Aria is a volatile girl who wields two pistols and two swords and holds the highest rank in assault studies at a high school for young mercenaries. This pint-sized prodigy swoops in to save her classmate Kinji from a high-speed chase, but he ends up saving her after he switches from a boring wimp into a total hot shot! His secret? He only turns into something of a James Bond when he’s turned on!
Convinced Kinji’s an ace, Aria strong-arms him into being her partner – but she isn’t the only femme fatale who wants a taste of his coveted combat skills. Aria gets Kinji for one mission, but he’ll end up with more than one finger on his trigger!
Aria of the Scarlet Ammo proved to be an unexpected pleasure. First it was funny right out of the gate with a tongue in cheek and sarcastic anti-hero playing up one of the oldest tried and true openings in an anime or manga story (girl falls from sky onto boy). Kinji however wants to be anything but a hero. In fact, despite being in the elite Butei academy, where people are trained to be independent detectives with deadly skills and investigative techniques, he wants to transfer. He comes from a well known family in Butei circles but since the death of his brother, could do without Butei society and the killer lifestyle. None of that changes when he meets Aria.
Aria is a pistol packing hothead that wants Kinji as her partner to find the Butei serial killer and take out the secret shadow organization known only as I-U. They framed her mother and she plans on proving her mom’s innocence and using Kinji to do it. Kinji however has other plans, like transferring. He also has a secret: when a woman gets him overly aroused, he goes into Hysteria Mode and becomes a different personality that turns out to be an ace Butei. He might have been able to skedaddle to another school if only he wasn’t surrounded by lovely femmes fatales everywhere. First there is Aria, she may be young looking but she’s Kinji’s age and has caught his eye already. Then ether’s quiet and submissive Shiroyuki. She turns out not to be so subdued when it comes to another woman moving in on Kinji. Episode six is particularly entertaining when Aria and Shiroyuki have it out, pistol versus sword all in the tight confines of Kinji’s apartment. There is also the sexually aggressive Rico who has a set of deadly skills and a deadlier arsenal of secrets. Poor Kinji never stood a chance of laying low and getting out of Butei school.
This could have played out like your average harem comedy. It doesn’t. Instead if offers some strong character development and intrigue in the very first story arc. The arc spans the first five episodes and some of the questions raised in it create the foundation that drives the show until the end.
One of the interesting facets was how various characters are descendants of great literary figures. For example, one girl is the descendant of Sherlock Holmes, another of Lupin the Third. Also some characters have supernatural abilities. Add in remote controlled bombs on vehicles, a homage to Speed, and assassins everywhere along with a bevy of fatal secrets and equally fatal beauties about, and Aria is an anime that packs a lot more than pistols – it packs a dammed entertaining story as well.
The anime goes through a few arcs that reveal more about the main characters around Kinji as well as making allusions regarding the truth about his brother’s death. It would have been even more fulfilling if it would have answered some of the questions it raised regarding I-U and its members. Nevertheless the show stands well on its own.
The animation by J.C. Staff (Shakugan no Shana, Revolutionary Girl Utena) offers great visual fluidity to the numerous action scenes in Aria. It offers often sharply done nighttime cityscapes, exciting action and keeps the action coming. There are great fights involving shoot-outs, hand-to-hand combat, and knife fights as well as a sword duel at one point. Fights also occur in various areas: on the ground, while vehicles are moving at high speed, on a plane, on a rooftop, and on a boat. On the comedic side, they have a lot of fun with Kinji’s hysteria problem, putting in well played shots of the girls at the right time to flip him into his super-spy mode.
The sound editing was excellent, particularly in episode six which showed a wide range of entertaining and brilliant use of sounds to augment the comedy fantastically. The show also contains a high octane opening theme song called Scarlet Ballet. The rock and roll ending theme Camellia no Hitomi keeps the energy high as well.
There are a number of bonus features including the US trailer, original Japanese commercials, promotional video, clean opening and ending animation, trailers of other FUNimation titles as well as audio commentary by the English cast and crew on two key episodes. Episode 4 contains commentary with Luci Christian (Rico) and Todd Haberkorn (Kinji). Episode 6 includes the return of Todd Haberkorn as he is joined by Zack Bolton (ADR Director) and Leah Clark (Aria).
A Hell of a good time! An anime about girls with guns that keeps the action sizzling and the viewer on the edge of their seats in laughter and suspense!
- Released By: FUNimation Entertainment
- Available on BLU-RAY + DVD Combo Pack
- Running Time: 300 minutes
- Rating: TV – 14
- Release Date: 10/23/2011
- Reviewed By: Holly Ellingwood