Tag Archives: middle school

Your Lie In April

Type: Oh man, get ready for the emotions!

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Synopsis: Love means never having to say your sorry. Wait! Wrong thing. Also, a very bad saying. If your in love, then you should never be afraid to say your sorry. Like, “sorry I got home late without calling,” or “sorry I ate the last pizza slice,” or “sorry that your life dedicated to music has brought you nothing but pain and misery, but hey, at least the blonde one likes you.” Feeling safe enough in your relationship to apologize sincerely is the sign of good communication and a healthy couple.

Pros: In complete honesty, I have been avoiding Your Lie in April for a while. Because its a anime famous for making its audience cry, and I don’t like crying. My eyes get red, I start losing precious liquids, certain existential questions start popping up, its a whole thing. But I finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Surprisingly, the anime has a lot more humor than I though it would, and never veers into drab and dreary territory. It’s more of a happy tragedy. Sad stuff happens, but the message is ultimately about moving forward. I didn’t actually end up crying, but most probably will. The story is about a former pianist named Kosei Arima, and how his life changes upon meeting a free spirited violinist named Kaori. A lot of the plot involves getting Kosei to play the piano again by getting him to overcome the psychological trauma he endured by the life and death of his mother. While most shows would deal with this in two-three episodes, this anime makes it the central story for half the series, which I appreciated. There are actually four subplots in the series. Kosei’s grief is one of them. The other is Tsubaki’s crush on Kosei. And while there is a love triangle between Kosei, Kaori, and Tsubaki, it’s never overdone. Tsubaki never jealously confront Kaori, and in fact goes out with someone else for a while. Imagine that, anime characters trying not obsessing over one person and actually dating around. Huh. The next subplot involves Kosei’s rivals, but they really only reinforce Kosei’s story than anything else. And the final subplot, and main story for the latter half of the series, involves Kaori. Every story in every episode had a weight, like it meant something. Oh, and the music is obviously fantastic. I’m no classical music expert, but I do love the piano and violin, and I loved what I heard.

Cons: This thing is very predictable. By the first episode, you know exactly what’s going to happen. You can tell just by the character troupes. Kosei is the sullen protagonist, Tsubaki is the energetic childhood friend, and Kaori is the manic pixie girl sent to fix all of Kosei’s with her wacky personality. The only character that subverts expectations is Watari, as the surprisingly wise best friend, and he gets the least screen time than anyone. Which is why I don’t really consider the Kosei-Kaori-Watari love triangle a thing. It was mostly in Kosei’s head. The love triangles in this are very courteous. I would say that the character are even a little too considerate of each other’s feelings for one another. Kosei doesn’t want to interfere with Kaori-Watari, Kaori doesn’t want to interfere with Tsunaki-Kosei, and Wateri doesn’t want to interfere with Kaori-Kosei. Which works very well in this story, but don’t go looking for dramatic love confessions. Except for Tsunaki, whose whole story arc is dealing with her love for Kosei. Notably, Tsubaki is also the only non-musician with narration (which doesn’t always translate well). And Kosei’s inner monologues about Kaori do straddle the line between poetic and silly from time to time (“your existence means freedom,” what!?). Speaking of Kosei, man, his mom was a pretty shit mom. I know she was dying or whatever, but damn, I can’t help but feel happy that Saki’s dead. In fact, if I could change one thing about this story, I would dial back on the portrayal of Saki’s abuse of Kosei. At least, the physical abuse. I feel that having her be a emotionally strict mother was enough to get the point across, but having her beat Kosei regularly makes it impossible to sympathize with her. On that note, Saki’s motivation for giving Kosei years of therapy bills was to make sure that Kosei was able to look after himself, but Kosei does have a father. A father that’s never home and allows his wife to beat their child, but a father none the less. Its not like he was going to be orphaned or living on the street. I guess her life was pretty pointless. Oh well! Aside from that, I would actually keep all my criticisms as is. Which is a weird thing to say, but I feel that the anime is almost perfectly balanced, and changing anything else would ruin it.

Watch it: A bit troupy here and there, but damn, it’s good (5/5)

MVP: Tsubaki

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Why do the childhood friends always have to do the heavy lifting?

Best Episode: Ep.13 Love Sorrows (I don’t feel sorry for Saki, but it was important that Kosei forgave her)

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Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Type: Medoka Magica’s more upbeat little sister

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Synopsis: In the future, the Japanese government asks young girls, around the age of 12-15, to fight monsters from a different dimension in order to protect the magic tree that is protecting humanity. They mainly recruit these girls using phone apps, because kids and their phones these days. The app says you can be a hero, and it even gives you cute fairies as sidekicks for free! Of course, once you get nice and addicted, it ramps up the difficulty of the monsters and that’s when you finally notice the in-app store purchases and start thinking….man, I could really use that power upgrade, and the use of my legs isn’t that big of a price.

Pros: Yuki Yuna is a magical girl anime. Specifically, the subgenre of dark-magical girl anime. This means that the big reveal is the price the characters have to pay for being magical girls. Without spoiling it too much, I’ll just say that I liked the “price” being paid, because it was drastic enough to be meaningful, but not too big to be forgotten. The girls don’t have to give up their lives or anything, and the in some ways, the price is optional. It gave the characters a lot for agency in their decision to use their powers and ultimately made them seem like the “heroes” they aspired to be. This differs from Medoka Magica, the current dark-magical girl measuring stick, because there the price was pretty much an ultimatum done for selfish reasons. Yuki Yuna differs from Medoka in that it’s pretty positive. Yuki Yuna stays pretty light until Ep.8, with everything up till then being pretty typical female slice-of-life stories with good humor, like the new girl becoming friends with everyone, the young girl learning to be more confident, gossiping about love only to discover that none of them have any juicy stories because their in middle school. This is mixed with stellar actions scenes, so you never get bored. Compare this to Medoka, which gets dark at Ep.2. After Yuki Yuna’s Ep.8, things start to spiral, as the truth of the girl’s powers are revealed. What I liked about the reveal is that is was dark, but it didn’t overdo it. It didn’t come off as malicious, and there’s no “evil” organization controlling everything. The girl’s sacrifices are honored and rewarded. If anything, it’s a system whose tragedy lies in it’s necessity.

Cons: For as show called Yuki Yuna is a Hero, the title character is not really present all that much. There is a character named Yuki Yuna, but she isn’t really the protagonist, and she doesn’t act as a audience surrogate. Her only role is being the most “optimal” hero. In fact, Fu Inibozaki is a more likely candidate for main character. But the show really is more of an ensemble story. Speaking of the story, while watching it, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. Ya know? I knew that this was a dark-magical girl show, so every episode I asked myself, “is this the one where it all goes to hell?” But since this happened so late in the show, fans of this kind of dark twist may be annoyed at the time it takes to get there. Don’t watch this show looking for a tragedy like Medoka, because you won’t find any. This anime strictly adheres to the happy ending troupe. No one dies, no one’s feelings are hurt, and the girl’s sacrifices are even mitigated by the end of the show. I’ll admit, that last part was regrettable as it lessened the impact of the girl’s decisions. I do wonder, however, how people who watch it blind may react to the show. Now let’s talk spoilers: In the show, the girl’s have to sacrifice something to unleash their full power. The people in charge of recruiting don’t tell the girls this because ignorance is bliss or whatever. But, as the show suggest, this leaves tremendous psychological scars on the chosen girls. Worse yet, because the sacrifice is required for an optional second transformation, a power boost if you will, there really is no reason not to tell the girls. A little “hey, you have this secret weapon, but only use it as a last resort because it will cost you something precious. ;)” text would have been sufficient.

Watch it: More upbeat than Medoka (4/5)

MVP: Fu Inubozaki

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Girl Power!

Best Episode: Ep9. “Those Who Know Grief” (that breakdown really got to me)

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Assassination Classroom: Second Season

Type: Also known as “Graduation”

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Synopsis: The kid’s in Class E start their second semester with the same goal, Kill their Teacher and get P.A.I.D. Except, as the they soon discover, they’ve grown attached to their hyper fast, multi-tenticled, yellow world destroying Instructor. Can these 14-15 year old’s kill the only Educator that every truly cared about them? (No. The answer is No. They’re babies. Of course they couldn’t).

Pros: The second season of Assassination Classroom get a proper 25 episodes. 24 real episodes and 1 epilogue. I thought I’d start off with that, because the 22 episode thing from season one always bugged me. Like any long season, the anime is split into two main story arcs. The first arc mainly deals with school related stories, like school festivals, finals, and vacation. There are some big revelations and character moments, but it does feel like a bit of a retread of the first season, at least thematically. The last half delves into Koro-Sensei’s past, and the classroom’s ultimate decision on whether or not to actually kill him. And, to it’s credit, the show does actually end with an answer to that problem. The season definitely feels like the last half of a complete story. While it does lack some of more sillier moments of the first season, it makes up for it with important and often impactful character moments, especially for the students. Nagisa in particular shines (as the lead, that’s pretty obvious, but still).

Cons: As stated above, the first half of the season does feel like it meanders a little too much. It’s a continuation of the first season more than a sequel season. Old story arcs are resolved, but new story arcs aren’t really introduced until later on. I found the resolution of Kuro-Sensei’s story underwhelming. Without giving too much away, the final battle involves his first “student” and the scientist that gave him his abilities, but neither of these villains where really all that engaging. Assassination Classroom’s strength was always in the relationship between Kuro-Sensei and his students. Anything else felt superflous. Which is why I never really cared about other assassin’s trying to kill him, or the Agent Karasuma and Irina. Even Koro sensei’s backstory was weak and cliche. The real climax of the story is Koro-Sensei’s students deciding whether or not to go through with the assassination. Not a big dumb tentacle fight. (I should also mention that the second to last episode draaaaaags on).

Watch it?: I liked it, but Your Milage May Vary (3/5)

MVP: The Nagisa-Karma fight

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Maybe one of the best fights I’ve seen in a while.

Best Episode: Ep. 17-18 The Paintball Match Arc (The show at it’s best, thematically and narratively)

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Attack on Titan: Junior High

Type: Comedic Spin-Offs!

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Synopsis: OK Haters, here’s the low down. Attack on Titan: Junior High is a reimagining of Attack on Titan set in a modern Junior High. All the human characters are either students or teachers. All the titans are students as well. They don’t eat people, their just jerks that steal the human students’ lunches. Eren, you know, the crazy kid from the original series? Yeah, he’s wants to commit genocide because a titan stole his “chee-burga.” It’s all wonderfully cute and funny. If you can’t deal with your super “serious” anime taking a silly side tour for a while, then that’s kinda on you.

Pros: So I loved this anime. Mostly because I loved the manga. Even though I understand Attack on Titan’s appeal, I didn’t really get into it until the comedy manga was released. If anything, it helped me remember the character names. So I was super excited with an anime was announced! The loosely follows the plot of the manga, with Eren and the gang becoming slice-of-life comedy characters. I wish the anime adhered more to the manga, but eh. Eren keeps most of his hatred for the titans, but now for comedic effect. Mikasa is now the calm girl with a crush. Armin is the cutesy character. Jean is the arrogant jerk. Krista is the pure anime girl. And Sasha, well Sasha is still Sasha. The characters all translated very well into a new genre, which I guess speaks to their characterization in the main series. In a surprising bit, the anime even throws in a few allusions to future story points in Attack on Titan. So one of two pivatol characters in the manga make their first TV appereance in this show!

Cons: About 20% of your enjoyment will depend on your familiarity with Attack on Titan. I mean, this is kinda a given since this is a parody anime. The show throws in a lot of hilarious references to the anime, like Levi’s intro, Hanji’s titans, etc. I’m hesitant to say that fans who hate spoilers should stear clear, only because you’d need to actually know what the spoilers are to spot them. Well, except the one in Ep8, so maybe skip that episode. And like my intro suggested, if your the type of fan that doesn’t like your favorite thing made fun of, then this probably won’t be your jam.

Watch it?: A good break between S1 and S2 (4/5)

MVP: The Easter Eggs

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I understood that reference!

Best Episode: Ep.10 “Recommendation! Titan Junior High School” (school elections!)

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Assassination Classroom

Type: No one dies today

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Synopsis: Despite the name, no actual assassination takes place. The gist is that a weird yellow tentacles monster threatens to destroy the world in six months. But being a sporting man, he gives the planet a chance if he is allowed to teach a group of middle school losers how to kill him/pass their algebra tests. Surprisingly, he becomes the best teacher the kids ever had, even though their ultimate goal is to kill him and collect the bounty on his head. Ah, middle school…

Pros: The premise of the story is pretty great. A story about a classroom full of middle school aged assassins is brilliant! Their target, Koro-Sensei (a play on the Japanese word for unkillable), is no slouch either. Much of the humor comes from his overwhelming speed and weird abilities and pop-up every know and then. His ability to multitask is truly something to behold. The best parts are when he is able to incorporate his freaky abilities into his teaching. It was also fun when the students noted Koro-Sensei’s weird habits in an attempt to kill him. The best part of the story is when it highlights the premise of the story itself.

Cons: The main premise is great, but it unfortunately gets bogged down by unnecessary detail and plot elements. First off is the inclusion of two other teachers, Karasuma and Irina, who don’t really do much other than give Kuro-Sensei other adults to bounce comments off. Their also the inclusion of “mysterious” antagonists that hint at Kuro-Sensei’s past, but again, they were unnecessary. The anime is better when it just focused on Kuro-Sensei and 3-E’s relationship with each other and the school at large. Since this anime is about a teacher and student, you will get sugar coated messaged about believing in students and helping them grow, which sadly makes the show mildly generic. Its like Stand and Deliver, but with killing. Speaking of which, the show doesn’t really have a “main character,” as it were. The character Nagisa acts more like a narrator than lead, and the only other characters that get as much attention are Ritsu and Terasaka. The show is an ensemble, meaning that many of the students get superficial spotlights.

Watch it?: Yeah, but feel free to skip parts you don’t like (3/5)

MVP: Kuro-Sensei

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Tentacle monster, the true hero of Anime

Best Episode: Ep.1 “Assassination Time” (Let’s Kill Teacher!)

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Minami-Ke Tadaima

Type: Please Don’t Expect Too Much From It

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Synopsis: Three sisters, each in elementary, middle, and high school respectively, live their lives for our amusement. After a great beginning/end and a lousy middle, the franchises adds yet another entry which I can only determine to be some kind of epilogue. You now, the epilogues that are open ended, don’t resolve anything, and leave an incredible amount of room for more stories.

Pros: Still really funny. Much like Season 1 and 3, this season of Minami-ke stuck to its traditional slice-of-life style comedy, this time around winter and spring. Yes, there is an entire scene dedicated to pretending to be hot in order to get invited to eat chilled noodles. So nothing really happens, but its a humorous nothing. I think Season 2 was just a temporary swing-and-a-miss for the franchise. Since this is the 4th season, a few of the supporting characters are given more attention, specifically Haruka’s high school friends (about 20% more). Hosaka and Hitomi stand out the most. The show also seems to have adopted the character design from season 3, so more of the characters look slicker and shinier.

Cons: Minami-ke suffers from Character Overload syndrome. Since it’s lasted so long and has three main protagonists, it has an overflow of supporting characters. Each of the Minami sisters have about three friends each, so that’s twelve characters right there. Plus, there are about seven boys, so that’s nineteen supporting characters. Plus the Minami uncle, so that’s twenty. I’m not saying that they each need an episode to themselves, I’m just saying that’s a lot of recurring characters for one show. I also noticed a bit more fan service snuck in, which was alright because the show knew how to play it for laughs, but I hope the next season doesn’t go overboard. It’s not that type of show.

Watch it?: Still Minami-Ke (4/5)

MVP: Hosaka

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I feel that he really came into his own this season, not shirt and all.

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Vegetables with Your Merry Friends on Your Day Off” (I warned them!)

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Accel World

Type: VR’s a thing right?

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Synopsis: This short pudgy kid, perhaps the only short pudgy kid in a genre filled with slim and beautiful young people with fantastic hair, gets bullied and plays a lot of video games. Like any short pudgy kid that plays a lot of video games, he naturally grabs the attention of prettiest girl in school. She is of course an avid gamer herself, and recruits our round hero in her quest to conquer the leader boards. All kidding aside, that VR stuff looked pretty stellar right? Can’t wait to get my own!

Pros: Top notch animation, specifically in the character and background design. Accel World had three sets of character models for each character: the real world human, virtual avatar, and Burst Link fighter. The fact that they used all three, plus different background for game stages, shows that they put effort into making an anime that centers on video game rules and logic. I liked the idea that each person’s Burst Link fighter was designed to compensate for their specific fears and weaknesses (because what person creates a game character that’s not an idealized version of themselves?). The variety of fighting styles and attacks made for excellent fight scenes as well. Haru was also a daring character to use. While his cartoony design put me off at first, I actually found it easier to sympathize with him that more traditional looking leads. It also made it funnier when girls seemingly fell for him. This held true for his pig avatar as well, because I really liked the image of the brave little pig and Butterfly princess. That’s fairy tale stuff right there.

Cons: Haru’s unusual design may turn people off. Like I said, it’s very cartoony and sometimes looks silly during dramatic scenes (like in the opening). The series can be divided in half. The first 12 episodes introduce the basic concepts, characters, and backstory. In an impressive turn of events, the anime mentions that the game has 7 Kings that rule the game and actually introduce most of them. Why “7 kings” when half are clearly women is a tad confusing. On that note, the terms “Mother” and “Child” to describe when someone invites other players into the game became creepy when used by Haru and Princess Black Snow. Also, why that hell couldn’t PBS get a real name (her damn initial are PBS!!) The last 12 episodes are one full story focusing on Dusk Taker, the slimiest little jerk that you just want to throttle. I’m not sure if that’s a negative or a positive, which allowed him to carry such a long story arc. The series has an open-ended finale, which is a shame because I really want to know how it all plays out.

Watch it?: I got into this way more than I thought I would (4/5)

MVP: Ash Roller

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Giga Awesome!

Best Episode: Ep. 14-17 Dusk Taker Arc Part 1 (loss, betrayal, redemption, it had it all!)

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The Severing Crime Edge

Type: Hair & Murder

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Synopsis: Everyone has a fetish. This one weird things that society may judge them for. Some people like feet. Others like leather. Kiri Haimura likes hair. A lot. Like, its a sex thing. Luckily, he meets Iwai Mushanokoji, who’s basically anime Rapunzel. The two have a cute romance that’s sometimes interrupted by people trying to kill Iwai because their haunted utensils told them to.

Pros: Hands down, the highlight of the anime was the relationship between Kiri and Iwai. They were the cutest couple ever, and had the funniest scenes. I especially liked the fact that the two actually became a couple, a declared boyfriend and girlfriend, well before the season was over. Since most anime tend to drag this on till the very end, I found it extra charming. The premise was also fairly interesting. Iwai is the “Hair Queen,” who’s cursed with long hair and is the center of a killing contest. Anyone who possesses a “Killing Good,” a murderer’s cursed tool, who kills Iwai will get their wish granted. Bad part is, the most you use a “Killing Good,” the more addictive it becomes. Thus, the show has a nice love story coupled with an interesting psychological-action drama.

Cons: The pilot really threw me off. The episode itself isn’t bad in the least, it’s actually ever endearing, but it didn’t do a good job at setting up the rest of the show. Based on the pilot, this anime is about a girl with long hair and a boy that really likes to cut hair. The whole “Killing Good” thing isn’t introduced until the second episode. The pilot really felt more like a prologue, or even an OVA, than an actual first episode. In fact, this is kinda the show’s core problems. It’s sightly unbalanced between being a love-comedy and drama. So it’s weird when characters that were murderous psychopaths in one scene hang out with the main characters in the next.  “Killing Goods” also have a strange sexual understone to them that was very iffy. I’m also not sure if this was just me, but some of the action scenes had a weird colored screen put over them. Maybe it’s a censoring thing. (P.S. Scissors, not the most exciting weapon)

Watch it?: A pretty solid, if morbid, show (3/5)

MVP: Iwai Mushanokoji

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Long live the Hair Queen!

Best Episode: Ep. 10 “—Standing Babe-ation—” (A showcase of the entire show)

 

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A Certain Scientific Railgun

Type: School Days vs. Science

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Synopsis: Mikoto Misaka lives in a world were super powered psychics called Espers really exist. As a cute electric girl, Mikoto is obviously one of the seven strongest Espers in Academy City, where she goes to school/beats up thugs. Most her time is spent either hanging out with her friends, consisting of a stalker, a kiddie cop, and a zero level loser, or epic fighting. It’s your average story of a typical teenage girl facing typical teenage girl problems.

Pros: What I liked about Railgun was how different it was from it’s predecessor,  Magical Index. Railgun establishes it’s own tone and style, using standard slice-of-life story telling and splicing it with the franchise’s trademark sci-fi action. It was funny and emotional, while never losing the A Certain series flair for action. The brilliant part is that it never felt out of place from the franchise universe. It was smart to focus on Esper characters instead of the original Magic vs Science conflict. It’s use of a small consistent cast and singular plot really accentuated Railgun’s status as a more intimate but totally optional spin-off show. It was a very fun way to reunite with everyone’s favorite railgun.

Cons: Everything I stated as a positive could be argued as a negative for some Magical Index fans. Railgun has nothing to add to the main series, it’s not particularly action packed, and the actual plot only shows up at the end of the seasons. The show itself largely consists of typical anime stories involving things like friendship, kindness, and love. There was even a bikini episode. This is a stark contrast to the story arc heavy Magical Index. While I liked it, I cannot say with confidence that fans of Magical Index with automatically be fans of Scientific Railgun. They are just too different.

Watch?: I say give it a try. It’s a stellar series in its own right. (4/5)

MVP: Mikoto Misaka

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She’s electric, yeah!

Best Episode: Ep. 24 “Dear My Friends” (awesome, if grammatically incorrect)

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Upotte!!

Type: The NRA’s wet dream

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Synopsis: Do guns kill people? Guns kill people right? I’m only asking because all the girls in this show are guns. Literally. They are anthropomorphized guns that for some reason also use real guns. If they get sick, their guns break. If their guns break, they get sick. I’m still not sure if the girls are supposed to represent individual guns, entire gun models, or the horrible result of a gun-nut’s one too many lonely nights.

Pros:  While I’m still not 100% sure about who the whole “guns that are girls” thing is supposed to work, the premise was pretty interesting. All the girls use gun jargon when describing themselves, and use factual gun history as their own life story. For example, Ichiroku is an M16 and the most popular girl in school, paralleling the gun’s popularity around the world. Every girl’s personality traits are also based on the gun they represent. This can range from being clumsy and unreliable, to being able to endure extreme temperatures. The show also had fairly exciting actions sequences, especially for a slice-of-life comedy show.

Cons: Since the main protagonists are all in middle school, the show’s use of double entendres was uncomfortable to watch. For example, the character Funco has a crush on her teacher, and dreams of his “big hands on her trigger.” Gross right? The show also didn’t do a good job at explaining what these girls were. I initially thought they were in military school, and was horrified at their irresponsible use of live ammunition. I’m also left with a lot  of questions concerning the girls themselves. Are they spirits? Are they robots? If they are guns, why do they use guns? When they graduate do they become real guns? Are they born or made? Do they age? It might be best not to think about the logic of this show too thoroughly.

Watch it?: A gun freak’s paradise (4/5)

MVP: Ichiroki

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USA, USA, USA!

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Go for it! Pass it!” (man, guns are dangerous)

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