The Gastrea are a swarm of monsters that come into being when other creatures are infected with their virus. Hence, they spread like wildfire, destroying everything in their wake, until humanity manages to figure out that they despise the magnetic fields of a material known as Varanium, and retreat into a number of cities protected by magnetic monoliths made of it. A decade later these cities have grown and are even somewhat prosperous, but the thread of the Gastrea remains.
Rentarou and Enju are a civil officer pair, composed of a promoter and initiator, that do jobs involving combat. Enju is the initiator, a ‘cursed child’ that was infected with the virus while still in the womb, but instead of turning into a Gastrea, gained powers, but with the threat of a Gastrea transformation continually looming over their shoulders. However, because of this, they are heavily discriminated against and treated as monsters by many. Enju’s powers seem to be limited to super human physical abilities. Paired with her is Rentarou as her promoter, who is supposed to keep her in line and generally manage her. For many this relationship is purely business like, with initiators treated as tools, but Rentarou and Enju are very close. Rentarou’s generally fights simply using a gun, but he has some extra physical enhancements as well. Together they make up the majority of the Tendo Civil Security Agency, which is headed by Kisara Tendo, who is a master sword woman, and on a quest for vengeance against her family.
They take on a number of jobs. They have to stop Kagetane and his daughter, who is an initiator, from doing something that would kickstart another war with the Gastrea and give him some purpose in life. They have to protect the head of Tokyo, Seitenshi, from another initiator named Tina, who really had no other choice in the matter. And then they have to deal with a monolith coming down, and being apart of the coalition that holds off the Gastrea until a new one can be built. Meanwhile, Rentarou tries to help Enju and the other cursed children, but nothing seems to go all that well.
Black Bullet has a post apocalyptic feel in one sense, but a simple futuristic feel as well. There’s still the fear of Gastera hanging over their heads, but for the most part they seem to have moved on to other problems. They exist outside the monoliths, and inside things are mostly fine. People can even use air travel to go between cities without much of an issue. This even allows for a fair bit of comedy and just showing people living their lives. Hence, the Gastera mostly just serve as a backdrop for the issues of discrimination against the cursed children, political struggles, personal conflicts, and thirsts for power that all have arisen as a result of the change in societal and power structures as a result of the Gastrea. In this the anime does very well. The conflicts are intense, and some moments relating to the plight of the cursed children, which is what really felt like the core of the world, were incredibly emotional. And for the most part, the issues reach some sort of adequate conclusion. The issue with the Gastrea isn’t delved into very much. Where they came from, how they function, their weaknesses, goals, and other things of that nature are essentially ignored. This is fair as the overall focus was on other things, and just portraying them as alien monsters with the sole goal of destroying humanity without any other depth gets the job done for the plot so far, but there were some small teases such as the bicycle and the issue with the history that sort of break that and make it seem like they have more depth, but not enough to actually be satisfying. To that end, I think it may well have been better to leave those parts out entirely, and leave to another possible season where some revelations related to this matter actually occur. But overall the plot and premise as shown so far was very good.
The plot is supported by a pretty diverse set of characters. Each has their own motivations, the majority of them being rather naive and innocent, which stands in contrast to the world that they live in, but in many cases fits the fact that they are clearly children. A lot of the characters in this show are children, but for the most part they act like children. Quirky children with super powers, but very childish nevertheless, which is surprisingly an interesting twist. Another interesting character of note is one who appears to be a very light person for lack of a better term, but is revealed to possibly be the darkest of the characters in the show, though in a reasonable justifiable manner, though the anime ends before this really gets explored. Rentarou was interesting in that his personality was all over the place, but overall he was simply heroic and going with the flow. This wasn’t especially interesting, but it worked in regards to the overall plot.
What it didn’t quite work for was the combat and conflicts. Of the larger team he put together, his pair with Enju is supposed to the King. The Queen pair is fairly interesting. The Jack got very little time but was interesting enough. The Ace was very interesting and sad. And the Joker made no sense, which I suppose makes sense. He really didn’t fit into that leadership role, let alone the larger one, so that overall felt off. It also really didn’t fit for the combat. The combat overall was pretty lacking and wasn’t that exciting. It was done well enough, but the actual powers and mechanics of combat were seriously lacking for everyone. And Rentarou despite being the protagonist seemed to be the most boring of all. To supplement that, there almost always were extra mechanics that would come into being for him to utilize, but they felt really disconnected to him and more luck that he was involved than anything, so obviously there was no progression. The combat and fights just weren’t that cool to watch, and that is what I think is the greatest failing of Black Bullet.
I really like the designs and overall style of the main characters and the world. The Gastrea designs weren’t that great and definitely not iconic but they’ll do. The animation was solid. The soundtrack was excellent. The OP was pretty good. I loved the ED a lot though, and I have a thing for having fade outs to the ED so I really enjoyed that as well.
A very interesting set of characters, and a great premise and plot as shown so far with a great atmosphere, though combat and conflicts that just aren’t that interesting.