Posted on December 31, 2012 AT 07:31am
Girls, guns, swords, magic powers, bullet proof school uniforms, and a touch of perversion. That is Aria The Scarlet Ammo in a nutshell… Or should I say in a bullet casing?
Aria The Scarlet Ammo is a twelve episode anime based upon the manga series of the same name [known as Hidan no Aria back in Japan]. The series follows Kinji Toyama and Aria H. Kanzaki, who are both students of the Tokyo Butei Academy. I’ll pause here for a moment, while we get the amusement of the word ‘butei’ [It's seriously pronounced 'boo-tay'.] out of our systems.
BOOTAAAYYYYY! … Okay, I’m good. Moving on, then!
Kinji, Aria, and the Deadly Segway.
A Butei is a person who has received special training to combat crime in various ways. They’re like cops, Secret Service, and bodyguards all wrapped together in a deadly little bundle. They are licensed to carry concealed weapons just about anywhere, and are issued bullet proof school uniforms as well. Even though they are so well trained, Butei are not just protectors; they’re targets. The series starts with a trap set up by the so-called ‘Butei Killer’: Kinji is flying down the streets full tilt, on his bicycle. There is a bomb under the seat of his bike, but there is also an SMG on a Segway following closely behind him. Yes, you read that right. Submachine gun. On a Segway. The Elite S Ranked Butei, Aria, saves him at pretty much the last moment and his life becomes infinitely more complicated. It was already complex enough, though: Every male member of his family has a trait referred to as ‘Hysteria Mode’. Basically, when he becomes aroused, his abilities become fine tuned and his personality changes. He goes from an E Ranked Butei to a super bishie S Rank who could likely shoot the wings off of a fly at 100 paces. This comes into play more and more frequently as the anime dips its toes into the harem anime pool.
Aria The Scarlet Ammo is, from its first minutes, an adrenaline-pumped affair. For the most part, the anime is pretty action packed. It manages to hit upon a number of clichés, but they don’t really take away from enjoying the series. The biggest detractor, when it comes to that, is the 13th episode, which was originally released as a stand alone OVA. It is chock full of jiggling boobs and has a hokey side-plot that feels sketchy, at best. You can tell who they were really trying to please with that epi, narrative be damned! One other episode feels rather contrived, seemingly for the sake of fanservice: Episode 10, ‘Special Training’. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say it involves maid outfits and a room full of girls in their skivvies. Special training, indeed. I don’t mind some fanservice here and there, but since it’s only a twelve episode story arc, it felt like a very awkward time to shove the plot to the side. I likely wouldn’t have minded it as much if it were closer to the middle of the arc, rather than so close to the end. In fact, Aria seems to do the opposite of what I’ve seen in many anime: Rather than starting light-hearted and getting darker, it seems like it started more serious and became sillier as time went on.
There’s nothing silly about Kinji’s Hysteria Mode serious face.
As characters go, the cast is about 95% female. Kinji has, apparently, only two male friends. One is popular, the other is an incorrigible pervert. The females are sometimes not much better. Riko is the worst offender: Busty, blonde, seductive, and deceptively ditzy. If I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Reki, the academy’s top sniper. She’s habitually reserved, ridiculously patient, and can tame a wolf in five minutes flat. Imagine her as Sniper Wolf, but with waaaay less cleavage and lots more introspection. Kinji and Aria are okay, but Kinji is far more interesting when in Hysteria Mode. Normally, he’s a bit dull. Aria, though amusing during her tantrums at times, can get a little grating. She seems like she’s in control, but when she loses her cool, she acts like a little kid. That’s kind of the calling card of most of the main female characters in this series: If they generally act like a badass, they’re likely to be either totally crazy or childish when thrown off their game.
Rough edges aside, I really enjoyed what I watched. According to what I’ve read, more episodes will be created if this collection sells well. That’s good news, since the story arc shown in this season only covers about a third of the manga. There’s a lot more story to tell! It would be sad to see this be the only volume, since there are many characters and concepts referred to that we still know little to nothing about. Heck, I still don’t even know what ‘The Scarlet Ammo’ means!
Unexplained plot! [And a wolf.] Yeah!!!
SUMMARY: Fun, if slightly cliché. The series doesn’t really bring much new to the table, but it’s certainly an enjoyable adventure. There’s a few unexpected twists to keep things fresh. Since it’s only a small chunk of the overall plot from the manga, the end of the anime’s story arc feels incomplete. If you’re looking for some good action with some funny moments as a touch of jumblies, Aria The Scarlet Ammo is definitely worth checking out. As always, I recommend you view it on FUNimation’s website before you throw down your hard-earned cash. Or, as Aria would put it: Tune in, or I’ll fill you full of holes!
- THE GOOD: High adrenaline action scenes and plot twists keep things moving. The humor gives a number of truly laugh out loud moments.
- THE BAD: Anime clichés abounds. Fanservice takes priority over plot in a few instances. The tantrums of several of the female leads can be irritating. End of the story arc is a bit unfulfilling.
- THE UGLY: Vlad. Trust me, you’ll see.
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