The secret to Rentarou’s incredible combat abilities can be attributed due to his varanium transplants. I guess this also explains a bit about his quick recovery in the previous episode and what would have appeared to be fatal wounds. I think they managed to really set the mood for the scene where Rentarou suffered a fatal wound from Kagetane. The music along with Enju’s pleas really had me captivated. Rentarou’s panicking along with the fading of the camera also contributed to the overall mood. However, what I disliked was what followed after. The whole explanation of the AGV really turned me off even though it was introduced last episode. The whole 20% chance of turning into a Gastrea followed by Rentarou being perfectly fine seemed really unnecessary to me. Why make it seem like such an important decision when everything just returns to normal (especially when we already know that there’s no way the main character is going to die in such a silly way).
I’m not sure how I feel about Kagetane being defeated so early in the series. He just felt like he would have been a larger threat in the grand scheme of things. We don’t really know much about him besides him being a modified human and wanting to destroy humanity. Maybe we’ll see more of him in the future (I mean, if Rentarou could survive, then surely he can too!) but it seems like we’ve been introduced to other conflicts which I’ll get to later. I think if they had spent more time fleshing out Kagetane’s history, his “death” would have left a greater impact.
Another strong scene (in my opinion) within this episode, was Rentarou struggling to deal with all of the pressure on him. The music was once again amazing and really helped set the tone of the scene. Rentarou’s facial expression also really helped me connect with how he was feeling at that moment. Unable to concentrate, with his eyes twitching, due to all the pressure that was on his shoulders. It was nice to see Enju snap Rentarou out of his insecure state just like how Rentarou was there for her previously. My issue with this part of the episode, was how easily this stage 5 Gastrea was defeated. I think that may be more related to the overall pacing of the series though. With so much stuff being condensed into one episode, we don’t really have time to process what happened as well as feel the suspense and build up to the conclusions.
I thought that the scene with Rentarou and Kayo was depressing to watch. I think one of my favourite moments of the series thus far was last episode, where Kayo and Rentarou just talked for several minutes. It made me realize how an anime really needs to balance action and character development. Even though she only appeared briefly, I felt far more attached to Kayo’s character than the majority of characters so far. While part of it may have been attributed to the fact that she’s a suffering child, her conversation with Rentarou really made me like her character. Rentarou is put in a difficult position where the most humane option is to end Kayo’s life before she transforms. While this wouldn’t phase a lot of other promoters, Rentarou really valued the lives of the cursed children.
At the end of the episode, it seems that the real conflict is unfolding. There’s corruption within the politics and these figures are responsible for summoning the stage 5 Gastrea. After the contents of the suitcase were revealed, it makes me wonder if Gastrea is all part of some conspiracy amongst some organization. Personally, I would have preferred if they didn’t include the revelation of Tendou being behind the attack. The confrontation between Rentarou and Tendou changed the mood abruptly. Rentarou was mourning one second and then getting angry the next.
Overall, I still do enjoy the series but I can’t help but feel that Black Bullet had potential to be so much more. I understand the pacing issues now that it’s been confirmed to be 13 episodes only. However, I feel like this series would have been much more effective had they spent more time on character development (apparently many scenes were not adapted). While this episode was only 24 minutes long, we had the defeat of a villain, the saving of humanity/destroying the Gastrea, and the conspiracy issues regarding the government. I also think that this series could have benefited from some cliffhanger endings (Rentarou’s near death experience with Kagetane comes to mind). Hopefully they slow down at this point and leave it open for future seasons without deviating too far from the source material.
You can watch Black Bullet episode 4 on Crunchyroll (may not be available in all regions, free users have to wait a week after the original airing)