I am going to strongly suggest that you work through the first couple of episodes of this show. There is an interesting tale to be told, but “Aoharu x Kikanjū” (“Aoharu x Machinegun”) starts off in frighteningly familiar territory that can cause a lot of people to hit the silk on it when they see it. I will explain…
Hotaru Tachibana (in the center) is a high school student and a ‘champion of justice’. There is no crime that goes unnoticed, no misdeed that goes unpunished. A shining beacon of truth amid a sea of despair, where one can turn their weary eyes for help. Hotaru then learns that a friend was fleeced at a local host club of all her money. Enraged beyond belief, the club is stormed and a pitched battle is engaged with Hotaru and the target of the anger and frustration, Masamune Matsuoka (to the left). The ensuing battle causes a huge amount of financial damages in the club, so Hotaru will have to work it off by….being a host here. No, Masamune has other plans.
So, please let this blatant “b” reference/rip off slide to one side. It takes a few episodes for this show to find its voice and then it moves in its own direction, as we are involved in the world of survival games. Although it can be seen as the male version of “Stella!” or “Sabagebu!”, this is done a bit more seriously, as everyone has secrets, hidden agendas and emotional scars that run pretty deep.
Masamune runs the group Toy ☆ Gun Gun Team (and, yes, everyone makes fun of that name. It IS rather weak. You couldn’t come up with something like Deathmasters or The Legion of Doom?) and whereas Hotaru has a lot of commitment, there is no real talent or ability to fully succeed, something I call “All zeal and no deal.” Oh, we see the mighty striving, but since tactics or strategy or letting the enemy do their work for you are difficult concepts to grasp and execute, Hotaru gets mowed down as regularly as the front lawn every Saturday (well, that’s when I mow down the front lawn). Masamune, with his good friend, Tōru Yukimura (to the right), are aiming for (Hyuk, hyuk! Marvelous pun!) TCG, Top Combat Game, where lots of teams are invited to show their mettle. Sadly, they draw in the first round the four-time champions, Team Butt Head…I mean… Hoshishiro, led by Nagamasa Midori and what a bunch of preening prats! However, those jerkwads back up what they say they can do and leave consternation, uncertainly and chagrin in their wake as they surge to another championship.
The show contends itself with how these people on Toy ☆ Gun Gun try and work together, as well as overcoming their personal traumas and demons to strive to be the best. This is not easy when Nagamasa seems to know everyone’s weaknesses and exploits them for all he is worth. It is not enough that I succeed, but my enemies must fail.
Certainly the end of the first season DEMANDS that a second season is lurking out there, especially with what was seen in the opening credits. Nothing was really concluded and the villains have not yet been brought to justice. Plus, a rather sappy face-off between Hotaru and Masamune merely cement in our minds what needs to be accomplished, today, tomorrow and in the future.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Odd character design and execution)
Plot 8 (Interesting, once it got going)
Pacing 6 (Got a bit too prolix for the story line)
Effectiveness 7 (Too much character dissection)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 7 (Got a little too preachy for its own good)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I will see justice served!