Black Bullet Episode 2 Review: The Crushing Weight of Expectations and the Lonely Umbrella

Quick Summary

In Black Bullet Episode 2, "The Mask of Madness", Rentarou Satomi and his boss, Kisara Tendou,  receive a summons from the military. There, they find all the major CivSec entities waiting to receive these orders from Seitenshi, the rule of the Tokyo Region: kill the infector Gastrea and retrieve the box within its body. But Kagetane Hiruko and his Initiator/daughter Kohina Hiruko crash the party and make demands of their own. If even the most skilled Promoters can't lay hand on Kagetane, what hope does Rentarou have? For that matter, how can he even protect his own Initiator, Enju Aihara, from her own classmates, much less Kohina? 

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

What's in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Despite Rentarou's demonstrated situational awareness, Kohina was able to slip in behind him -- completely unnoticed! Capture from the HIDIVE stream.

Moment 1

I've enjoyed how this show crafts little moments that show us a lot about the characters. For example, we see how tough Rentarou really is when Shogen Ikuma, a huge Promoter in the top 1% of all CivSec agents, head butts our hero (2:41). The force of the strike drove him backward, but he didn't lose his balance, and he recovered quickly. Rentarou is also the first to pull his sidearm on Kagetane while the rest of the Promoters stood in shock at Kagetane's silent entrance (6:19). That's what made it so impressive -- and scary! -- that Kohina was able to walk up right behind him, and he had no idea she was there (6:35). In light of what we saw Kagetane do in the first episode, this gives us in the audience a pretty good idea of just how dangerous this pair is.

Rentarou wanted to protect Enju, so she had to remind him of his responsibilities. Capture from the HIDIVE stream.

Moment 2

There are moments in shows that test our protagonists, just like there are moments in real life that test us. Unusual circumstances can illuminate the difficulty to maintain balance -- the balance between following the law that promotes civil society and standing up to those laws when they are immoral or unethical. In this episode, Rentarou and Enju witness one of the Cursed Children trying to escape with stolen food. They watch as the little girl literally reaches out for help, but when Enju tries to respond, Rentarou stops her (11:21). Unwilling to expose Enju to the same treatment, they watch the police drag the little girl away. Rentarou is older and has been in society longer, so he decided to err on the side of following the law. But Enju has only been in that society for about a year (having grown up as a Cursed Child herself), so the morality of the situation was more clear to her. "Rentarou, you're one of the good guys," she tells him (12:17). And then we come to a difference between the sub and dub. in the sub, Enju adds, "There's nothing you can't do!" The dub has a less powerful quote, which is "And you couldn't do anything to help her!" I'm going to follow the sub on this one. By saying that to Rentarou, she reminded him of his responsibility while at the same time affirming her belief in him. There was only one way he could respond to that. He went after the two police offers to protect the girl.

When Rentarou asked Enju if she could defeat Kohina, Enju had to honestly answer that she didn't know. Capture from the HIDIVE stream.

Moment 3

Remember how I said that I like his this show crafts little character moments? The show's gone to great pains to show us how powerful Enju is. We saw her skilled attacks destroy the Gastrea in the previous episode, so we have a sense of her strength. In this episode, after Kagetane and Kohina leave when they can't convince Rentarou to join them, Rentarou point blank asks her if she could beat Kohina in a fight. In her most serious voice, she says that she doesn't know (16:51). Hearing her admit that again put into perspective just how powerful these antagonists are. What's also interesting? The fact that Enju, too, walked away unscathed. 

Thoughts

Did you notice that after Enju's class rejected her and Rentarou ventured into the rain looking for her, he carried two umbrellas? One for himself, and one for Enju. 

I'm starting to like Kagetane as a villain. He's powerful, he's a menace to society -- and he's got some valid objections to how that society operates. Toward the end of this episode, when he asks Rentarou to join him, I get the idea that Kagetane senses a similar sense of justice in Enju's Promoter. It's going to be interesting to see how the relationship between these two plays out.

Villains who make a good point have always interested me. And Kagetane makes some good points! Capture from the HIDIVE stream.

One of the things Kagetane objected to is how the authorities treated the Cursed Children. Rentarou himself has voiced exactly the same concern. He watched two police officers drag one of the Cursed Children away, haul her into an abandoned building, and gun her down. I don't blame Rentarou for not doing more, because if he makes an enemy out of the police, then Enju's life would be in danger. But it can't be denied that when it comes to the Cursed Children, he and Kagetane are on the same page.

When I'm watching moments like this from Black Bullet, part of me cringes and thinks the depiction might not be realistic. I mean, would society really go after little girls like that? Then I ask myself: Aren't we seeing a similar story play out in the US right now? Law enforcement officials (in the form pf Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or ICE branch) had been ripping children away from their families under orders from the administration. Sometimes, they did so under false pretense ("Don't worry, asylum-seeking family, we just need to give your kids a bath. We're the US. We're the good guys! You can trust us!"). 

But wait, you cry! We aren't gunning kids down in deserted buildings!

I remember a time when I would have argued that this was unrealistic... Capture from the HIDIVE stream.

I have two answers to that. First, the act of ripping families apart is an objective evil. It cannot be justified by any argument about national security, personal security, or the children's best interests. Once a society embraces that act as acceptable, we've started down a path whose end we've seen before -- for example, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It is an act so heinous that nothing done afterward -- including claims that the children will be reunited or that gosh, reuniting them is going to take oh so so long -- cannot be taken at face value. A government that embraces objective evil just can't be trusted.

Which leads me to my second answer, which is an honest question: If this government had embraced ripping these families apart in the first place, how can we trust that they're not just killing the children? I've seen claims that they can't find some percentage of the children. Is it really that they can't find them? Or that they don't want to divulge the location of their graves?

Sound far-fetched? Too far beyond the pale?

So was ripping apart families. Until recently. 

What's the moral difference between intentionally destroying families and killing children? Can such a thing even be measured? Capture from the HIDIVE stream.

I'm not saying that has happened. I'm not even claiming that it will. But I've lost faith that it's impossible. 

Rentarou faced a similar moment, when he was faced with such an objective evil happening right in front of him. It seemed like he still had faith that the police officers wouldn't harm the little girl; or maybe he was just looking the other way to protect Enju. It took Enju reminding him of who he was and what he stood for before he could bring himself to act. And even then, all he could do is take her to a hospital and offer to pay for her treatment. I hope the children of the asylum-seeking families have a more happy ending to their scenes. They don't have a powerful Initiator and her armed Promoter to stand up for them.

Sorry for the heavy Thoughts...

What did you think of this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the Comments! 

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Post Author: tcrow