The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Hidan no Aria

Title: Hidan no Aria aka Aria the Scarlet Ammo
Genre: Action
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 15 Apr 2011 – 1 Jul 2011

Synopsis: Toyama Kinji has a problem. Someone went through the trouble of planting a bomb on his bike, forcing him to peddle with all his might or lose the better part of the lower half of his body. Why would anyone go through such trouble? Is it because Kinji attends an exclusive high school for assassins in Tokyo, or is it because he is a descendant of a famous clan of assassins? None of this really matters unless the flat-chested firecracker Aria H. Kanzaki can save Kinji in time.

The Highlights
The male protagonist: A person with the real skills and balls to get himself a harem.
The female protagonist: Imagine if Kugimiya Rie is your wife nagging you about everything that could possibly go wrong in life.
Animation: Pretty slick, but severely outgunned by Hollywood.

How do you take a cliched Hollywood action movie and make it three times worse? Simple, you make an anime of it.

Of course, a native cut of a Western action movie wouldn’t sell well in Japan, so the creators of Hidan no Aria decided to add a tsundere moe loli, a silent short haired girl and an obsessive shrine maiden. While I initially thought that Hidan no Aria was merely below average, I realized that watching the show was like drinking poison, and the only reason I didn’t initially notice was because I was consuming it in small weekly doses. It wasn’t until I sat down and thought about what I had just watched that the concoction burned through my organs.

From the very beginning the show rips off the scenario from Speed, and its originality only goes downhill from there. About half the series can legitimately function as scenes from Hollywood action movies, and the other half is ripped straight off the manual of anime harem tropes. The problem is that Hidan no Aria has to compete against a 700 page catalogue of action movies on one side and what is effectively every other anime that came out the last decade on the other. Rather than crafting a unique synergy between the two elements, the show gets crushed on both ends, leading to a rather dismal viewing experience.

Hidan no Aria seems to take a Michael Bay approach to its horrible script. Rather than hiring competent writers and going through several revisions of the story, it instead blows all the budget on strong action sequences to cover up its jarring weaknesses. The problem is that while the action is good for an anime, there are dozens of $100 million Hollywood action extravaganzas that have mastered how to make shooting guns look so awesome that an animated version of it feels tired and cheap. All those nifty visuals of guns being fired in the show simply don’t stack up against the gun battles in Terminator 2, The Matrix, or hell, even The Transporter movies.

To the show’s credit, the series chooses to go with a manly lead character, which is not completely uncommon in J.C. Staff harem anime, but rare enough in the genre itself to be worth noting. The problem is that the lead tsundere loli, Aria, has been made even more unbearable and unreasonable to “balance” out the dynamic. Usually, the tsundere responds to some character flaw or perversion of the character, but I really have to ask “what character flaws”? Kinji is about as damn near perfect man you can realistically expect. He’s a few sparkles away from a bishounen and has Golgo 13’s accuracy with pretty much any fire arm. It’s a shock to me that he has not pulled a Makoto and banged every other girl in his school, because he could have both scored and not had to deal with the constant whining and nagging of Aria (though bullet to the head ending is probable).

If Kugimiya Rie voicing a tsundere loli in a Hollywood action movie is your fetish, then boy have I got a custom tailored recommendation for you. If not, then feel free to get smashed and watch a video of Terminator 2 overlaid with the audio of Zero no Tsukaima‘s Louise whining. I assure you that you’ll have a better time with this than Hidan no Aria.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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