Black Bullet Episode 5 Review: A Sleepy Sprout and a Tough Assignment
In Black Bullet Episode 5, "The Crimson Black Assassin," Kisara Tendou, desperate for some kind of income, hires out Rentarou Satomi to be a body guard for none other than the leader of the Tokyo Area, Lady Seitenshi -- though her professional body guard takes great exception to the idea. Rentarou also meets a pint-sized girl driving her bicycle all over town in her pajamas -- in the middle of the day! Who is that little girl who's about the same age as Enju Aihara? And why does she lug around such a huge cello case after dark? She doesn't seem like the musical type...
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
Interested in the OP? You can buy it from CD Japan!
3 Favorite Moments
When Rentarou first meets Tina Sprout, he had to chase three unsavory types away from her (is it just me, or does this world have more than its fair share of unsavory types?). She calls him a "valiant hero" (6:50), and you just can tell from his expression that he wonders what she's up to. After all, she's about Enju's age, and she's wearing her pajamas in public! Needing to get back to work, he gives her his phone number and asks her to go to the police (8:33). At this point, I'm convinced he knows she's more than just a lost little girl; otherwise, he would have escorted her to the police box himself to assure her safety (he's a nice guy that way). But as soon as he gives her his number, she turns away from him and calls the number (and the little spin move she does while she's sitting is hilarious!). He reasonably asks what she's doing. The dub and sub take slightly different tacts: In the dub, she comes out and says that this wouldn't be the first time someone gave her a wrong number, whereas in the sub, she just says he might have given her a "phony number." In either case, I loved how this scene started with "Who is this little girl" to "Okay, who's Initiator is she?"
Rentarou sometimes has the worst luck. Just as he and Enju were sitting down to dinner, Miori Shiba shows up with the prototypical Japanese killer cold and asks him to take care of her. Then she collapses. Moments later, Kisara shows up with discount beef. She asks him to prepare it for her as she, too, collapses (from hunger). The thing is, these two women absolutely hate each other. They're both not only individually powerful, but they're part of influential families, so the tension between them involves family pride! Rentarou tries his best to keep the peace, but as Miori starts to flirt so outrageously with Rentarou, Kisara snaps (14:19) and draws her sword. Does Rentarou and Enju try to intervene? Do they plead for the two to leave in peace? No. Sharing a knowing look between them, they quietly pick up the table (and the food!) and carry it to the hallway and the hope of safety. From the sounds of it, neither of the two women backed down, and Rentarou despaired of ever getting his apartment's security deposit back!
Lady Seitenshi's naiveté took quite a pounding when she met with one of the other world leaders who was a tyrant. Rentarou had met him before, but when he warned her about how bad he was, she seemed surprised and unwilling to believe it. When the tyrant came out and said he intended to dominate the post Gastrea world -- and would crush anyone who opposed him -- she was crestfallen. She's obviously not been a leader for very long, and she's still forming her ideas and skillset. That's why I liked the reactions she shared with Rentarou (18:55). She knows that the five separate areas into which Japan has devolved need to unify in order to stand up for themselves. She also knows that she's surrounded by "yes men" who aren't helping her achieve her political goals. What really resonated with me was her response to Rentarou saying that she needed to get better at what she does, or she'll be killed. She thanks him for being honest with her! In my experience, it takes a real leader to know when to listen to dissenting opinions.
It took me a couple of viewings before I began to appreciate what Lady Seitenshi was trying to do. The first couple times through, I wrote her off as an unrealistic idealist. Even her color scheme, a light purple pastel, made her almost fade into the background. But starting with this episode, I realized she was beginning to assert herself. When she didn't back down to the tyrant, when she rejected "yes men," and when she accepted Rentarou's criticism at face value, she proved that she's an interesting character in her own right.
This show isn't shy about taking on pressing cultural issues. It's core theme revolves around how poorly society treats the Cursed Children, and in many ways, it seems like a commentary on how many modern countries have begun to treat immigrants. What I began to realize in this episode is that the critique of society pokes at something more subtle, but no less important: the value of good leadership.
Take the example of the tyrant. He and others like him (I think Rentarou referred to them as alphas in the dub, suggesting alpha in the sense of an alpha wolf) took advantage of the Gastrea's threat to seize control of their regions. He plans to use his power to become the literal ruler of the world. His definition of cooperation is that the other people with power will become his lieutenants (probably like the "trusted lieutenants" of the Evil Overlord). He's ruthless, power hungry, and doesn't care about those under him except insofar as they can benefit him. And if anyone opposes him? He said it himself: He'd crush them.
Sound like anybody you know in modern politics?
So, why am I so against that system? All moral outrage aside, that system has worked for a lot of human history. Look at the monarchies, which until recently (relatively speaking, of course!) brought some level of stability to populations across the world. Of course, those same monarchies inflicted great pain on most of the people while doling out benefits to the "trusted lieutenants." But the stamp of that political structure is still on a significant percentage of modern populations. Just look at how people still relish cults of personality, whether they be celebrities, political figures, or (heaven forbid!) celebrity political figures!
What's wrong with something that even today, so many people still seem to cling to, even if they don't call it monarchy?
Remember: I said "all moral outage aside," so I won't say that most people are treated terribly under those systems. That's true, and it's a real reason to resist those systems, but it's not the answer to the objection that at least those systems "get things done." No, the objection I'm talking about it much more pragmatic.
Those systems are inherently fragile.
If you base a political structure on a single personality, or a small group of people, when that person inevitably dies or is discredited, then the system collapses. Preventing that scenario -- and the morally impermissible treatment of peasants under most monarchs -- was the genius of the young United States' system. The whole government was supposed to be build on the idea of the People; the Constitution even starts with "We the People..." It was supposed to be supported by an educated population voting for short-term leaders who would cycle in and out of power. The end result would be an entire civilization participating in government. In such a system, even if a significant percentage of the current leadership is removed, others from the People will step right in. In theory, it's a very stable form of government.
Lady Seitenshi hasn't really talked about the specifics about her political end game, but I get a strong sense that it's a lot closer to the US Constitution than what the tyrant envisions. She's even willing to put her life on the line to get what she thinks is right. Contrast that to the tyrant, who's willing to kill others to get what he wants! Her goal and approach certainly appeals to me!
Now, if we could only sell more of the population in the US on the idea of an informed electorate...
What do you think of Lady Seitenshi and her goals? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: Discussion of Black Bullet Episode 5
- Little Cloud Curiosity: Black Bullet Episode 5 Review
- Anime Corps: Black Bullet - 05
This Site (Crow's World of Anime!)
- Black Bullet Episode 1: The Last Hope
- Black Bullet Episode 2: The Mask of Madness
- Black Bullet Episode 3: The Children of Fate
- Black Bullet Episode 4: Black Bullet
- Black Bullet Episode 6: Tragic Irony
- Black Bullet Episode 7: In the Still of the Moonlit Night, the Dawn Sky
- Black Bullet Episode 8: The Monument on the Border
- Black Bullet Episode 9: The Protectors of the Barrier
- Black Bullet Episode 10: Tokyo Area Defensive Battle
- Black Bullet Episode 11: The Heart of Taurus, the Spear of Light
- Black Bullet Episode 12: Crisis Point
- Black Bullet Episode 13: The Ones Who Aspired to be Gods