Anime Spring 2014: Black Bullet vs. Haikyuu!!

I’m not ashamed to admit, it’s been hard to find a new show to follow after Noragami ended its run. And with a new job on my hands, I’ve had to be really selective in the articles I write. I’d hate it if the quality of my writing here took a dip. And I hope it’s not the case.

So thankfully we’re seeing some interesting titles for the Spring 2014 season, with some very interesting plots and accompanying posters to boot. But I think I’ve had enough of “in the near future Year 2@$!, the world as we know it changes and mankind relies on machines to fight for their right to exist” sort of stories. We have enough robots. We have enough boobs. We have bishounens with no real character of their own. Where, or where, have the true gems gone?

Having narrowed my options, I decided to focus on the two shows that caught my interest, purely because of the seiyuus I follow (Kaji Yuuki and Kamiya Hiroshi). Call me biased, but I think there’s a much higher chance of finding a show you’ll enjoy more than hitting one at random with anyone. Kaji-san has taken the lead role as Satomi Rentarou in Black Bullet, a futuristic dystopia where alien creatures called Gastrea wreck havoc on earth, driving mankind to the brink of extinction and building monoliths to surround the Tokyo area, while keeping at bay the “cursed children” – girls born with the Gastrea virus. Kamiya-san takes a seemingly smaller role in Haikyuu!!, a feel-good show about sportsmanship, teamwork, and slices of life surrounding an ailing high school volleyball team hoping to recover some of their glory back.

Kamiya-san’s character – a teacher in charge of the volleyball team – hasn’t made an appearance yet, but it’s not hard to tell which show I’m rooting for.

I believe that anime has allowed for an unprecedented amount of creativity in animation and storytelling, but sometimes we forget that it’s the simplest, most down-to-earth settings that make the best connections.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a Black Bullet-bashing moment. I think the show has its plus points, when mankind rears its ugly head towards discrimination against the very ones who are protecting them from total annihilation. But it’s just too predictable:alien attacks man, man builds walls, man develops weapons, people from within stopping at nothing to destroy mankind, etc. That is exactly what Black Bullet is starting to sound like – even though it’s only at Episode 2 – and this sounds oddly, suspiciously like the world of man hiding behind walls away from 15m tall giants.

But there’s always room to learn about the lessons we learn when growing up. High school is ripe for life lessons, especially in sports. What does it mean to have a never-say-die attitude? What does it truly mean to work with someone whom you absolutely despise? And what if there are others in your team that couldn’t get a squat about it? How does a team leader bring everyone together to win? Those are the lessons I hope Haikyuu!! bring across, with it’s down-to-earth, basic plot. And after a slew of shows about planet earth in shreds and near death, it’s hard to ignore a kid with great positive energy, even though he’s short to boot.

No one knows how many episodes Black Bullet has. On the other hand, with Haikyuu!! boasting many young, new talents (especially the relative unknowns for its main characters), I think 25 episodes is just nice to enjoy well into Fall.

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