Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness blu-ray

Release Date
Studio / Publisher
Arms / Animatsu Entertainment
Language / Subtitles
English / Japanese / English
13 (+1)
2 BD, 2 DVD
Run Time
350 Minutes

Brynhildr in the Darkness, known as Gokukoku no Brynhildr in Japan, is the 2014 anime adaptation of the likewise-titled manga by Lynn Okamoto. Studio Arms handled the animation for this series. Both the author and animation studio are best known for Elfen Lied. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series as a simulcast two years ago, and have been eagerly anticipating a blu-ray release for a while. This blu-ray is brought to us by Animatsu Entertainment, who seem to be fast developing a commendable catalogue of titles I enjoy. In what comes as a pleasant surprise, the artwork used does not mirror the unnecessary fanservice utilised within the anime, instead focusing more on the tragic aspects.

“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.

For Kuroha looks exactly like an older version of Kuroneko, and seems to have abilities that no human could have. But the truth isn’t the only thing Murakami is about to uncover, and the secrets he’ll learn come with a deadly price. Because Kuroneko was right, and there are those who will do anything to keep that knowledge hidden. And unless Murakami and a handful of unlikely allies can somehow survive their lethal purge, the entire human race could be doomed!” – Animatsu Entertainment

Brynhildr in the Darkness’ story is an emotional rollercoaster, cruelly toying with the viewer as characters are introduced and bonds formed, only to be destroyed moments later. All of the characters on the side of “good” are likeable despite a range of wildly varying personalities; it’s rare to have such a great assortment of characters in any form of media. The animation itself is suited well to the subject matter, with the dark tones conveying the despair of the situations the characters find themselves in. Unfortunately, for possibly the first, and only, time, I think I preferred the censored simulcast version over the uncensored home video version. The fanservice throughout Brynhildr was irrelevant to the plot, and although the girls are at least 16, it made me uncomfortable seeing their breasts so often for the sake of it. The girls have not led ordinary lives and seem so innocent that the exposure just seems so much more inappropriate than it actually is. With Studio Arms helming the title though, this should have been expected.

Both openings, “BRYNHILDR IN THE DARKNESS -Ver. EJECTED-” by Nao Tokisawa and “Virture and Vice” by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas seem disjointed and unfitting for an anime, but they work in that they embody how disconnected the majority of the main characters are from the world they inhabit. The first opening, used for most of the episodes, will worm it’s way into your head quickly. The second opening, being more metal, is not likely to do so. The English audio track doesn’t sound natural in the slightest; it seems a dub is once again hampered by ADR Director Kyle Jones(Log Horizon, Super Sonico, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Apocalypse). I was willing to give Kyle Jones another chance for this anime, but I couldn’t even manage an entire episode dubbed. It has reached the point where seeing Kyle Jones listed as ADR Director is likely to deter me from even trying a dub. The Japanese is thankfully of a much better quality.

While Brynhildr doesn’t feature a wealth of bonus features, it does have the most important, the episode 11.5 OVA. Both OPs, “BRYNHILDR IN THE DARKNESS -Ver. EJECTED-” and “Virture and Vice”, are included without credits. Three versions of the textless ED, “Ichiban Hoshi” by Risa Taneda, Aya Suzaki, MAO, & Azusa Tadokoro, are included. Sentai trailers included are for Knights of Sidonia, Vampire Hunter D, Hamatora The Animation, and Appleseed.

Brynhildr in the Darkness is one of best anime I have had the pleasure of watching. It was an enjoyable, emotional viewing experience both as a simulcast as it aired and rewatching it on blu-ray. The unneeded fanservice may be too much for some, but the anime is worth watching; if fanservice makes you uncomfortable, the version on Crunchyroll will provide a suitable alternative.