Aoharu x Kikanjuu (Aoharu x Machinegun) Episode 10 Review

Thanks For Playing

PROS

  • Fun and Lighthearted Opening (and the underlying tension).
He already is Yuki.

He already is Yuki.

To me, Aoharu x Kikanjuu has always been a light-hearted show about a group of friends who play survival games with each other. Yes I’m aware that there’s plenty of drama and intense scenes in the show, but nothing really ever felt too heavy for me and maybe that’s because a part of me never really bought AxK’s serious tone—ever since the first three episodes I always thought that the show was a little cheesy.

But cheesy or not, I still like this show and more recently (past episode six) I’ve grown to take the show more seriously, if just a bit. I no longer had these little groans I’d make whenever AxK tries to be cool, I was just along for the ride the whole time and was enjoying it.

Because Food Wars wasn't making me hungry enough!

Because Food Wars wasn’t making me hungry enough!

That said, though AxK goes back to a familiar and chummier tone for me, it was clear that this episode had plenty of intense dramatic scenes in it. The first half of the episode where Matsuoka, Yukimura and Hotaru were all having dinner was fun and amusing, but it was obvious that there were a lot of things not being said for a majority of that scene which helped make it uncomfortable.

Hotaru struggles to let it all out.

Hotaru struggles to let it all out.

I liked that a lot. Part of why I liked it was because if there’s one thing AxK does great and it’s having fun and likable characters (except maybe Matsuoka—not hating on him fangirls, it’s just compared to Yukimura, Fujimoto and Midori he’s kind of meh personality-wise). And it’s because I liked these characters a lot that even though we’re given a fun and charming dinner scene a part of me was worried what their glances and gloomy looks meant—and when Matsuoka inevitably kicked Hotaru off the group I was a little sad, and delighted.

Not because I wanted Hotaru off the team, no, I was delighted because it steered the show into a direction that’s a little less predictable… but we’ll get to that later.

Goodbye Hotaru.

Goodbye Hotaru.

  • Yukimura v. Matsuoka

After the dinner scene there was a little back and forth between Yukimura and Matsuoka. It wasn’t the most dramatic scene ever portrayed in an anime, but there was something about the way they argued (Yukimura mostly since Matsuoka just sulked) that I liked. It was a good scene where one friend talks some sense into someone he cares about to solve a problem, nothing more, nothing less, but I liked it all the same.

Oh Yuki you bad bad boy!

Oh Yuki you bad bad boy!

  • Comedy Is Still A Thing

And as always wit AxK, there was plenty of comedic scenes either from Fujimoto and Yukimura and this time these scenes blended in rather well with what was happening in the story. Though I did like how psychotic Hotaru was acting with all of her attempts to try and take Midori’s head.

  • THIS GUY
Maybe I'm just speculating too much, but who are you strange hooded man?

Maybe I’m just speculating too much, but who are you strange hooded man?

Who is that? So far we’ve only heard of an old female member of Toy Gun Gun, but now it’s revealed that maybe there was another ex-member of the team between the orange haired girl and Hotaru. The season’s almost over so I’m not sure what role this character will play, but I’m thoroughly intrigued.

CONS

  • Hotaru Interrupted

One complaint, and this really annoyed me: I found it irksome that Hotaru wasn’t able to speak her piece about her being a girl. I get that she was too scared to say any of it and that in order for the story to move to the direction it’s going at the moment they needed to hold off Hotaru revealing to Matsuoka and Yukimura her true gender, but man did it feel a bit forced and disappointing.

VERDICT

It was a good episode that went into directions that I wasn’t expecting and it didn’t hurt that it was very amusing and fun. Not much else to say about it right now, because there’s more questions than answers given to us–which I liked.

Score: 8/10

  • PROS
    • Fun, but tense dinner scene.
    • Yukimura v. Matsuoka.
    • Plenty of laughs.
    • A new direction?
  • CONS
    • Interrupting Hotaru.
I approve of this.

I approve of this.

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Aoharu x Kikanjuu (Aoharu x Machinegun) Episode 9 Review

Hotaru’s So Super Cool

PROS

  • The 2nd to 3rd Act Transition.

In almost every narrative (of any genre or medium), there’s a point in the story where the protagonist(s) would encounter some great force that would bring them to their knees and wallowing in despair. It’s the turning point in the story where we see our protagonist at their lowest and most vulnerable. And we always expect them to come out of this point in the story having learned their lesson and ready to face the villain a second time.

Using the Avengers as a quick reference, this is the scene in the movie where all hope seems to have been lost and the team torn apart—so after Loki’s little game of mayhem in the Helicarrier and during the part where Cap and Tony look a bit distraught and hopeless by their loss.

In a different show these would have been tentacles.

In a different show these would have been tentacles.

The very beginning of this episode showed us that Hotaru was greatly distraught by what’s happened in TGC. Her will has been shaken and she blames herself for their loss. But we expect her to get out of her stupor, if not this episode then maybe on the next one.

Hotaru don't!

Hotaru don’t!

This episode could have just depicted all three members of Toy Gun Gun dealing with defeat in their own separate ways without having any kind of resolution and I would have been fine with that. But instead the episode focused on Hotaru, which again I don’t mind. The episode revolved around her and her friend Kanae, who, despite being against Hotaru being a tomboy who enjoys survival games, decided to pick her friend back up and motivate her to stay true to herself.

I liked Kanae—we don’t know much about her, but we know enough. She’s Hotaru’s girly friend and that’s all we need to know about her character really. I liked both of their talks to each other and I buy Hotaru’s heel-turn back to being her old cool self again.

However… Even though I buy Hotaru’s heel-turn, the way Kanae decided to go about it (the 50-meter dash race bit) did feel a little hokey to me. Not that hokiness and cheesiness are alien to this show. But still, I couldn’t help but think that maybe they could have done something better.

Eh...

Eh…

  • Kanae Yajima

Side-Note: Everyone should just go gay in this show. Matsuoka should just go for Yukimura, Midori should have both Fujimoto and Ichi and Hotaru should just have Kanae. GAYNESS FOR EVERYONE!

I ship this.

I ship this.

  • Everyone Else Not Hotaru

Now speaking of those other characters, all their bits in this episode was very funny and amusing…

I want this manga.

I want this manga.

CONS

  • Pointless Scenes

… But ultimately pointless. I was fine with the length of Yukimura’s scene as the episode did establish a Hotaru focus early on, but I couldn’t help but think of how pointless the scenes with team Hoshishiro was. It was funny and amusing, but what was the point?

FANSERVICE!

FANSERVICE!

Now not every scene has to be riveting or even have a point, but the scenes with them just felt a bit too long for me—especially since we barely got any Matsuoka in this episode. And that’s probably why I’m peeved that there was so much more focus on Hoshishiro over him.

VERDICT

It wasn’t a bad episode by any means, but I didn’t like the lack of Yukimura and Matsuoka in it. The Hoshishiro scenes were funny and I like the Hotaru x Kanae speeches (but not the running thing too much). Still, I’m eager to see what happens next after all this.

Score: 7.5/10

  • PROS
    • Hotaru’s transition from depression to cool.
    • Kanae Yajima
    • Some funny scenes.
  • CONS
    • Racing bit.
    • Lack of Matsuoka and Yukimura.
Fujimon... You need help.

Fujimon… You need help.

Aoharu x Kikanjuu (Aoharu x Machinegun) Episode 8 Review

I WILL CONDEMN YOU!

PROS

  • Midori-Sensei (again!)

A well-written and sympathetic villain is often to be desired in a story to create greater tension and drama, but ultimately the villain needs to serve one crucial goal in the story, and that’s to be an obstacle for the protagonist(s) to overcome. Sometimes you don’t need a villain to be super fleshed out or even sympathetic to be a good character. Sometimes all you need is someone who seems impossible to overcome and someone that the viewers, readers or gamers to hate.

Midori-sensei: Sadist and overall jackass.

Midori-sensei: Sadist and overall jackass.

Midori-sensei has always had a very ominous air about him, but on episode 8 of Aoharu x Kikanjuu we see just why Matsuoka and Yukimura fears him so much. He’s a manipulative sadist who enjoys inflicting physical and emotional pain onto others—(not to mention a really skilled player in the survival games). And even though that’s all there is to him, that’s perfectly fine because it works. The past few episodes has done a great job of making all members of TGG to be very likeable and enjoyable to watch, and watching him torment Matsuoka and Yukimura is kind of hard to watch because we understand how much they hate this guy and how much pain he’s caused both of them in the past.

We want them to win because we like Matsuoka and Yukimura and when they lose to the doctor it’s kind of sad.

  • Hotaru Tachibana Versus Nagamasa Midori
PEW! PEW!

PEW! PEW!

After watching the fight between Hotaru and Fujimoto, I expected the fight between Hotaru and Midori-sensei to be as intense or better. And though I’m not sure if I’d say this battle was better, I still enjoyed it a lot. It showed that Hotaru can go toe to toe with Midori and it showed (though we’ve already seen it multiple times) just how much Hotaru cares about Matsuoka and Yukimura, but it also showed that she’s still very much open to being exploited and tormented by the sadistic doctor. He knows that she’s a girl and he knows that if Matsuoka and Yukimura finds out they might kick him out of the group and he uses this knowledge to his advantage—and uses it in a cheap and very underhanded way, as expected from Midori’s character.

It caught her off guard. Hotaru got sniped by Ichi. Midori’s team won. It’s a bit of a downer ending yes, but it’s that point in the story where the characters encounter some sort of dark period in their life that they need to overcome in order to move on and be better people. I’m not sure how each member of Toy Gun Gun’s going to come out of defeat, but it’s clear that every one of them has issues that they need to let go if they want to win against Hoshishiro.

JUSTICE!

JUSTICE!

  • Matsuoka’s Past With Midori

Minus the previous female member of TGG being tortured, we learn in this episode that Matsuoka and Midori were once really good friends—which I thought was a great addition for Yaoi fans out there. But I also thought that this added more to both of their characters as well as Yukimura’s. Minus the torment done to them in the past, now there’s a backstabbing/betrayal element to it that makes things between Toy Gun-Gun and Hoshishiro even tense!

That's adorable.

That’s adorable.

CONS

  • Time

The one complaint I have for this episode is that there were some lulls in it for me. I’m thinking mostly back to when Midori was torturing Matsuoka and Yukimura. I know that I praised the doctor for his sadistic ways and effectiveness as a villain and I’m not complaining about this because I felt bad for our protagonists and couldn’t stand to watch them be tormented. No, I’m complaining about this because I got bored watching it. The scene felt like it went too long for me to the point of boredom. It did what it had to for the story fairly quickly, but I guess they just felt the need to show more of it and frankly it didn’t work. I’m not saying that they should have just made the fight between Hotaru and Midori longer instead, no, I believe that most of the time less is better. Too much of a good thing can be sickening or, in this case boring. Maybe they should have made the fight between Matsuoka and Midori last a little bit longer instead, mostly just for pacing really. Still, the episode was still all pretty good and enjoyable as a whole.

There should have probably been more Yukimura or Matsuoka fighting against Midori.

There should have probably been more Yukimura or Matsuoka fighting against Midori.

VERDICT

It was a good episode overall. Probably not as enjoyable as the previous one, but I still liked it a lot and even with the lull in the former half of the episode I still had fun. This was more of a character centric episode, but the pacing and timing wasn’t handled too effectively. Either make the Matsuoka fight longer or maybe delve deeper into the flashback stuff.

Score: 8.5/10 Great!

  • PROS
    • Midori-sensei as a bad guy.
    • Hotaru versus Midori
    • More Midori stuff from the past.
  • CONS
    • Lulls in the first half.
Don't worry Hotaru, you'll get him next time!

Don’t worry Hotaru, you’ll get him next time!

Aoharu x Kikanjuu (Aoharu x Machinegun) Episode 7 Review

Toy Gun Gun Versus Hoshishiro!

Pros

  • Midori-san
Midori-san: Doctor by day, sadist by noon and probably booty hunter by night.

Midori-san: Doctor by day, sadist by noon and probably booty hunter by night.

Midori-San isn’t my favorite character in the show, but I do enjoy him as a villain. I love his murderous aura and I love his absolute cockiness—and I thought it was hilarious how Ichi and Fujimoto just swooned over him when he told them how he wants to just straight up destroy Matsuoka’s crew.

  • Sniper Battle
Yukimura of Toy Gun Gun: Manga artist, sniper, loyal friend and creepy pervert.

Yukimura of Toy Gun Gun: Manga artist, sniper, loyal friend and creepy pervert.

I thought that the sniper battle between Yukimura and Ichi was absolutely awesome and fun. I enjoyed their little chess game and how they both kept trying to outsmart and outmaneuver each other. But… as awesome that fight was… I didn’t think that it was as awesome as Hotaru’s duel with Fujimoto.

Ichi Akabane: Hiroshiro's adorable psycho nurse and sniper.

Ichi Akabane: Hoshishiro’s adorable psycho nurse and sniper.

  • Hotaru Vs. Fujimoto

Let me start by saying that I love short battles just as much as I like long and epic battles. But maybe more. They don’t take up too much screen time-and they don’t get in the way of the story and if done right, a short battle ought to do the following…

  1. A good battle scene done right should show off our protagonist’s skills.
  2. Depending on the show and characters involved, there needs to be a high degree tension.
  3. And lastly, it needs to be enjoyable and fun.

The Hotaru vs. Fujimoto fight did all of this right for me.

The fight alone showed what Hotaru can do and did an amazing job of setting up Fujimoto as the Assault Destroyer—and based on the stuff show on the episode I bought it.

The tension was also there. It’s obviously not as heart pounding as a battle between rivals might have since this is the first time these characters have met, but regardless, Fujimoto still proved to be a worthy adversary for our protagonist. He was a believable threat and when Hotaru faced off with him and took him head-on, it was intense and exciting.

Takatora Fujimoto: Assault Destroyer and uke.

Takatora Fujimoto: Assault Destroyer and uke.

Which brings me to the fun factor and enjoyment one gets out of a show… I had a lot of fun with this episode overall, and this duel was definitely one of the main reasons why I enjoyed it… In fact, Hotaru’s duels with people are the main reason why I watch this show.

DIE, ASSAULT DESTROYER!

DIE, ASSAULT DESTROYER!

  • Teamwork

I have a number of issues with AxK, but the one thing that I always liked about this show was the relationship and chemistry of each TGG member.

Many stories, and this isn’t exclusive to just anime, that has a group dynamic to them tend to force this bond between characters. There’s usually the illusion of friendship and camaraderie that the show wants to trick viewers into believing…

But in AxK I don’t see that…I buy the relationships between each member of TGG and believe how much they like and care for each other.

Toy Gun Gun: Poor quality art, but great quality chemistry.

Toy Gun Gun: Poor quality art, but great quality chemistry.

Cons

I don’t really know if there was anything I didn’t like in this episode… It did everything it could and it’s gotten me real excited for the next episode. Still, it’s not perfect or a masterpiece.

Verdict

This episode was everything that the latter half of the series has been setting up—Hotaru gets to experience her first TCG and it’s just as epic as the show promised. Now I can’t wait for them to show us how deadly awesome the battle against Midori-san’s going to be.

Score

9/10 – Excellent!

  • Pros
    • Midori-san
    • Sniper Battle
    • Hotaru vs. Fujimoto
    • Teamwork and Group Chemistry
Hoshishiro!

Hoshishiro!

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