Reviews: Aria The Scarlet Ammo
Review of light novels with reference to anime: Clichéd, but strong when originality shines through
Aria the Scarlet Ammo is more or less built on clichés. Characters are constructed out of Moe tropes - the most Egregious being Aria herself, who reads like a parody of the Shana archetype - situations are painfully predictable, if played up to amusingly excessive levels: such as Aria falling out of the sky, the forced cohabitation and the Harem setup itself. The first three novels in the series - and the three arcs comprising the anime - follow almost exactly the same plot, only with - and here's where it gets interesting - increasingly epic battles. With the possible exception of Patra, each villain is more dangerous, despicable and features a more epic and longer fight scene than the last. It's when the series breaks out of the mould that its true quality shines through. Aria is barely in volume 6, because for her to be would be redundant. While Reki's Emotionless Girl characteristics fade to reveal that - shock! - she's not entirely empty, the situation is familiar but manages to be distinctive and hence more touching. Even Aria, who's probably the least developed of the TsundeRies I've seen, manages to be compelling when about once a volume she shows a characteristic not written into her Tsundere profile, most often about her past or some crap. Anyway, moving to the more general portion of my review: this series is pretty trashy and predictable, but ludicrously stylised. Volume 4 introduces deflecting a bullet with another as a top-level skill that's near-impossible; by the next volume they're doing the same thing without looking with dozens of bullets, IIRC. I don't know if I'd say each novel gets better, but it's a shame that the anime adapted only the three least interesting and original novels, with the least incredible fight scenes. Volume 7 is basically some exposition wrapped around half a novel's worth of fight scene. For the most part, the series is unremarkable, even mediocre, in most respects other than action scenes, but develops at parts an original identity which is stronger than its concept, which is basically a list of clichés and Moe tropes. Worth a watch if you turn your brain off at times, and looks quite pretty.