Say what you will about the first episode of Brynhildr in the Darkness, but it made me go through an emotional exodus the likes of which I haven’t had in years. Or rather it was a constant stream of bemusement, before the episode finished and the preceding stream of absolute dreck caught up with me. After that, I had a laughing fit the likes of which I haven’t had in months—maybe even years. I just witnessed a show that straddled the thin line between hilariously awful and unwatchable, both because of its content and that content’s delivery. And the best part is that there’s more. A word like amazeballs, bereft of anything approaching decency, might actually be the perfect way to describe it.
It’s actually rather amusing how clearly little anybody involved cares about this thing. It’s like everybody came into work hungover on the first day, and immediately decided to wrap things up before lines could be rehearsed. The characters spout their every thought with the grace and subtlety of first year drama students after a discount lobotomy, trying to express everything from grief to shock to glee with a pronounced lack of enthusiasm. The stiff, clinical way with which important information is delivered (“A transfer student? That’s rare! Our entrance exam is notably difficult for transfers.”) makes every scene a contest to see who can knock off work faster, with the least amount of effort put in. Fittingly, the episode’s idea of setting an ominous tone is zooming in slowly on a character looking really really bored.
The most notable performance is that of protagonist Murakami, whose every train of thought and line of dialogue wraps back to “I knew a girl who I nicknamed Kuroneko. I named her Kuroneko. Did I mention that I only knew her as Kuroneko? This girl kind of looks like Kuroneko so I’m going to monologue about Kuroneko some more.” He refuses to talk about anything but Kuroneko in what was probably supposed to be a nuanced look into his obsessive, grief-stricken mindset, but instead ends up as padding for the otherwise anemic introduction that does little to endear him, or make him come across as a person suffering from personal demons.
The writing of Grymdarkr is full of almost prodigiously idiocy. The highlight is the gem of a pool scene, where a girl almost drowns because she gets her knee caught in pool suction, while Totally-Not-Kuroneko monologues that she knew this would happen. It isn’t just a thought, she actually mumbles that she predicted somebody would probably die in a pool suction-related accident. The scene comes and goes without explanation, fulfilling the arbitrary “two students are going to die” quota. It’s not known if the pool suction was in on a plan to murder an unsuspecting student, or if Not-Kuroneko’s clairvoyance just predicts potentially fatal situations in general, and a terrible job is done of making it a mystery that I fervently desire to be solved. There’s just no interest to be had in the actual plot when there’s no hint of an overarching threat beyond faulty pool equipment and loose soil.
Oddly enough, the total apathy with which this is made is kind of charming. Though with that said, I’m not going to give Brynhildurr an endorsement for being the best kind of abhorrent; even people who like that kind of shit have standards, and I recognize that I might be the only one who finds it fascinating. As an introduction, it’s a poorly cobbled-together mess that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, which does little to nothing to sell itself in the first episode. So, of course, I’m going to watch every episode, because I tend to enjoy really dumb shit. Also because really terrible CG buses.