Kiss kiss, bang bang! The arms race takes on a startling new development when the arms come with heads, legs and very feminine bodies attached!
Yes, at Seishou Academy every girl is literally a lethal weapon, and they're all gunning for the top shot at getting their own personal serviceman! Needless to say, it's going to be difficult for newly recruited human instructor Genkoku to adjust to working with a living arsenal of high caliber cuties with tricky names like FNC (Funko) M 16A4 (Ichiroku) L85A1 (Eru) and SG 550 (Shigu). Especially since many have hair triggers and there's no bulletproof vest that can stop a really determined coed! He'll have to rewrite the operator's manual on student/teacher relationships, and pray that his job description won't include having to field strip and reassemble one of his cadets in the dark. But unfortunately (for him) FNC's already thinking about becoming HIS personal weapon, and she usually gets what she aims for!
Upotte is an anime with beautiful premises that teaches us the importance of assault rifles, nah I’m just messing with you, Upotte is an anime cliché that has appeared in several other anime that came out during 2012. As you may have known, we are currently in a sort of era of anime that has lasted for over few years now, right after famous cute comedies such as K-On and Lucky Star came out, I call this era the moe era. In my opinion, Upotte is just one of those anime that try its best to be one of those cute comedy masterpieces, only adding
one different aspect that K-On and Lucky Star don’t have… assault rifles and another thing that we see oh so common in anime these days, fan service.
When I first watched Upotte, I felt as if I was transported to the last few years of my childhood where the big kid elementary schoolers were required to learn about the gloriousness of puberty. And if you don’t know, is not something most people my age probably enjoyed. Upotte ended up using the right amount of strange fan service to make me feel as if I was watching a puberty video on assault rifles, this time mixing the mysteries of the female body with the parts of a variety of assault rifles. As a result, my body was in no way ready and if I was a man, I would probably have as they call, “the weirdest boner right now.” That my friends were one of the most weirdest and perverted 25 minutes of my adolescence.
Now there was only one reason for watching this anime, and it was merely to increase the number of anime I watch. But I did something I totally regret when watching this anime, I used my brain. Upotte is an anime that does not require you to use any percentage of your brain in order to understand the plot which in a way is a pro and a con. So when I watched further and further of the anime I just turned off my brain and stared at my laptop probably looking like a hormonal boy when he stares at a girl in a bikini.
The first half of Upotte mostly focuses on getting to know the main characters in their comedic lifestyle as preteen girl guns. This of course may be quite hilarious and enjoyable for some people; however it was nothing to talk to your friends about. What I mostly enjoyed in this anime were the facts given to us on what type of guns these girls are, and as a result, I can now tell you useless information about the history of these guns. For example, the gun L85A1 was a defective gun created by Britain since they were so behind in military weaponry. Another thing I greatly enjoyed about this anime was its serious moments it has, they are small, but they give you goose bumps. Lastly, the most enjoyable thing about this anime was its childish way of introducing guns. Usually when you think of anime with guns, you’d probably think of a blood bath or maybe a war scene, but Upotte introduces these guns in a very fun and fresh way, while still having action packed moments.
The music in Upotte is relatively peaceful and upbeat, but it is definitely not the best. I didn’t find it to enjoyable and is most of the time skipable. The same goes for the art and animation as well, however, they did add a lot of small and extra details on the weaponry making it look intricate and amazing looking.
Upotte is one of those anime that are boring in the very beginning, but gets better and better as it progresses further into the story until we hit the climax and it just falls downhill from there, or we just don’t get a real ending where people are satisfied of the outcome. I honestly would not recommend this anime to anyone unless they just want to get some cheap laughs or if their bored out of their mind. But if you do plan to watch Upotte, don’t think. Lastly, I recommend that you do not watch this anime yet if you haven’t gone through puberty or have just started it.
Just mentioning the mere premise of Upotte is probably going to be enough to put the vast majority of people of from watching it, unless you’re the kind of person who has gone through enough classical conditioning to be immune to what ever the minds of the people of Japan could throw up next, then you may as well try to forget Upotte’s name entirely and just leave it at that.
At a glance Upotte may just appear to be your typical clichéd Japanese school girl anime, but there’s a catch, a safety catch, the girls who appear to be your pretty standard anime school
girl aren’t in fact girls at all. Their guns.
Every aspect of the characters, be it their appearance, nationality, eating habits, what they wear, their relationships with other characters, how confident they are and even how the react to certain environments both physically and socially is entirely dependant on the gun model that they just happen to be. Subsequently, this can lead to a lot of humour of the eye rolling variant as Thompson submachine gun is given large breasts as a result of a large drum magazine and a T91 assault rifle is given a g-string as a result of an adjustable stock.
It’s worth noting that not all the characterisations of the guns are this perverse, there does exist other parallels such as height dependant on gun type and family relations influenced by manufacturer. This said, more often then not, the aspects that Upotte wish’s to bring to light are often perverse.
This taken into consideration, one thing I can assure you is that if you have not had any previous experience either in the military or owning a firearm, then your going to learn about guns, and your going to do so in a way that you probably never though that you would. Beyond the aforementioned character interactions, Upotte often takes the time to deviate away from what plot there may be in the episode to explain gun history, varying ammunition sizes, what purpose certain gun types have and other pieces of gun related information. While it may seem odd to call Upotte educational, given its niche subject matter, odds are you will probably come out knowing more then you did going in.
But Upotte doesn’t have its sights focused solely on teaching you about guns, as mentioned, this is an anime about school girls and their varying emotional happenings with one another. The main characters of Funco, Sixteen, Elle and Sig (respectively a FN FNC, M16A4, L85A1 and an SG 550) provide a varying amount of characteristics. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses ranging from the cocky and brash to the shy and humble. All of the characters are fairly likeable at face value but throughout the series there is very little development to their characters.
What’s worse is that Upotte has a habit of introducing new characters that serve no purpose other then to fill up time during the episodes, they are incredibly shallow in character and their interactions between themselves and the main characters feel poorly thought out. The only exception to this is Japanese Teacher (note this is how he is referred to through the entire series), a recurring character throughout the entire show and the only one aware to how odd it is that the girls are all assault rifles. His casual interactions with the girls provide some light-hearted comedic moments aside from his interactions with FN FNC which range from dull to emotional in a way that doesn’t quite work. While not a hugely likeable character he does fit quite well into the show as he finds himself questioning just what is normal anyway?
This said, there is one big draw to Upotte and its characters, at times the show can be very funny, while I’m sure that its type of humour won’t appeal to all, but there where times when I found myself pausing the video to laugh out loud, not because it was so poorly executed but because it was honestly funny. There are jokes that were lost in translation and others that only the most grizzled of gun enthusiasts will get, but there are many that are pointlessly hilarious and unsurprisingly, often involved the imaginative use of guns.
In contrast to this though, and as a result of this being a show about guns, there are five episodes housing two over arching storylines with an emphasis on action sequences not seen in the rest of the show. The action sequences aren’t really anything to behold, they aren’t animated any better then the rest of the show and most shots really boil down to a character standing still firing a gun. Instead their entertainment value derives from an emphasis on realism, seeing the characters work together as teams to accomplish a goal, executing plans laid out by one another and working around their flaws holds some undeniable charm and the setting contrasts well as it explores the characters enough to further their likeability.
But as mentioned, these sequences suffer from a similar issue that the rest of the show falls under, an impossibly average animation quality. The animation is rarely ever smooth even in times when the show could easily benefit from it, and during certain frames the characters might appear off model which is also a big downer. This isn’t aided by the mediocre art direction that the show takes, while the gun’s do look nice and it’s quite clear that there has been a decent amount of effort put in place to get them to that stage, the background art just remains purely functional throughout, I never found myself even noticing it, and while this could makes sense from a composition stand point to draw attention else where, the show never takes advantage of this opportunity and suffers as a result.
Where Upotte really suffers however is in how it’s earned its age rating of 17+. Through out the show there are many scenes taking place in bath rooms. While the interactions between the characters are appropriately casual for good friends, the amount of nudity in these scenes, while never explicit, feels forced and contrast's with the feel of the show somewhat. This isn’t aided by the near constant panty shots throughout the show which again, feel forced. Other pandering’s to fan service include the unexplained cat ears and tails on AK-47’s, the unexplained dog ears and tail on a Galil and the unexplained elf ears on a Finnish rifle (das racist).
I understand that such things like cat ears are common place in anime, but the creators of Upotte realised that they could get away with just about anything so long as they provide some half arsed justification for it, in all the cases I mentioned above, no parallels are drawn between the guns and these features so in all cases it just feel's like the creators where trying to expand their audience as much as possible by appealing to varying sexual fetishes. One scene in particular depicting a sadistic lesbian Sako Rk. 95, contains content of a masturbatory nature and it feels neither well executed nor consistent with the feel of the rest of the show. While nothing on show throughout Upotte’s length can be considered flat out gun porn, the show does dip near to such low’s and consistently doesn't benefit as a result.
In short Upotte is not all that great, but what is has going for it you won’t find executed is such a fashion elsewhere, when it’s good, it is thoroughly enjoyable, don’t go into it expecting a masterpiece, but at only 10 episodes long, it’s hardly going to waste much of your time either.
Continuing on with girls with guns month, Upotte is an ongoing manga that started in '09. Written by Tennouji Kitsune. In 2012, Xebec, the studio behind Bakuretsu Hunters, Bottle Fairy, Mnemosyne & Rinne no Lagrange, to name a few, released a ten episode ONA based on the manga. I have no idea what to expect from it. So let's just take a look and see how it compares to their other works. At the very least, it's probably better than Mnemosyne but that isn't saying much.
Our tale takes place in Seishou Academy, a school where all the students are guns who can wield their more
literal forms. Our protagonists are FNC (nicknamed Funko,) L85A1 (Eru,) SG550 (Shigu,) & M16A4 (Ichiroku.) Things get strange for them when they get a human teacher who doesn't know much about guns or what to expect. Shenanigans ensue.
Let's start with the big flaw with the series. It comes across as someone's fetish project. There's a lot of heavily sexualised stuff based around the girls being guns. And by a lot, I mean that this anime is almost on the level of Strike Witches. Which is odd both because the girls are guns and because the main cast is in middle school. I'd kind of like to converse with Tennouji to hear them try to justify themselves. But I also don't because I get the feeling they're the type who breathes heavily and drools for no discernible reason. Another issue with the series is that there are a bunch of segments that just talk about gun specs. Which is going to be boring unless you happen to have a major gun fetish like Tennouji. The humour itself is pretty lacklustre. While it has some funny moments, they're over-shadowed by a lot of dumb, predictable jokes. Like FNC shooting at her teacher because he mentions her undergarments. Which he kind of deserves since no teacher should be fixated on that to any degree.
About the best I can say about the series is that it has its aforementioned funny moments. It also has some nice, cute moments here and there. Usually involving Shigu and her feelings towards Funko.
There's not much to say about the cast. In spite of the “twist” of them being guns, they're a blatantly bog-standard batch for a slice of life series. The interactions with the teacher do get annoying quickly, and the interactions in general aren't as good for comedic purposes as certain better written slice of life works though.
To its credit, the character designs are pretty distinct and there's a lot of detail put into the guns. Unfortunately, it also suffers from a lot of excessive, tasteless shots of the girls in a state of undress and shots that put the focus firmly on their bums and bosoms. Learn how to have class, Xebec. The backgrounds also gravitate towards lazy.
The voice acting is pretty average. They aren't brilliant, but they aren't bad either. Which may be more the result of the characters being archetypes without much to them than the actresses themselves. The music was handled by Hashimoto Yukari, who also worked on the composition of Yuri Kuma Arashi, Mawaru Penguindrum & Strike Witches. All in all, it's decent enough.
There is quite a bit. Shigu is heavily implied to have romantic feelings for Funko, Ichiroku gropes other girls. There are several other girls who are shown to have romantic interest in other girls including Galil AR towards AR18 & both AUGA1 and SAKO RK95 towards Funko.
So, how does Upotte ultimately hold up? Not particularly well. It suffers from a lot of tasteless, sleazy moments. The comedy is pretty weak. The characters are stock. Ultimately, there's just not much to recommend it. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week I'll finish girls with guns month with a look at El Cazador de la Bruja.
I don't usually write reviews, but I feel like this is an absolute must. As someone that enjoys a fair amount of anime, I don't think I have ever seen a story this awful.
The characters didn't deserve to be put in such a bad plot.
The jokes for the most part are good, but the actual content of the anime, and the gimmick of the anime don't make sense. Without giving any spoilers, there are times where the characters in the anime will do things that don't make logical sense when considering what they are suppose to be. It feels like the writers had
a hard time deciding what properties they wanted to give the girls/guns based on what gun their character was based on. What starts of as a very informative and interesting anime, ends up being far far worse.
Especially towards the end characters are seen doing things that for the rest of the anime they either could not do, or would be out of character to attempt. This left me with a bad taste in my mouth, after thoroughly enjoying the vast majority of the previous episodes.
If there was no overarching plot, and was simply an ecchi anime, it would of been great. However they attempt to tie something together haphazardly at the end, that ends up completely ruining what was otherwise an excellent anime. If you want a good laugh, and don't care about a terrible attempt at story telling, you will enjoy it. Anyone cannot stand plot holes or just straight up nonsensical conflict resolution is better of watching something else.