Episode 8 of Armed Girls is out, and its all about dealing with the fallout of episodes 7 and 8. Problems are solved, tangents are set up for future conflicts and the comedy is still really good.
But I just want to continue on from last week, in saying that the only reason these jokes work and the story flows so well is because of Nomura himself and how he continues to still be the best protagonist I have ever encountered in a Harem show, and what evidence do I provide this week?
Well, a couple of episodes ago, his roommate chose to drug his food, so that the latest abuse victim for the harem pile can enact her dastardly plan to get his 2 closest benefactor’s to turn on Nomura and get the boy expelled.
We’ve heard nothing from him for a few weeks, so with the set up of this episode, we know that it should be coming, and in the last minute or so, its comes, it resolves and its done.
And its probably the best emotional payoff of the episode.
Nomura walks in, fully intending to not bring it up. He’s already forgiven the dumb lump, so feels no need to talk about it.
The first few times Masukodera tries to bring it up, Nomura ignores the issue, until Masukodera brings up the idea that he’s a bad person. He did a terrible thing, and should be punished for it.
Nomura swerves though, acknowledging that, yeah, he got served roofies by the one guy he should be able to trust in the school. But at the same time, he acknowledges that it was most likely in an attempt to protect every other boy there in the dorm, and that isn’t the actions of a bad guy, in fact, that guy is probably a pretty good friend.
In just under a minute (54 seconds) the conflict is done without any giant screaming matches, there’s no heartfelt crying and people blubbering that they’re sorry and there’s no one whinging “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND MY PAIN, NARUTO!” (Huh, where did that come from?)
They end up sorting through their shit like normal people. Nomura cuts through the melodrama, and that’s pretty neat.
Armed Girls Machiavellism is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Look, I’m not here to shit on Armed Girls Machiavellianism, in fact I’m actually going to compliment it quite a bit. That said, I went into episode one with the lowest of low expectations.
This show is nothing special to look at, and the character design is pretty meh-diocre to go alongside it. I don’t look at AGM and find my eyes being fellated by beautiful landscapes or pretty colours.
Hell, I look at the girls and they too seem to just slip into the background as just another group of A-Typical Harem Girls. This show should have really either been average as unbuttered toast or a train-wreck of hillarious proportions.
But then our main dude walks in, and the jokes start coming in and I start to find myself slipping down the rabbit hole of actually giving a shit about this show.
With half of the show aired and our first mini-arc concluded, I thought that now was the time to come out and discuss the particulars of what, exactly, makes Armed Girls Machiavellianism work so well.
THE WORLD OF ARMED GIRLS
So, this private school, Aichi Symbiosis Academy, used to be an All-Girls school, but when the school became co-ed the girls were all scared of these new “boys,” like ridiculously so. In response the faculty decided that instead of A/ reverting the school back to it’s previous All Girls status or B/ just tell the girls to suck it up, they decided to take the unlisted option of; C/ give Weapons to teenage girls, with which they might ensure their personal comfort, and see what happens.
I’m pretty sure the adults in the world are not the smartest individuals to breathe that sweet, sweet oxygen.
Of course, now-a-days, the boys sent into Aichi-Sym aren’t just your everyday, run of the mill boys will be boys kind of gents, but instead Delinquents of only the highest order. Sent into the school with the idea of the Weapon-Wielding-Woman within will be able to beat a modicum of restraint and respect into these boys, and for years, this system works pretty well.
The Ex-Delinquents find themselves as the lowest creature on the totem-pole here at Aichi-Sym, and quickly correct their behaviour as a course of both repentance and, more prevalently, a desire to not ever draw the attention of the 5 biggest badasses here at the school; The 5 Swords.
Enter our protagonist; Fudou Nomura. (Emphasis on the No)
DEFYING THE CURSE OF “YUUJI EVERY LEAD”
If you’ve never heard of the concept of the Every Lead, you’ve almost certainly seen him if you’ve watched any significant amount of anime, especially Harem shows.
He’s the unassuming, average looking dude in front of a cast of cute girls, who all start circling him because his dick apparently produces the Elixir of Youth. He usually possesses powers of a significant magnitude, or insights into the ways of the world that far outstrips their contemporaries.
These are your Tenchis, Shirou Emiyas and Negis. The boys who all of the cutest girls want to nail like a broken deck. The boys who have the personality of slightly wet sand.
When Fudou walks into the frame for the first time, he looks every bit that standard, milk toast Harem Lead. There is absolutely nothing about his design that is even slightly memorable. The most interesting thing about him is that he’s somewhat taller than most Harem Leads tend to be.
But then he starts talking and his personality kicks in, his honest to god, human emotions slap you in the face, and the curse is broken.
This ain’t no Yuuji Every Lead, this is a real boy. This is Fudou Nomura, and he’s going to shake your world to it’s core.
THE JOJO SCHOOL OF PUTTING MY FIST IN YOUR FACE
The fights on display aren’t the best for visual spectacle, the movement is fairly basic and on occasion, kind of janky. But the mechanics behind how these characters move and attempt to murder each other is actually kind of neat. Each fight introduces a level of lateral thinking into the mix. Beyond simply punching each other harder, its instead a contest of how can I hit you smarter?
Can I wear you down, before you can pull off your big fuck-off one hit KO? How can I maximise the power of each of my strikes, to best put you on your ass? Can I shake your confidence and your state of mind enough, so that I win the fight before I even throw a punch?
It’s this philosophy which makes each fight in AGM a joy to watch, even though you know the main dude is probably going to win, the strength of the girls is never undermined in order to demonstrate Nomura’s strength. If anything, the show goes out of its way to try and do its best to show him and the 5 Swords as operating on a fairly even plane, in terms of their individual strengths.
The first fight of the show goes out of its way to switch in and out of the heads of both fighters, showing the process of them slowly breaking down each others style and both of them figuring out that it’s essentially going to come down who fucks up.
The enforcer, Rin Onigawara only needs to time Nomura out, keep him on the back foot until the end of their homeroom if she can’t get in a clean hit to put him down.
Nomura on the other hand, needs to work his way around Onigawara’s seemingly impenetrable offence, to find a moment of still in her stance with which to handily put her down and win the fight.
Nomura’s moment of victory comes simply because Rin get’s jumpy at a crucial moment, his footing slips and she jumps back, expecting him to be prepping something. Drawing her sword up to take a breath and get ready to leap back into it, Nomura takes the chance to slide in past her guard, placing his hand on her side, winning the match by blowing her away with his mysterious “Spirit Bullets”
SHOWS GOT GOOD GAGS
By no means am I saying that this is some sort of hidden gem of a thing, or even that its a seminal classic. I’m probably enjoying this for a lot of the same reasons as I enjoyed Keijo!!!!!!!.
Both shows have some pretty solid comedy, and all of the fights are really well paced and planned. Sure, the stories are both kind of on the meh side of good, but in each instance, the main character saves the day with their sheer charisma.
This show decided to truly embrace the memes, completely and whole heartedly, and I don’t know that I can fault it for that. Because, for the most part, that just adds on top of the charm and good will that Keijo (Still not using the exclamation points) has built upon over the last 9 weeks.
By cribbing an aesthetic feature from Jojo after doing so in episode 5 with the World’s time freeze audio effect (Which, again, they break out a fair bit this week) they are further propagating the whole community meme of Keijojo’s Bizarre Assventure again and again.
Honestly I’m just holding on until the moment the redhead with the Killer Queen eyes busts out Bite the Dust.
So yeah, episode 9, only 3 more to go, how are our StarBust Crusaders doing?
So this week is a Sayaka episode, and if you forget who Sayaka is, I understand completely. None of these characters are massively interesting, so some disconnect is understood.
Since we last checked in on the girls from Setouchi, they have gotten over fighting each other and are now locked in a tournament against a rival Keijo school from the west!
Nevermind that there’s apparently more than 1 school for this ridiculous child’s game made professional sport, but it turns out the Setouchi always loses to this school, and has never come away with an event win against their rivals!
That makes for some tasty drama, especially in last weeks episode, where Setouchi took the win by the skin of their teeth!
Of course that drama is kind of undermined by the show it is a part of, but that’s part of it’s unique charm really. Part of this show’s success is owed to the fact that it refuses to take itself seriously, all that underlying drama and the interpersonal bullshit, just seems to evaporate at the end of a fight, or towards the end of a fight, when a fighter uses their super erect nipple as a pivot for a judo throw.
And on that note, let’s talk about episode 9.
So Sayaka is the white haired girl from the gif I featured last time I talked about this show, and her whole deal is that she comes from a proud line of Judo practitioners. She was even selected to represent Japan on a world stage!
But she could never find joy or happiness within Judo, be it from the constant pressure of her father or the fact that the sport was chosen for her, without regard for her personal feelings, Judo was just never where it WAS for Sayaka. What she really wanted to do with her life was be a Pro-Player in the glorious sport of Keijo, because all of the pros get their own Swimsuit designs, and Sayaka thinks that’s pretty neat.
No, really. It’s brought up in episode 2 or 3, that’s her whole motivation. Only Keijo man.
But yeah, the whole pivot of the drama this episode is Sayaka’s choice to walk away from Judo, jeered on by her opponent as running away from, and her going for her dreams regardless of the disappointment she might evoke in her father, who happens to be in the stands watching. (Not that she knows)
As with most things in Keijo, it’s pretty standard faire until the fights start ramping up, and its at this moment that Killer Queen starts shooting her mouth.
Together with Dog Butt and a Blonde haired girl who uses her boobs to hypnotise people (Yes, really) the Girls join together to knock away disposable character 349, before blondie goes away to deal with a pair of twins, while Sayaka and Doggo deal with Killer Queen.
Yeah, so of course Doggo loses. This isn’t her episode, this is Judo’s show, and in seeing her friend downed by Queeny, decides to, quite literally, slip off her bitch pants and go full man mode.
This is where we go full on meme mode, Sayaka speeding across the jungle gym every impact generating ZAWORLDO.mp3 with every last impact, and it’s looking like the “Full Purge” is going to be exactly the thing she needs to knock Killer Queen straight into an ambulance, but that’s the moment her legs collapse.
The Purge has taken it’s toll and it’s time for Killer Queen to collect on her pound of flesh, kicking Sayaka’s arse for a good minute long, using her magic eyes (Oh she has magic eyes) to be able to see where Sayaka is going to strike, using a sort of thermal vision to see where the strength of Judo’s attacks is centered.
But of course, the tension of the episode boils over and Sayaka looks back onto all of her years of experience in judo, buying into the ridiculous nature of the show, she puts all of her power into a single point.
I mean, are you even surprised at this point?
Sayaka wins for her team, Hypno Boobs having dealt with the last 2 remaining members of the opposing team on her own time, and her very thin character arc comes to a close, with her dad accepting her chosen profession and Setouchi one step closer towards overcoming the curse of defeat against their rivals.
I Leave You This Time on Judo Dad, Who Can’t Maintain a Consistent Face Model To Save His Life.
Diamond is Unbreakable (AKA Let’s Kink Shame David Bowie) is probably my favourite part of Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure to date and that opinion has a lot to do with it’s main antagonist, Kira Yoshikage.
Kira is simultaneously both disturbingly alien and familiarly human all at the same time, his obsession with hands and killing blending almost seamlessly into his desires to live a quiet, uneventful life, unbothered by the world at large, comfortable in his normality and anonymity. Never making waves, or causing a stir that would draw attention to him.
Of course what is normal to him, dismemberment and murder via Explosion Cat, is distinctly abnormal to everyone else, and slowly, the presence of Jotaro Kujo within Kira’s home town of Morioh, goes on to push events to a head, where Kira has to run from his quiet life and find a way to both return to his normal life and get rid of any and all people interested in hunting down the killer, Kira Yoshikage.
The best part of Kira as a character, is probably the aforementioned duality, which is also a big part of why Wham from part 2 was such a great character as well, although with Kira that comes through a lot clearer.
Wham had an odd sense of honour about him, seeking out intense fights and showing his opponents, regardless of their origin, the utmost respect. It is what led to his decision to not pop the blood bubble Ceaser created with the last breath of his life to hold the antidote to a poison ring Wham had placed within Joseph during the opening climax of Battle Tendency.
It’s what led to him agreeing to a one on one duel with Joseph, regardless of the fact that he could have just as easily sicced his and Cars’ vampire army on him instead, and it’s what leads the audience to actually kind of hate watching Wham die at the end of the chariot death race.
Unlike Kira though, Wham is very much inhuman, being a milleniums old vampire who emerged from a giant stone pillar from a very long sleep, there’s not much room to relate to Wham as there is to Kira.
We can sympathise with his human desire for peace and quiet, while being revolted by his pathological need to murder pretty girls and keep their hands as girlfriends.
The first stumbling block Kira suffers is probably how disconnected he is from the first quarter of part 4, having 0 relation or impact on the plot until the point where Reimi comes in and shows us that not only do Ghosts exist in this world, but that there is a mass-murderer in Morioh Town. The anime sort of rectifies this, by adding in a scene at the very beginning that alludes to Kira’s presence within the Town, but until Rohan trips into him as an idea, he makes no other impact on the plot, until the moment he explodifies Shigechi.
It is at this point that Kira becomes the main antagonist of the story, and all of the villain’s of the week become tied into him and his machinations via the ghost of his dad, who lives in a polaroid.
Speaking of the villain’s of the week, as fantastic as Bite the Dust is as an ability, but the
strongest part of the end of part 4 is not Hayato figuring out a way around it, or even the final fight between Joskue and Co. vs Kira and Stray Cat, it’s actually probably at it’s strongest during the July 15th Arc.
Starting with「SUPERFLY」 and ending with Hayato dead in the cupboard. Its at this moment that the arc hits its dramatic high point, Rohan, Koichi and Josuke & Okuyasu each encounter separate Stand Users created by and working for Kira’s Photo Dad.
These events are happening almost simultaneously, and carry on throughout the day. Josuke and Okuyasu defeat「SUPERFLY」 while「ENIGMA」 is out capturing both Koichi and Josuke’s mum. (And hey, haven’t seen her in a while!)
「SUPERFLY」‘s user makes mention that Koichi may be a target, and Josuke rushes off to help his friend, enlisting the help of former villain, Yuya Funagami, to track down Koichi with his Stand,「HIGHWAY STAR」.
「ENIGMA」beats Josuke, but the sheer machismo on show inspires Yuya to help in a more direct fashion, becoming the catalyst to freeing both Josuke and Koichi from within their paper prisons.
All the while this is happening, Rohan is off hosting a particularly odd architect, Kinato Masazo, making plans to repair the house, but the man refuses to let Rohan see his back, walking, crawling and shuffling in all kinds of awkward ways. He doesn’t know it at the time, but turns out he’s hosting a parasitic stand by the name of「CHEAP TRICK」, and the moment Rohan looks at the man’s back, the stands kills the Kinato and attaches himself to Rohan.
The Stand only has one ability, to attach itself to someone’s back, transferring from person to person as someone looks at the current host’s back.
Out of all of the endgame Stands「CHEAP TRICK」 is probably the most terrifying, and it’s appearance
generates some of the most tension across the entire series. Which brings even more detriment towards Kira’s endgame.
With the DiU crew circling like sharks, Kira, now playing family man with a deadman’s stolen body, the knowledge that not only has Rohan zeroed in on Hayato somehow relating to Kira, but also that his “son” bore witness to and recorded him「KILLER QUEEN」’ing two people, the tension bubbles over and in his panic, he murders Hayato.
Unsure of how to cope with this, to come out ahead, Kira loses himself in the panic, which is the moment in which the Arrow「ATOM HEART FATHER」has been carrying around, launches itself from the photo frame and into Kira’s arm, giving birth to the power of「BITES THE DUST」.
Not to say that the「BITES THE DUST」 arc and the closing chapters aren’t good, it’s just they don’t quite deliver on the tension and payoff of the July 15th chapters/episodes.
July 15th is all about the culmination of the heroes actions and their hunt for Kira, calling back to previous moments and opening up the way to make use of prior elements.
For instance, Joskue being inadvertently responsible for Rohan’s house just before the 「HIGHWAY STAR」, opens the door for Kira’s dad to make use of Kinato as a Stand user to fight Rohan.
By that same measure, Rohan then uses the demon hands from Reimi’s Ghost World. 「CHEAP TRICK」‘s power to jump from back to back forcing it to look at Koichi, who had shown up earlier at Rohan’s request in the immediate wake of 「ENIGMA」.Except,by the rules of the alley, you cannot look back as you are leaving, otherwise Demon’s from hell will drag you into the abyss. Which is exactly what happens to the Stand, before it can trigger Rohan’s death.
The arc also acts as a redemption arc for Yuya, which is something not seen for a while, not since I guess Shigechi, which was a while ago now.
The 「BITES THE DUST」arc on the other hand is the countdown to the end of Part 4, but the tension has bubbled over, because now we have to follow Hayato for a while, as he becomes the centre piece of the arc.
Which is fine, I guess, narratively it was probably the best avenue to take for the arc, seeing as for everyone else, the day is just repeating over and over with no explanation, Hayato being the only one who remembers, by measure of being the bomb that resets time and all.
But Hayato is a shitty character, and I mean that based on his personality. I do not like Hayato, he is a spoiled child in cold household who spies on his parents using hidden video cameras, apparently even having witnessed them having sex on at least one occasion.
And trying to drum up some sort of tension or emotion through him as the POV character, does not work. Which goes on to drain a lot of potential tension that the arc should be drumming up.
The moment that 「BITES THE DUST」 iscircumvented, and the final clash begins is great, and the moment of panic as Kira comprehends just how fucked he is is beautiful, but again the tension dissipates at the end of the confrontation, as Kira dies, not at the hands of the heroes, but simply by a stray ambulance.
The man is run over, and the payoff while there, is lessened, because it wasn’t ultimately the heroes who ended it. It was simply a quirky moment, in a pointless universe.
Kira, from a character standpoint is fantastic, one of the strongest that Araki has put on show to date.
Narratively, however, Kira suffers from an awkward introduction a good part of the way into the story and a fairly unceremonious send off, that feels almost empty.
At the end of the day, regardless of how strong Kira’s character is, the strength of his story just kind of 「BITES THE DUST」.
IMAGES SOURCED FROM GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH
AND VLC MEDIA PLAYER SNAPSHOTS
Just to get it out of the way; Boobs, Butts, Mammaries, asses, sweater puppies, booty, tits, junk in the trunk.
Done laughing? Cool, now let’s talk about College girls smacking each other in the face with their breasts and bums.
A lot could be said about just how truly puerile the concept of Keijo!!!!!!!! (I will not be using the exclamation marks from now on) truly is, and I would be hard pressed not to agree with that idea.
But week after week, Keijo has decided to dismiss that idea somewhat, by having an actual story (Standard as it is) characters with actual personality (Somewhat shallow and simple, but even some personality is hard to find in fan service shows) with fight animation and choreography that could stand besides some of the best animation in the Shonen fight Genre without looking out of place. Complete with special attacks and rival characters.
The cherry on top of this insanity pie is that the Studio behind this is Xebec, who haven’t done anything I have liked the look of or thought was good since Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne, which had Giant Robots pulling off German Suplexes, and even then it only held my attention for one episode, the last show they produced that I actually chose to finish was Heroic Age, which was produced all the way back in 2007.
And even with that said, I didn’t and still don’t think that Heroic Age was anything special, nor was it animated very well.
The last show they actually produced that I not only watched to the end, but still think holds up really well today, is the Shaman King anime. Regardless of the 4kids dub (Or perhaps because of it) Shaman King remains one of my favourite Tournament Battle shows to this day.
But that started airing in 2001 and wrapped up production in 2002. Which is a lot of time between that and Keijo, which it seems, is shaping up to be one of my favourite shows of the season if not the year, and it isn’t because of the fan service (Well, I mean, not in the way fan service usually inspires a reaction) or because of the characters.
What keeps me coming back to this show are the fight scenes, more specifically just how well motion is used to break my disbelief about these girls being able to pull off some of these moves.
As stupid as that GIF is, and it is really fucking stupid, it illustrates several things. Firstly, these girls are fast, almost super-humanly so.Even while sliding backwards, the girl in white slams into her opponent with enough force to illustrate a stalemate. The power of each strike is also illustrated by the sonic wave being generated as the girls slam their butts into each other.
Finally it shows me that each girl is throwing their all into each strike, by having their arms moving back and forth in time with each of their strikes, doing what they can to throw more and more power into each hit.
But we’re not looking into the movement of this show, instead we’re going to look at just how well Keijo manages to illustrate the motion of it’s characters with the few still images used in episode 5: Full Auto-Cerberus.
Oh, right. The short haired girl can manifest a spectral dog focused around her butt, hence the episode title. This show is stupidly awesome.
Anyhow, this first shot here, which appears as a still for about a second, and is the first in a 3 shot slideshow of brief, second long stills and it functions mostly as set up for the next two shots, tells us firstly that Dog-Butt has charged essentially clear from the other side of the platform, as seen in the trail of water and the way the purple spirit fire falls in her wake.
The water jet she creates also translates the power of the strike, working into your head just how bad being hit by that charge.
Likewise, we can also infer the way in which our main character has dodged, based on the motion of her body, but mostly her hair, which is being pulled towards her body by her motion, implying that the flip of Main Girl is a back-flip.
And finally the proximity of her hands to her opponent implies the strike was a narrow miss. Dog-Butt’s attack is also the center of focus of the shot, implying it is the most important part of the shot.
This first image creates the tension of the sequence, in a way that seems almost effortless.
Next we cut to this second shot, which is about as equally complex (Read, not that complex really) but no less impressive.
Again Main Girl has dodged Dog-Butt, who again has dashed clear across the arena, to try and smack her butt into Main Girl’s stupid face. The placement of the characters and the rapidity of the cut between the two shots imply that this was more than likely an immediate transition out of the initial dodge.
The way Main Girl is posed is also interesting, because in an inept show without a good handle on animation, the image’s motion may simply portray that she has slid oddly out of the way, gliding across the arena on her tippy-toes. But here, we track the wake of water she has left in her wake, which is curved. Our eyes take note of how her hair is curving, and you realise she didn’t slide. Her dodge was instead a pirouette, and of course it was.
Finally something small, but probably one of the more impacting actions to take note of is that the water Dog-Butt leaves in her wake has become smaller than that first attack, implying one of two things. Either this attack isn’t as powerful as the last, or that Main Girl, and hence the audience, is starting to get a handle on it. The attack is becoming less and less threatening to all involved.
Neither girl is center frame, but instead both occupy a separate half of the screen, as equals, the camera is not looking from above or below. The tension has waned, and is almost about to break.
The last of these 3 images gives us our payoff, Dog-Butt breaking the expected action of her brutal butt-rushes, that up until this point was mostly the only attack she had been using all episode, with only slight variation here and there.
She abandons her rush, and instead swings her chest, attempting a savage right cross, the direction portrayed by the angle of the lines centered on her chest, and the motion of Main Girl’s back flip, illustrated once more by the motion of her ponytail.
She has missed by a country mile.
Main-Girl is now the furthest away from one of Dog-Butts attacks she’s been all episode long, the motion of her body conveying that dodging DB’s strikes is slowly becoming more and more effortless as time goes on.
The camera is now refocused on Dog-Butt, much as it was in the first shot, but it isn’t centered on her now. It’s centered instead on her gaze, from the complete opposite angle that the camera was at in the first shot. Eyes locked on Main Girl flying high in the sky. Nigh untouchable.
Keijo is streaming now on Crunchyroll and Funimation. Please find below some more of the stupid-awesome shots from Episode 5.