Genre: Action, Drama, Romance. Themes: girls with guns, harem, special abilities, tsundere
Butei High School in Tokyo is a special school where armed detectives called “Butei” are trained to use weapons and solve crimes. Kinji Tōyama is a second year student who has a special ability, which he tries to hide so he can live a peaceful life. However, life won’t stay that way when he gets caught in a bombing on the way to school, he encounters Aria H. Kanzaki, the most powerful S-Rank Butei student in Assault Studies. Things will never be the same.
Story – 4.5
It’s true, comedies don’t often rely on their stories for success, since stupidity is hilarious whether or not it makes sense. But when Aria the Scarlet Ammo presented a sound story, comparable to many serious shows, and a redeeming outlook on friendship and love, the show became something special.
Yeah, the school for training Butei (essentially armed civilian policemen) was a little weird of an idea at first. But as it turns out, this is Sherlock Holmes‘ posterity we are following, so it actually makes sense that a school would exist to train more Sherlocks in the world. And I felt the few themes and twists the show pulls early on, fit with the Butei great.
Despite having a love trio for Kinji, I wouldn’t call it a harem. In fact, we get the impression that Kinji has eyes for only one woman (Aria of course), and their blossoming friendship was well thought out. While I don’t want to get in the way of my next category, Aria the Scarlet Ammo presented a profoundly mature outlook on friendship and the appraisal of the superiority of a young chaste love was very edifying.
I also really think this aspect of how the show presented the three broad ideas of the good mate (Innocent, Smart and Sassy, and Desperately in Love), is what gives this show extra pizzazz:
Innocent is, of course, Aria. And while the show does have a few dramatically awkward moments for her and Kinji, she really is a good hearted girl and isn’t clumsy on purpose. Unlike the other women, Aria is just minding her own self and finding she’s falling in love. She doesn’t try anything deviant to seduce Kinji, nor does she talk like she has low standards.
In total contrast to someone with a chaste mind is Shirayuki. While the material is soft, Shirayuki’s character would fit into any Ecchi show (and a little farther). This actually turns out to be a brilliant move as Kinji sees a good comparison between desperate “love” and true friendship. This thoughtfulness eventually has him helping Shirayuki deal with being a Shrine Maiden. Very cute.
The third idea is of course Riko: Her deviant behavior and saucy attitude makes her an interestingly hot character. Yeah, Kinji never once was interested (which is true for Shirayuki too), but because of her, Kinji is pushed towards Aria much faster in the later episodes.
These three ideas of a Romantic partner really open the door for discussion on what constitutes a desirable trait, and I feel that Aria the Scarlet Ammo’s conclusion was adequate and good.
Another thing Aria the Scarlet Ammo scores well is the twists to the show. It is highly ironic that Kinji is more like Sherlock Holmes than Aria is. Despite not even being related (as he’s related to Mr. Watson instead), once his blood pressure rises enough, Kinji becomes the ultimate detective; And the coolest one too at that. Some of the more wittier lines in the show (and they all are intelligent) occur when he’s in Hysteria.
Now I know that a lot of people rush to thinking this is a typical fan-service show from the first few episodes, but Aria the Scarlet Ammo really doesn’t deserve to be mentioned with those other shows. For one, the show does a good job of NOT showing cleavage, even to the point of avoiding it. There aren’t those stupid panty shots (save for one scene. Though not really, since the girls were in their “bathing” suits) and any awkward situations are portrayed innocently (which of course makes it hilarious).
Secondly, while other “similar” shows portray women as eye candy and little more, Aria the Scarlet Ammo uses the three women given to present what is really the best woman in a dignified manner. Perhaps some people will confuse Aria as just being naive about love, but I believe that these things help make Aria the clear choice. Because at the end of the show, this choice comes off very romantically satisfying.
Take that thunderstorm scene: Aria is terrified of the thunder and certainly looks cute, but Kinji sees what makes her adorable is her bravery to save her mom, even if she’s terrified of many things.
Throughout the show, Kinji’s interest in Aria is first and foremost for who she is as a person, and that as a woman (which, we men can all agree is intoxicating in itself). Only as second fiddle does her body come into play. This proper outlook of friendships definitely is not stupid fan-service but is mature, as it lasts when beauty fades away, and leaves a truly lasting satisfaction as we see Kinji’s and Aria’s friendship blossom.
The twist with Vlad’s identity was pretty cool too. And for that matter, so was Riko’s play in this story. Her hopes and dreams of finding her own identity was good and I thought Kinji came out a real hero by how he helps Riko.
Really, those last few episodes were fun to watch, with each twist and turn, even if there was a little monologuing. But the ending was a classic and let’s you dream where Aria’s and Kinji’s next adventure will be.
Emotional Draw – 4.9
While there are some scenes that come off as somewhat cheap, Aria the Scarlet Ammo does an excellent job pushing its emotions on the viewer. Anytime the show turns to Aria’s past and present situations, it comes off very professionally and close to real life. Even at the end, this show maintains a proper story telling technique in presenting its themes as you would have seen them yourself. The effect is it’s really easy to get into the characters.
One of my favorite scenes include the storm scene where Aria is terrified of the storm outside. “I forgot, she’s terrified of lightening.” Kinji remarked, after the second storm, followed by his admiration for a girl who is fighting for her mom even though it takes her through terrors.
Another favorite scene is at the end with Riko. I don’t want to spoil the scene, but I thought it very powerful the look of anguish and despair on Riko’s face as she sees all her plans falling apart.
Those two scenes we’re part of the manifestation of Kinji’s level of respectability, and really every episode felt so real and alive.
Since this is a show that centers around the future generations of the great Detective Holmes, it is very appropriate that much of the humor is witty and uses a lot of word play. And boy does it do a great job!
And to top this off, the rest of the show’s humor was pretty well done. I still laugh over that scene where Shirayuki is trying to be “fair” to Kinji when she saw him half-naked. Aria comes in the middle of Kinji trying to stop her and things get quiet with the only sound being the rustling of crinkles paper flowing like tumbleweed from an Old Western movie. What happens next makes the tension really funny.
Another great scene is when Kinji is asked to look for something and opens that drawer in the hallways. He opens and closes it with with haste and remarks with the grand choral singing in the background, “Ok, that’s a different kind of dangerous.” Classic stuff. Just really well done.
Now I know that half the humor involves the Hysteria of Kinji, which might seem to be like any other fan-service show, but let me explain why it’s not just innocent but has some depth.
First, Hysteria, where Kinji becomes really smart and also a slight snob, is activated not so much by him feeling dirty (something the show goes to lengths avoiding), but his honest embarrassment.
Secondly, Riko retorts at our hero for her being upset that he gets into Hysteria so fast with Aria. She asks ‘what does she have that I don’t?’
We already had heard of Aria’s frustration at not having as much womanhood as Riko. Riko herself mentions this several times. So the question she asks Kinji only makes sense because it’s not the physical side Kinji is falling for.
Third, and most important, is Kinji’s honorable behavior. His reactions really come off as how an honorable man would respond to an awkward situation, whether it’s dealing with Shirayuki or Riko. And because of this restraint of Kinji’s, the innocence of the scenes I think allows you to enjoy the humor more however old you are. It really was a refreshing take on School Romance.
Characters – 4.35
Kinji – 4.9
Here’s a character who easy to like and has a cool deviant personality in Hysteria. I love how smart he becomes in Hysteria, and those cheesy lines of “Baby Doll” were nostalgic and humorous.
I like Kinji’s expertise on guns in general, and him describing a few of them was pretty cool and should appeal to gun lovers. On a related note, his interaction with Aria was one of the cutest performances I’ve seen, and the way he decides on important decisions felt real and fresh. A very well done character.
Aria – 4.2
“I’ll pump you full of holes!” is a funny quote from a girl whose got some sweet guns. I thought the voice acting was pretty solid and her lines fairly well done. Aria has that innocent clumsiness which comes off as cutely pathetic, and makes for a great character for Kinji to fall in love with.
Shirayuki – 3.8
When I first saw her, I thought the show might be some kind of Ecchi. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Shirayuki was well casted and her English voice did just enough to do her job without sounding annoying.
As Kinji’s childhood friend, I thought they hit off well and she added some depth to Kinji. A great contrast for Kinji, I thought the point was well written.
Riko – 4.5
Ah yes, Riko’s part was played very well and she hit off well with the other characters. Her sassy attitude was pretty legit and her back story had enough emotion to make the ending really nice.
Well rounded character and one of the highlights of the show.
Creativity – 4.4
The show also hits well in this category, From the idea of Hysteria to the blend of magical abilities, Aria the Scarlet Ammo does a good job connecting all these things in an equally appropriate world. The outrageous events are complemented by the sharp edges of the characters’ faces, while still making sure to draw Aria in a sweet manner when it’s needed (and those scenes were really spectacular too).
The scenery we are taken to seemed simple but pointed, and I particular liked the episode in the airplane as there was a lot to appreciate in the drawing schemes. While the sharp edges take a little getting used to, I think you’ll find this a very appealing world to look at.
The music was also pretty solid and at some moments spectacular (that scene with Kinji and the drawer was epic). I especially was touched by the music in any of the really empathetic, sad moments when Aria is feeling really sad or scared, or when Kinji is faced with a dilemma. The songs really helped a lot to set the tone. Well done.
Final Grade – 4.59
(Aria the Scarlet Ammo is a wonderful comedy that hits across many different planes. Witty and situational at times, the show also shows wise restraint when needed to help solidify what I believe is a very funny comedy.