OVA episode. The OVA can be played in both the original Japanese audio as well as English. There is no commentary for anything included on any disc. Disc 1 features the textless themes as well as the trailers, while Disc 3 contains the OVA. There are no special features on Disc 2.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
You’ve been to Walmart before right? Well, you know how they have cheaper versions of products that you’ve grown used to — and how those products never particularly live up to the hype of whatever thing they’re supposed to be replacing? Yeah, well Brynhildr In The Darkness is basically that, but turned into a 13 episode anime. Now, I just want to note that discounted versions of reliable products aren’t always necessarily “bad,” but that at some point, you just have to bite the bullet and be like, “Man, I wish I bought the brand name one instead.”
Brynhildr is the latest animated series from Lynn Okamoto, the original creator of the masterpiece that we have come to know as Elfen Lied. And while Elfen Lied may have explored many different themes and ideas that were, at the time, not very common to the anime community, this new series embarks on a new exploration of the same things and tries to make it look like it’s discovering them all for the first time. Basically, Brynhildr In The Darkness is the Christopher Columbus of anime. Columbus showed up in America one day and was all like, “I am the first person to find this!” while all of the Native Americans who were already over there were just like, “Dude, what about us?” and then he killed them all. This is the same thing.
Brynhildr focuses mainly on the life of Ryouta Murakami, a seemingly average dude with an above average intellect. After watching his best friend from childhood plunge to her death while they were trying to walk across a huge pipe thing (Or something), Murakami dedicates his life to astronomy because…well…that’s what his dead friend liked and stuff. So one day, several years in the future, a girl looking exactly like her (Kuroneko) escapes from some lab thing and is ultimately discovered by Murakami, who is then like, “Yo I thought you were dead,” only to be greeted by, “Wtf are you talking about? I’m a witch lol”. So obviously the correct thing to do in this situation would be to run away from this creature with ridiculously abnormal telepathic power. But, instead, Murakami helps her assimilate with the average high school kids because that’s totally not dangerous at all.
As time goes by, we discover that Kuroneko and the rest of the witches must take some pill to suppress their power from leaking out and demolishing them. Obviously, though, this pill isn’t sold behind counters and must be acquired directly from the lab the witches are from. Considering at this point in time our home team consists only of Murakami, Kuroneko, and the quadriplegic best-girl (Kana), more help must be recruited. You know what this group needs? A Tsundere. So they go find one (Kazumi) and apparently she is a super-hacker that helps Kuro and Murakami break into the lab and get some life-pills. All is fine and well until the dude who I guess owns the lab is like, “Shit, we should get those witches back” and starts sending better witches after them. So then some more stuff happens and Kuroneko gets cut in half. But that’s cool because the witch they were fighting against has the power to rewind time and of course she ultimately winds up doing so because the main girl can’t die before the halfway point of the series.
After escaping from the evil laboratory for the second time, Kuroneko and Murakami realize they’re in some deep shit. More witches keep being sent out to find them, each one stronger than the next. So the rest of the series is a bunch of rinse-repeat as the astronomy club repels their murderous attackers while slowly gaining more good witches to join their club. Eventually, the main evil guy from the lab is like, “Know what? I’m just gonna unleash the super bad witch to track them all down.” The super bad witch winds up being really mean and puts a serious damper on things when she [kind of] kills one of the good witches. Kuroneko gets really mad at this because she is also a good witch and then decides it’s time to unleash her ultimate power and kill the evil super bad witch lady (Who is also her sister. Surprise!). Then yay, everything goes back to normal. Or does it?…
If you couldn’t tell by now, Brynhildr in the darkness is basically a slightly-tweaked retelling of Elfen Lied with more girls and fanservice thrown in. In fact, almost every single thing that happens in Elfen Lied also happens in this series. Here, I’ll break a few down with this cool timeline.
Elfen Lied: Lucy escapes from the isolated evil lab and is taken in by the good guy.
Brynhildr: Kuroneko and Kana escape from the isolated evil lab and are taken in by the good guy.
Elfen Lied: Evil lab dude sends out Nana and Bandou to track down Lucy.
Brynhildr: Evil lab dude sends out like five different witches to track down Kuro.
Elfen Lied: We discover that the lab is genetically modifying cute girls to create superweapons.
Brynhildr: We discover that the lab is genetically modifying AND CLONING cute girls to create superweapons.
Elfen Lied: Woah, Lucy is actually Kouta’s childhood friend!
Brynhildr: Woah, Kuro is actually Ryouta’s childhood friend!
Elfen Lied: Lucy prevails and Nana now has no limbs.
Brynhildr: Kana’s limbs don’t even work in the first place.
Elfen Lied: Evil lab man gets fed up and sends out Mariko (Who, for some reason, loves evil lab man).
Brynhildr: Evil lab man gets fed up and sends out Mako (Who, for some reason, loves evil lab man).
Elfen Lied: Mariko’s powers aren’t enough to kill the protagonist. Evil lab man shows soft side and dies with her on a bridge.
Brynhildr: Mako’s powers aren’t enough to kill the protagonist(s). Evil lab man shows soft side and dies with her on a balcony.
Okamoto couldn’t even get creative with the names of the characters. Kouta/Ryouta are the protagonists. Mariko/Mako are the bad guys. Honestly, I think it might be possible that Okamoto was just trying to relive his glory days with this. After Elfen Lied came out, everyone saw him as this mastermind with a fantastic story to tell — which, he was. Since that, though, nothing he did really took off the same way. It wasn’t until he basically rewrote the story that he put into the spotlight again. And honestly, if he hadn’t already created Elfen Lied, this would have been a lot better. The characters are actually extremely lovable and I was incredibly surprised by how much they grew on me. The fanservice is a little heavy in this series, but the comedy is actually the best part of the entire show. Some scenes literally showcased 10/10 humor and made the watching experience increase tenfold. I tore apart the series above, but it really wasn’t THAT bad. There are still some elements that really make this a relatively enjoyable show. However, certain things like Okamato’s new-found hatred toward permanently killing off his characters, I would definitely change.
All in all, this series was enough to make me want to read the manga, so I guess it worked it the end.
Just watch Elfen Lied instead.
Content Grade: D+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: Standard 480i Anamorphic