Aoharu x Machinegun – The Subtle Pleasure of the Substanceless

Aoharu x Machinegun key

  • Genre : Sports(?), comedy, action(?), school, insinuation(?)
  • Episodes: 12 +OVA
  • Studio: Brain’s Base

Tachibana is a model high school student with a strong sense of Justice. As student council president, star athlete and consistently highly ranked in academics, Tachibana is used to solving every problem and protecting the weak. That’s how this whole mess started after all. After a misunderstanding between one of the girls in the class and a popular host that just happens to live in the same building, Tachibana is suddenly part of a hardcore competitive air soft team and surprisingly enjoying it. However, Tachibana has a secret, one that could change the future of the team and even break them up. You see, Tachibana is actually…a bit of a psycho. Like really, this kid should probably not be encouraged to play with guns, even fake ones. I’m not the only one who sees it right? This isn’t going to end well…

I don’t quite recall the series of odd circumstances that have led me here. Staring at my keyboard trying to come up with a cohesive way to share my feelings about Aoharu x Machinegun. For instance, I don’t even know how I found out the existence of this anime in the first place. I think AniList may have recommend it to me but why? I went in expecting it to be a sports anime despite there being no evidence to that so I’m guessing it was attached to another sports show I’ve seen but I couldn’t tell you which one. Cause I’ve never seen one like Aoharu x Machinegun. Also, I only started watching it because a random number generator told me to. I could just as easily bunted it off my list. It’s not very well rated. I just thought the kid on the cover was cute. Still do…

Aoharu x Machinegun ep3-5 (9)

I’m a sucker for green eyes

See, cute right? I like blondes. And there are in fact two in the main cast. The third one is a pervy shaggy black hair guy with glasses so that’s a win two. Honestly, I’m thinking at least part of the appeal was meant to be the character designs because they are quite good across the board. They can get inconstant with distance (which is something I have noticed in a number of Brain’s Base shows) but otherwise I have no complaints. I also noticed that the facial expressions in this show were pretty great. You can really read the emotions on the characters faces, even in fairly casual moments. I liked that a lot.

Like a lot of Sports! anime (and we can argue over whether this actually is one later) there is a lot of movement as the bulk of the story either involved training for or participating in tournaments. Aoharu x Machinegun uses the common device of training montages or simply inserting still shots to infer the action mixed in with a lot of dynamic sequences. Honestly, the production is good. Much better than expected.

The voice acting is… pleasant. How can I put it. Aoharu x Machinegun is a comedic show without actually being a comedy. There are no jokes or punchlines per see. Well maybe a few but it’s not the norm. It’s just the entire tone of the series that’s lighthearted and let’s you know that you shouldn’t be taking any of it too seriously. And you can hear that in the acting as well. It’s fun and it sounds like the actors were enjoying themselves without necessarily taking it too seriously. And this time, it worked.

Aoharu x Machinegun ep3-5 (6)

it’s a… special show

You may have noticed that half of my genre tags have a (?). That’s cause it’s a bit of an odd mish mash. In many ways it is a sports anime. It follows 3 members of an air soft team as they try to win this huge important tournament. But then there’s tons of other stuff thrown in.

SPOILERS FOR LIKE THE FIRST 5 MINUTES OF AOHARU X MACHINEGUN

One of the very first things we find out is that Tachibana is a girl. She dresses in the boy’s uniform and gets mistaken for a boy a lot but she doesn’t want to be a boy. However, the team does not allow girls and it’s an underlying conflict throughout the entire season that Tachibana is in effect lying to her teammates by not letting them know the truth. There are a few episodes that seem to be attempting a commentary on the futility of gender-normative views but the series itself constantly undermines these points as the narrative proves there aren’t any really. So it’s rather messy.

Don’t get the wrong idea or anything, it’s not preachy. It’s more like one character saying, you can do anything who cares if you’re a girl and then moving on. Which is all fine and good but absolutely nothing up to that point would have lead us to think she couldn’t do something because she was a girl so that statement just ends up pointless. You know?

Aoharu x Machinegun ep6-7 (24)

wait what as I saying?

There’s also a lot of implied BL. There is zero explicit BL in any way but a lot of the boy characters are quite affectionate towards each other. and there’s a last minute almost romance between Tachibana and a character who still thinks she’s a guy so that sorta counts. This is pure fluffy fanservice that doesn’t go anywhere and has no impact on the story. I have just never seen it so obviously done before.

And then, you have all these tragic backstories that crop up out of the blue in the latter episodes but are still treated with the same comedic tone. There are abandonment and family issues. A recurring theme about not letting bitterness or revenge prevent you from enjoying the things you love.

In many ways, Aoharu x Machinegun is a bit of a mess. It doesn’t pursue any of its big thesis statements. It fails to put any weight behind its attempts at drama and it doesn’t land on any clear message even though it’s obviously trying to. There’s even an OVA called This is a Battlefield for Beasts!, in which the characters end up having to play in an Air Soft tournament in full cosplay. That should tell you all you need to know.

Aoharu x Machinegun ep12 and OVA (17)

by that I mean it’s awesome!

I essence, there is no substance to Aoharu x Machinegun. It’s not trying to teach you anything, it had some ideas and just threw them out there. The build up and resolution to all those tournaments is equally uninpactful because it has such a limited amount of episodes to work with and all that extra fluff to cram in. I didn’t even touch on the guy with a serious porn addiction.

Also I liked Aoharu x Machinegun because it was so shallow. This show can’t work if it takes itself seriously. The moment they attempt to tackle anyone of these issues earnestly it would have become insufferable. Instead, it’s a well made show, with goofy and likeable characters that I will probably forget all about by next week and a very palatable narrative. It’s not a great show and you wouldn’t be missing much if you skipped it but at the same time, I had fun with it up until the very end. Sometimes, you want cotton candy. This show is like that, cotton candy with pretty boys and guns and some blood lust… It’s a weird show. I would watch another season. I won’t cry if there isn’t one.

Aoharu x Machinegun ep12 and OVA (16)

cheer up! 

Favourite character: Yuki! also Fujimon!

What this anime taught me: I might have a soft spot for guys named Yuki

“I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.” 

Suggested drink: Gatling Gun Cocktail

  • Every time Tachibana mentions their sense of justice – take a sip
  • Every time Yuki blushes – awwwww
  • Every time Tachibana is filled with dread – take a sip
  • Every time Mattsun’s relationship with guns is a bit… intimate – what??
  • Every time Yuki talks about pron – take notes
  • Every time Tachibana refers to themselves not by their name – finish your drink
  • Every time Fujimon acts like a big puppy – take a sip
  • Every time Tachibana thinks about their gender – take a sip
  • Every time Matsuoka smokes – breath in
  • Every time Tachibana’s bloodlust kicks in – switch to water
  • Every time Yuki delivers a line looking back over his shoulder – whoa
Aoharu x Machinegun ep7-11 (20)

did I mention it’s sort of a weird show…

Because it’s all over the place seeing random caps can be confusing but you can still check them out on Pinterest.

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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6 Responses

  1. I’d read some of the manga for this when it wasn’t licensed (back in my scanlation-reading days) and so I jumped for joy at the prospect of seeing it animated. It’s not perfect by any means, but it does have the occasional spot of brilliance and it’s a fun time-killer for sure.

    Also, if it wasn’t obvious enough, the manga was ongoing as of the anime’s release (but has since finished), so there is (to my memory) one member of Toy Gun Gun the anime doesn’t introduce.

  2. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    Is that a panda with a machine gun peeking out of a PortaPotty? If it isn’t, just tell me that it is, anyway. Because that’s effing awesome!!!

  3. Dawnstorm says:

    I remember liking the show more than I expected, but I don’t remember anything that actually happened. I have no particular need to find out; I’m fine with having forgotten. If someone wanted to watch that with me, I’d be fine with it, though. I’ve never seen the OVA.

    The show came at the tail-end of a mini-trend, where there was about one airsoft anime per year (2013 – Stella Acadamy C3-bu; 2014 – Sabagebu; and 2015 this one). 3 shows is a little weak for a trend, but since the topic isn’t immediately obvious, it still stood out to me. Sabagebu is my faveourite of the three, because it’s a wacky comedy and has a petty and selfish protagonist.

    I’d completely forgotten all the characters of this anime, too, but seeing the pictures, I think Yuki was my favourite character, too. My memory of this show isn’t great, though, so who knows?

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