Aoharu x Kikanjuu – 02

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After a clever and fun first outing, things get a little more tedious as Matsuoka whisks Hotaru off to an airsoft field, where she proceeds to have a lot more fun fighting and gradually making a new friend than I had watching her. We’re introduced to Matsuoka’s antisocial friend Yukimura, who calls Hotaru “prevert-san” and bristles at Matsuoka’s bringing in of a third person. He doesn’t want anymore friends, because he was betrayed by so many of them before.

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And there’s the issue: we see his friends tearing up a notebook of what is presumably his drawings, but the exact nature of the betrayal escapes us, and Yukimura just isn’t that interesting a character anyway, even though we see several sides of him. There’s also the fact that Hotaru continued to hide her true gender from both of them, and while I thought for a sec Yuki figured it out, that was also ultimately unclear (did he give her the S&M manga because he assumed it would freak her, a girl, out?)

At any rate, it doesn’t really matter. The airsoft combat was brief and uninspiring due to their opponents being generic assholes (though they do eventually end up prostrating before their favorite mangaka Yuki), Yuki’s turnaround felt to rushed and forced, and it’s likely this show is going to keep going with Hotaru pretending to be a guy for the time being, even though the most interesting thing they could to is get the truth out there. My impatience with that major gripe will likely continue to sap my enthusiasm for this show, so it’s better if I exit early.

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Aoharu x Kikanjuu – 01 (First Impressions)

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What is it: Tachibana Hotaru, a girl who many mistake for a guy, is StuCo president at her school and obsessed with defeating evil as a hero of justice. Her first day living on her own, she meets Matsuoka Masamune, a handsome but brash man she pegs as an evildoer. When her friend Kaoru reports she was hustled out of her money by a host, Hotaru races to the club to confront him, and it turns out to be Masamune who Kaoru met with.

Masamune, who has a huge following at the club, accepts Hotaru’s challenge to a duel, but only if its with airsoft pistols, with him having a handicap of only one pellet. Hotaru ends up losing when she uses all her ammo, and she now “belongs” to Masamune, i.e. must join his airsoft team. All the while, Masamune didn’t hustle Kaoru after all (she merely spent all her money gorging herself after she was thrown out of the club for being underage). Also, Masamune is unaware Hotaru is a girl.

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Why you should watch:  Well, first of all, because Hotaru is awesome. The way she dealt with those “toughs” at school was a real eye-opener (I was worried she was all bark/no bite) and she can handle herself in a variety of combat situations; it’s only her inexperience with airsoft that let her down here, and she’s sure to overcome that before long.

Komatsu Mikako (a RABUJOI fave) nicely bridges the vocal gap between male and female, and I’m glad Hotaru isn’t overly hiding her gender, but is the regular victim of external misunderstandings and “classic” Japanese gender archetypes.

You shouldn’t just watch because of Hotaru, though; Masamune is a pretty interesting guy, too. While I don’t doubt he’s a playboy, he’s not the evil scoundrel Hotaru believed he is. I even liked Hotaru’s friend Kotaru, whose omission of certain facts actually got Hotaru in this whole mess. That being said, Hotaru’s many punches, leaps and kicks this week prove she’s do fine in the world of airsoft.

There’s also the whole romantic angle of Hotaru suddenly being in the cross-hairs of her beautiful neighbor…if only he’d shut up long enough for her to tell him she’s a girl.

Finally, it’s hard to beat the scene of a whole swanky host club full of elegantly-dressed patrons suddenly donning airsoft goggles, like this happens there all the time.

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Why you shouldn’t watch:  If you’re familiar with survival games and airsoft, either in anime or real life, you might find the ample explanatory dialogue a bit tedious (“Pull the trigger to fire the gun.” …ORLY?). It could grow more tedious still as Hotaru leans the ropes.

Hotaru seems like a pretty direct person who’s not trying to harbor a secret, so if her real gender remains a secret too long, those who mistake her for a guy will seem increasingly dumb.

Finally, there’s the whole matter of these toy guns looking exactly like real ones. Something tells me just walking around in public with one wouldn’t end well…

The Verdict: A surprisingly clever and fun first outing for a show with a tough, but naive young lady just starting to strike out into adulthood, who has essentially been tricked into starting a hobby she had no interest in before, but may help further her overarching desire to become a better hero of justice, both in terms of combat skills and people skills. I’ll keep watching for now.

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