by Jeremiah Fajardo | staff writer
School is fun and exciting, right? Quite a few anime series would heartily agree! The plot device of featuring a school that’s more than your average learning institution is a fairly common trope in anime and manga. Take Yu-Gi-Oh! GX for example. Who wouldn’t want to go to a boarding school on a private island where you learn how to play a children’s card game? It certainly sounds more entertaining than your typical gym or history class! Aria the Scarlett Ammo has a similar idea with its Tokyo Butei High. Located in Tokyo Bay, the prestigious school aims to train students in becoming armed detectives known as butei. This initial setting teases a thrilling, action packed story with a dash of slice-of-life school charm. Yet, does Aria deliver? Sadly, not quite.
Originally a light novel penned by Chūgaku Akamatsu and illustrated by Kobuichi, Aria the Scarlet Ammo revolves around the titular character and her largely unwilling partner, Kinji Tōyama. On their own, both main characters are rather bland and uninteresting. From the start, Aria fits under both the lolita and tsundere character types nearly every anime fan is familiar with. Put together, they fail to make Aria more than a noisy, gun totting school girl whose first reaction is to shoot whatever bothers her.
Kinji, on the other hand, is just boring. The character himself admits he dislikes being a butei and is content with having the lowest rank possible. It’s only because of Aria’s prodding that he bothers to push himself. Yet, even then, I couldn’t become attached to him. Aside from these two, the other characters range from the stereotypical “childhood friend” to the “aloof, quiet girl.” Again, while some of these characters have their action packed moments, they’re simply not very memorable.
The show’s plot is just as bland and unmemorable as its characters. To sum it up simply, Aria forces Kinji to become her partner, or as she puts it, “slave,” in order to reach her full potential as a butei. Simple and to the point, the plot never truly deviates with shocking twists or turns. There is the occasional moment that may surprise you, but it never leaves a lasting impression. The story as a whole is mired in trite harem comedy and a constant exaggeration on gunplay. For a 12 episode series there is far too much of the former for the whole to be taken seriously. It grew tiring to see Kinji find himself in unfortunate situations where the only point was to provide fan service and easy laughs. From its story to its attempt at humor, the show mostly falls flat, lacking any sort of originality.
In terms of animation the show is well done, but far from revolutionary. There was nothing that particularly stood out as exceptionally good or egregiously bad. The battle scenes in particular were well animated and, for the most part, fairly entertaining. However, as I mentioned earlier, there is an exaggeration on gunplay. There was clearly quite a bit of research done on various firearms. Personally, I thought this amount of detail was quite interesting. However, some viewers might find it excessive and over dramatized.
Aria the Scarlet Ammo isn’t necessarily a terrible series. It’s simply one I wouldn’t recommend to anyone who was looking for a new show. It’s far too bland and derivative to warrant the time. Sure, it was entertaining at times, but there are many other series that would be far more rewarding or, at the very least, memorable. I stuck with the series, but it wasn’t one that had me planted on the couch, watching with intent. Instead, it was the kind of show I ended up having in the background as the series progressed. That being said, those looking for something new and refreshing should keep on searching. This is simply not the show you are looking for.
Aria The Scarlet Ammo is distributed in the US by Funimation Entertainment and airs on the Funimation Channel.
Review Score: 2 out of 5