There’s not even anyone called Brynhildr in Gokukoku no Brynhildr (Brynhildr in the Darkness), let alone being in the dark. It’s far from the only misleading thing about the series but it’s a good enough place to start. Unless you’ve seen Elfen Lied, in which case it’s probably worth stating that Brynhildr is by the same author and has the same kind of sadistic nonchalance towards human life but without the puppy killing or fascination with urination.
Anyway. Witches exist, except they’re technological rather than magical so they have an implant rather than a broomstick, and several have escaped imprisonment and now cluster around the interminably dense male lead, Ryouta Murakami. Stuff happens, breasts are exposed, stupidity is enacted, and witches die. And when they do they melt into a puddle of poorly censored goo. Oh what a world. What. A. World.
The Dangan Ronpa anime accrues a lot of pop-culture debt during its thirteen episode run. The most obvious being to Phoenix Wright (Gyakuten Saiban) with its near carbon copy of the hyperactive trials, only the iconic “Objection!” being replaced with a bizarre ammunition mechanic. More surreptitiously is its desire to be even a fraction as stylish as Persona 4 with a funky-smooth Engrish opening and questionably bold style. Tertiary influences seem to include the torturous logic diatribes from Death Note as well as the “children versus children” storyline from Battle Royale (and by extension the recent BTOOOM among others).
Combine these with a day-glo colour palette, retro video-game motifs and a cast of charicatures rather than characters and the final presentation is a muddled hodge-podge that, somewhat ironically, barely has an identity of its own.
High School of the Dead recently began airing and has brought the irrepressible zombie to a media which has peculiarly ignored their archetypes in favour of more culturally relevant afflictions such as demonic possession and the like. Based on the manga of the same name, in only two episodes the series has shown a remarkably sympathetic hand for including genre sensitive elements - is that the signature tune for 28 Days Later at the end of the first episode?
it says volumes that the only females to survive are curvaceous and beautiful
Widely credited with the creation of the zombie movie genre, George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead is one of his earliest and most widely known movies and champions a lot of the situations and scenarios that High School of the Dead apes. More interestingly though, Dawn of the Dead and its mall setting is a scathing commentary on the decadent consumerism and hedonism of the period which is still just as relevant today. Like the best fantasy and sci-fi its fiction was a critique of society and culture, a relevance which very few zombie movies have managed to achieve since.
One criticism that could never be levelled at Baccano! was that it was unoriginal. So too can this be applied to Durarara!! which defies its lacklustre predecessor by going full bore for a modern thriller with supernatural overtones, eking out some social commentary along the way. Featuring an expansive cast and set in the city-within-a-city, Ikebukuro, the series has an eye for the dramatic and though ostensibly the story is bifurcated, it covers a variety of stories that involve murder, urban gang conflict and domestic abuse through to a love triangle between school friends and a Russian sushi chef's desire for more business. It is a stunningly constructed series and though it has its stumbling points, by and large it demonstrates that with the difficulties of an involving story and an engaging cast down, everything else comes naturally.
despite his obvious knack for information gathering, his actions are limited to spitting into the maelstrom rather than orchestrating it
When Mikado arrives in Tokyo, his friend Masaomi shows him around Ikebukuro, and though he doesn't realise it, he is now deep within a world populated by an outlandishly strong bartender, a fox-like information broker, a Dullahan on a journey from Ireland to recover her missing head as well as a cornucopia of gang members, students, foreigners and all points in between. The effervescence the city enjoys though is soon ruptured by a brewing street war, leading the charge is the brutish Yellow Scarves who sprung up after the dissolution of the previous ruling gang, the Blue Squares; however a shadowy internet group called the Dollars have also made some headway. Meanwhile a violent sword wielding lunatic has antagonised the Black Rider and it seems someone wishes for all of this conflict to spill over. The city certainly has its share of miscreants but whether its cosmopolitan nature will survive the brewing trouble may just rest in Mikado's hands.
Boogiepop Phantom is a series which immediately makes one wonder whether their television is functioning correctly. Shortly after the melancholy opening it adds the speakers to that list. By the end of the first episode it adds the viewer's brain. It is a reverie of madness, murder, altered states and narrative intrigue: each episode teasing an explanation but rarely delivering in full, each appearance of the titular Boogiepop - or is it the Manticore? - promising a new thread to tie in with the myriad others. Existing in a microcosm of light novels, manga and a live-action movie as well as sharing idiosyncrasies and the brutally obtuse style of its spiritual predecessor, Serial Experiments Lain, the question the series' lineage poses is whether it can stand by itself or whether it relies too much on its forebears and source material to support itself.
some of the darkest aspects of humanity are explored with obsession, madness and memories playing a key role
A month before the opening of the series, a pillar of light erupts in a nameless cityscape, dragging it into darkness. Those who witness the light began to change, much like the city itself, now with a permanent aurora in the sky and a magnetic field that makes compasses useless and corrodes metal at a frightening rate. Those who changed exhibit strange powers: the ability to see and consume insects clutching peoples' chests, the power to separate composite objects like coffee or humans even the capability to show people scenes of their pasts. All the while they are stalked by the urban legend Boogiepop, supposedly the personification of death, who appears without warning to rid the world of the deviations that have sprung up. Clandestine talk of impossibly powerful corporations and unnatural evolution ensure that understanding the circumstances behind all of the strange occurrences will not be straightforward.