Ten years after the first TV anime aired another one aired unrelated to the 2012 show. Let us find out if this new show is worth checking out as we take a look at Black★★Rock Shooter Dawn Fall.
Though unrelated to this story here are my reviews of the first two animated adaptations:
Genres: Action, Drama, Post-Apocalypse, Sci-fi, Yuri
Number of Episodes: 12
Objectionable Content: Médium. Dirty language and sexual violence. (Courtesy of one character)
Plot Summary: It is the year 2062, two decades after the failure of a massive workforce automation project. However, Artemis, the artificial intelligence at the core of that project, had decided to attack humanity, and the resulting war laid waste to Earth. A lone girl, Empress, wakes up in an underground laboratory at a base. She is one of three surviving guardians of humanity. However, she has no memories of what came before. All she knows is what a colonel of the peace-building force tells her. Artemis is constructing a space elevator to link the Moon and Earth, and Empress is ordered to destroy the space elevator before its completion. If the elevator is completed, the hordes of giant mechanized forces being mass-produced on the Moon will descend upon Earth.
Code Name: Black Rock Shooter. Given Name: Empress.
Best way to describe the show is a mix of the PSP BRS game, Mad Max: Fury Road and whichever robot apocalypse sci-fi movie or series readers can think of. It is set after a robot apocalypse with the remaining humans either trying to survive or conquer the remains as part of a twisted cult as the mechanical overlord watches from the shadows (or the Moon). It does not take long for the viewers to wonder how a show like this could air on a Disney owned streaming service, Disney+ (Currently outside the US). It is dirty, crude, crass, violent, unapologetic or put simply “degenerate”. This is not a psychological thriller but a dirty action show. Makes sense given the setting and the humans living a miserable existence wondering how much longer they could go on. Without giving too much away for many the answer is not long. Having said that, apart from the actions and motivation of one character Dawn Fall is a pretty cool action show with a cast that grow on viewers and a mystery that sounds complicated at first but as more details are revealed it ends up being a straightforward post-acopalyptic sci-fi story about hope and survival against powerful machines and a lunatic cult. Also given the setting and tone do not expect a peachy and bubbly tale so be ready for a bittersweet tone for most of it though viewers who saw all three anime will know that is par for the course.
The Mad Max: Fury Road elements come from the aforementioned “degenerate” description and several action scenes being road rage battles.as the heroines battle foes on their fancy motorbikes, Empress’ being the most sentient, Black Trike. Reminds me of Nep-Bike in Neptunia vs Sega Hard Girls. Speaking of action scenes they are a personal highlight. I cannot personally describe what good action scenes are, be they cool fights or vintage over the top anime battles but the fights here are either cool Twisted Metal style vehicular combat with shooty shooty bang bang on the road or ground and some fisticuffs courtesy of one of the main trio.
Dawn Fall is a Japanese CG anime similar to the likes of Kotobuki and Estab-Life though here character animation differs. The movement speed during calm moments and battles are similar but viewers who saw the aforementioned shows along with others like S2 and S3 of BanG Dream may know what I mean. Most of the character designs, especially the redesign of the main trio, are pretty cool but the environments are for the most part unimpressive. It makes sense as the setting is “glum and dreary” and not the strangely pretty “nature growing in city ruins” kind so the PS1 landscapes are no big deal. The soundtrack may mostly sound like generic rock and metal to some but it quickly grew on me and felt natural to the show. The OP and ED are cool too. Stay tuned till the end of the show for something familiar.
Main trio left to right: Dead Master, Empress (BRS) and Strength. Love DM’s V3 redesign though I have a soft spot for V2 (TV). The OG V1 (OVA) is great too.
The hero team are the classic rough start to likable chums group, each one having good reason for being initially grumpy or hostile connected to their past and present goals. As a nice touch Dead Master and Strength’s Dawn Fall personalities and mannerisms share similarities to their BRS TV counterparts. Readers who saw/remember the anime may recognize their behavior or sense a familiarity in one of their backstories. BRS is once again a chill badass in combat who rarely loses her cool and here she is a token amnesiac protagonist with a kind heart. Their allies, Black Trike, the Colonel (He does not get with any lady so no worries), two recurring young siblings and especially Monica are pretty cool too.
Before we continue time to address the elephant in the room. The character I alluded to that may make it difficult for some to continue watching early on and even later on. Smiley the sex doll cult leader. A self-righteous “savior” who is written to be irredeemable. Admittedly his presence and actions made it slightly difficult to keep going but because I enjoyed everything else I persevered. In the end he was the only annoying part of the show, which was the point. Not all villains are “cool/fun to dislike” or “sympathetic/tragic figures”. Some like Smiley viewers just want to see get the trashing they deserve. Of course there will be some who like the guy but not me chief.
Time for the main event/palette cleanser. Monica and once again Dead Master are the Yuri MVPs of the show. Monica is a cultured lady who is open to greatness and has a nice reveal in the second half while DM is best girl for a third time as a Heel and Babyface. As mentioned in the brief character description viewers of BRS TV will sense familiarity in her personality.
Overall Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall is dirty, crude and unapologetic but viewers who can take the heat may find an enjoyable action sci-fi show featuring some delightfully gay heroines and cool lead. Most of the characters (except Smiley) are likable despite their rough start. The character designs are pretty good despite the drab yet fitting environments. The soundtrack may sound like generic rock and metal to some but it fits the story. The story itself is ultimately straightforward robot apocalypse stuff with Mad Max: Fury Road mixed in and BRS goodness seen in the anime and PSP game. Not for everyone but viewers who can handle it may have a solid to pretty good time. Just be ready for a bittersweet experience.