I really enjoyed the screening of the first 4 episodes of the anime series Black Bullet at Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park. Rather dark and grim, but with lots of action. Plus I'll always sit up and watch a show that has great veteran lead actors like Chris Patton and Luci Christian. Makes me harken back to my early anime fan days watching FMP: FUMOFFU and Second Raid (yes I did see the original FMP, too, but FUMOFFU & TSR are my faves of the franchise). At the very least I'll definitely stream the rest of this show on Anime Network and would consider adding it to my physical media collection on down the road.
This anime was good, but the character of Enju Aihara (藍原 延珠 Aihara Enju) was more than a little disturbing because of how sexually forward she is...despite being ostensibly only 10 years old. I guess as a "Cursed Child" she understands she will not live long and certainly won't have anything like a "normal" life ever...and so feels a burning innate drive to experience all that life has to offer in as short a time as possible before it's too late for her, including her budding sexuality, and feels somewhat annoyed by her partner's "conventional" moral reservations and rebuffs. It's a tension that definitely makes the viewer uncomfortable. Though on another level, the anime does pull back on full realism, with the cursed children (all girls) being treated merely as pitiful Dickensian waifs...when the reality would be much darker (systemic prostitution and rape)....though getting summary executed by the police Brazil style is pretty damn dark already.
It makes me laugh a little because especially with the rise of all things "moe" in the 2000s, and especially in a post Madoka-Magica world, anime seems to have this need to shoehorn in cute little girl characters, no matter what the story line. And for shows like this it can feel really...awkward.
Basically, a good way to think about the structure of Black Bullet is take the existing property Claymore but turn the female warriors into cute 10 year old girls with mysterious red eyes and change the setting from High Fantasy to dystopian future Sci-Fi and PRESTO you have the basic setup for Black Bullet. Including the part where the girls are themselves half-monsters used to fight real monsters and feared by society around them.
The one twist being that the main character, Rentarō Satomi (里見 蓮太郎 Satomi Rentarō?), voiced by Chris Patton, is something of a badass in his own right, whereas the Claymore protagonist was strictly a passive observer and Claire's effective "damsel".
Also, Black Bullet has a compelling villain & villainous sidekick that really make the show work. The terrifying masked gentleman Kagetane Hiruko (蛭子 影胤 Hiruko Kagetane?) and his psychopathic, dual-blade wielding "cursed" daughter Kohina Hiruko (蛭子 小比奈 Hiruko Kohina?)...both are remorseless killers with a hidden agenda.
The first four episodes were very entertaining and emotionally engaging. Hilary Haag voices one of the cursed girls and though her screen time is lamentably limited, Ms. Haag makes us care for this girl and her short, awful life. The suffering endured by these children make the series especially gut wrenching at times. It is definitely a product of a post-Madoka universe.