“Personally, I think he’s just afraid of the headshot! HEADSHOT!” —FPS_Doug, Pure Pwnage
According to my archives, I followed no anime from the Spring 2012 period, given that I was engaged with coursework during that time. However, the situation has changed somewhat, and I now find myself feeling a wish to take a second look at some of the Spring 2012 offerings. Ever since picking up and playing Battlefield 3, Upotte!! and Stella Women’s Academy are the two anime that come to mind wherever gun play is involved. In Upotte!!, events occur at a school known as Seishou Academy. Unlike an average school, all the students are actually anthropomorphized guns, training to one day become a useful weapon, and is divided up into elementary school (sub-machine guns), middle school (assault rifles), and high school (battle/sniper rifles). All students in Seishou trains to shoot their target (literally) using live ammunition. The series mainly focuses on an FN FNC assault rifle nicknamed Funco and her friends. The premise doesn’t really make sense from a practical perspective, but I had heard that Upotte!! was, in a way, similar to Stella Women’s Academy, which I had enjoyed back during 2013 prior to Battlefield 4‘s release. Of course, after having bought Battlefield 3, I’ve now put in some 15 hours and have figured out my play-style as far as weapons and aims go. In most games, I’ll act as a medic, gaining most of my kills while trying to clear out an area so I can revive people, or suppressive class, placing ammunition kits and laying down heavy suppressive fire at choke points. Because I favour close quarters combat, I typically equip a Kobra sight or holographic RDS for my weapons, a laser sight and extended magazines. Of course, there is no HK 416 or LMGs in Upotte!!, but how does the rest of the anime fare?
- Upotte!! is perhaps one of the most unusual anime in my library and one I would not readily recommend to anyone on the grounds that there are questionable points. Before I go further, the anime states that when the girls fire the guns, the results are non-lethal.
- Because different components of the rifle correspond to different anatomical regions, Funco’s design leaves for some rather crude humour and she hospitalises her homeroom teacher after he accidentally mentions it in front of the others. Anyone who has played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 may crack a joke about the Frostbite 1.5 engine here as Funco’s gunfire collapses one of the buildings on campus grounds.
- Jeethree and Ichiyon share conversation here: the former represents the German G3A3 battle rifle, and the latter is an American M14 battle rifle. She has a tomboyish personality: beautiful if she stays quiet, but she’s often crude and rowdy. Jeethree is an interesting character: despite her strict appearance (and resemblance to Shiho Nishizumi of Girls und Panzer or Stella Women’s Academy‘s Rin Haruna), she is very kind.
- The FN FNC is a rifle developed in 1975-1977, being a selective-fire, rotary bolt weapon of Belgium origin. With an effective range of 250-400 meters, and a firing rate of roughly 650 rounds per minute, it is chambered for the 5.56 x 45mm NATO round. An energetic girl, Funco displays an attraction towards her homeroom teacher, although she reacts negatively whenever her skeleton stock is mentioned. I don’t think the FNC exists in Battlefield 3, although having seen how she reacts to thoughts about being deployed for service, I think I’m happier not using the gun as my mainstay. I’ll stick to my trusty HK 416, thank you very much.
- For what it’s worth, Upotte!! presents to users a reasonable introduction to some of the assault rifles around the world. In Battlefield 3, assault rifles are the mainstay of the assault kit. This kit handles general purpose engagements at medium to long ranges and can equip a medical kit, as well as a defibrillator for reviving downed teammates. Conversely, the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 assault kit is intended as a support class for providing ammunition.
- The SIG SG-550 rifle is chambered for a 5.6 x 45mm GP90 cartridge, which has further range than the lighter NATO rounds. Her grades are top notch and she’s an honor student, but a bit slow on the uptake on occasion. Sig excels at longer range combat and can operate in colder temperatures. In Battlefield 3, the SIG SG-553 is available as a carbine to the engineer kit and has clear iron sights. I’ve yet to actually unlock this.
- The Colt M16A4 is the fourth generation of the M-16 rifle series and fires in three-round bursts or semi-automatically. Originally intended for use in the Vietnam War, the M16 was touted as a self-cleaning rifle and proved to be so unreliable that US soldiers often chose to use AK-47s picked up from the Viet Cong. After improvements were made to the rifle, the M16 became a mainstay of the US Armed Forces. Despite having a foul mouth with Osaka dialect, Ichiroku is very kind. Ichiroku has a large number of fans, as she is usually photographed for the cover of specialized gun magazines. In non-combat action, she tends to rapidly alternate between bursts of activity and sudden rests, relating to her namesake’s three-round burst fire only capacity.
- Elle represents the L85A2 rifle, an improved variant of the SA80 rifle, but the poor quality plastic meant the gun was damaged easily; the magazine release catch was easily knocked accidentally and dropped the magazine. Moreover, the catch on the housing over the gas mechanism was too weak and constantly popped open, so it had to be taped down; only 26-28 rounds could be loaded in a magazine because the springs were weak, and it also had to be kept very clean and the lips checked for dents. As a result of its temperament, the L85A1 initially had a poor reputation amongst British Soldiers and Royal Marines as being unreliable and fragile. Elle embodies these traits, being shy and clumsy. Despite her unreliable nature and the habit of breaking a lot, she endures for the sake of her friends, and her interactions end up being quite endearing, even if the L85A1 would probably not be my go-to choice for an assault rifle.
- One review claims that the art in Upotte!! is “horrible”, but fails to explain why this is the case. Because there is no argument, that claim is utterly worthless. A look at this screenshot is sufficient to challenge that claim; the lighting effects in Upotte!! are very nice, and the characters themselves are consistent with the high quality I’ve come to expect of anime.
- Owing to its content, Upotte!! is something I’ll probably watch somewhere secure, away from curious eyes (as I did with Infinite Stratos and are currently doing with Super Sonico). This show probably isn’t for everyone, and it’s definitely not something that one should readily mention as a preferred anime. This does lead to the question of why I’m watching it: the answer to that is that I enjoy things with cheap laughs. Not all anime has to be intellectually stimulating to be good.
After the first episode, I realise this is going to be a purely comedy driven series with nothing in the way of story, which acts as a sort of promotional series for the various rifles used in modern warfare, whether it be the GP90 rounds used by the SIG-552 rifle for improved accuracy, or the M16A4’s burst firing as a means to conserve ammunition in closer-range firefights (I myself use semi-automatic fire at longer ranges on unsuspecting targets). Because the girls in the anime are anthropomorphic representations of the assault rifles, things get a little hectic as far as character interactions go (especially in regard to assault rifle design and how it translates to physical attributes for the girls). These elements do contribute to the humour, though, so I don’t particularly mind it (even the more risqué aspects, such as Funco’s rather indecent thoughts). Upotte!! is said to be one of the most controversial anime of the 2012 season, although a bit of inquisition finds that the controversy is limited to only a few locations, with criticisms being the oft ill-defended “wasted potential” and “mediocrity”. However, these points are invalid for the same reasons that one cannot perform in Battlefield when they treat their recon class as an assault class: Upotte!! is a fun anime above all else, emphasising ludicrous moments and set-ups in a light hearted environment to show off the personalities for service weapons, so it is hardly surprising that the story is of a lesser priority. I will continue with this anime for its entertainment factor and continue unlocking things in the assault kit such that I may try out the M16A4 myself: as I accumulate kills and accessories for the gun, I imagine I could turn it into a weapon that behaves like Halo 2, 3 and 4‘s battle rifles.