In response to the worsening crime rate, Japan creates Tokyo Butei High, an elite academy where "Butei" or armed detectives hone their deadly skills in hopes of becoming mercenary-like agents of justice. One particular Butei is Kinji Tooyama, an anti-social and curt sophomore dropout who was once a student of the combat-centric Assault Division. Kinji now lives a life of leisure studying logistics in order to cover up his powerful but embarrassing special ability. However, his peaceful days soon come to an end when he becomes the target of the infamous "Butei Killer," and runs into an emotional hurricane and outspoken prodigy of the highest rank, Aria Holmes Kanzaki, who saves Kinji's life and demands that he become her partner after seeing what he is truly capable of.
I really am trying to not become one of those cynical anime watchers who think the best has already come and never will again, but you’re really trying my resolve this year Japan. Hidan no Aria was a show that for whatever reason I had a great deal of excitement and anticipation for. I was won over by the early pre-production artwork without knowing really anything at all about what it was going to be about or the source materials. When I learned the seiyuu cast and the plot synopsis I was pretty sure what I was going to be in store for. In that sense I probably shouldn't have been disappointed at all.
What Hidan no Aria gives us as a premise is about as generic and played as it comes. A high school boy... sigh why is it I always have to start it with that? Anyway he goes to Butai High School, a place where Japan teaches its youngsters to be assassins, thieves, and super powered shrine maidens. It’s like any other anime high school except the students all carry guns and katanas. No seriously it’s just like every other high school. So from there our hero, Kinji, suitably useless and powerless Japanese male gets involved right off the bat with the more dangerous female classmates who either want his body or him dead or more often both. Of course Kinji is able to tap into a hidden power of his own called "Hysteria Mode" which he enters from being sexually aroused. Really I'm serious here. I can't make this stuff up. Further nonsense ensues from this point and I honestly couldn’t make heads or tails of any of it from the beginning.
As with most anime of this type it likes to throw out tons of nonsensical and contradictory terminology and other assorted garbage. While in the beginning it doesn't seem like that much of a stretch it really starts to take a turn for the bizarre after a few episodes. That’s when we start having characters assigned names from other fictional and totally unrelated content. Such as Sherlock Holmes, Lupin IV, Jeane of Arc, and Dracula? It’s a mishmash of themes that have absolutely nothing in common with each other and make no sense when even applied to the story. It’s almost like the author of the story just picked random names from a library shelf and jammed them into his story as if they applied some sort of deeper meaning to it. The names don’t even have any bearing on how the characters act either. Jeane of Arc has ice powers, Dracula is a werewolf, and Holmes is a gun totting, dual katana wielding loli. Wuh? This only further confuses an already pointless and directionless story which doesn't seem to stick to one theme for more than a few episodes before meandering off into another direction. All in all it’s bad... REALLY BAD. Perhaps the worst excuse for a story I have seen in anything to date.
That brings us to the characters which really don’t far much better. Our hero Kinji is barely worth mentioning. Seriously when are they going to just stop giving the guys in anime names or even bother drawing on faces on them anymore? Just go ahead and give in to the otaku pervs and just complete the fantasy by having replacing them with faceless stick figures to allow them to complete their 2D on screen fantasy.
As for the girls the results are bad, even for a harem. Other than Aria the other girls are pretty much unmentionable. Aria is your standard loli tsundere. She says all of the things you would expect of her archetype and is performed brilliant by the undisputed seiyuu queen of this type, Rie Kugimiya. As much of a completely uninspired character or even acting performance that makes Aria up, it is Kugimiya that makes this series even remotely palatable to watch. Sure we have seen her do this role dozens of times before but I for one really never grow tired of it. In that sense it is a thoroughly Kugimiya type performance that is right in her wheel house and one that she completely hits out of the park. The real question is how many people are, unlike me, totally sick and tired of it?
J.C. Staff is usually pretty solid with their animation and production values and that doesn't really change here. But a lot like Kugimiya, I suspect a great many viewers are becoming weary of seeing the same damn thing over and over again. It would be nice to see them try to stretch themselves sometimes and be unafraid to take some risks. The one thing that really did stand out to me was how utterly silly the various girls hid their weapons. Take Aria, who is a tiny girl with an impossibly short skirt yet somehow manages to hid 2 enormous pistols under it and yet not be constantly seen when she is not drawing them. In addition to the even more ridiculous dual katanas she hides, under her blouse. It seems Aria's clothes are a lot like Doctor Who's TARDIS: bigger inside than it appears from the outside. Not that this is the first time anime has played with physics before but this really seemed to stretch the realm of believability.
From an acting and sound standpoint, Hidan no Aria is very good. As mentioned I think Rie Kugimiya was in her element and delivered a very enjoyable performance. The rest of the cast played their parts as expected. The music was pretty exciting and good. I especially enjoyed May'n Scarlet Ballet.
I actually found a great amount of this series to be amusing, mostly because I am a Kugimiya fangirl. As nonsensical and clichéd as everything about this anime was there was plenty of amusement to be found in watching the characters act this way. But at the same time I am fully aware that pretty much everything else about this show is terrible. For that reason I can’t recommend it to anyone.
There was a time when I, too, had faith in J.C. Staff. I still do, actually. I’m stubborn. But try as I might to cling fondly to the days gone by, to classics like Azumanga Daioh and Excel Saga, even guilty pleasures like Shakugan no Shana, it seems that J.C. Staff is relentless in their efforts to drive me away. An admirable mission, that.
So here is Hidan no Aria. I’ll confess. I was excited. I have a soft spot for action harems, loathe though I am to admit it. I’m one of the last cynics in anime fandom who doesn’t completely loathe Rie Kugimiya (she’s not bad, she’s got range; it’s not her fault the squeal is what sells, and everybody’s got to pay the bills). Takashi Watanabe of Boogiepop and Shana was directing, and early promotional artwork looked…well, not promising, but certainly not the worst of the genre. I didn’t get my hopes up, but I expected the kind of show I could guiltily binge on and then tell all my friends I hated to keep up the elabourate façade that I am a man of taste.
All this is just so you know that I gave Aria a fighting chance.
With all that said, it’s bad. I mean it’s really bad. Not Togainu no Chi bad, but nowadays my attention can only be diverted from erotic fanfiction and 80’s movies to tear an especially terrible Japanese cartoon a new arsehole, because I like easy targets. So that’s the terminology we’ll settle on—especially terrible. And it is. It is a new low for J.C. Staff.
But I’ve beat around the bush long enough. Let’s get to the point.
The world of Hidan no Aria is one where the Butei, an elite international martial organisation, trains its members at the high school level. That’s right. In this world, international treaties on child labour are unheard of, and hundreds of parents see no issue with sending their children to a school where the use of firearms is not only commonplace, but required. Furthermore, the students of Tokyo Butei High—quite unlike my high school classmates, most of whom, by the time graduation rolled around, had yet to master the delicate art of pissing straight—perform incredibly well in this environment. Oh, but it’s not just the coursework they have to worry about. Butei High students must apply their lessons to real life when they are targeted by the Butei Killer—a criminal who sends high-speed Saw-esque murder puzzles after the teenage students. This individual has yet to be apprehended, as Butei graduates and all other law enforcement agents have better things to do than bother with a serial criminal with a rigidly-defined M.O. who regularly targets minors, and endangers civilians in the process. Yep.
Now, I wouldn’t still be watching anime if I had issues with suspending my disbelief, but would it really have been so hard to age the cast up four or five years, to college-age? The plot would remain practically untouched, and, really, it’s got nowhere to go but up. But I digress.
The rest of the plot involves a lot of looking at girls’ underwear (whether it is on their bodies or off), and some nonsense about Sherlock Holmes and other fictional characters (and at least one out-of-place historical figure) that is so astonishingly, mind-numbingly stupid that I have no words for it. Aspiring writers, hark! Don’t always stick with the first idea you get, because it is usually righteously fucking ridiculous.
The animators seem to stumble over the character designs despite the fact that they are not terribly complex. Characters are frequently off-model, and their movements are stiff and awkward. Their hair moves bizarrely, even by anime standards: when disturbed it jumps up suddenly at an odd angle and waves around for a while before jumping back into place. Fabric works much the same way. Inbetweens are practically non-existent, leading to movement that looks like jumpy cardboard rather than a fluid transition from one position to the next. Furthermore, all of J.C. Staff’s recent productions have had this weird kind of Gaussian-blur layer over every frame, making the outlines blurry and subdued. The animation isn’t awful, per se, but it’s mediocre at best.
I don’t have much to say on the show’s score. It’s boring. The themes are fast-paced, but forgettable and generic, while most of the background music kind of blurs together. The purpose of a soundtrack is to elicit emotional response and set the mood for a scene. Aria’s music is just kind of there because they had, like, way too much money and thought it would be cool to buy a composer. The vocal work is...well, you know what you’re getting. Rie Kugimiya puts on the sort of performance she is infamous for, Junji Majima is a forgettable harem lead, and the rest of the cast could all switch places and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The real beauty of Aria (and I mean that in the most bitter, sarcastic, miserable way) lies in its titular character. Aria H. Kanzaki is evil. I really mean it. She is a special kind of sadistic, childish evil, unfettered by the cautious try-hard some authors exhibit when writing adults. She is rotten to the core. She is spoilt, murderously violent, infinitely selfish, and utterly loathsome. If she were the antagonist, I might even be giving this show a positive review. I would be forced to tip my hat to an author so skilled at manipulating his readers that he can craft a character that summons such immediate distaste in everyone. I’m not a violent person, but I’d say she needs a bit of discipline in the form of a high-speed baseball bat to the mouth.
But she’s not the antagonist. She’s not even an easily-overlooked secondary character. Her name’s in the title. And we are supposed to love her. We are supposed to pile our disposable income on Blu-Rays and posters bearing her visage, on models of her likeness to sit precariously upon our shelves so that we can steal a peek at her plastic panties.
Aria H. Kanzaki is really the lowest the tsundere phenomenon can go. I don’t have anything against tsunderes, really. In fact, when written carefully and realistically, they are some of my favourite characters. Aria is not a tsundere. She’s a psychopath and a bully. She is hysterical, she is capricious, she is downright mean—she is everything that might lead a man (were he so inclined) to roll his eyes and scoff and say, “Women! Am I right?”
Which is a good segue into my next point.
I’m not mad at Aria, because she is a fictional character, and that would be silly. I am mad, however—frothingly so—at the author. Chuugaku Akamatsu has written a character who he believes to be a sympathetic woman. The audience is supposed to watch her temper tantrums and violent fits the same way we might watch an angry child, despite the fact that Aria is more than old enough to know better. Her fits of rage aren’t horrifying—they’re cute! This sort of behaviour is just the thing the author—and, he perceives, his audience—expects out of a woman.
Now, we could say that Aria’s temper—and, by extension, the exceedingly childish behaviour of most of the rest of the female cast—is just the author clumsily trying to write a realistically flawed character. People aren’t perfect, after all, and violently temperamental women (and men) do exist!
But I’m not stupid, and, hopefully, neither are you.
The author’s intent matters. The target audience matters. The moe phenomenon matters. Japanese society and its views on women matter. The context matters.
Look. I’m not saying that you’re a bad person if you enjoyed Hidan no Aria. Do what makes you happy. I’m not saying that you’re a bad person if you enjoy any fiction that carries some unfortunate implications in its characterisation of women, people of colour, GLBT people, or any minority—it’s perfectly possible for a story that is otherwise well-written to stumble a bit when it comes to political correctness (and I hate that fucking term, because it implies that treating other people like human beings should be done out of obligation and not common sense), and this is okay, as long as it is discussed. And I’m not trying to take away your titty anime. There are plenty of shows that reward the viewer with gratuitous unmentionables while at the same time sporting a cast of realistic, relatable, well-written female characters. In fact, if Hidan no Aria was a good show that happened to have a horrible female lead, I might not even mention it. Well, maybe in passing.
But Hidan no Aria is bad, and I hate it, and writing this review feels like a weight off my shoulders after nearly five hours wasted on this garbage. So I will mention it. And I did. And I think I’m done now. read more
This review for Hidan no Aria, or better known by its proper title, “ToraDora! Season 3”, will be based on opinions made after viewing episode one, as well as a brief summary of the first episode to be a little enlightening to those who may show interest.
TrDr!S3 takes place directly after the end of season one, when Ryuji and Taiga have reunited. They are now attending a school that teaches you how to be a child soldier, kind of like those kids in Somalia. Apparently they thought that was a good idea. It starts off with Ryuji being stalked by some girl who gave him an involuntary pet name and, for some reason, knows where he lives (and he clearly wasn’t too happy about that). Ryuji shoos the girl off like a stray cat and checks out some porn before he leaves for school when, oh no! He is late for school! Doushio~!?
So due to Mister Porn-Before-School being late because of his immoral actions, he gets a bomb placed on his bike, which was most likely from that stalker girl who needs to meet a nice train face-first. After a while, Taiga notices her husbando in danger and saves him. Afterwards, to thank his waifu for a job well done, Ryuji decides to have a little happy time with Taiga in the warehouse, but some rude robots, the porn haters from earlier, decided to cockblock him. But thanks to the awesome power of push-up bras that don’t work, and a hard-on, Ryuji goes in to alpha mode and takes them all out, then goes back to violating Taiga. After getting some, like a true bro, he decided to finally decided to go to school. Because it is completely necessary to watch porn and shag gun weilding lolis before going to class, am I right?
When Ryuji arrives at class, Taiga pretty much marks her territory right off the bat. “He’s my husbando, hands off, slags!” All of the girls were buttdevastated and all of them men were writhing in envy. After class is over, Ryuji goes home, and like a loyal waifu, Taiga follows Ryuji home and makes her place known and moves in. Because all married couples should live together. It is only natural, right? She also declares him her slave, though, which pretty much takes us back to the first part of ToraDora!, meaning we have gotten back to square one. Though it is probably just her way of being bashful.
So to summarise; Hidan no Aria is about lolis toting guns, men going in to alpha mode after experiencing arousal, and something about robots who apparently try to kill you after watching pornography before school. read more
This is bad, guys. I mean, it's really REALLY bad!
'Hidan no Aria' has just about every cliche harem elements in the book. The premise focusing on a special occupation to try to be unique, the characters strip and trip randomly for fan service, violent retribution for accidental infringement, archetype heroines, obvious tsundere stuttering, ordinary high school student with hidden special powers, protagonist is surrounded by girls who are crazy about him for no reason... I can go on and on.
The core premise is somewhat interesting. It's set in a school that trains mercenaries, and the students undergo various lethal training and get credits through actual missions. However, there are also a lot of stupid concepts going on, like all them being "butei" (combat detectives), the Hysteria Mode, and the fact that almost every character is descendent of a famous historical and fictional figures - Lupin the 3rd, Sherlock Holmes, Joan of Arc, Tooyama Kinshirou, Himiko, Count Dracula... it gets embarrassing to watch after a while.
The story consists of one improbable event after another. The character and villain's actions rarely make any sense. It gets so bad that a good guy would point the gun at the bad guy and say something like "there's no escape now", and the bad guy just runs without getting shot. I had no idea why this series needed to be about "detectives" as there were almost zero thinking going on. It's more like charge in first and see what happens next. It's also pretty absurd all the characters were carrying the gun and shoots around in the school campus, and of course, everything is bullet proof so no one gets hurt. The jokes get repetitive, with the protagonist getting into ecchi situation with random girls, and seen by one of the yandere/tsundere heroines and gets "kaza-ana".
Worst of all is the protagonist's "Hysteria Mode", which gets triggered from sexual arousal. This is the stupidest activation trigger I have ever heard, and serves only as a tool for fan service.
Art in this series is decent. The female characters are attractive, though extremely generic design. Character movement is very stiff and apparently low budget, but there are some nice slow motion action scenes that it's at least average quality in terms of animation.
The voicing for Aria is absolutely horrible, a stereotypical tsundere voice with zero distinction. Not only that, it gets seriously annoying after a while. Other characters' seiyuu were average at best. BGM is quite insignificant, and OP/ED were average.
There is nothing in 'Hidan no Aria' that sets it apart from hundreds of other harem series. It's obvious why a certain fansub group would trollsub a series like this, and in fact, the sound effects guys in this series started trolling in latter part of this series, like inserting sheep sounds at the mention of 「執事」, a word meaning "butler" but has similar pronunciation to Japanese word "sheep".
Admittedly, Riko's character was extremely hot both in design and personality, and ecchi in this series was decent. It's one of those series you watch to kill time, and see how bad it gets. B-But it's not like I enjoy watching this series or anything!read more
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