Gokukoku no Brynhildr review: Aliens, witches and oh, so much more

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WE’VE all had those days: Life seems dull and resentful until a new transfer student joins your class who looks exactly like your close childhood friend who you’ve always loved that died by you both falling off a dam but you survived causing sleepless nights and survivor’s guilt ever since. Yet, when you try to talk to her she has no memory of you and you end up making an ass of yourself in front of everyone, then of course she saves your life using her supernatural powers. No? Just Ryouta? Definitely just Ryouta then.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr or Brynhildr In the Darkness hits the ground running with a very strong start. From the first episode I was intrigued by the mystery raised by the series: Who is Neko? Is she Ryouta’s childhood friend? If not, then how does she look exactly like her?  Also, what is the deal with these powers? Unfortunately, the mystery doesn’t last long. Before reaching half way I’m rewarded with most of the answers I need, which is a shame. I think they could of done a lot of with it, added some twists and turns, essentially just play out the lack of answers so that the viewers have a little more to grasp at.

Neko isn’t the only one with superpowers however. Soon they’re joined by the whole gang of harem tropes. There’s Kana who can forecast deaths in the near future; she’s the mean one who pretends to hate the main character while slowly starting to like him. Although to be fair to Kana she never falls in love with him but starts to see him more as a friend, which is quite sweet as times. Kazumi who gains the ability to hack; she’s the nerd AND the pervert, she’s also flat chested and the show will remind us of this fact at least once an episode. Finally Kotori who can teleport, you can probably guess which trope is missing, she’s the ditzy one with big breasts but heart of gold; Anime tends to have a weird rule where the size of your breasts is directly oppositional to your cognitive functions.

There also two minor character who join the group in the later episodes: Hatsuna who got less screen time than the highschool they never go to and Nanami, who despite getting an episode to herself deserved a lot more coverage. She quickly became one of my favourite characters, certainly the best-developed character in the series. She was misguided, lost, didn’t know who to trust or what path to take, she spoke about the pain of isolation and the burden of having to erase herself from everyone’s memory. Outside of Ryouta and Neko she was the only one to feel like an actual character and not just a checklist for Ryouta’s groupies.

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Despite the characters being essentially all the other characters you’ve seen in harem shows I really enjoyed this series. The mystery at the start was interesting and when it switched to focusing on keeping the girls alive and safe I also enjoyed that. The objective never feels easy or cheap, and Ryouta is constantly following strings to find some solution to the problems, and he doesn’t just try a single method – he acts like an actual person and tries multiple solutions that actually make sense. He gives a brilliant scientist relation of his a sample of the pill needed to keep them alive, he tracks down the drug manufactory, researches the evidence he does have. It’s a struggle and we never know if he can succeed.

The biggest fault in the series however is most definitely the ending. When we learn about the motivations of the villain it doesn’t make any sense, I don’t know why they would benefit at all from the end result of their plan. The villain watches someone kill herself because if she didn’t everyone in the world will die, yet he says that part of the plan: He’s trying to save someone but killing every human is part of the plan?! Also if it’s part of the plan why don’t you react or something? He says he can fix it yet he doesn’t seem care what’s happening despite having the biggest investment. I feel like I’ve missed an important piece of information that was never shared with me. Also the problem with Neko gets fixed only for it to be reversed immediately after. Well that’s great, what a waste of emotional investment. The worst of the worst though is that a character dies, makes a very emotional death, quite clearly has died, no question about it. Yet, in the end credits scene she’s back again! No explanation or anything given, the other characters don’t even look surprised.

I have no idea where they could go if they decide to do a 2nd season, but I hope they do. Despite the ending it’s a good series, dark, mysterious, ultra-violence sci-fi, how could I not enjoy it? Just please make more characters like Nanami, work on your endings and give the villains a goal that makes sense.

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