「少女達の「マキャヴェリズム」」 (Shoujo-tachi no makyaverizumu)
“The Girls’ Machiavellism”
And with that it is over. It was a fairly conventional finale for Busou Shoujo, we got the conclusion to the fight, some hints towards future arc(s), and a little more comedic girl teasing to round things out. Pretty damn funny Amou managed to steal the kiss too, you’d think Rin would have snatched that, but I’m guessing she—like Mary—is destined romantic purgatory. How else could we legitimately keep the cute smiles coming?
Although Amou never really became the ultimate boss, she did live up to the danger presented. Her yandere tendencies were on point, as her possessive rage was clearly building up long before Satori’s picture giving, and she dived head first—literally—into some serious sadomasochism. Yanderes might forever be associated with clinical insanity, but Amou proves the archetype can retain a degree of levelheadedness. After all, she managed to leave Nomura speechless for once with that claim of ownership. Still think Tsukuyo is the better girl, but then I’m all in on those eyes and her hilarious (self)-promotion to teacher of the bad boy. Plus with Nomura still enrolled—serious giggle at the headmistress out-deadpanning Satori—we’ll only be seeing more of the little loli. You can be sure she’ll want her own piece of that Nomura booty, no matter the stubborn efforts of the quite cute harem duo. Nomura may have won over the school (mostly) and acquired a plethora of new friends, but the real struggle of filtering the romantic prospects has just begun. There’s never any rest for the weary.
Busou Shoujo is a funny one to look back on. Most shows often depend on audience perception for enjoyment, but Busou Shoujo does to a significant degree. Yes it’s a clear parody, but not many others feature an ultra-feminist school run by a bunch of sword-wielding girls. It’s a recipe for disaster in our politically charged environment, but Busou Shoujo revels in it. I could have easily spent my blogging time delving into the show’s foundation—the treatment of feminism, the usage of actual martial arts, how it all relates to modern Japan—for example, but that would have sucked all the fun out of it. This show is naturally crazy, of course you will lose your mind if you take it seriously, that’s the point; Busou Shoujo is meant to get you laughing and keep you laughing, and it certainly succeeded at that.
What primarily made Busou Shoujo’s ridiculous premise work was a combination of Nomura and his stamp collecting goal. We are all used to the meek, oblivious, and outright pathetic harem leads there solely as wish fulfillment stand ins, but Nomura breaks the concept by going full Casanova. He flirts, he teases, he effortlessly runs circles around girls in a way that defines “amused mastery”. This takes away the suspension of disbelief often needed when the girl falls for the protagonist, because it’s expected in Nomura’s case—he’s just that good. Couple that with the varied manner of Nomura’s victories—he never single handily won them all—and the early limitation of the “harem” to Rin and Mary, and it’s hard finding fault here. Part of the reason is the show’s restriction of plot to stamp collecting. We know Nomura will challenge all the Swords and win, so the difficulty is making each fight interesting. This forced creativity out of Busou Shoujo, which when coupled with Nomura’s uncommon personality created a variety of scenarios unique from one another. The key for any comedy is variance, and by consistently ensuring a different fight every time, Busou Shoujo largely avoided the potential pitfalls.
Where Busou Shoujo stumbled slightly, however, was in development. Besides Amou and Rin, the Swords either received little fleshing out or incredibly rushed backstories. While pacing problems are mostly to blame and entirely expected—it’s an adaptation after all—it’s still annoying to know how better some of the reveals could have been with more time. Naturally I’m referring to Satori and her sister, but even the others would have been well-served with some additional backstory (looking at you Mary). This is not that big an issue considering how well Busou Shoujo handled the more contentious components, but it’s always nice when a harem show tries fleshing out the girls as much as the protagonist(s). It’s good knowing the romantic interests have complex personalities behind the looks.
While I may not have known entirely what I was getting myself into covering Busou Shoujo, in hindsight I can say I’m quite glad to have picked this one up. Once past the strangeness of its premise the show never failed keeping me amused, and always offered something new to discuss every week—and believe me, I like easy to discuss shows. Busou Shoujo certainly isn’t the best thing to ever grace anime and will leave more than a few confused in its wake, but as base entertainment the show did its job in spades. For comedy, it’s hard finding better praise.