“Let’s Start This Deathless Death Match”
Brains Base Delivers:
I don’t exactly know what I was expecting from Aoharu x Kikanjuu, but I certainly didn’t think it would be this good. I can see several influences here: the manga is serialised in the same magazine as Kuroshitsuji, it’s got the gender-bender protagonist and basic premise like in Ouran High School Host Club, and has the bright colours and hilarity of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. If you ask me, that’s a winning combination.
Brains Base took what, to me, seemed like a completely OTT premise and turned in into one of the best premieres of the season thus far. The production values were through the roof, from the reaction faces to the intense action sequences. No expenses were spared, and that made for a solid viewing experience. With a lesser staff and studio, this may not have stood out, but thankfully we don’t have to consider that case. Brains Base can still make obscure, well-crafted anime, it seems.
Hilarious Characters – Interesting Dynamics:
I knew there was going to be a cross-dressing in Tachibana Hotaru (Komatsu Mikako). I expected there’d be some shipping potential between her and the smouldering hunk, Matsuoka Masamune (Maeno Tomoaki). And I knew we’d get a segue into the world of survival games. I thought it all sounded too random to work. But boy, I was wrong. From the very first scene I was taken aback by how good it looked. And when Hotaru leapt from the window and basked in her own coolness, before beating those punks into the ground, I was left sitting back in my chair thinking: I did not see this coming!
Things just escalated from there. Hotaru’s meeting with Masamune was practically made for shipping. One of them is a girl dressing as a boy, and the other is a bishounen playboy with the ability to be both intimidating and adorable. I mentioned that I got some Nozaki-kun vibes from this first episode, and that came down to the interactions between these two – the misunderstandings, the abundance of Hotaru reaction shots, and just how damn wonderful it all looks. It may not be a straight-up comedy, but I got a fair few chuckles from this wacky duo. Throw in Hotaru’s equally adorable and deceptive best friend, Yajima Kanae (Horie Yui), and the otaku/survival shooter, Yukimura Tooru (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), and you’ve got a colourful cast of weirdos. Each of them may be a bit tropey at times, but tropes are all around us in any anime, so when they’re well done it doesn’t matter how many of them there are.
Survival Game Set-up:
As I mentioned, the transition into the match between Hotaru and Masamune was very smooth, and the animation in the fight was equally as smooth. I still can’t believe how a such an odd premise can work like this. Hotaru displayed some real talent (despite running out of bullets) during the face-off, and clearly Masamune has taken a liking to him. Everything comes together nicely, and now I’m keen to see how these gun games turn out in future episodes. We saw hints of the types of opponents they could be facing, and by the preview it seems that next week we’re jumping right into the action, so we won’t have to wait too long.
Overview – What’s Next?:
This has to be one of my favourite first episodes so far this season. Hotaru and Masamune already have a hilariously cute dynamic, and I suspect once Tooru enters the scene, he’ll provide more hilarity. Still, the OP shows some scene that may take place at some point. We have Tooru shouting aggressively at Masamune, and a shot of Masamune looking rather overcome with emotions. And let’s not forget the romantic moments that Hotaru has with both boys. Will they fall for her even when they think she’s a boy? That would be fun to watch. For now, I’m just thoroughly entertaining with what we’ve been given, and if there wasn’t so many promising shows coming in the next week, I might have ended up blogging this one.
Note: There are currently no plans to cover Aoharu x Kikanjuu weekly.
ED: 「Gunjou Survival」by Komatsu Mikako