Anime Spotlight: Upotte!!

Upotte!! is an original net animation that is based on a manga by Kitsune Tennouji. The series was streamed on both Nico Nico Douga and Crunchyroll from April 8-June 9, 2012. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution rights for Upotte!!.

Upotte!! is set at Seishou Academy, which has elementary, middle school and high school classes; the main focus of the series is on students at the middle school campus. A newly transferred male teacher discovers that there’s more to the students than meets the eye. While the girls are expert shooters, and practice shooting guns every day at school, they are also anthropomorphized guns. Unfortunately for this male teacher, he is the only actual human character in the series.

Funco is a Belgian FN FNC, and is the main heroine of the series. She’s small and energetic, and tends to react violently when the male teacher says something he doesn’t mean. Even though the teacher inadvertently insults Funco, she does still care about him… to the point of dreaming of him choosing her as his personal weapon. Funco also has an older sister at the school, a high schooler named Faru.

Ichiroku is Funco’s best friend. She has a rough personality, but she is also kind. Ichiroku is an American M16A4 assault rifle, and her older sister, Ichiyon, is also a high school student at Seishou Academy. Eru, a British L85A1 assault rifle, is shy and clumsy. Sig is a Swiss SG 550 assault rifle; she gets good grades, but she can be a bit flaky at times.

Over the course of the series, it can be easy for the viewer to start forgetting that the girls are supposed to be anthropomorphized guns, since they act very much like regular middle schoolers do. It doesn’t help that Upotte!! relies a bit on fanservice for its humor, which reinforces the idea that the characters are middle school girls. Also, the characters go through some of the typical events that Japanese students of this age level go through; the series has the requisite school festival episode and beach episode, for example. At least the dialogue does remind the viewer that these girls are supposed to be anthropomorphized guns.

Even though Upotte!! has cute-looking animation and main characters who are middle school girls, the actual content of the series is definitely not being aimed at a young audience. But to be honest, I think that if you strip away much of the fanservice, there’s actually a decent series to be found. The idea of guns being anthropomorphized into middle school girls is an interesting concept, and there’s some decent character development here. While the fanservice in Upotte!! will appeal to a certain segment of the anime fandom, it doesn’t add anything to this show for me. Personally, I think it would be a stronger series without it, but that’s just me.

In the end, I’m glad I saw Upotte!!, so I can at least say I’ve seen the series in its entirety. However, this isn’t the type of show I would add to my anime home video library, and it’s also not a series I will likely go out of my way to ever watch again. It was decent enough for one viewing, but it wasn’t a strong enough series to warrant repeat viewings.

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