This is a spoiler-free review of the first three episodes of Black Rock Shooter Dawn Fall, which began releasing episodes in October.
Black Rock Shooter Dawn Fall is an anime which surfaced in various formats over the course of 2022 and is now available on Disney+. It’s a remake of an anime by the same name from 2008. The episodes release weekly.
Set in a robot apocalypse, the story follows a young, augmented super-soldier tasked with saving the already-destroyed world from further destruction.
The first episode leaves a bit to be desired, as it moves at a breakneck pace that doesn’t give the viewer any time to get to know or care about the characters, but the second and third episodes are stronger in both characterization and coherency of the battle scenes.
The overall story is a straightforward quest plotline that we’ve seen many times in this genre: a group of strangers having to work together to avoid recurring enemies, take on some side quests, and reach an end goal. In truth, I like this trope, so the rather generic aspect of that part of the plot didn’t bother me. And while we’ve seen robot apocalypses many times, this one has some interesting concepts that give it more depth (even the one aspect that I found absolutely silly was intriguing).
The characters are fairly surface-level so far, with the main character being Empress, a young woman who wakes up in an underground research facility and doesn’t remember her past. Having super strength, implanted weapons, and body regeneration, she rescues two kids, Norito and Miya, from a “Titan” robot, and is subsequently rescued by Black Trike, a talking motorcycle with serious Knight Rider vides.
Other characters are the muscle-bound and gruff military man Colonel (who, quite frankly, is a walking stereotype) and the quirky, shirt-hating, hacker, and researcher, Monika, who serves as their guide. There is a (non) surprising lack of shirts and pants on the women in this show.
Aside from the overarching enemy, the A.I. Artemis, the enemies, so far, are two young women—Strength and Dead Master—and a cult leader named Smilely. The former are far more interesting in their motives than the latter, who is a sociopathic lunatic who has modified his body to resemble a mannequin or ventriloquist dummy. This seems like it should be interesting, but in a spout of extremely lazy character-building, his menace is shown by his murdering teenage girls during sex. The dress code of his followers has a rather interesting aesthetic—white and gold outfits with masks not dissimilar from those worn by the guards in Squid Game—but Smilely feels like a generic villain we’ve seen many times before.
The show is very action-based, but the scenes in the first two episodes were almost too fast for the eye to follow and nothing about them was particularly memorable. The action scenes in the third episode, however, found a better balance in terms of pacing, so I’m hopeful for the rest of the series in that regard.
The animation in general is somewhat unfortunate. The characters are standard anime (minus sparkling eyes that seem to be the thing now), but there are CGI elements that don’t blend well. The backgrounds are beautiful (perhaps intentionally resembling A.I. art), but they are too different in style from the rest of the show that it’s distracting and feels like a green screen. Perhaps the style will grow on me as the show progresses but out of the gate, I’m having trouble seeing it as a cohesive picture.
The poorest aspect of the show is the music. It’s very distracting, as it often doesn’t suit the action and sometimes runs behind the dialogue, making it hard to hear what the characters are saying. The voice acting isn’t anything to write home about, either.
Overall though, it’s a decent show, and given the attempt at depth in episode 3, I’m interested in seeing where it’ll go next. Weekly reviews to come!
Let us know in the comments if you think the new show is doing the 2008 anime justice.