Anime and guns occasionally cross paths but when they do it is usually for a series that is action packed or dramatic. However recently there has been a rise of shows with girls with different kinds of military grade hardware. We have seen teams of girls controlling tanks, girls playing around with air soft guns, and now Upotte!! has taken it a step further by combining these two things into one. That will make more sense in a minute, but the question is, does it make sense to pick up Sentai Filmwork’s release of Upotte!!?
Seishou Academy is a very unique school with a strange enrollment requirement. Having a new teacher begin working at a school is pretty run of the mill, but at Seishou Academy nothing is quite that simple. Especially since this teacher happens to be human. You see, what makes Seishou so special is that everyone on the campus is a gun. No I don’t mean that they are simply named after firearms, though they are, I mean that every one of them, including the teachers, is an anthropomorphized firearm made flesh.
Being the only human teacher set to enter the campus and having no knowledge of this fact, the teacher Genkoku, is in for a world of trouble especially when he happens to meet a girl named Funko outside of class for the first time and happens to notice she is wearing a thong. Later when he arrives at the school and learns that the academy has posters up everywhere warning about cleaning up empty casings or firing guns in the hallway but that it also includes a firing range and bullet holes in most walls, he already gets off on a bad foot with these special girls by calling Funko the thong girl resulting in a hospital stay.
Now while the idea of a human having to integrate into a school where all of the girls are literally guns who carry around the guns they are named after and are willing to go full auto at the drop of a hat may make for an interesting story, Upotte!! really isn’t meant to be taken too seriously as the focus shifts away from the teacher and focuses on Funko and her friends. Now Funko just happens to be the girl’s nickname, as she is better known as FNC, and her friends are M16A4, L85A1, and SG 550, with nicknames of Ichiroku, Eru, and Shigu.
The majority of the series likes to focus on this group of four girl guns as they go through what would be a rather standard school life but nothing is standard in this show as almost everything is spiced up by the fact that these girls are guns. It also helps that they all have a very likable personality, especially Funko and Ichiroku, and their chemistry is perfect for the amount of comedy the show produces. It is worth noting that although the show is quite out there at times, there is a semblance of a story in Upotte!! as there are two story arcs contained in the original ten episodes.
One of which sees the attempted coup of the annual team battle held at the school by two hostile transfer students and the final being a battle between these girls and attacking AKs that have already sent three of their friends to a hospital. These segments contain quite a bit of action as well as some tactical information and bring about a believable serious tone that balances nicely with the amount of comedy and oddness this series features.
You see, since these girls are guns standard school activities include accuracy practice alongside learning history and that best sums up the way the slice of life episodes of Upotte!! play out. A school festival is made to thrive by driving a tank through the wall or setting up a café serving MREs. All of this is spiced up by the copious amounts of gun information that is provided to the viewer at every single turn and how it plays into the way the girls act.
Remember how the teacher ends up getting on Funco’s bad side by mentioning her thong? Well the reason she even has such a thing is because her rifle is using a skeleton stock as opposed to a solid stock. Ichiroku has bursts of energy only to tire out and need a brief break because the M16 is designed to shoot in three round bursts with no option for automatic. Eru is constantly getting sick or needing special treatment because the L85A1 is a very defective gun with numerous issues that result in pieces breaking or jamming.
The girls are almost literally presented as the guns they carry, with there being instances of a rifle’s stock being shot off only for her panties to come off or the pin holding their magazine in place warps causing it to fall out and said girl to vomit. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Upotte!!’s gun trivia as every episode includes numerous tidbits of information and in some cases entire backstories about how a gun was created and modified for use today. While some of this info may be familiar to some, a lot of it is informative and presented in a fun way.
Now Upotte!! does have its faults though most of these fall under the fact that the series is limited to only ten episodes which means that there really doesn’t feel like anything is resolved. Tensions are introduced in the final few episodes but it feels like they were cut short simply because the series’ episode limitation needed it to end at that point and had to resolve everything as fast as possible.
The animation studio Xebec can produce some great looking series at times but they tend to have a certain visual style that is pretty evident in almost every aspect of Upotte!! and that is a very strange approach to character design that leaves most of their characters, generally the female cast, odd looking. This is the case with Upotte!! in almost every aspect as the girls all have unique looking faces and the amount of detail paid to the guns is great, but any time the girls are not shown close up they always feel off.
The backgrounds throughout Upotte!! do not help much either as there tends to be quite a few basic looking areas that are used quite often and only when the series focuses on action does the animation quality take a step up. It is worth noting that despite the numerous costumes and poses the girls end up in, or Funko’s fantasies about her firing hammer about to drop, there is actually no nudity in the main episodes and even the panty shots are kept to a minimum so despite appearing very fan service focused, the show actually rarely crosses that line. Though there is one scene with a certain elf-eared girl that does hint at something quite naughty happening while she is in battle.
Now with Upotte!! Sentai Filmworks has provided both an English dub as well as the original Japanese voice work and while the English cast does a nice job with their roles, it feels like the only characters that, while a few characters such as FNC, M16A4, SAKO, and the teacher feel properly voiced, many of the side characters pale in comparison to their Japanese counterparts. It also is worth noting that during the OVA an English line is inserted into non-speaking mouth flaps resulting in not only a previously used line playing in slow motion during this moment but the voice actress not matching the speaking character.
Anyways, the background music for Upotte!! is standard and can be rather forgettable though it is nice to note that the sound effects are nicely handled and there is even a vocal insert song in the OVA. As for the opening theme we have “I.N.G.” by ARMS (the Japanese voice actresses for the main girls, which has a soft lead in and is rather enjoyable while the ending theme is “Himekure” by SG 550’s Japanese voice actress Kaori Sadohara.
Now the extra features for Upotte!! are about as slim as they get if you don’t count the OVA as a bonus feature. Outside of the bikini cover art, the only other bonuses consist of a clean ending and opening theme, trailers for other Sentai Filmworks anime, and disc credits.
Now as for the OVA, Measure Up! Smile!, it continues to follow the main set of girls as they are camping during the summer break. The OVA contains some slightly modified animation and is heavy with bikinis and even some actual nudity as the girls appear topless for the only time in the series in this OVA. The OVA is mostly fun but helps show the connection these girls have as well as show what a few of the side-characters are doing on their break.
Upotte!! fires off a round hoping to strike a small target but surprisingly they have done a great job at hitting this target off-center. This series is certainly not for everyone, but people who can enjoy some gun trivia and cute girls doing things with firearms are in for quite a time as this show has plenty of great humor and some nice drama at points. Unfortunately the length of the series and an ill-fitting English voice cast diminish the experience a bit. In the end, Upotte!! is an anime that many may not give a chance but those that do indulge in the series will find themselves in for a unique time.
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