Warning! The following review contains spoilers!

The Plot

If you’re looking for another anime that pits humanity against monstrosities then get locked and loaded with Black Bullet. Starting in the year 2021 Black Bullet opened with humanity on the brink of destruction. The Gastrea have arrived!

Gastrea Classification: Spider.

Gastrea are creatures born from a parasitic virus that is sweeping the nation. Our hero Rentaro Satomi witnessed the wrath of Gastrea when he was a child. Innocent civilians lived in fear and when a deadly mosquito-like Gastrea rampaged through Tokyo everything went to hell.

Gastrea Classification: Mosquito

The armed forces attacked the creature and despite some casualties the Gastrea was finally shot out of the sky. The people all fled, but Rentaro was left behind. Rentaro’s deep blue eyes stared straight ahead and as if hellfire and brimstone was all that remained, Rentaro witnessed the Gastrea’s final cry of agony.

Fast forward 10 years and now we have Japan in rebuilding mode. The people of Japan are now living behind monolith walls that are made out of the special metal alloy called: Varanium. Yes, Varanium are the Gastrea’s one weakness. Humans have also discovered “Cursed Children” and they are exclusively female children born with the Gastrea virus. You know the drill the “Curse Children” are granted superhuman abilities, but because of the virus their life expectancy is extremely low. Therefore, these “Curse Children” are the perfect weapons against Gastrea and as a result the Civil Securities are formed. What are Civil Securities? They are teams fighting against the Gastrea and as you would expect the teams are comprised of humans and “Cursed Children.” The human is known as a Promoter and the “Cursed Child” is known as an Initiator.

Swinging for the Fences

I will say that Black Bullet comes out swinging with intense action! When things mattered the most action bailed out Black Bullet. Without a doubt the colossal creatures known as Gastrea looked amazing. The animation quality was breathtaking. The Gastrea sound effects are amazing and the soundtrack is unforgettable. The music really sets the tone for the anime and any emotional moment has a lasting impact thanks to the soundtrack. The action was not limited to Humanity Vs. Gastrea. In fact, when Rentaro and Enju face Kagetane and Kohina Black Bullet becomes more than just battling monstrosities. Black Bullet expands its plot to the humans and the power hungry leaders are all clashing for supremacy. I believe Black Bullet swung for the fences whenever it wanted to display action scenes and the fate of humanity was constantly on the line. I won’t be complaining about Black Bullet not giving its audience action, because that was the lifeblood of the anime. But, I’ll get into my criticism of Black Bullet later.

Up next is my take on some key characters and how they are one of Black Bullet’s strengths.

Key Characters!

Rentaro Satomi and Enju Aihara: The Tale of Two Heroes

As a high school student Rentaro Satomi has become a Promoter in the Tendō Civil Security Agency. His Initiator is none other than Enju Aihara and together they form an unbeatable team. They work for Rentaro’s childhood friend Kisara Tendō and Kisara serves as the president of Tendō Civil Security Agency. Kisara gives our two heroes their missions. Now, Rentaro serves as a brave and enduring hero. Despite being riddled with deep emotional trauma and the stress of looking after Enju, Rentaro fulfills his duty without any hesitation.

Rentaro has to remain strong and brave for Enju’s sake. In Enju’s words Rentaro is a “champion of justice” and Rentaro realizes that wherever justice goes corruption follows. In order to stay alive Rentaro was transformed into a Cyborg and with his enhanced fighting ability Rentaro has become a weapon. He and Enju are both weapons against Gastrea. The difference is Rentaro is a weapon that humanity has come to accept, while Enju is a “Cursed Child” that humanity despises.

Here’s Enju. Our adorable hero that the world despises.

Enju has a childish and adorable personality. She loves Rentaro and she is the light in Rentaro’s life. Enju’s innocence prevents Rentaro from losing his mind, and she reminds him that “Curse Children” are humans too. For Rentaro keeping the smile on Enju’s face becomes the most important thing in the world, and conversely Enju wants nothing more than to live happily with him. In Rentaro’s darkest hours he can always count on Enju’s affection and kindness to show him the way forward.

Kisara Tendō and Tina Sprout: Revenge Meets Redemption

Kisara Tendō is a master of Tendō Style Swordsmanship. Tina Sprout is an Owl-Type Initiator and she has a mastery of long-ranged firearms. These two come together as a formidable team later on in the anime, but I consider them dynamic characters in their own right. They support Rentaro and Enju as Black Bullet has characters that are complex and complementary. Our heroes throughout their struggles can find solace with the people they care about and it makes losing them that much more devastating.

Kisara and Enju are rivals vying for Rentaro’s affection. But, more importantly Kisara and Rentaro are tragic characters who lost their parents to the Gastrea. They suffer from emotional trauma. When they both left the Tendō family they stood together as friends and created the Tendō Civil Security Agency. Their bond grew stronger as the anime progressed and they were headed toward a more serious romance. They do have feelings for each other, but Kisara’s obsession for vengeance against her other relatives drives a wedge between them.

Here’s the gist of it: When Kisara was younger she watched her parents get eaten by Gastrea, but she suspected that her family had something to do with it. As a result she disowned the Tendō family and decided to exact vengeance on them. One by one she will kill her family members until she figures out the truth behind her parents death.

What does this mean for Rentaro and Kisara? Well, Rentaro realizes that he and her might become enemies since her obsession for vengeance clashes against his ideals of justice. They might have to mutually part ways since Kisara lives for revenge, and Rentaro isn’t about that life. Kisara is suffering from kidney failure that eats away at her, and that symbolizes revenge is like a poison that eats away at you until there is nothing left.

Tina Sprout was one of my favorite characters and I like that she started out as an enemy. Tina was going to assassinate the ruler of the Tokyo Area, but Rentaro defeats her in an epic battle. She joins the Tendō Civil Security Agency to seek redemption for her actions and she provides the team a long-ranged sniper that is just badass. Of course she becomes Enju’s best friend, but I like that Tina is the voice of reason. She helps Rentaro sleep at night because her voice is sincere and Tina is like Rentaro’s little sister.

The characters in Black Bullet never let me down and they have genuine emotions in a world trying to piece itself back together. They can be serious, but their lighter moments instill a feeling of hope. I vividly remember the lights resembling fireflies and how they looked majestic in the night sky. I was watching the build up to the final battle and sure enough those lights were in the background. Rentaro and Enju saw those lights and reminded themselves that they are humanities last hope. The final battle featured a sacrifice and in this world everything comes with a price.

Each character was unique and played their role, but some characters did not get enough screen time. I liked how Rentaro’s super team came together and received code names based on playing cards.

The characters reveal the theme of evil within, and that’s more dangerous than the evil you can clearly see. The clear threat to humanity are the Gastrea, and they are outside the walls. Humanity has built walls to defend themselves, and for the most part Gastrea are kept at bay. However, humanity cannot build walls to defend themselves from each other. The more intimate, devious, and hidden evil comes from within. Humanity has become corrupted by lust for power and I suspect that humanity is more likely to kill themselves, while the Gastrea conquer the ashes of a fallen nation. I remind the audience that Kagetane and Kohina were assigned to destroy the entire Tokyo area. They came pretty close to wiping out everyone and Black Bullet pits humanity against themselves. In the course of thirteen episodes Rentaro and Enju suffer many casualties that brings them face to face with the cruel world.

Enju and the “Cursed Children” did not ask to be born into this world and they only want to be loved. I realized that the “Cursed Children” are battling for acceptance, and acceptance is an uphill battle right until the bitter end. Rentaro has emotional breakdowns a couple of times and there are powerful scenes involving him and Enju. Episode 10, “The Battle for Tokyo Area” strongly makes the case that humans deserve to be destroyed by the Gastrea. Black Bullet presents humanity in their most cruelest state. The people of Japan consider the “Cursed Children” evil and will go out there way to abuse them or worse. Yet, ironically these same children endure the abuse and are fighting to save humanity from Gastrea. Enju and Rentaro question what are they really fighting for and if humanity is beyond salvation.

Those are the good aspects of Black Bullet, but here comes the bad…

Too many plot holes and unresolved conflicts

One of the major issues I have with Black Bullet are the plot holes and unresolved conflicts. For example, Kisara’s revenge story was left unfinished and it feels weird or unfitting for her to end up alone. By the end of the anime Kisara’s dark side was shocking, but unexplored. I felt deflated to know she has so much more to offer. Don’t get me started on the plot hole with the bike in the briefcase! What does that even mean and what secrets are left to uncover? The plot hole with Enju’s infection level just begs for a second season! What about Kagetane and Kohina? What will they do next? The Osaka ruler is not going to give up trying to rule the world right? I’m sure I missed some other plot holes and unresolved conflicts, but this seems to indicate that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. Yes, there are the seven light novels and four manga that possibly answers all these questions. But, thirteen episodes of Black Bullet fails to cover everything and it feels like in order to compensate we get a little bit of everything. Black Bullet feels like we have some pieces to the puzzle, but we are nowhere near to solving it. I can barely make out the full picture of what Black Bullet has to offer. But, like I said earlier—action bails this anime out when it matters the most. Watching Kisara in the final episode tells me that Black Bullet intended on opening up a brand new epic chapter. Unfortunately we are slapped in the face with an impromptu to be continued.

The pacing was too fast and too furious

Black Bullet squeezed as much as they can in thirteen episodes and certain aspects does not get enough screen time. Certain characters does not get enough details and characterization. Each episode wanted to race off to the next big thing and leave behind what was happening in the moment.

For example, in Episode 4 Kagetane and Kohina clash against Rentaro and Enju. You would think that this battle will take up the entire episode. Well think again! Despite a great battle with solid action sequences and one huge gamble that paid off episode 4 decides to add more. Rentaro and Enju’s day does not end when they obtain victory. They are plunged into the next threat with no time to celebrate or relax. Immediately after defeating Kagetane and Kohina Rentaro and Enju are put into a dire situation.

Kagetane in pure ecstasy!

They have to use the greatest weapon known to man and the only weapon capable of destroying a stage 5 Gastrea. Rentaro and Enju have to use the Heaven’s Ladder Railgun in order to save Tokyo from the incoming Gastrea. It’s important to note there was no build up to this legendary super weapon and this situation comes right after our heroes defeated Kagetane and Kohina. The situation changed so drastically, and I was thrown for a loop. Thankfully, Rentaro and Enju save the day with the use of Rentaro’s left Varanium arm. Yes, that arm was the black bullet that killed the beast, but I could not appreciate that moment entirely.

The pacing was too fast and too furious. I felt that after an epic victory over Kagetane and Kohina; Rentaro and Enju needed time to understand the significance of their victory. Especially since this was not the final encounter between these rivals. Nevertheless, the aftermath of Episode 4 proves to be quite memorable and Rentaro has to make some pretty tough decisions.

We’ll be back!

Somehow the anime holds together because the characters are compelling and the plots are interesting despite not fully being realized. Rentaro and Enju are pushed to their limits and I like that they fortify their bond throughout the anime. By the end of Black Bullet Rentaro and Enju love each other, but what kind of love was the anime going for? That is up to interpretation.

It’s possible that Rentaro and Enju might have legit feelings for each other. In the future Rentaro might be asking Enju to marry him and of course it will be at the appropriate age. Rentaro and Enju might end up together forever, but will it be a romantic relationship? Perhaps their relationship leans more toward family love and Rentaro in the future adopts Enju. I can dig Rentaro becoming Enju’s legal guardian—Mr. Turner and Shawn Hunter. (Props to you if you get the reference and understand why I used it)

Then again, things might become grim and dark. The future might be Enju dying from the Gastrea virus and Rentaro living alone. Who knows right?

“At the End of a Long Escape” comes to mind when I think of these two. Also, I think of Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in “The Professional.”

Before I reach my conclusion I’ll address the tight rope of Lolita Comedy. To keep this subject brief I will say Black Bullet often pokes fun at Rentaro for having a Lolita Complex. Of course, he has never shown any sexual feelings for any underage female character. He does not have a thing for little girls, but Black Bullet puts him in situations that make him look bad.

The situation that almost got him locked up in jail occurred during Episode 8

Depending on your sense of humor you can laugh at this scene and brush it off as one big misunderstanding. Plus, if you ask me Tina was being a troublemaker and she knew she was saying inappropriate things. But, if you find this not funny at all and are condemning Japan for even thinking pedophilia can be made light of, then you are entitled to that opinion and everyone should respect that. My final thought on this, is that Black Bullet did not need Lolita Comedy, but it should not change the way you approach Black Bullet as a whole. Besides Kisara was going to call the police on him and that was the appropriate response.

Final Verdict

Enju struggles to remain like the lotus flower…

Black Bullet was a mixture of a lot of themes and ideas that did not get enough time to gel together. I enjoyed the anime for giving me action when I needed it the most. I can say without a doubt that when the chips were down Black Bullet went all in on epic action sequences. They even circled back to fighting off the threat of an Gastrea invasion which was a nice touch.

I praise Black Bullet for things like soundtrack and voice acting, but the characterization of four key characters really shows me that Black Bullet has a ton of upside. I really got a sense that humanity has a chance to be saved and that there are plenty more sacrifices to be made.

That brings me to the ending scene between Rentaro and Enju. I won’t spoil it, but I’ll say it was a simple touch of brilliance. Something between the two of them was so pure and honest that I smiled watching the ending scene unfold into the credits. Rentaro and Enju are a dynamic duo that I think deserve a second season. They can showcase how strong they are in a world that is cruel and corrupt. I want them to revisit the plots that remained unfinished and really get a shot at becoming a profound anime.

From the first episode I instinctively compared Black Bullet to Attack On Titan. I can agree there are similarities with the world and how humanity is facing insurmountable odds. However, I believe the two anime can learn a thing or two from each other and become better.

I recommend this anime to a patient group of people. Those who are willing to take the time to appreciate the character development of Rentaro, Enju, Kisara, and Tina will enjoy this anime wholeheartedly. Other characters can be entertaining and even innovative, but thirteen episodes does not do everyone justice.

I cannot totally overlook how Black Bullet went 150mph throughout the course of thirteen episodes. The rushed pacing made a lot of moments feel lackluster and there was so much going on. I was on board with Rentaro and Enju against the world. Their emotions carried so much weight and dynamic characters like Kisara and Tina only make them better. Their support was top notch, but in the case of Kisara she can become a potential threat. I understand the world of Black Bullet has its fair share of secrets that remain undiscovered, and that holds it back in the long run.

Ultimately, we have a case of an anime that isn’t bad, but it needed so much more time to become something truly great. In the end, I’m not angry at Black Bullet for giving me thirteen episodes of adequate entertainment. I believe all the hate this anime gets seems unfair, because sometimes giving the audience a little bit of everything shows a commitment to pleasing all kinds of fans. With that being said, Black Bullet feels like it needs another chance to reload and aim. With more caution before firing, Black Bullet can hit its mark, and live up to the high standards.

Grade: 7/10

Great Premise

Rentaro, Enju, Kisara, and Tina are dynamic characters

The characters emotions are genuine when faced with a cruel and corrupt world

Moments that signal a huge upside (Examples: Episode 10 and the final scene)

Too many plot holes and unresolved conflicts

Pacing is too fast

A mixture of ideas and themes that needed more time to gel together

Some characters are not given enough screen time