What They Say
When Hotaru Tachibana storms into a host club to avenge the honor of a wronged female student, the last thing Hotaru expects is to duel the club’s most popular host with airsoft guns instead of fists. When Masamune Matsuoka’s experience wins out over Tachibana’s brawn, he realizes that he can use his victory (and the large bill for damaging the club) to make Tachibana join his struggling Survival Game team. However, what ladies’ man Masamune totally misses is that his unwilling new guy… isn’t a guy at all! Under the boy’s clothing and strong need to defend justice, Tachibana is all-out girl, but, for a number of reasons, she absolutely CAN’T expose that fact to Masamune or his teammate, the erotic manga artist Toru Yukimura. Blood will boil both on and off the airsoft arena, but it’s not over until the last round is shot in AOHARU X MACHINEGUN!
The audio quality for Aoharu x Machinegun isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t call it the best either. Average. The sound itself is crisp. However, the dialogue is difficult to hear whenever there’s music playing in the background, which means I’ve sometimes needed to watch subtitles so I would know what was being said. This is a bit annoying. Generally, the dialogue should be the strongest sound, with effects and music during dialogue sequences being heard in the background, present but soft.
While not Blu-ray, the video is still pretty decent for this series. Perhaps it’s because this is one of the newer series. There are some issues with the line quality of the artwork not being very sharp. I think DVDs tend to have trouble properly rendering anime, especially if you’re using a High-definition flat-screen TV. It’s like trying to mix Italian food with Spanish cuisine. Not exactly wholesome.
The packaging is fairly basic. The front cover features the main character plus the two supporting characters. Tachibana is wearing her airsoft gun clothes and goggles. She’s also carrying an automatic airsoft gun while posed in one of those badass poses. Yuki is crouched and looking glum, while Masamune reminds me of Kamina from Gurren Lagann with his pose. The title is above the three characters, and the background is blue mixed with white, a gun scope, and cracked glass that looks like someone shot it. Because the color tone is cool all the way through, the contrast between characters and background isn’t that strong. The back is a bit better, featuring a green camoflague background with the “antagonist” on one side, and the anime description and several screenshots on the other.
The menu for each disc features a list of the episodes to choose from, plus the ability to select the language and whether or not you want subtitles. Each disc features a standard character on one side, while the episode selection is on the other. The character you get depends on which disc you put in.
Special features are a clean opening and closing animation, meaning the OP and ED theme songs without subtitles or Japanese kanji, so you get just the animation. There are also previews in Japanese, along with trailers from Sentai Filmworks.
Content: (Please note that this portion of the review may contain spoilers):
Aoharu x Machinegun is a bit of a mess. The story seems simple enough. You’ve got Hotaru Tachibana, a girl who likes to dress in men’s clothes, who goes to a host club where she believes her friend was swindled for money. There she meets Masamune, the club’s star. She tries to get revenge for her friend, but instead she makes a fool of herself, learns that her friend had not actually been to the host club but lost her money eating when she was rejected, and ends up becoming Masamune’s new plaything. Of course, Masamune doesn’t know that “he” is actually a “she”, which is why he tells Hotaru that she’s going to become the newest member of his airsoft team. Of course, girls aren’t allowed on his team, and so Hotaru can’t tell Masamune that she’s actually a girl.
Sounds like the basic plot for a standard romcom, right?
While this story does have the feel of a romcom, no actual romance goes on during the entire series, so people who are expecting something to happen will be sorely disappointed. Of course, if you want a lot of yaoi bait, then you should be satisfied. There’s a lot of implied homo-eroticism between certain male characters. I don’t really mind this since the series itself struck me as fujoshi bait from the get-go, but I was kind of expecting a more reverse harem feel like Ouran High School Host Club. I was also going under the assumption that there would be a heterosexual pairing between Hotaru and Masamune. However, nothing even happens on that front until the very end, and given the situation, it could still be construed as yaoi baiting despite one of the characters being a girl.
Outside of the distinct lack of true romantic comedy, the series has a high tendency to make it’s characters break character. There are numerous instances where character’s will break out of their established personalities. This is done when the director decided that this story needed more drama, thereby making almost all of the drama forced. The biggest person who does this is Masamune, who, throughout about 90% of this series comes off as a smooth playboy who’s really gung-ho about airsoft. That 10% of character breaking is almost always done by him, and it’s always done to create forced drama that doesn’t work specifically because it feels forced.
I think the only character I really did like was Yuki, the second supporting male character and a member of Masamune’s and Hotaru’s airsoft team. He’s an unrepentant pervert who isn’t afraid to tell everyone that he’s the mangaka to a pornographic manga series. His characterization is pretty consistent all the way through, making him easier to follow. His dramatic shifts in temperament are also established early on. This means that when something happens and he does become serious, it doesn’t feel unnatural like Masamune’s always do.
There was also a trouble with the pacing. I generally don’t mention pacing because everyone has their own sense of pacing, and whether it moves too fast or too slow is usually dependent the individual. However, the pace in this series was jarring. It was especially bad toward the beginning. In episode 2, Hotaru attends her first airsoft event in what seems like a long list of events she’ll be forced into to pay off her debt. However, episode 3 features a massive time skip, and before we even know it, Hotaru has paid off all her debts. It’s jarring. The entire reason Hotaru was going a long with Masamune was because of her debt. Now it’s paid off in what feels like the blink of an eye. Not only does that screw with the pacing, but it also ruins Hotaru’s development and destroys at least half the main plot for this series.
What’s more, after her debt is paid off and she’s off the team, she gets mopey because she had so much fun. She loves airsoft now despite hating it naught but one episode ago.
To me, it felt like she had gone from hating airsoft to loving airsoft within the span of 24 minutes, rather than slowly growing to love the sport over the course of several episodes. This means that when it’s time for her to quit and she discovers that she doesn’t want to because she loves airsoft, it feels fake. It just wasn’t done that well.
On the whole, I wouldn’t say Aoharu x Machinegun is a bad anime, but I also wouldn’t call it very good. I feel like the anime doesn’t deliver on what the premise promised—outside of airsoft gun competitions—and the series couldn’t decide what sort of anime it wanted to be. Not only that, but this anime feels like it’s only half finished. There’s no true resolution, meaning anyone who wants to see characters overcoming adversity had better look somewhere else.
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: C+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
55″ Class AQUOS HD Series LED TV LC-55LE643U, Xbox 360 DVD player