Those of you expecting me to completely rip apart Upotte like I’ve done for my prior reviews will be surprised to know that I didn’t find it to be as horrible as what some folks may have made it out to be from its premise, though it is still obvious otaku bait. Baring this in mind, I am slightly tweaking my review format for this review to reflect more on my thoughts of the pros and cons of this series. I may adopt the format if I run into another issue like this for future reviews where I run into titles not as horrifically bad as I’ve heard of them to be!
Upotte!! is a 10-episode action-comedy ONA series animated by Xebec and had episodes released from April 8 to June 9 of this year. The series is an adaptation of the ongoing manga series written by Kitsune Tennouji for Young Ace, Shonen Ace and 4-Koma Nano Ace magazines since 2009. The series was licensed earlier in the year by Sentai Filmworks, who have yet to announce when they plan to release the series on DVD and/ or Blu-Ray format.
A young teacher takes a job at Seishou Academy where he is the only human amongst anthropomorphized guns in human form. The students at the school are trained into becoming useful weapons and divided up into different classes depending on how they were made such as submachine guns (elementary school), assault rifles (middle school) and battle/ sniper rifles (high school). The new teacher finds himself being the homeroom teacher for a class of assault rifles and becoming acquainted with an assault rifle named Funco and her group of friends.
Notable Characters (from left to right)
- Funco- The main heroine of the series in the form of a small, energetic girl who supplies the punch lines for her friends when they play dumb. Being a Belgian FN FNC assault rifle, she does wear a thong due to having a skeleton stock and will often lash out angrily at the slightest mention of it from her teacher.
- Ichiroku- The energetic best friend of Funco who is foul mouthed, yet kind, and talks with an Osaka dialect. She normally models for gun magazines and requires frequent maintenance due to the delicate build of the rifle she is based on, the American M16A4 assault rifle.
- Elle- A shy and clumsy girl among Funco’s group of friends who is Ichirou’s roommate at Seishou. She is seen as unreliable and is a British L85A1 assault rifle.
- Sig- The honor student among Funco’s group of friends. An excellent marksman at mid-to-long range and capable of surviving in frozen temperatures, Sig is a Swiss SG 550 assault rifle.
- Modern Literature Teacher- The unnamed new teacher at Seishou who becomes the homeroom teacher of Funco’s class. While he does care for Funco, his misunderstandings about the girl’s nature often lead him to get fired upon by Funco.
For a series clearly geared for the otaku crowd, the premise for Upotte is an original one if one is able to look past the seemingly creepy implications of the “gun girl” gimmick. The quirks among some of the girls are influenced by the real-life firearms that they are an anthropomorphized form of and a number of the show’s comedic gags and innuendo jokes are gags that could be followed by anyone with heavy knowledge of firearms. The anime often takes some time to go into depth on elaborating on the history and specs of many of the firearms introduced throughout the series.
Also for an otaku pandering show, many of Upotte’s elements were tolerable for the most part for me to watch through. Many of the characters don’t get overly obnoxious with their personality quirks and the ecchi content to the series is tame for the most part compared to gross-out and excess ecchi titles like Seikon no Qwaser or Kiss x Sis as much of Upotte’s content is mostly panty shots, bath scenes, clothes changing and the occasional innuendo joke.
Looking past Upotte’s “gun girl” gimmick, the series is still mostly a pretty typical high school gal pals comedy in the vain of recent titles like A Channel and Tamayura: Hitotose. Many of the girls follow the typical character archetypes you can find of such titles, which would be a major turn off of folks tiring of the excess number of titles using this setup.
Later episodes of the series also have their occasional moments of slipping up with their quality. A later 3-episode arc of the series introduces the character Sako, whose typical psychotic personality and some of her creepy actions (like masturbating during a gunfight) were quite the turn-off for me. The anime also tosses in a few characters seemingly to only be comic relief with their girl crushes on major members of the anime cast and mess with the viewer’s perceptions on their sexuality, a gag which has already been done to death enough in past moe slice-of-life comedies.
The weakest of the series for me came in Upotte’s final two episodes when it tries to make itself more serious when the Seishou gun girls get in a conflict with another group of gun girls. Other than this mood change being way out of place with the mood setup in the show’s earlier episodes, the enemy faction gets very little depth, the conflict was clearly rushed through, there is a cop-out resolution to a major event that occurs during the conflict and it gets left open-ended.
I just don’t see where folks consider Upotte to be horrifically bad. While the anime is still otaku bait, much of its ecchi content is rather light and its sloppy moments of writing are nowhere as horrifically bad as past duds I’ve seen like Garzey’s Wing and Harlock Saga. Looking past its “gun girl” gimmick, Upotte is just an average and clichéd title that I imagine would become forgettable for many folks in the next couple years since it doesn’t have much else that sticks out beyond its gimmick.