Aoharu x Machinegun is an action comedy shonen animated by Brain’s Base and directed by Hideaki Nakano. Hotaru Tachibana is a lively stubborn student council president. After learning that her best friend may have been accosted by a strange man, she seeks him out at a host club. The mysterious man turns out to be a host at the club and her neighbor, Masamune Matsuoka. Masamune offers a challenge to Hotaru in order to resolve the confusion which introduces her to the world of survival games. The two along with a ero-manga artist, Yukimura, form a new team to compete in the survival games tournament. Their aim is to be the best in Japan.
First off, I don’t think the author has any clue of what airsoft guns are or loves them so much he made them hyper unrealistic. I don’t understand the name of survival games as airsoft war-games would have been more aptly named. The premise is weak and the story offered is sloppy. Instead of creating anime with a sports vibe, it opts for an action survival drama. Airsoft war-games can be strategic and competitive, but in this series, they display it half-heartedly. It’s not a common game or sport like say swimming, so it should have been better explained.
I tend to enjoy longer series that have enough episodes to flesh out the story and character development, but shorter series can have a good enough impact if done right. Aoharu x Machinegun does it all wrong. The pacing of the series is all over the place. First episode goes straight to it without setting up much of anything. Next episode and they have already skipped time. Not sure how much, but its alluded that they have played enough with each other. Half way into a short season they are already playing in the major secret tournament. No real number of matches leading up to it or chemistry built to believe it’s a good idea for them to join this tournment. In fact, for a series that has machinegun in the title there really isn’t much action in the series.
There are hints of backstory throughout the series of the 3 main characters, but not nearly enough to care about any of them. The characters seem to have split personalities as on the drop of a hat they completely switch to a different persona. What I do know is that the writer really wanted to convey that girls are supposed to be weak and Hotaru was secretly a girl the whole time. GASP! A girl playing with the boys?! Also, guys that are best friends, have a weird borderline yaoi relationship. Those were the recurring themes brought up over and over and over. It got old quick along with every episode including a large amount of unnecessary flashbacks. Some flashbacks, were even flashbacks of the current episode. Really?!
The artwork and animation are maybe a bit above average. It’s just that the artwork doesn’t fit the tone. It has the look of a soapy romantic drama. Felt like it had a filter to make it look misty and bright in most episodes.
The premise and writing were weak. The artwork doesn’t fit the tone. Pacing is off, and characters are nothing new. There are so many things wrong with Aoharu x Machinegun it would be quicker to say what’s right with it. It has an interesting premise, some funny moments and some weird characters. Oh, and the music fit the tone. That’s it. It would have been far more interesting to explore a more realistic depiction of airsoft war-games. Even setting it up where airsoft battles are just the training wheels version to pick the best of the best for the real tournament with live guns. That would have had some real tension and real stakes. To sum it all up nicely, Aoharu x Machinegun was shit.
Episodes: 12 (1st season)
Director: Hideaki Nakano
Writing: Kenji Konuta
Mikako Komatsu as Hotaru Tachibana
Tomoaki Maeno as Masamune Matsuoka
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Tohru Yukimura
Music: Asami Tachibana
Studio: Brain’s Base