Sunday, December 5, 2010

Character Feature: Black★Rock Shooter

Black Rock Shooter huke
Original illustration by huke

What started as a piece of artwork from an amateur artist is now an extremely popular franchise among the otaku. Black Rock Shooter became known when VOCALOID fans took notice of her in a music video by art and music collective, supercell, of a self-titled song featuring the vocals of Hatsune Miku. When the video went viral amongst those part of the NicoNico Douga community and eventually, Youtube, a hit was created for supercell. Despite similarities, Black Rock Shooter initially had nothing to do with Hatsune Miku as she was just one of original artist huke's characters but after he joined supercell, he slightly mimicked Miku's long twintails in a redrawing to establish a connection for the music video.

Black Rock Shooter figma

Since then, Black Rock Shooter has spawned an incredible amount of merchandise including figures, shirts, notebooks, charms, and other high quality collectibles. It only makes sense that the next step would be an anime adaptation. Now this is a fairly interesting turn of events here. It's usually the anime that spawns merchandise and not the other way around. But here we have a character with minimal story background actually making way for an anime OVA made by a studio with incredible production values led by an established albeit controversial director. The kicker is DVD copies of the OVA were packaged free with figures of Black Rock Shooter and magazines featuring her. In a struggling industry, this is an interesting tactic to turn things around though this hearkens back to the days of Astro Boy which was popularized through merchandise first and anime second.

Black Rock Shooter anime

Unfortunately, the anime adaptation failed to impress many people apart from the flashy fight scenes. Fans were hyped up for the longest time and found themselves disillusioned by what Black Rock Shooter is supposed to be. The character never had much of a clear story to begin with so to create a story seemed almost forced. Before the good vibes of Black Rock Shooter disappear forever, a PlayStation Portable video game adaptation was recently announced featuring the titular character in a gritty post-apocalyptic setting with role-playing game, shooter, and third-person action elements. Already slated for an international release,  hope rests in this game to restore the excitement that once existed surrounding the franchise when it comes out  in the summer of 2011.

At the very least the brilliance of the original music video will always stick around as one of the best VOCALOID works out there.

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