Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hidan no Aria AA review

When they first announced a new Aria anime I assumed we might be getting a sequel to the original Hidan no Aria, which to be honest I enjoyed so much back then. However instead of a sequel, we got Hidan no Aria AA (pronounced Double-A) a spin off series that takes place around the same time. At first I was skeptic on how it will turn out, when I realised the main character is no longer Kinji, the male protagonist from the original story. Turn out I was right; the lack of male character as a whole replaced by yuri fanservice and terrible fight scene despite the amazing art, animation and music placed this anime way behind its predecessor.

A young girl idolizes the world-renowned S-ranked butei Kanzaki H. Aria and plans to follow in her footsteps; however, her test grades turn out as only an E-rank! All is not lost, however, as Aria agrees to give her some pointers. Can Aria help this newcomer become a first-rate butei? (Source: MAL)

For starters Hidan no Aria AA can pretty much be watched even without seeing the original as it has no ties with it(As far as the anime is concerned), Previous knowledge of the series just gives you a little more insight into Aria's character and you'll recognize some of the older characters who make cameo appearances and of course knowledge of the Hidan no Aria world which they do explain in the beginning of AA as well.

The story is a trainwreck if I must describe it. Half of the episodes follows the main protagonist, Mamiya Akari as she try her best to follow her beloved senpai Aria footsteps and fawned over her again and again. As such, she undergoes training along with her friend to prove that she can be Aria mentee. The story seems fine and simple at first, with little to no progression with some episodes sidetracked and tell the story from the viewpoint of other characters before focusing back on Akari. Most of them however are just yuri fanservice with characters fawning over each other; from senior to junior, mentor to mentee and rival to rival yuri relationship. At first it was fine and all, but after a while it get old really fast, making you wonder what is actually the point of putting so much yuri element in the first place. Then the story shifted back to a more serious tone near the end, with a sudden, ridiculous plot twist that makes the story to become more than some sort of joke. The serious part comes out as forced, with rushed pacing. The premise of having the main character to become suddenly so powerful and developed some sort of superpower at the end despite not showing it earlier is a total nonsense, but nevertheless you just had to accept it. Story aside, the fight scene for the most part are just plain bad. While the animation itself looks really good, the way they choreograph and execute it is just a total mess. As a whole, compared to the original story in itself, Double-A is just a trainwreck of an anime.

As for the characters, we have a cast of uninteresting and forgetful characters ranging from generic archetype to boring, plain personalities. The main character, Mamiya Akari is your generic, cheerful girl that makes everyone around her to be happy, at least until she herself fall into some sort of depression at time. Despite being clumsy, she does not, or don't want to show her true ability despite wanting to be a peer to her mentor, Aria. That in itself is ridiculous, since her ideal of not wanting to kill or hurt someone contradicts her job as a butei. Kanzaki Aria, the returning character from the original series, looks much more boring and stuck-up in this spin-off. She acted way to high and mighty at time, but can be too nice and understanding with her junior. The tsundere badass heroine Aria we know is gone, replaced with a more pathetic version of her. As for the other characters, there are not much worth mentioning since most of them are just plain flat in term of characters and personalities. Their character development is little to none as the story progress, replaced by repetitive yuri action and characters fawning with each other. Other original characters of the series do make appearance, but mostly as cameo which is really a shame.

The art and animation are the strongest point of the show. The usage of variety of colour palettes, from vivid, colourful tone of their daily high school life to a much darker, intense tone to signify a more serious, action packed scene really gives a huge contrast. The characters are drawn really nicely to accentuate their appeal and the way their emotion are portrayed by various nicely drawn expression takes the viewer attention towards the character. The background are shown really nicely, with  clean, sharp art. The usage of variety camera angle to portray each scene was also a nice touch. The animation is fluid and smooth, making the action to look really impressive, visually. The usage of different kind of special effects also makes the animation to stand out more; from bullets, to electric to explosions. As for the sound, the OP uses rock music that fits in with the theme of the series, which is really enjoyable to hear. The ED has a more relaxed, sweet music, which sometimes works if the episode ended in a nice, happy tone. The OST as a whole are really enjoyable to hear, ranging from techno, rock or classical music for a faster paced scene to cheerful, happy music for a more relaxed scene.

Do I enjoy this anime? To a certain extent, I actually enjoyed the anime despite the below average story and lack of original casts. There is a certain charm that makes me wanting to watch this anime every week, like some sort of drugs. You know it's bad, but you can't stop watching it. Do I recommend this anime? If you are a fan of the original series, you might want to try watching this, but don't expect too much however. If you are not, you can still watch it as a standalone, or safely avoid it without missing too much.

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