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Anime ● Review: Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall

English Title: Black★★Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall

Japanese Title: ブラック★★ロックシューター DAWN FALL

Director(s): Tensho

Screenwriter(s): Fukami Makoto, Yoshigami Ryo

Studio: Bibury Animation Studios

Released: 2022

Runtime: 12 episodes, ~24m each.

Starring: Ishikawa Yui, Kirimoto Takuya, Asai Ayaka, Hayami Saori, Han Megumi, Tomonaga Akane, Sugita Tomokazu

My Verdict: Cool warrior girl and humans versus evil AI. Nothing particularly good. No few problems but strangely not a complete waste of time.

Black★★Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall

● Part of the franchise created by Huke, this anime is set on post-apocalyptic Earth in the year 2062 after the AI Artemis has mostly taken over. Artemis was meant to aid automation and production, amongst other things, but instead declared war on humanity.

● There is nothing particularly new with the premise, it is a mix of the Terminator and the Matrix. This is fine as there is still potential, there is plenty one can explore. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go anywhere interesting.

● The main character is the titular character. She is a young lady with long black hair and bright blue eyes, sometimes referred to as “Black Rock Shooter” but her name is “Empress”. Two children find her waking up in a research lab, obviously having been in stasis for some time. She was created as a “guardian” for humanity so at least someone had the foresight to prepare for the AI going evil.

● Empress then meets the “Colonel”, part of the human military fighting Artemis. Another young woman, Monica, overhears the conversation and joins in. According to the Colonel, Artemis is about to complete an orbital elevator to the moon which will allow reinforcements to finish off humanity.

L to R: Monica, the Colonel and Empress.
L to R: Monica, the Colonel and Empress.

● In addition to Empress’s past and Artemis’s orbital elevator, Empress has to deal with two other guardians who seemingly don’t like her as well as the Education Institution, a cult-like group led by a lecherous AI pig named Smiley.

● As expected, there are usual anime tropes, arguably too many. Tropes in themselves are not a problem, it’s how they are utilized. As already mentioned, the plot and themes don’t go far enough.

● Empress is the cool expressionless girl who has gaps in her memory but conveniently remembers how to fight Artemis’s drones which come in various forms and sizes. The Colonel is the soldier who has lost his wife and daughter but he is at least not annoying stubborn.

● Empress has a black trike because the main characters in sci-fi have to have a cool bike. This trike has its own AI so it is basically a Logicoma with three wheels and onboard weapons. It is admittedly a cool design.

● Of course, this is one of those anime where despite the inhospitable environment in which humans have to wear masks outside—in case one isn’t already sick of the idea of masks—the female characters are scantily dressed for no apparent reason.

● The other guardians are conveniently young females like Empress.

● The enemy being an AI can be too abstract, it needs a physical expression. There are drones and Artemis has an avatar but that is not enough. This is presumably why there is the Education Institution. Its relationship to Artemis, however, is not explained. The leader Smiley is a narcissistic male sexbot lecherous pervert. Overall, it’s as if the series is trying too hard to be edgy.

Empress attacking the Education Institution.
Empress attacking the Education Institution.

● The means that Artemis uses to control the planet are vaguely interesting, such as nanotech, but as already mentioned, doesn’t go anywhere particularly interesting beyond pointing to transhumanism.

● The pacing is good throughout the series. Obviously, Empress and her friends battle Artemis at the orbital elevator in the final episode. The series does end with an epilogue typical of anime.

● The production is not bad. Some of the mechanical designs, such as the trike, are nice but Artemis’s drones are a strange mix of mechanical and organic which can be jarring.

● Also, like many anime, it does not hide the 3D CGI appearance of some elements, such as vehicles. This is fine but it is not always a nice fit to the elements that do not have a 3D CGI appearance. Whilst this is noticeable, it does not ruin the work.

● The cast are veterans so the voice acting is solid, as is the sound mix.

● It is not a strong series in any respect, there is nothing special or particularly good about it. There are no few weaknesses, including trying too hard to be edgy at times, but they are not so bad that it makes the series a complete waste of time. It may even be enjoyable for some.


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