Ah, these days, I have a hard time finding ideas for articles. And so, I’ve decided to pick on Black Bullet for some things which excited my interest or peeves in the last three episodes, which I watched on Crunchyroll. I already wrote an article accusing Black Bullet of feeling trite or corny. There were a few examples of that in these three episodes, but I prefer to concentrate on some other things. Ready for a rambling rant?
First, what is it with the Japanese obsession with numbers? Especially as related to either chances of success or power levels? (We all know that a plan which has a 0.0001% chance of success cannot possibly fail, right?) In episode seven, Miori tells Rentaro that he has a power level rating of 2,200%, while Enju has one of 8,600% and Tina 12,900%. While this is supposed to create a certain amount of suspense before the fight, one cannot get out of one’s mind that Rentaro will fight a little girl less than half his size. It is very hard to make the audience enthusiastic about such a bout or to make the blond haired, blue eyed Tina appear that threatening. (She’s not Balalaika, you know?) In their defense, the fight was exciting, but I could not help feeling sorry for Tina when she got struck or thinking that Rentaro was more like a 13,000% than a 2,200% for that matter.
Then, the scene immediately after the fight frustrated me on several accounts. You had that punk attempt to execute Tina, as two persons with less strength than is in Rentaro’s index finger bring him to heel. Rentaro just defeated terminator girl and allows himself to get manhandled by some losers? Come on! Before Tina is riddled with bullets, Seitenshi appears and rescues Rentaro and Tina by the might of her auctoritas, promoting Rentaro to #300. Upon which, Rentaro shoots off the punk’s finger. The hero just off and mutilates someone and Seitenshi, who’s all about peace and unity, just looks on. Not saying that the punk did not deserve it, but what kind of society is she trying to build where cruel and unusual punishment is condoned?
Another thing which annoyed me is well known to people that understand Japanese: the Japanese language and ordinary Japanese discourse is mostly free of curses. If a Japanese person wants to insult someone, he mostly resorts to rude variations of the word “you” (temee, kisama, and omae) or prefixs kuso or bakato a person’s name. And there are various forms of name calling, mostly revolving around whether someone is ugly or stupid. But stuff that hardly counts as foul language! And so, why does Yuyuki’s partner drop the f-bomb according to the subtitles? He certainly doesn’t say the word, though he is speaking rudely to Rentaro.* Surely, there was a more creative way to show his contempt for Rentaro? The only place I recall anime characters actually using the f-word–an English loan word, by the way–is Black Lagoon.
And there was one place, I do think the subber ought to have placed a pejorative where he did not. As Rentaro is destroying Tina’s targeting sensors, he says, “Mittsu-me.” This is simply translated as “three.” But, you know, Rentaro often strikes me as a bland fellow. Most other heroes would say “San-biki,” using the counter for a small, insignificant animal rather than the neutral counter –tsu. It would really have added much more color and emotion to Rentaro if the subber tried to included the sense of the suffix -me by translating mittsu-me as “three of the damn things.”
But, Black Bullet is a great show for what me and my friends affectionately term “anime lines.” To understand what we mean, consider the following:
“I am going to kill many people and destroy many things, then my sister will be happy, and I will be satisfied. – (Full Metal Panic)
“People that dare to disturb a duel shall be run over by a tank!”
-Ritsuko (from Those who Hunt Elves)
“Our guns are useless against moving targets”
-Captian Romius (Gundam Seed)
“The 120 students that depend on baked goods sold on site will starve. The results are all too clear. Riots and pillaging. Moral decay. Order within the school will surely plummet.” -Hayashimizu (Full Metal Panic Fumoffu)
You get the idea. An anime line is a line so bizarre or random that one would only hear it in anime. Take this one delivered by Rentaro to Tina: “When I met Enju, her eyes were even colder and more vacant than ours.” xD Rentaro! Do you really have no better object of comparison than your present selves? Does this mean you believe both Tina and you have been divested of human warmth and emotion? Then, Sumire’s “translation” of Rentaro’s promise to help Tina secures her position as my favorite character in the anime: “You’re a vital part of my little girl harem plan, there’s no way you’re getting away.” I think her translation is perfect.
I hope that you enjoyed this little ramble!
*Edit: I must thank AngryJellyfish for pointing out that the subbers did not needlessly add the curses, but that both Katagiri siblings actually did drop the f-bomb. So, they provided an accurate, unbowdlerized translation. For me needing several passes before I finally heard it, I accuse the Japanese voice actors of bad pronunciation. xD