Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA

Original Run: October 6, 2015 - December 22, 2015
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Action, Comedy
Based on the Series Created By: Chugaku Akamatsu and
Shogako Tachibana

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Crime has grown out of hand. To regain order, the governments of the world have relied on the expertise of highly skilled law enforcement agents known as the Butei.

In Japan, the prestigious Tokyo Butei High trains the next generation of agents. Along with actual field experience, the school offers the Amica program. With this, a younger student can go under the watchful eye of an experienced upperclassman.

First-year student Akari Mamiya (voiced by Ayane Sakura), a lowly E-Rank Butei, wishes to enter the Amica program. Her mentor of choice is none other than the internationally famous S-Rank Butei Aria Kanzaki (voiced by Rie Kugimiya).

To Akari’s shock, Aria decides to give her a chance. Utterly outclassed, Akari does manage to impress Aria. Although not ready to accept Akari as her official Amika, Aria agrees to train her bright-eyed underclassman.

The job of a Butei is a difficult and dangerous one. Making matters worse, at this moment, it is unclear whether Akari will be an asset or a burden for Aria.

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Series Positives

The elements that could have made the original Aria The Scarlet Ammo worthwhile got bogged down by nonsense. It was a mess, and it fell to Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA (AA) to clean it up. Had it done so, then there was the chance of something decent.

Having sat through both series, I will give my preference to AA. This installment was, indeed, tidier. However, as it was with its predecessor, AA was incredibly unremarkable.

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Before going any further, I can finally answer the question which has puzzled me ever since I decided to review the Aria the Scarlet Ammo franchise. Was AA a sequel or a spin-off? It turns out — yes.

AA was a mix of a lot of things.

This story happened concurrently with the original. It also served, in parts, as a bit of a prequel and a bit of a sequel.

Whatever it was, AA was needlessly complicated in this area. More on that later.

As a stand-alone product, this show wasn’t great. But, like I said, it was better than the last series — even if only slightly. There were three places where AA improved upon Aria.

The first was with the animation.

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Aria’s artwork was not bad. In fact, it was a strength. Be that as it may, AA was crisper, brighter, and more vibrant.

Thus, it truly was a shame that this show didn’t take full advantage of the upgrade. The action of AA was not nearly as engaging compared to what was seen in Aria.

With that said, AA made up for this with a better-paced story, this show’s second improvement.

In Aria, there was someone who started as a forgettable background character and, from out of nowhere, became one of the show’s main antagonists. This little switch-a-roo happened within the span of about zero seconds. This was not a plot-twist. This revelation was only a surprise because the story didn’t provide any indication that this character was worth remembering.

In AA, the story was quicker at establishing who the problem people were. As a result, cheap, out-of-left-field developments were far less prevalent this time around.

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The third improvement made by this show: The main pairing of AA made a lot more sense.

As I mentioned in the Aria review, the partnership between leads Aria Kanzaki and Kinji Tohyama, although effective, was backward.

I compared Kinji and Aria to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson respectively. Given who wanted what, as well as the very premise of the Aria the Scarlet Ammo storyline, Kinji and Aria’s roles should have been reversed.

One of the primary pillars of the Aria the Scarlet Ammo franchise was that Aria was one of the best Butei in the field. It was hard to get that impression in Aria since Kinji – in his Hysteria Mode – was better than her at everything.

In AA, Aria, at last, felt like the rightful Sherlock; she was much cooler in this series.

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Continuing with the Holmes comparison, this made Akari Mamiya, AA’s protagonist, Aria’s Watson.

Akari was a fine enough lead. She was certainly not the most problematic point of this series. Her admiration towards Aria, as well as the power gap between them, helped give AA more teeth.

Along with that, Akari had a few tricks up her sleeves that made her interesting in her own right. Like other characters in the Aria the Scarlet Ammo franchise, Akari’s background was more complicated below the surface.

AA, like its predecessor, couldn’t help itself from going dark. Too bad that was kind of the problem.

This show just really couldn’t help itself when it otherwise needed to.

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Series Negatives

AA’s story taking place at the same time as Aria’s was something I assumed early on in my viewing. Despite that, it took until the final episode for me to feel confident in that assumption.

Although I saw the first series back in March (roughly six months before this review) and despite having now watched it in its entirety twice, I’m having trouble remembering some of the nitty-gritty details of it.

Therefore, I could be mistaken when I say: The sequence of events between Aria and AA did not line up.

Side note: Aria was produced by J.C. Staff whereas AA was done by Doga Kobo. This might have something to do with the continuity problems.

It took a lot of effort to place when the AA story was happening, and I’m still not one-hundred percent sure.

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There was no sense of time in AA. This series could have taken place during the span of several days, a few weeks, or a couple months. Hell, if you told me a year had passed between episodes one and twelve, I would be hard pressed to argue with you.

This became a massive headache when trying to keep track of certain people’s locations and motivations. Not helping in the matter was the large number of cameo appearances of Aria characters.

To be clear, this timeline confusion was at its worse when AA focused on its main story. Any side adventures (episodes that didn’t center on Aria and Akari’s relationship) were in their own little worlds.

I’m not listing this as a positive. Most of this show took place in these little worlds.

I may have said AA was better paced than Aria, but I never said it was well-paced. Frankly, the last few episodes of this show were quite boring; something the first series never was.

Incidentally, those last few episodes contained most of AA’s story.

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I can understand how it’s sounding like I’m contradicting myself. I said that if I had to choose, AA was the stronger of the two shows, and yet here I am saying it was also the duller of the pair.

AA might not have been as captivating as Aria, but this series was nowhere near as dumb as the first.

Before I say any more, the climactic final battle of AA was rushed, poorly developed, and starred a villain who had not been hinted at once up until that point.

Moreover, this finale totally spit in the face of this show’s message of friends helping each other out. Apparently, what this series meant by that was: If a character’s name was not Aria or Akari they could only serve as a mild inconvenience for the bad guy before they got taken out like a chump.

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This was not a good ending, and it served as the cap off to a lackluster show.

That notwithstanding, at least there wasn’t a goddamn werewolf.

If you’re thinking I just spoiled the ending of Aria, don’t worry, I’m actually leaving a lot out. Until you see it for yourself, you will not believe the amount of BS the first series tacked on to its ending.

AA never got that stupid, but it was never good either.

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Final Thoughts

As a reviewer, I do have it in me to sit through a third season. There are worse things out there.

However, I’m not expecting anything, and if one never comes, I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, this series is now over.

To give credit where it is due, this second installment was an improvement. Granted, that’s not saying much since this show didn’t have a lot to beat and it just barely did so.

I said it with the original, and I’m saying it here. Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA is one you can skip.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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