Light Novel Review: Black Bullet [Volume 1]

Humanity is on the edge of being wiped out. A parasitic virus has spread and created the Gastrea, large insect-like organisms that infect human beings. Rentaro and Enju are one of many pairs of anti-Gastrea specialists, working to dispose of any Gastrea in the area. What originally started as a dangerous yet simple job, has gotten them involved in a even bigger threat, enough to destroy all of Tokyo.

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Black Bullet is an dystopian sci-fi action series about Rentaro and his involvement with the parasitic beings called Gastrea. This volume is an introduction to the world where Rentaro and his fellow partner, Anju, live in. The story spends lots of time talking about the “hell” that began ten years ago, how it has affected the world now and the creatures. Due to Rentaro’s forced involvement, he gets wrapped into a even bigger plot that involves Anju and the Tokyo Government.

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As the series covers all the main plot elements that create Black Bullet, the volume doesn’t go in-depth into the characters. Our two main protagonists has some development due to the time spent with them in the volume, however they themselves aren’t explored but rather their status does. Rentaro is a civil officer that deals with the Gastrea, but the series talks about how the civil officers are ranked based on skill level and how they are looked at from the public perspective. Anju is a Cursed Children, that itself leads to the series explaining what affect a Cursed Child has on the world. Even the side characters suffer from this as most of them are regarded in their position in government or royalty.

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Shoutout to Kayo for being the best character so far.

The exception to this is the relationship between Rentaro and Anju. The series has told us that they have spent about a year with each other, and it shows the level of intimacy in those scenes together. There’s a particular moment where the two get separated, and a good amount of time is spent on how Rentaro deals with Anju not being at his side. While the passionate love ramble can be pushed aside, the amount of care for each other is noteworthy, both as a partner in battle and as a fellow human. I stress the word human mainly because it is one of the main themes of the volume. While the theme of discrimination is most apparent, the series focuses on the types of people discriminated against.

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Black Bullet has a large amount of action scenes, ranging from tag battles, fights against the Gastrea, and hellish scenes of mass death and destruction. The writing is very active and descriptive, having a nice balance between the two. Even in the illustrations, it looks very expressive.

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The illustrations are very distinct with its unique artstyle, using multiple shades as its main focus with the addition of large black outlining. The effort in the backgrounds don’t have much work put into them, but that work is concentrated on the details of the characters. Just look at the linework of each individual’s hair.

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With themes of unjust discrimination, decent action scenes, and interesting premise. Those Who Would be Gods is a good general introduction to the series and its characters, and it has potential in the future for more development. If you like what it has to offer, then I would recommend picking it up. Otherwise, test it out if you like the content and make the decision from there.

Rating: Recommended – Average

Afterword: After reading the series and watching the anime adaptation (long time ago back when it aired), I thought to myself that the title didn’t really fit the series. When I read the afterword at the end, I scoffed at the half-assed reason why the author chose the title (and it even got rejected the first time). In fact, I personally thought the title “Those Who Would Be Gods” would have been a better fit for the series, thematically. 

“Those Who Would Be Gods: The Black Bullet.” 


Author: Shiden Kanzaki

Illustrator: Saki Ukai

English Publisher: Yen Press

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2 Responses to Light Novel Review: Black Bullet [Volume 1]

  1. Pingback: Light Novel Notes (March 2016) | English Light Novels

  2. Pingback: Black Bullet | English Light Novels

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