Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions > Hidan no Aria Episode 1 – Pretty Guns, Pretty Girls, Pretty Boring

Hidan no Aria Episode 1 – Pretty Guns, Pretty Girls, Pretty Boring

Oh, the harem action series: How I have despised you. How I have complained about your stupid plots, your insipid girls, and your annoying male leads.

Hidan no Aria is yet another of those shows where some male protagonist gets roped into a complex conspiracy which connects him with a collection of beautiful action girls who alternate between loving him and hating him, but always are focused solely on him. This show is replete with stereotypes and false starts, and although the show provides a relatively unique take on the whole reluctant hero thing, it brings as much harm as good.

Whoever the Butei killer is, he needs to abandon overdone death traps and read the Evil Overlord List. Specifically item number four

The show begins in media res (which seems to be a popular technique this season) with protagonist Kinji Tooyama doing a replay of the B-action flick Speed on his bicycle. He is rescued by the petite Aria H. Kanzaki, and it’s there where things begin to get a little odd.

Kinji, we discover, is a member of an elite high school which trains future agents of a law enforcement agency called Butei. As the group is mercenary in nature and seems accountable to the government only by a small number of checks, it’s resented by many, and just recently a serial killer who was targeting Butei members was apprehended.

If you're wondering how Aria's clothes stay in place here, join the club

Kinji soon discovers that some copycat is still in force, although why said killer didn’t just gun him down rather than play a sick game with him, or how Aria knew about it and was in place to do a paradrop rescue, is unknown. The point is that she rescues him by shooting the gun scooter tracking him from midair and then flipping upside down and picking him up off his bike. Not because of that, but because of how they tumble to a halt, he winds up with a full view of her with shirt peeled up.

Given the extent that the show takes the magic skirt principle to heart, it’s odd that no similar discretion is used for bras, but perhaps that just goes to show where the creator’s particular fetish lies. Needless to say, Kinji’s inadvertent peeking leads to the inevitable rage on Aria’s part about how perverted Kinji is, which is just as predictable as it is mind-numbing. Will anime ever get over the accidental grope/peek/strip trope? (The answer, of course, is no.)

There's some censoring of Aria's chest, but that will go away with the DVDs. More to the point is the emphasis on Aria wearing a push-up bra, and Kinji's commentary that it doesn't seem to be working

Thankfully, that’s all cut short by more gun scooters, which put both of them into life-threatening danger. But it’s as Aria’s chest is planted firmly in Kinji’s face while she returns fire (don’t ask) that things get really bizarre.

Kinji was a reluctant member of Butei who was planning to transfer out. But apparently he has a condition where, in situations of extreme stress or stimulation, he suffers a complete personality change and becomes a suave,  ultracompetent badass whose mannerisms seem more in line with shoujo wish fulfillment. Kinji not only dodges the bullets from several uzi-mounted scooters but returns fire by sending a bullet down the nozzle of each submachine gun.

If I wanted this level of ridiculous skill in a male lead, I'd watch Special A. Kinji even looks like a bishie when he's in "hysteria mode"

This transformation also provides us with a protagonist other than the standard reluctant hero, if only for a time. But by having this transformation (which is frankly stupid on its own merits), Hidan no Aria can have both the reluctant, why-must-all-this-cool-stuff-happen-to-me hero and the alpha male at the same time, and in the same person. That is, it adds another layer of wish-fulfillment for the audience: not only is the ordinary guy swept along for a grand adventure, he gets to transform into something other than ordinary whenever it’s time to be cool.

And to think this series is anything other than wish-fulfillment is to completely miss the point. This comes out most clearly in the girls: Aside from the classic tsundere Aria, we have Shirayuki Hotogi playing the role of the utterly servile and extraordinarily busty childhood friend and Riko Mine serving as the equally busty class ditz. At least Aria’s tsundere nature left her with some natural source of dignity, even if she promptly squanders it by moving into Kinji’s apartment; the latter two girls are masturbation aids pure and simple.

Shirayuki is reduced to tears at the prospect of not being able to serve Kinji's every need. There may well be some attempt to provide a reason for this behavior, but I'm not going to wait around to hear it

The only real distinguishing feature to the production, aside from a protagonist with James Bond as his alternate personality, is the extraordinary love the show devotes to showing off the firearms. Not just the Uzis but every handgun and rifle looks to be detailed down to the finest degree. All Butei members are required to go around school armed with both firearms and blades, so expect to see plenty of both in the episodes to come.

That is, if you bother to watch any further episodes; if you do, it won’t be from my endorsement. Hidan no Aria, despite a few occasional nods in the direction of originality, feels like a basic hack job done by people who just aren’t trying anymore. Given my opinion of J.C. Staff’s recent track record with harem action series, this is hardly a surprise.

Someone on the animation team takes real delight in firearm detailing

A part of me really wanted to like this show: I have an admitted soft spot for Rie Kugimiya, and this show reunites her with her Toradora costar Junji Majima. Both their talents are completely wasted here. So’s your time, if you choose to spent it watching this.

Advertisements
  1. cuc
    May 14, 2011 at 5:28 am

    This show is awkward. I found Ep 1 actively horrible. Later I tried to watch it and enjoy it with a “so bad it’s good” mindset, but simply became bored.

    Still, I highly recommend looking up spoilers of the light novel, because its plotting and world design is legitimately “so bad it’s good”, made of pure, distilled retardedness from beginning to end, unlike Index/Railgun whose ideas can actually sound interesting on paper.

    A forum post that highlights one major twist:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=13028503180A10058100&page=4

    The Hidan no Aria wiki:
    http://hidannoaria.wikia.com/

    • threeheadedmonkeys
      May 14, 2011 at 6:42 am

      Having read through the forum, I think the commenter who said “Reading each of those plot twists made me want to shoot myself” has it about right. (Granted, this is coming from the guy who liked the Read or Die OVA, so perhaps my ability to tolerate silliness has declined with age.)

      Thanks for the links, though. It’s nice to know I was right to dismiss the series.

  1. July 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: