Hey, everybody! This is an archived version of my Kämpfer liveblog from last year/early this year. I hope you guys enjoy it as much the second time around.
Love and Entrails,
When I first heard of this show (which was apparently based on a Light Novel series), my initial reaction was somewhere beetween 'cliche', 'what the hell is this' (and "isn't that the tree from My Neighbor Totoro", but that's beside the point); a wierd combination of feelings, considering it's pretty hard for something to be cliche and a Mind Screw at the same time.
Yesterday, I watched the first episode of the recent anime adaptation of Kämpfer, which just recently finished airing, completely out of curiosity. Then, I realized something shocking...
I actually enjoyed it. In a 'wtf just happened' way, but I liked it! I was surprised by how much action there was, even in the first episode, and the surprising lack of Gender Bender jokes (with the exception of a particularly hilarious one - the standard 'boy who turns into girl does not know how to pee' thing). Nonetheless, it was packed full of tropes, some way overused - I had to remind myself that Tropes Are Not Bad a few times.
Regardless, I knew my destiny was to watch every episode of this twisted genderfest (doesn't Twisted Genderfest sound like a band name? Oh, wait, tangent...) and riff on it endlessly.
In my best Linkara voice, without further ado, let's dig into Kämpfer episode one! Note.
The first episode of Kämpfer begins with a close up of a blue bracelet (oooh foreshadowing!), belonging to a blue-haired girl doing a ninja-run over some kind of highway. She's being chased by a red-haired girl in a similar outfit who's wielding a pistol. The scene is a pretty standard Cold Opening - with the exception of one thing...
THE BACKGROUND MUSIC. One of the first things I noticed about this show is the music. Half of the time, it's the standard 'bells and keyboard' type anime music, but the other half of the time it's freaking heavy metal! This happens throughout the course of the episode, but the show literally starts with this headbanging song right from the get-go. That was not something I was expecting. While it's not exactly Soundtrack Dissonance (it is an action scene, after all), it's not exactly the type of music you would expect from this show...if anything, after the heavy metal, the opening seems like Soundtrack Dissonance. Anyway, let's move on...
The entire cold opening has no dialogue (unless you count screams), leaving you to listen to the guitar riffs and some random background singer going "Hey! Hey! Hey!". A few fanservicey shots of Blue girl's Zettai Ryouiki later, Red girl pulls the trigger and knocks her off the building as the guitar reaches a screeching climax. Then, happy Magical Girl style opening! ...uh what. The OP is pretty standard, with the exception being a shot where the main character's (female) love interest kisses a weiner and it blushes. Er...
As the episode itself begins, we get a narration by who we later find is the main characters' mascot. I will talk about these later. BELIEVE me, I WILL talk about them. It talks about how the bracelet we saw is a binding contract and that the person who has one has been chosen as a Kämpfer, some kind of warrior, to fight...something.
Then, blue haired girl gets up in bed and starts talking about her chest. And her panties. She's obviously never seen these things before, which is your first hint that blue haired girl is actually blue haired ''guy''. This should come as no surprise if you know anything about the show, though. Freaked out blue haired girl, who we find out is named Natsuru, gets up and realizes that the voice talking to her is none other than her plushie, Hara Kiri Tiger. You read that correctly.
HARA. KIRI. TIGER. As if the point wasn't brought across, the poor stuffed animal's intestines are hanging out. If that still isn't enough, he (?) also makes the squelching sound of slimy entrails whenever he moves. In addition to these things, he's so cute it hurts.
I'm just gonna get this one out of the way. These "Entrail Animals", as they're called, play the standard 'mascot' role in Kämpfer: therefore, they appear in the show a lot. I generally love mascot characters too much for my own good (Mepple for the win!), but these guys, even after one episode, hold a very special place in my
intestines heart. They're just so adorably twisted; I can't get enough of them! In fact, they're probably the reason I'm even watching this show, with the slight exceptions of cool hair and stuff exploding. Of course...you can't get them in real life yet. There are real "Entrail Animals"◊, but they appear to only have been made for the show's actual cast. I've already looked all over the internet for them. GAHHHHRRRGH DEFICTIONALIZATION PLEASE HUMOR ME! AND MAKE ME A MAGICAL WARRIOR WITH COOL HAIR, TOO!
God: GET ON WITH IT!
Okay, okay! Anyway, Hara Kiri Tiger explains that he turned Natsuru into a girl because the Kämpfer can only be female for some reason. He also explains that the bracelet will glow before the sex change occurs, but doesn't explain what triggers it. As you can imagine, mascot abuse soon follows, and H.K. Tiger ends up slammed into the wall. It sucks being Mr. Exposition. However, the abuse is returned as H.K. Tiger kicks Natsuru in the face and knocks her out cold. Well, that came out of nowhere.
Male!Natsuru wakes up into a Catapult Nightmare (without the catapult, but just as suddenly), the bracelet is still there, blah blah let's move on.
It's here, at the well-known 'Bus Stop Scene' (tm), where we truly meet our main character, Natsuru. Now that he's got his natural-born-penis back...he's actually still pretty girly. Despite this, he does have a crush on a
fellow girl. Said girl is named Sakura, which shouldn't be too hard to remember if you've watched any anime in your life. The two of them converse and we learn that Hara Kiri Tiger (who could totally go into a career as a rapper, cuz' that name is SUPA FLY - look out for his self titled album Spring 2009!) was given to Natsuru by Sakura. I wish Sakura was my friend She apparently delights in giving disembowled stuffed animals to Pirka her potential boyfriends, which may or may not turn Natsuru on. Besides, as we can see from the opening, she really knows how to kiss weiners — okay, I'm sorry, I had to mention it here!!
The two have a bit of nervous banter while waiting for the bus, until, suddenly something begins happening to Natsuru that will change his life forever...his bracelet starts glowing (what did you think I was gonna say, you pervs?!). Uh oh, sex change approaching! Natsuru scrambles to get away before his balls shrivel up in the prescence of his to-be girlfriend.
Then, from across the street, RED HAIRED GIRL! DUNN DUN DUNNNN. She's got the gun and everything, which obviously isn't any kind of sexual metaphor. Natsuru begins his first transformation into a girl as exotic music plays (I laughed while writing this) and realizes "What happened last night wasn't a dream!". It took ya long enough, Natsuru! Also, the heavy-metal music starts up again, cuz' there's gonna be a CAAAAAT FIIIIIIGHT! MRRRROOOOOW~
Red girl says they have to fight because they're both Kämpfers, for those of you who didn't figure that out (like Natsuru). We now find out red haired girl is named Akane, so I can finally stop calling her out by her hair color. Even though her hair is awesome. I want that hair. Anyway, some epic jumping and shooting ensues while the two exchange in the well-known girly pastime of
shopping friggin' shooting people in their big, fat asses. This is the subtitle of what Akane says, despite the fact there aren't really any swears in Japanese. Or So Ive Heard.
Akane tries to hurt Sakura, and Natsuru jumps in to protect her. His passion causes him to shoot something out of his body at high velocity. Okay, okay, I'll stop! He shoots a fireball, which prompts Akane to remark that he/she is a "Zauber type". So there are subtypes of Kämpfers? This is more confusing than I thought. Natsuru tackles Akane and BOOBS ENSUE before Akane stops attacking for seemingly no reason. Sakura blushes at the sheer awesomeness of the blue-haired girl she's never seen before (as her hair spontaniously blows in the wind)! Uh-oh, someone's pulling a Kaorin!
Natsuru has since changed back to male form and gone to school, where he talks with his pervy photographer friend who reminds me of Brock. We find out the school is split into male and female sides, and Pirka groans at the possibility of hijinks ensuing due to this. Natsuru is called over to the female side by who he thinks is Sakura, but it's actually a nervous meganekko librarian chick who he's never seen in his life. He loses his boner of anticipation.
Then the girl reveals herself as AKANE OMG WHAT A TWIST. :O The Eyecatch is kind of disturbing. It's Natsuru in a maid outfit, and then a bikini, but something about the pose makes it Fetish Retardant. It looks like she's about to kill you, or at least rape you. This might just be me, though.
Back to the action! We resume at a library where Natsuru and Glasses!Akane are discussing their recent body changes. Wait, let me reword that...no, that's totally what they're doing. Akane says that her personality changes when she becomes a Kämpfer (by the way, special thanks to Nyktos for the umlaut!). Akane starts crying and several male viewers get tissue boxes. To wipe up her tears, obviously. OBVIOUSLY.
The two banter about their bracelets and how, since they both have blue bracelets, they're apparently on the same side (the 'enemy' bracelets are red). They also talk about how being near another Kämpfer triggers transformation. This scene is actually pretty good structure-wise and the way the exposition plays out is very 'real', which is saying something in a show about gender-bending superheroes with plushies called "Entrail Animals". Speaking of said plushies, Akane's plushie is...A BUNNY?! A SNARKY FREAKING BUNNY!? FFFFFFFF. This bunny is called Seppuku Kuro Usagi, which sounds less like the name of a rapper, but that's a small price to pay. S.K. Usagi explains that there are three 'types' of Kämpfer - ones that use guns, ones that use magic, and ones that use swords. When questioned about the Gratuitous German in this show, S.K. Usagi threatens to not be under my Christmas tree this year, so I shut up. No, wait, what really happens is he (?) calls Natsuru a retard for not being able to pronounce German. Note that he somehow does this while being at home in Akane's room. Er.
Here comes another weird part: Akane says S.K. Usagi's voice sounds like seiyuu Yukari Tamura, who, surprise surprise, voices the bunny. At first I thought this was a blatant attempt at Actor Allusion, but further research revealed that these references to voice actors sounding like the Animals was in the original novels! That's actually pretty neat and more than a little meta. But I digress.
The two Bosom Buddies (heh heh) discuss their Kämpfer-hood a little more. Akane apparently became a warrior when she woke up one morning and felt really hot, then found herself holding a big, long gun (despite the fact that, so far, she's been using a tiny pistol)...seriously, she says this. However, this time, the show actually uses the innuendo and we get the "I didn't mean it that way" convo. This would have probably been funnier if the show wasn't already full of Double Entendre, but it was funny regardless. Oh, and then Natsuru falls on top of Akane and pokes her with his 'stiff thing' (actually a book that fell...into her crotch...I'm not even touching that one). Then he tells her to stand up and she thinks he's talking about a boner...lol? You're getting a little blatant, guys! Subtle = funny, Blatant = not as funny!
Their sexual tension is interrupted by a girl who looks EXACTLY LIKE SAKAKI FROM AZUMANGADAIOH, except not as charming. She's apparently the Student Council President, and I know she's also a Kämpfer even though she's only been on screen for two seconds. After that bit of foreshadowing, Natsuru's bracelet starts glowing (but not Akanes?), leading to them talking up on DA GIRLZ SIGHDE of the school. A bit of talking (and one use of 'aroused' to mean 'angry' for no reason other than innuendo) later, Female!Natsuru needs to go to the bathroom. Awwwwkward. She gets into the girl's washroom (at least she got that right) but then has trouble figuring out how to do this. Even though I'm sure this joke has been done a zillion times, I still laughed at it. Make of that what you will.
Fast forward to the end of the day, where Natsuru (who is now male again - are you keeping track of this?) and Akane are walking home (?) together. Sakura shows up and tells Natsuru that there's someone she's TOTALLY CRUSHIN' ON. Of course, the grating irony is that it's him as a girl. But, he wants her to fall in love with his male form (holy crap the pronouns are driving me crazy).
Fast forward to next day at school. Natsuru and Akane are talkin' Kämpfer stuff when suddenly a GIANT SWORD ON A CHAIN breaks through the wall. The librarian curses the loudness of kids these days. Natsuru and Akane both transform (for your convenience: Natsuru is now female and Akane is now violent) to fight the menacing figure. They jump around, bookcases blow up, and the school starts a magazine fundraiser to pay for all the property damage. Just when the mystery enemy is cornered, it's revealed to be...
...SAKURA!? Woah, not even I was expecting that. I totally thought it was going to be Not-Sakaki (though I wouldn't be surprised if it was just Not-Sakaki appearing as Sakura or whatever). Akane readies to shoot her in the face. Natsuru tells her to stop, but Akane shoots anyway — and it cuts away to the ending song. A Cliffhanger!? Goddommit, Fronk!
The ending features a dance that probably involves dislocating your hips. It's like "Caprihina" on steroids, and it's pretty fun and/or painful to watch. Then we get several fanservice shots which would be pretty "meh" if it weren't for the fact it shows tiny pictures of the mascots peeking out from behind their clothing. The mascots really *do* make this show.
So, that's the first episode of Kämpfer. Writing this actually make me appreciate it a little more. I went back to see if there was anything I forgot, and through that I was able to really analyse the all-important "first impression". The weirdest thing about this show is what makes it not that impressive - the parts that make up the whole are good, but the whole seems...off. It's almost like they tried to stuff too much into one show.
I can haz "Entrail Animals"?