Not a Happy “Kampfer”
This was another show that got a lot of buzz. It just came off as no different when the AC kicks on and you hear the hum. A lot of noise for minimal results.
The plot revolves around Natsuru Senō, your typically clueless dense anime male. He wakes up one morning to find that he is a girl (the blue-haired one). What? How could this have happened? What gives? He is told by his stuffed tiger toy that he is a “Kampfer” (German for ‘fighter’) and that he has to fight other Kampfers. On his way to school, managing to regender himself, he meets Kaede Sakura at the bus stop (blondie, dead center). An old and dear childhood friend, suddenly, they are set upon by some mysterious red-tressed woman who tries to kill Natsuru. Fleeing the scene, he manages to switch back into his female form and defeat said fighter.
At school, things get worse. This might as well be the East Berlin School of Academics. Another girls-only school that went recently went co-ed, it is separate but equal. The guys are on one side, the gals on the other and there is a massive concrete wall, topped with barbed wire and packed with guards, to keep the boys away. In the library, Natsuru hooks up with Akane Mishima, the shy, bespectacled librarian…who tried to kill Natsuru. Yes, when she transforms, she becomes an Alpha female, packing a black Springfield M1911A1 .45 pistol and a mouth on her that would make Nixon proud.
She tells him that they are Blue Kampfers (as noted by their bracelet) and their natural enemies are the Red forces. In the library, they are attacked by a mysterious entity, which remains cloaked. Called to the Student Body President’s office to explain what happened, they meet Shizuku Sangō, who is both cold and manipulative (the one with the chains). We then start to learn the whole horrible story about Kampfers.
Much of the story revolves around Natsuru and his inability to control his gender shift, plus what a total blockhead he is. Part of the problem is that he is a tall boy and becomes a tall girl, which draws both squeals of adoration and hot desires from the girls in his class. This really is a yuri show, as everyone prefers him as a her and we see a lot of the girls besides themselves with lust. There is a cute side story of three girls in her class that try to make money off of him/her with ecchi shots and other humiliating activities. At one point, you almost feel that the fighting is no longer important as much as seeing how Natsuru deals with having enormous hooters and how to go to the bathroom.
I found myself drawn more to the Entrails Animals. This is a disgusting plush toy line (and if it was really produced, I’d be doubly scared). They act as a caliber of familiar or messenger between the Kampfer world and their fighter, as well as explaining the rules. Natsuru has Harikiri Tiger (who has a knife stuck in his guts and part of his intestine is hanging out). Akane has Black Seppuku Bunny, Shizuku has Electrocuted Lynx and Mikoto Kondō (she’s the one at the far left, she makes a late appearance) has Strangled Stray Dog. Other disgusting animals are Exploded Penguin, Hit-and-Run Hippopotamus, Burnt-Alive Lion and a few others I could not get names for (I did see a squirrel and a bear in distress).
The thing is that a lot of plot points are discovered long before they should have been, so when it eventually shows up, you are not that surprised at it. I mean, they strew clues about like rose petals at a wedding. Also, in connection with a mid-course correction, it kind of saps the series when a new character enters. It really is an 11-run show, with Show 12 as a cute filler and a two-part OVA, which is really perverse. Please, watch these last two behind a locked door, as you then have to try and explain why those two girls are REALLY kissing.
My problem with the show is that we spent far too much time of humiliating Natsuru in both his gender forms and that we still do not get a real, REAL answer as to why all of this is happening. And with the noises of a second season in the offing, I am not surprised with the vagueness of the save point. I have seen gender cross-over shows, with “Ranma ½” and “Birdy the Mighty” leading the pack (“KashiMashi is another, but that is more emotional than action/adventure), but those invested into the plot and had a great tale to convey. This show feels like it stopped to ask for directions, Fan Service got into the driver’s seat and that was the end of things.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Inconsistent with the artwork)
Plot 6 (Not fully explored)
Pacing 5 (Not certain what it wants to accomplish)
Effectiveness 6 (It tries, but falls short)
Conclusion 5 (It stops, rather than ends.)
Fan Service 8 (A similar show would be “Sekirei”)
Overall 6 (More needed to be accomplished)
And remember, it’s first run until you see it. I can actually get Electrocuted Lynx? $30?!!?