Manga Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness

Introduction


This is my first manga review and there are actually several points I’m not too sure about. For instance, how can something that hasn’t “ended” yet even be reviewed? I could go by volume, but that seems silly to me. Also, what about categories? Can I judge art? And to begin with, I’ve read this over the course of months. In the end, I decided to simply write and see how it goes. Ultimately, it’s just my personal opinion. I’ve read the manga up to chapter 153, mostly the scanlation and partly the original when I couldn’t take the scanlation anymore. I don’t know anything about what comes beyond that chapter (yet).

Who Would Like this Series?


It’s a bit run-of-the-mill romantic comedy mixed with lots of gore and suffering in the story-relevant sequences. All parts of the human body that can be severed will be severed, and it tries to keep up a dark, intimidating atmosphere most of the time. In general, the setting is rather sci-fi and it honestly isn’t comparable to anything I’ve read before. I’d maybe say a bit of Elfenlied with Black Bullet – but then again, not really. If you’re looking for happy ends, the mangaka’s not allergic to them but not exactly a fan of them either. So keep that in mind.

For: People who can cope with some thrilling drama and want to know one of the probably most interesting premises in a while.

Difficulty


I did read some of the original, but there are two downsides. For one, it’s pretty tough. Beginners don’t even need to try. Advanced weebs can give it a shot and be ready to look up a bunch of words. The descriptions can be pretty cryptic and/or technical, and while it’s fine if you just sit there and think it out, just reading along will take effort. Second, the share raws are terrible for the first couple of volumes. Compared to other manga, the kana/kanji are somewhat small-ish and you have to make an educated guess for a couple of kanji since the share raw’s resolution’s so poor, they’re sometimes closer to resembling one big, black dot than distinguishable strokes. Buy the paperback or digital version if you can.

Difficulty 7/10

Translation Where?


There are scanlations on the usual sites. The quality ranges from poor to okay, but never good. If I had to put my finger on it: first 20 chapters crap, then okay for 50 chapters, crap for another 30 chapters, okay for 30 chapters again. It’s not like you’d have no idea what’s going on, but reading fun is something. Upside is that the visual quality’s better than in the share raw. The anime’s translation performs much better.

Translation: If you don’t care much for English, it gets the point across. If you do care for English, prepare to put the manga away here and there to let your brain recover. The anime’s better.

Premise


Ryouta lost his childhood friend Kuroneko as a kid while she wanted to show him proof that aliens exist. He blamed himself for that accident and decided to study hard, get into NASA, and see those aliens for her and himself. One day, however, a transfer student shows up in Ryouta’s class looking just like the “matured” version of his dead childhood friend. Sounds just like a blurb, huh?

Art


Example page of volume 14. The first volumes are worse. This is considerably enjoyable.
Example page of volume 14. At this point, it’s considerably enjoyable.

I won’t really judge the art. I’m no expert when it comes to this stuff and it’s up to everyone’s personal taste. In my opinion the anime’s art – surprise – is much better. In the manga, the female characters look all like dead puppets to me. Which is pretty ironic if you think about the setting. If it weren’t for their hairstyle, it’s even hard to tell some of them apart. I confused Kazumi for Hatsuna and vice-versa a bunch of times in case their hairstyles weren’t in view. Also, their eyes look plain lifeless for the most part. The art improves a bit as the manga advances, it’s probably the mangaka maturing. Curiously, the male characters look better in that regard. Maybe it really is an instrument of his to get some deeper meaning across? Who knows? I sure as hell don’t.

Best girl - anime version.
Best girl – anime version.

Well, be that as it may, it’s just my two cents. See and judge for yourself. Maybe I’m more at odds with the style than the quality itself, really. Oh, that the anime looks better isn’t really a reproach. Exceptions prove the rule, but anime in general looks better.

Conclusion


brynihldr1
Volume 1 Cover

I don’t want to spoil the contents any further, there are various ways for you to experience the story yourself, so this conclusion will be pretty abstract – I can’t avoid spoiling the vague direction it’ll take, though. People who read it already, will probably know what I’m talking about when reading the conclusion

First of all, the manga has one of the most interesting premises I’ve read in a long time. It really sets up a tense, intimidating atmosphere and makes you wonder, how they’re gonna survive the day. You can almost hear a clock ticking away on their lives. As if that wasn’t enough, the author even decided to add some interesting mystery thingies on top of it and especially in the beginning, the atmosphere’s really packed with suspense. It has the charm of a survival game that wants to see you dead. The characters’ personalities are plausible, their motives and the actions they take, too (mostly). If you ask me, there’s a high level of originality. It was one of those stories that didn’t let me sleep and sucked me into it even though the translation did its worst to kick me out.

Another point I really respect the author for is that he’s not scared of killing off characters, even seemingly important ones. If a fight breaks out you can’t be like “whatever, he/she’s gonna survive anyway.” People die in this manga, and it helps the suspense.

Alas, like pretty much any otaku-targeted series ever, the pace slows down as the story moves on. Fundamental problems that were important instruments in keeping the suspension curve up are solved too easily and taken out completely. And on the other hand, your usual rom-com cliché scenes gain in numbers. The author seems to have only thought out the story until a certain point and kinda planned to end it there. But popularity brings demand and demand requires retribution. There are still quite a lot of interesting questions to answer, but said answers seem to grow more distant in favor of battle-manga-ish plot. I dare say several questions won’t be answered at all or at least not satisfactory and I wonder whether the author ever had answers or simply brought up some questions he didn’t know the answer for himself yet.

Returning to the gaining rom-com side of the story, especially towards “the end” (read: up to where I’ve read) half the heroines go through NTR-ish scenes. There might be people who get off of that, but my (not so) pure (not so) maiden heart bleeds. And the most horrible thing about one specific NTR-ish scene that happens is that after it no one seems to care. Neither heroine nor protagonist. No second thoughts. It’s just plain weird and I’d love to know what the Japanese audience thought of those NTResque stuff. I can’t imagine they were all too overjoyed seeing their waifus getting stained. It’s a real damper if you ask me. Let’s call it “dirty rom-com” since the majority of heroines has been sullied.

Another weird thing after the let’s call it “turning point” of the story is that characters die somewhat easily. It doesn’t feel thought out but rather like “hm, nope, doesn’t really fit, kill it.” And by that, character deaths lose a lot of impact. It turns into an “another one bites the dust.”

Since I’ve put its, in my opinion, weak points really wordy, it makes it look like a bad manga; but it’s not. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who can stomach the dark-ish scenario and I’d rate it a great series which sadly can’t keep up the originality, quality, and suspense it originally introduced. It’d be a 8/10 if it wouldn’t turn kinda weird towards the currently latest chapters. The anime actually ends with the manga’s “turning point”. So you could call it a “best of.” Believe it or not, the anime ending is very close to canon. You should give it a shot. At least the anime.

Rating 7/10

 

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1 thought on “Manga Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness

  1. Same author as elfen lied for additional info. ( One of the most depressing manga I ever read.)

    I mostly agree on what cautr bro( I’m still trying various honorifics here ) said.

    Especially the part that this series lost the ‘steam’ halfway of the stories. The first part of the manga, up to the point where the anime ends, was epic.

    The suspense made me unable to wait week after week. Bur the recent updates say… 10-20ish recent chapters I just say, brynhildr update. Meh, I’ll read it later after 5-10 chapters at once.

    Tho there is always a bad trauma with how elfen lied ends so…

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