Aria: The Scarlet Ammo

Story – Aria: The Scarlet Ammo is about butei, crime fighters approved by the government who train in specialized fields. The female protagonist Aria Kanzaki is a butei ranked Level S, the highest level of a butei. In almost complete contrast, the male protagonist Kinji Toyama is a butei ranked Level E, the lowest level of a butei. Kinji makes up for this low ranking with a hereditary ability named Hysteria Mode that makes his ordinary abilities increase by about thirty times when he’s sexually aroused. Hysteria Mode affects his personality as well, making him more suave and seductive around women when he ordinarily is more socially awkward. In addition to Aria and Kinji, other main characters/possible love interests include Kinji’s childhood friend Shirayuki, a sniper named Reki, and an informant named Riko. The story revolves around Aria having blackmailed Kinji into making him her slave and their interaction as a result of that.

Writing –
Most of the female characters in Aria: The Scarlet Ammo are all obsessed with winning over Kinji. Because of this, they’re constantly getting into fights over him, comparing each other’s breast size, and trying to seduce him. It’s sad to see all the female mains talking like this without one disagreeing with the thought that sex appeal is the only way to win over a guy. In addition, most of them, with the exception of Aria (although there are exceptions to this exception), don’t seem to have many other goals other than seducing Kinji, and if they do, they’re not as emphasized or buried under pointless fanservice. Riko’s backstory was added in so quickly and suddenly that, even if it was very tragic, I didn’t have any time to feel much sympathy for her.

In addition to the sorely-missed character development, the plot felt unevenly paced with large blocks of fanservice inserted between important plot and action scenes. Often times, I felt like I forgot why Kinji was around Aria so much, and what the entire driving plot point (Aria’s mom’s wrongful imprisonment and the search for the actual culprit) of the show was. Another distracting point in the show was main characters being descendants of historical figures that had no connections to each other. When only Sherlock Holmes and Lupin were known about, it sounded like a neat idea. However, once Ice-powered Joan of Arc and Himiko entered the picture (and had a furious desire to defeat each other even though their descendants had nothing to do with each other), it started feeling odd. It felt like the creators were trying too hard to use historical references once Dracula’s true nature was revealed, and that they were using random historical figures instead of those with relationships to each other.

This DVD/Blu-ray combo pack edition contained a 13th episode, which was a hot springs filler episode. The plot involved the main characters going on a field trip and staying at the hot springs resort, disappearing and reappearing later with amnesia. The ending ended up being unresolved and unsatisfying. A large amount of the episode concentrated on the fanservice, involving bare breasts, girls talking about breasts, girls comparing breasts, and all the girls trying to seduce Kinji.

Art –
The animation in fighting scenes is well done and very smooth. The art is in a general shoujo direction, especially considering how large and detailed eyes are drawn. Breasts often are colored with extra shine. There’s lots of bright colors to match the playful mood.

DVD Special Features –
The DVD included special features such as OVA for episode 13, commentary for Episodes 4 & 6, the promotional video, original commercials, U.S. trailer, and textless opening and closing songs.

Warnings –
There’s a lot of fanservice involving breasts and awkward nearly-sexual situations the male protagonist tends to get into. In addition, relationships seem to be focused and based on sex and seduction instead of actual romance, making the relationships unrealistic and unhealthy. FUNimation lists Aria: The Scarlet Ammo as TV-14 due to “violence, violence against woman, risqué humor, nudity, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, potentially offensive religious imagery.”

Aria: The Scarlet Ammo
FUNimation, 2012
directed by Takashi Watanabe
300 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: TV-14
Related to: Hidan No Aria by Yoshino Koyoka