After being expelled from his previous school for inciting a large brawl, Fudo Nomura finds himself transferred to Private Aichi Symbiosis Academy. A co-ed school where the females violently oppress male students, take away their rights and push them to the point where they fully submit and dress and acts as females to avoid further ‘corrections’.
But clearly, women beating down guys in a school environment wouldn’t make for a very interesting show so the hero of the story Nomura pushes back against the vigilante group known as the “Sacred Five Swords” to stand up for his own rights while also taking a beating or two along the way. Nomura spends his time at the school trying to prove to the Five Swords that males aren’t as bad as they have been lead to believe and also tries to befriend them one by one to gain their approval, so that one day he’ll be granted the privilege to leave the school grounds.
Armed Girl’s Machiavellism is one of those series’ that benefits from either binge watching it or committing to watching the series in full before you start it. After the first couple of episodes that set up the plot and initial overview of the main characters each episode up until episode 9 follow a very similar plot line. As Nomura needs approval from all 5 girls in the Five Swords these episodes have a new girl introduced, they initially detest Nomura until they engage in violent combat with him utilising their own special weapons and fighting style until eventually Nomura wins them over and gains their stamp.
By the time I got to episode 7 or 8 I was finding it really hard to keep going with the series as just about every episode following the same thematic patterns. This wasn’t helped by the series not doing much to stand out and have it’s own addicting hook during these episodes. I felt as though I’d seen this same basic harem plot in numerous anime before.
But I stuck with the series and I’m quite glad I did. From the end of episode 9 onwards the show takes a darker turn in it’s themes and overall plot, turning the show almost into a more traditional battle anime, just with a predominantly female cast. It’s during the final battle arc that lasts the final 4 episodes that the show got it’s hooks into me. Because up until that point we hadn’t received any back story or much character development at all for characters outside of the core 3 leads and still had no idea what the lead antagonists’ motives were. This final arc did a great job at redeeming the series for me and had me really engaged in the plot through to the closing moments of the season.
I went from wishing the show would be over at the halfway point of the season to quite enjoying it by the end and interested enough that I would watch more if and when a second series comes out.
I found the character designs and the art style of Armed Girl’s Machiavellism to be great. Silver Link and Connect did a great job of bringing the manga to life as the environment backgrounds and the subtle use of CG in certain scenes really help the visuals really pop. I did find that there were dips in the art and animation in certain episodes, primarily affecting characters in the backgrounds of scenes or stripping all major detail out of the main characters if they weren’t in the forefront. It’s hard to tell if this discrepancy is related to time or budget constraints or if it was the result of splitting production of the anime between two studios.
The characters themselves are entertaining but with the short episode count and each only gaining the focus for a single episode as Nomura tries to earn their stamp, it doesn’t provide a lot of time for them to be developed as characters. With only the lead character, and a few others getting any type of back story included in the 13 episode set.
I watched the English dubbed version of the series, which is what I do for most shows I’m reviewing the home release for and found the Sentai Filmworks dub to be pretty good for the most part. The cast and their voices matched their respective characters well but there are some lines of dialogue in the English script that are quite cringe-worthy.
The home release Blu-Ray set contains a handful of interesting extras which were surprising to see as normally Sentai Filmworks releases come with little extra than the episodes on a disc. This set contains all 12 episodes of the series as well as the OVA 13th episode that unlike most other anime OVA’s actually ties into and takes place after the ending of the core series. Also included are clean versions of the opening and closing themes and the original Japanese promos.
While it started out as a fairly generic and repetitive harem anime, the last 4 or 5 episodes really redeemed the series and made me glad I stuck with it. It does occasionally have moments where the English script is bad or the art and animation quality drop off but for the most part the series looks really good on the screen. If it wasn’t for his final arc I would have written this anime off as an average harem clone but now having watched it all 12 episodes as well as the OVA I’m genuinely interested in checking out the second season which is planned to air sometime in 2019.
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