Hidan no Aria – an ideal intro to modern anime
June 8, 2011
Have you ever enjoyed some delicious food, only to have your dinner companion say some restaurant that closed down made the same dish better? Or you stumble out of a movie theater, your heart still racing from the events you witnessed on the big screen, when your friend turns to you and says, “It wasn’t as good as the book.” I’ve been that friend; I’ve laughed at someone fangasming over a song that was “just” a cover of a song by a band I had been listening to for years.
I’ve seen threads on the ‘Net asking what show is best for introducing people to anime. At least half the people commenting seem to think that new people shouldn’t be admitted into fandom without watching the original — the show that introduced super robots, or harem comedies, or defined the mahou shoujou genre. But what if we’re wrong? What if the best intro to modern anime is just an enjoyable show, that looks good. Maybe potential fans don’t care if a particular character type has been done a hundred times before?
Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria) has been panned for being derivative. It is full of anime cliches, and doesn’t try to cleverly deconstruct them. I wrote before about the Genre-mashup genre, but this isn’t it. Here anime conventions like harem hijinx, girls with guns, and a reluctant hero, whose genetic makeup makes him awesome under specific circumstances, are played straight. This might disappoint those who have seen it all, but newcomers to anime can enjoy it for what it is.
Some of the biggest complaints about Aria the Scarlet Ammo have been that the titular character is a DFC, twin-tailed tsundere. There is no way this can be original; it has been done so many times before, and — horrors! — she is voiced by Rie Kugimiya. For example, here is Psgels commenting on the show:
Oh GOD no. Not another Kugimiya Rie tsundere!? When will they ever stop!?
Psgels watches a lot of anime. He has seen the original. Maybe YOU have seen this character before too, but is it really that bad for someone new to laugh at an old joke? I taught my 7 year old niece this one just last week: “Is your refrigerator running?” Yes. “Then you better catch it before it gets away!” Har har har.
Is that it? a bundle of tropes? No. Aria the Scarlet Ammo actually has some decent action, and nice background music. The animation production studio is J.C. Staff. There are those that have said, this is just J.C. Staff doing the same show they always do, but the fact is, these are the guys who know how to do this kind of thing right. The character designs are good, the background artwork looks good, and they lined up a great cast. Honestly, if this show had come out twenty years ago, it would be hailed as a masterpiece. Looking for that first show to introduce a friend to anime? Introduce them to Aria the Scarlet Ammo, which is streaming by Funimation on Hulu. And for those of you who have already seen the original, approach the show with a beginner’s mind; you just might have a little fun.