Seishou Academy seems like any other school...
Except the students are incarnations of assault rifles.
Opinions on this anime are probably not hard to find, so for this review I'm going to do something a little different. This time I'm coming from the perspective of a gun nut, not so much an anime fan. This review may not be useful to you deciding to watch or not, but an interest in firearms is basically what kept me watching a show that would otherwise embody most of what I hate in modern anime. You could say Upotte is the definition of love/hate for me. But at least the concept novel enough to make it worth checking out.
The basic framework of Upotte is a typical slice of life school anime, where in the girls "do stuff", and talk about things. However in Upotte "doing stuff" involves shooting / military exercises, and conversations cover technical details on combat arms - all in a school setting. Some topics are tackled in ways I'd almost consider perverse except we're talking about assault rifles. Because this is Japanese, it's probably better to say it's occasionally perverse in ways I can't understand.
The girls are anthropomorphized weapons, but their histories are fleshed out into quirky stories too. For example AR15 and AR18 originally grew up together, but AR15 was adopted by Colt, got a contract with an agency, changed her name to M16 and became super popular. AR18 was doomed to a downtrodden life and generally forgotten. Bits like this are peppered throughout the show in ways that are quite brilliant. In some cases the personification of the gun itself is fascinating. For example the RK95: blond, strangely elven, twisted, yet kinda awesome - all things I pretty much associate with Finland. For whatever reason, Kalashnikov (AK) derived girls have tails and animal ears, so it seems the RK95 got the better end of modern anime tropes with just the ears.
The girls are a combination of firearm attributes, (Japanese perspective) stereotypes of various nations, and generic anime school girl personalities. Aside from their firearm characteristics, I found them dull. The rampant Sig fanboy-ism also started to wear me down. According to this anime, the SG550 is ideal for everything. Long distance shots, reliability, preventing solar flares, brain surgery; according to Upotte the SG550 can do it all. On the other side, the (background) character loaded with awesomeness is ... Thompson sensei. Sure assault rifle girls are cute and all, but any real gun nut would sell his (hopefully) non vital organs to get their hands on the fully stacked Mrs Thompson! (Bonus points if you can figure out the other blond teacher with the eye patch). Honestly, I found the girls in the battle rifle class more interesting than the assault rifle girls, and I'm a little disappointed they didn't get more time in the spotlight (or have the show exclusively dedicated to them).
Upotte almost seems brutal when the girls occasionally shoot up each other, however in keeping with the lighter atmosphere, even these spots are sanitised of violence. No one dies, and there aren't any gunshot wounds or anything like that. It's not all assault rifle weirdness either. Upotte often stumbles into generic school anime stupidity and fan service - particularly with bath house nudity, but I guess that's expected these days. It is however, strangely educational. Technical details, coupled with oddball background stories makes the show more clever than it ought to be. It's generally accurate, even if there are a few total face palm moments - fanning an M16 comes to mind; otherwise it's not bad. While it's fun to read into the meaning of many things in the show, it's probably better not to get too deep since there's a heck of a lot that doesn't make sense. Don't expect high consistency with analogies.
Anime has no shortage of generic high school slice of life shows. Each season it seems there are at least a couple that are paint by numbers. Upotte is precisely that kind of anime, except the numbers are replaced by bullet holes. Somehow that idea manages to be weird enough to make this one worth watching, provided you're interested in the topic (guns more so than girls).
FNC: That was my first kiss... I was saving it until after someone registered me.
Sig: Switzerland is full of mountains. When you're shooting from one mountain ridge to the next, you need to be able to aim over that distance.
Girls: Switzerland rocks!
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