We continue our look at the newest anime shows for Spring 2011 with Aria the Scarlet Ammo, an anime based on the light novel series written by Chûgaku Akamatsu and manga published in Comic Alive.
In a world where crime is rampant and in need of control, Tokyo Butei High School is there to create the next experts in armed investigation known as "Butei". While it appears to be a normal high school, the students are heavily armed and well-trained in the art of gunplay and swordsmanship.
However, one of those students, second-year Kinji Tôyama, wants out. Badly. It's just too bad that, on the way to school one day, he's chased down by a remote Segway with an uzi for a driver, and his bike is equipped with a bombing device straight out of Speed.
All is not lost; his heroine, Aria H. Kanzaki, parachutes from the sky and foils the plan with her own accuracy. When seven more rogue uzis come their way, however, it is Kinji's time to act. We discover that he has some latent power that gets triggered by a rise in blood pressure, and he takes down all of them with his own weaponry. While that would make any girl swoon, Aria's more concerned that Kinji saw her bra in the process and later moves into his dorm room, demanding he be her slave.
There are so many directions we can approach this story, but I'll take it from a sociopolitical stance. One of the teachers states that Tokyo Butei was developed to prevent crime, but apparently there are killers on the loose that want to kill Butei students. Isn't this the exact argument why guns should be banned from schools? I just can't get over this idea that the show is glorifying violence instead of working to prevent it, and coupling it with random fan service doesn't make the plot any better.
I'll give J.C. Staff a little benefit of the doubt, as they have been working like a dog to put out productions, but there's just some unease in watching the show. The computer graphics produce weaponry that feels too polygonal and doesn't mesh with the show's movement. Meanwhile, it feels like I'm looking at the background to A Certain Magic Index/A Certain Scientific Railgun, also produced by J.C. Staff.
Judging by the characters, this show is hardly original. Rie Kugimiya and Junji Majima play a tiny violent tsundere and her "slave", respectively, while the other characters are just fill-in male perverts, mysterious teachers, and harem fodder. Just for bringing Kugimiya and Majima back together, this show ought to be called Toradora! Tora! Tora!
Thump-thump music in the background? Check. Anything else? No? Okay then. Let's move on.
Well, the light novel series written by Akamatsu has done well, scoring nine separate volumes of print and 1.9 million copies sold so far, so that usually helps push a show. There hasn't been much else, however, as the title hasn't been picked up for simulcasting overseas. (Rightfully so, since I could imagine the huge uproar if it did.) I suppose the marketers just assumed that the fans of Ground Defense Force! Mao-chan would go and buy this with or without promotion.
I bit my tongue when watching Full Metal Panic! and Gunslinger Girl, even though I didn't like the idea of kids and teens with guns. However, after watching the first episode of Aria the Scarlet Ammo, I stand by my guns on this one, no pun intended. There is really no place in any popular culture for shows like this that encourage the idea of allowing guns in educational facilities, even if the selling point is defense. Perhaps this displays my cards when it comes to my personal political spectrum, but Aria the Scarlet Ammo would have been a bad choice for Funimation, Crunchyroll, or any streaming site.
Call me a hypocrite for not saying the same thing about Misato in My Ordinary Life, but I can tell the difference between a lampoon and an action flick. Can you?