Brynhildr in the Darkness – one of my favorite manga that hadn’t ended yet. “Hadn’t” since it has ended by now. Volume 18 (cover on the right) has concluded the story and removed yet another of my long-term-reader manga from my list. I seriously lack manga that suits my taste these days, but that’s not the point here, instead: How was the ending? How did it end?
The scanlation goes pretty far, it stops roughly 3-4 chapter before the series concludes (the manga volumes aren’t divided into chapters, as far as I can tell). What follows is a hastened slaughter of characters, partly pointless. I didn’t read it all too carefully, so here’s a rough sketch of what happens, I can’t guarantee it’s super accurate:
It appears that Ryouta can take over Loki’s consciousness when he’s eaten, maybe. He wants to take chances and let himself get eaten. That “maybe,” though, doesn’t sit well with Kuroha, so she deals him a blow and decides to fight with Loki. It’s a complicated fight that doesn’t go in her favor since she can’t use her magic when close to him. And now the slaughter starts (not chronologically accurate!): Of course no one wants Ryouta to get eaten, hence they sacrifice themselves. Ryouta’s father, the High Priest, dies just by going to that building and be like, “I just came to say bye, I love you, wanted you to be the last human being to survive, but oh well” and gets eaten, Ryouta doesn’t really give a fuck, nor are there any major results from that. Ryouta tries to get eaten again, but Loki refuses since he knows or thinks that eating him wouldn’t do him good.
Kazumi dies by powering herself up with that harvest button and hacking into an artifact (?) that’s said to be able to stop Loki by erasing all his memories and stuff. She succeeds, but Loki still lives, just deprived of his personality. Kotori (Remember? She rejoins the group like two chapters before this.) dies by saving him from that black goo Loki oozes all around, apparently hazily remembering Ryouta from before. There was also the choice of having her hatch again to kill all humanity and have Loki lose interest in Earth. That fat scientist and the sado bitch might die, I’m not sure. The scientist loses half his body in that goo at least, and that sado bitch tries to get him out of it, so she might be dissolved as well, either way they don’t play a role in the ending.
Since Loki lost his personality (see above), Ryouta can now be eaten and is also reassured that he can take over Loki, as he refused to eat Ryouta before. Kuroha tries to stop him, but he presses that button which nullifies witch magic for a certain time and provokes Loki to eat him. He manages to take him over and dissolves him.
The narration moves into the future, to the observatory, where Kuroha is still in a koma and the only other witches from their team still alive are seemingly Kana and Hatsuna. Hatsuna’s more in love with Ryouta than ever, just FYI. Anyway, that professor they’ve been allied with turns up and tells them that the artifact from above has been located in the north pole at certain coordinates. That info wakes up Kuroha, who’s exhausted as she seems to have been looking for that thing all the time (don’t ask me how). Apparently, Ryouta’s soul or something is in that artifact and can’t physically manifest for… well, a long time. Kuroha says goodbye to the others, since she’s planning on entering that artifact too and be with him. In that white nothingness inside the artifact they reunite – and surprisingly, a little girl speaking Kansai (I assume it’s Kazumi – child version) and in the background a big-boobed one (should be Kotori) appear, too. The end.
So yeah, it’s great that Loki’s gone, the Earth not destroyed, and everyone’s kinda happy. Where’s the “but?” Here it comes: But…
Isn’t it convenient, that suddenly an artifact turns up three chapters before the series ends? Isn’t it convenient that it literally saves his soul? Isn’t it convenient that our dead heroines turn up in there without any explanation whatsoever? I might miss something here, but as far as my knowledge goes, there’s no relevant intel on that artifact, it’s the first time I’ve heard of it – I can’t recall anything about it, at least. It really read like: “Oh shit, how am I gonna wrap this up?” The ending didn’t really disappoint me – I might be used to this kind of stuff by now – but it sure as hell didn’t psyche me either, I was just feeling… indifferent. That’s not a great adjective to describe the ending of a manga that has one of – if not the – most interesting settings I’ve ever come across. It also nags me that Kotori rejoins them just to be killed right after. Maybe the author was in a bind since he had her revived, but the series had to end, and he couldn’t just let her not appear at all.
From all of this you probably get the feeling, “Isn’t this all a bit rushed?” Assuming you’re not new to manga and light novels, you’re probably familiar with stuff that ends “rushed.” All we can ask ourselves is: Was it supposed to end like this? I believe Ryouta was supposed to reunite with Kuroha and the other witches that he tried to protect. Almost all of them die, but not really; if that makes sense. But this highly compressed ending just doesn’t seem to be right.
Kotori’s arc doesn’t appear to have reached its true ending – contrary to Nanami – and in case you’re a fan of that “kouhai” girl that Ryouta’s been teaching from time to time: She doesn’t even get mentioned anymore. Kuroha does reach her true ending, in my opinion, but in a skipped version. She simply appears barely before the whole series ends and then it’s just one fast wrap-up. I believe Ryouta and her have much more to tell each other than what’s actually being said. At the same time, Kazumi’s forced into the background – she’s Ryouta’s girlfriend, after all, and doesn’t fit into this fastforwarded Kuroha route. And we’ll never know how that artifact works, where it came from, and why everyone dead’s in there. Lastly, I kinda gave up on thinking about anime/manga/light novel fights, but how come Kuroha can even fight Loki in the slightest? He’s skyscraper-sized and supposed to nullify her magic, right? Shouldn’t she be helpless when he’s around? Maybe she just accelerates her body before she hits him and simply uses the momentum. I don’t know. And by the way, I’m not just trying to let the last volume look bloody by only picking the killing parts, that’s just what happens all volume long: People die. A lot.
All in all, the ending seems kinda planned out, but highly compressed and rushed. As I said before, it left me indifferent. The manga drops in terms of suspense and interest significantly during its second part, which – in my belief – starts when they’ve reproduced the medicine and aren’t dependent on hunting it anymore. From there on, it’s netorare, deaths -> revives, and just much less from the do-or-die atmosphere the series delivered in the beginning. It doesn’t get bad, but it gets worse compared to the series’ first half. This wraps up my personal opinion after having read it from chapter 1 up to the end. I wouldn’t want to have missed out on this series, so I’m glad I read it.
I’ll pass on a “Ranking,” this is just supposed to be an evaluative opinion of the last, like, 3-4 with references to prior chapters of a roughly 180 chapters strong manga series, so I don’t see a point in slapping a number on it.
P.S.: Have you noticed the shadow on the bottom left in the last pic? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)