Review for Armed Girl's Machiavellism Collector's Edition
We have a new anime genre cliché in town. It’s the girls’ school that suddenly turns co-ed, but rampant androphobia causes the ruling elite girls to pre-emptively emasculate any boy that has the temerity to transfer in. But there’s one guy who fights the good fight for the spirit of fraternity. And every review will begin with, “It’s no Prison School... but” Anyway, that’s where we are with MVM’s first release of the year, Armed Girl’s Machiavellism.
Aichi Academy used to be a girls’ school, but it has recently become co-ed, much to the annoyance of the student body, who are of the opinion that boys are animals. They’ve gotten pre-emptive about it; the girls are now armed, and the Supreme Five Swords rule the roost, impressive swordswomen and martial arts masters whose word is law. Any boy that makes the mistake of transferring in can only survive by becoming a cross-dresser, espousing feminine values.
Only now Fudo Nomura has transferred in, a known delinquent who in his last run in with school authority left 40 unconscious bodies behind him before he was expelled. The truth is that Fudo is an easy-going guy, who only wants a peaceful life and a bit of freedom. The problem is that The Supreme Five Swords have decided to pre-emptively lay some punishment down on Fudo to inculcate the Academy’s values. What they don’t know is that Fudo doesn’t back down from a fight.
12 episodes of Armed Girl’s Machiavellism are presented across 2 Blu-ray discs, plus the OVA. This is a Collector’s Edition release, although I haven’t seen the packaging or accoutrements to comment.
1. The Magnificent Blade, Rin Onigawara
2. The Chastity Dorm Riot
3. The Fair Sword, Mary Kikakujo
4. The Warabinpics are Starting!
5. The Love-Crazed Blade, Warabi Hanasaki
6. Notes on a Scandal
7. The Dubious Sword, Satori Tamaba
8. His and Crossdressing Her Circumstances
9. The Day Love Died
10. The Terrifying Blade, Tsukuyo Inaba
11. The Magic Bullet I’ll Always Remember
12. The Girls’ Machiavellism
13. Badump! A Pleasure Trip with All the Five Swords (OVA)
The show gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that is perfectly fine. The image is clear and sharp, colours are strong and consistent, and the animation comes across smoothly, without any visible compression, aliasing or even significant banding. The character designs are appealing and memorable, and the show delivers a nice combination of fan service and imaginative action sequences. It’s a cross between a shonen action show and a harem comedy, and that design aesthetic works pretty well.
You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked during playback. I had no issues with the audio, opting for the Japanese once more. The dialogue is clear, the actors suited well for their characters, and the audio does justice to the action sequences. The subtitles are timed accurately, but I did notice at least one typo.
The discs present their content with static menus, and each episode is followed by a translated credit reel.
Disc 2 has the extras, 4:48 of Japanese Promos, two textless openings and one textless closing.
MVM kick off their 2019 anime campaign with a nice, middle of the road entry that offers a soupcon of entertainment without breaking any boundaries or challenging any preconceptions. About the most innovative aspect of it is the way it blends harem comedy with fighting action, and it manages to avoid too much exploitative nastiness by keeping most of the characters likeable. Sure, it’s a show where a boy has a whole lot of fights with girls, but one thing is that the girls are tough enough to take care of themselves, while it also rarely crosses the line into exploitative nastiness.
The key of course is in the male protagonist, who is basically a nice guy who’s had a lot of martial arts training. As a result, he gets into situations he’d rather not be in, and when he transfers into Aichi Coexistence Academy, he’s riding the wave of an unwelcome reputation. This is a recently turned co-ed school where males aren’t trusted, and the Five Swords are strong enough to lay down the law. Boys go to that school by their forbearance, which means cross-dressing, wearing make-up and behaving effeminately to fit in.
Fudo Nomura isn’t going to do that. All he wants is an easy life and freedom. If people leave him alone, he won’t raise a ruckus, so when the first thing that happens is that Rin Onigawara tries to lay down the law, she rubs him the wrong way. Since she’s one of the Five Swords, that inevitably leads to a fight. But this is one of those anime worlds where through fighting, friendships are formed. Afterwards, Rin decides to personally oversee Fudo’s assimilation into the school.
Fudo also has another goal to achieve true freedom. To leave the campus when and as he chooses, he needs the permission of all five of the Swords, so it becomes a challenge to defeat them all, gain their respect and their friendship to get their stamp on a permission slip. Each of the girls has a quirk, Rin always wears a mask, Mary uses a rapier and has a French affectation, Warabi is a little princess with a big pet bear, Satori’s a fish-eyed psychopath, while Inaba is a blind swordswoman of ultimate skill.
As Fudo fights each one, he gains their respect, and their affection, and slowly his ‘harem’ grows. Even the girls in the school start to respect and like him, as he proves that not all men are perverts. So the action has a nice balance with harem comedy as well. The one issue is that a couple of the characters aren’t so much likeable as they are detestable. Particularly the Empress, the one transfer student that the Five Swords couldn’t tame, and as the series progresses, we learn that she has history with Fudo. As per these short form stories that run to just 12-odd episodes, the final arc is where the comedy drains away, the story gets more serious, and it’s also here that the show gains a tinge of nastiness and exploitation. It isn’t bad, we’re certainly not talking Freezing levels of loathing induced in me, but I certainly did miss the comic-action from the first three-quarters of the show at this point. Thankfully, Armed Girl’s Machiavellism ends on a silly note with the OVA, a traditional hot springs trip.
MVM start off 2019 with a solid but unremarkable piece of entertainment, just the sort of fan-service anime that will usually grab the attention of any anime neophyte, and set them on the long road of better things to come.