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Manga / Aoharu × Machinegun

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Aoharu × Machinegun (Aoharu × Kikanjū note ) is a shonen manga by NAOE, with a pair of oneshots starting it off in Monthly G Fantasy in 2012; it then ran as an ongoing series from 2013 to 2019. Its official Japanese website is here, but don't fret, it's also available in English courtesy of Yen Press.

Hotaru Tachibana is a girl in a guy's uniform who's the Student Council President and a pursuer of justice. Her friend Kanae got into trouble with a host so she chases down the guy responsible...and it turns out to be Masamune Matsuoka, her neighbor. After a gun fight (with BB guns), she ends up needing to pay compensation to the host club but Masamune says he'll reduce the huge fees if she does one thing: join him and his Childhood Friend, apartment sharer and hentai Mangaka Tohru Yukimura, in a survival game team which Masamune's dubbed Toy ☆ Gun Gun.

What happens next?

The trio strive to be the best survival game group in Japan, of course!

Aoharu × Kikanjū got a 2015 anime by Brains Base, its official Japanese website can be found here. It's streaming on Crunchyrollnote , HIDIVEnote , and Anime Lab note  and covers the events of the manga up to Chapter 16.

Let's start this deathless death match, shall we tropers?

  • Accidental Pervert: Once Hotaru's gender comes out, Haruki and Midori get this from Masamune and Tohru: Haruki for having accidentally touched her chest and Midori for sounding as if he did. Lampshaded when Tohru declares that he's supposed to be the perverted character and demands that they 'let him do something too.'
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Hotaru gets on her hands and knees after realizing that Masamune and Tohru are really badass at airsoft and how pathetic she was acting in comparison. This gets a lot of use in manga, mostly in the form of various members of Toy ☆ Gun Gun apologizing to each other for lying and/or letting each other down.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The title could mean "Youth x Machinegun" but doesn't due to this trope. It also doesn't mean "blue spring" (as in, the season) but if "aoharu" weren't katakana in the title furigana, it would.
  • Ambiguously Gay: A lot of the cast falls into this or Ambiguously Bi
    • Tooru is cares a lot about Masamune, and is often very affectionate with him. There are many scenes in the manga/anime as well as official art/omakes showing this. one of many examples. He also often calls Masamune attractive or cute, and blushes because of him.
      • And at the end of volume 5, there is an omake with Tooru saying to Hotaru that even though Masamune is usually pretty pathetic in the main story, he does have some cool moments. He then recalls a day when he asked Masamune to play one of his ero games with him, saying he wanted to get the "half-eros, half-emotional" experience by playing it with him. Masamune is hungover and tells him no, but Tooru won't give up so Masamune cups his hand over Tooru's mouth in an aggressive fashion and tells him to shut up. The next panel shows Tooru, being the masochist he is, saying "...okay" complete with a blushy face and a background of shoujo-style sparkles. He then is shown recalling this experience to Hotaru saying, "Ahhhh∼! At the time, I just thought, 'Do whatever you want with me!!' Seriously." Actually, most of the time when Masamune "takes charge" with him, Tooru is shown to be interested in it. Like in chapter 51, after this, Tooru says this
    • When Haruki loses the pre-match Rock–Paper–Scissors game against Team Wage Slave, one of the punishments Tohru suggests is 'kissing Haruki in public.' Then, since the match requires a member to be taken "hostage," Tohru says that he'd prefer Masamune rescue him but Haruki will do.
    • Masamune was very close friends with Midori for a long time, until Midori suddenly left him without an explanation. Because of this, Masamune still cares about Midori and still uses the guns they bought together. He also is obsessed with the idea of beating Midori.
      • Also he flirted with Hotaru when he first met her, while thinking she was a guy.
    • Midori. He is obsessed with Masamune and never misses an opportunity to sadistically torture him (emotionally or physically). There is the scene at the TGC for example. There is also a good amount of official art/omakes with them, the most notable being this. He has also always been very touchy-feely with Masamune, for example by cupping his chin or holding his hand. He also told Masamune when he first met him that “Your eyes are very beautiful. They are the color of the sky. (But) they would be nicer filled with tears,” then kabedons him. For the emotional side of things, in chapter 25, it is shown that Midori is carrying an old picture of him and Masamune. He drops it and Ichi finds it and says she has never seen Midori look that happy. When she returns it to him, he sadly puts it away remarking, “Why are there always gentle kids gathering around me...? Hey... Masamune” And in chapter 33, it is shown that before approaching Masamune in high school, Midori had been watching him from afar. Then in chapter 48, it’s pointed out that Midori still uses the guns he bought with Masamune.
    • Fujimoto is a Do-S who is always happy to be mistreated by Midori. He also very fond of him, and is implied to have a crush on him. He often blushes because of Midori and likes to receive affection from Midori, like by having Midori pat his head.
    • ...Haruka. With his twin brother, Haruki. Essentially confirmed in chapter 46.5.
    • Kanae. Watch this and tell me she’s not gay.
    • Making the case for Ambiguously Bi in TGG's second match, Hotaru and Tohru have a sparkly shoujo-style panel of Prince Hotaru vowing to rescue Princess/Hostage Tohru which continues when Hotaru actually rescues him. Tohru has also been trying to get Hotaru to let him touch her breasts since he found out she was a girl.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final chapter ends with a reunited Toy Gun Gun getting ready for the start of a new TGC tournament.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: This is a show that can afford to get away with the license, but it's conscious of it nonetheless. Example: In Episode 1 where Masamune shoots at Hotaru's torso, a warning pops up on screen saying you should never point guns or shoot them at people.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:Midori ultimately defeats Toy ☆ Gun Gun, securing yet another victory for Hoshishiro and Breaking the Fellowship. The manga continues from then on and ultimately has them make a comeback and win this time, but the anime ends there.
  • Bland-Name Product: Kanae uses "Doosle" to search up survival game information in episode 9.
  • Blood Knight: Some of the more aggressive players come off as this, and Hotaru seems to get a little too excited for combat. Her Battle Aura is enough to creep out the store owner in their mock-battle and later Midori during the TGC match; the manga eventually reveals her Blood Knight tendencies to be Hotaru's innate lust for and skill at combat, present since childhood, which might make her a danger to even her own teammates.
  • Boom Head Shot:
    • Done during the TGC tournament to Hotaru while she's fighting Midori.
    • Used again in the post-TGC target-range match between Hotaru and Midori. Not only does Hotaru land the headshot, she hit the target dead-center.
  • Camping Episode: In Chapter 26, Toy Gun Gun go camping as part of a training trip.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: This is a survival game manga so the "boys" are a given. The "pretty" is a little more extraneous, except maybe in Masamune's case because he's a host.
  • The Clan: The Tachibana family is implied to be this, as flashbacks show a traditionally Japanese Big Fancy House.
  • Cool Guns: All types of guns are showcased despite the series' name, from sniper rifles to handguns to miniguns. They're all BB-shooting replicas, though.
  • Credits Running Sequence: Hotaru starts running alone in the ending, but is joined by Masamune and Tohru.
  • Cruel to Be Kind:
    • Masamune forces Hotaru to join the opposing team at the end of episode 4, but the team's leader mentions a conversation between Masamune and Tohru that reveals the temporary team-switch to be this. Hotaru also watches as Masamune helps a newbie player on his team, much like he had done for her, and realizes how foolish and headstrong she'd been.
    • Masamune uses it again post-TGC, after he asks Hotaru if she likes survival games. After she says she does, he immediately tells her to quit the team and pushes her out of the apartment. Tohru outlines Masamune's thought process as this, noting that they lost two prior teammates due to Masamune's obsession with Midori and that Masamune was trying to protect Hotaru, but that doesn't stop Tohru from reading Masamune the What the Hell, Hero? act.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Midori vs Masamune and Midori vs Tohru in the first match of the TGC, which come one after the other.
  • The Day the Music Lied: In the anime version of the TGC match, an enraged Hotaru channels her inner bloodlust on Midori with her theme song playing... but ends up in his trap and is shot by Ichi.
  • Death Glare: How some players express their killing intent, such as Haruki. This is also frequently Tohru's reaction to Midori.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue takes place a few years later when Hotaru returns from America right on time to rejoin Toy Gun Gun for the TGC.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The trio who voice Toy ☆ Gun Gun sing the OP Bravest Destiny, and Hotaru's VA Mikako Komatsu sings the ED Gunjou Survival (Aquamarine Survival).
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • Hotaru has a habit of flying into Masamune and especially Tohru feet-first whenever she sees or suspects that they're doing something naughty, such as looking at adult books in public.
    • After shooting Hotaru with a water gun, Masamune jokes that she wet herself. A loud hit is heard and Masamune is buried in the ground, his legs sticking up as Tohru tries to calm Hotaru down.
    • Subverted in the manga as they don't seem to discriminate who they hit.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Hotaru has a Blood Knight moment against Fujimoto, rushing him to deny his range advantage and completely overwhelming him at short-range. When asked why she didn't shoot, Hotaru admits she left the safety on. Fortunately for her, Fujimoto is a good sport and allows her to win since he would've gotten shot with that maneuver, plus she damaged his mini-gun.
    • Kanae's race against Hotaru turns out this way. She seems extremely pumped up, as if she'll give the latter a challenge. Hotaru proceeds to win every race and Kanae's performance is so horrible that the other students start feeling bad for her. It's hilariously subverted after Hotaru thanks her for getting her out of her slump. Kanae, incredibly embarrassed by her friend's speech, then quickly dashes off into the distance, with one boy mentioning that she did a 50 meter dash in about 6 seconds.
  • Freudian Excuse: Masamune jokingly tells a lady that he doesn't allow girls on his team, which is later repeated by Captain Sagara. Tohru then explains: They used to have a girl on their team, but the opposing team stalked and brutally "killed" her while Masamune was forced to watch. She quit immediately afterwards. Tohru later clarifies that Masamune made up the "no women allowed" rule because he didn't want to seem so weak and helpless again; additionally, he was breaking tournament rules by taking part in the action after being hit.
    • Masamune gets a second one, revealed later in the manga, when it's revealed that a childhood filled with abandonment issues is why he's so hung up on Midori's kicking him from his team.
  • First Kiss: Hotaru has hers with Midori when she's stuck in the men's bath without a towel; Midori offers to give her his if she kisses him then and there (as a joke, but that is not clear to Hotaru).
  • Forced to Watch: Masamune was held down and forced to watch his teammate get "tormented" and "executed" in front of him.
  • Genre Shift: The series starts off as a comedy with quirky characters and airsoft-based action-scenes, eventually turning into a sports drama with increasingly dramatic elements that focuses on character dynamics and airsoft culture.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Midori takes Hotaru to a Maid Cafe which doubles as a shooting range.
  • Growling Gut: Hotaru's stomach does this at the maid cafe.
  • The Gunslinger: Almost everyone, even if the guns are fake.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Hotaru suffers a minor one, mostly played for laughs, after being forced to switch teams by Masamune during the first match against Captain Sagara. She recovers pretty quickly but immediately suffers another one after hearing that Toy ☆ Gun Gun doesn't allow girls on their team. This one sticks a little longer, as a huge competition was just days away and she had yet to tell them she was a girl. Then Tohru tells her why Masamune won't allow girls on his team and she's caught off-guard during their water gun fight.
    • She suffers another one after Toy ☆ Gun Gun loses to Hoshishiro, during which Midori rubs salt into the wound by humiliating them and gloating to Hotaru that he knew she was a girl while her own teammates didn't.
  • Hope Spot: Used a few times during the TGC tournament, where several moments give the impression that Toy ☆ Gun Gun could actually stand a chance. They really don't.
  • Host Club: Masamune works at one.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Chapter 36 is about Toy Gun Gun going to the hot springs at an inn. Hilarity Ensues when Hotaru decides to go to the men's bathroom so Matsuoka and Yukimura don't find out she's a girl.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: A platonic version in Tooru, who has apparently dedicated his life to supporting Masamune, even taking up airsoft in the first place to help Masamune get back at Midori.
    • Kanae as well, encouraging Hotaru to return to airsoft because it makes her happy despite the fact that Kanae would prefer Hotaru not be involved in such a weird/dangerous hobby.
  • Killing Intent: Some of the TGC opponents and Haru-Haru to Hotaru before matches. Hotaru notably has one when fighting for a particular goal, referred to as "blood-lust mode".
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In some competitions, like TGC, you are allowed to physically touch opponents to score a hit. In all games, once the person calls 'hit', their match ends and they leave the field. Since survival games generally don't have judges in the field, they're dependent on the integrity of both teams. In the first match of the TGC, Midori pins Masamune away from the others and covers his mouth before shooting him directly in the stomach. Since Masamune can't yell 'hit', Midori is "technically allowed" to continue shooting him until the gun runs out of ammo.
    • In episode 12, Hotaru enters a one-on-one deathmatch against Masamune. Though Hotaru loses the first match, she asks for another game. When he complains that he won, Hotaru responds that she never said there was a limit to the number of matches. Masamune obliges, if nothing else to let her get it out of her system.
  • Maid Cafe: Midori takes Hotaru to one when she was feeling down. Turns out it doubles as a shooting range!
  • Mistaken for Gay: Hotaru asks Tohru if Masamune doesn't like girls for some reason. While she was talking specifically about girls not being able to join Toy ☆ Gun Gun, he immediately assumes Masamune was just deflecting when he talks about how attractive women are.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens several times, like Hotaru being kicked off Toy ☆ Gun Gun and Tohru's powerful What the Hell, Hero? moment to Masamune being followed by Tohru realizing he's just stormed out of his own apartment.
    • The scene at the airsoft store goes from light-hearted to oppressive after Hotaru goes upstairs, then leads directly into a gag where Midori torments Tohru by opening his new game first, then abruptly gets serious again as Midori makes some ominous predictions about the upcoming TGC games, then goes into another gag about Hotaru's inexperience and terrible aim.
  • My Greatest Failure: Hotaru finds out why Masamune says he doesn't allow girls on his team: As a result of a girl getting tormented in-game while he was forced to watch, he doesn't like the idea of a girl on his team again.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight: Toy ☆ Gun Gun's match against Team Nine Tails.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Hotaru's quest for vengeance for Kanae results a lot in damaged property at the Host Club Masamune works at. He makes her pay it off by having her join his team in survival games.
    • Early on, Hotaru's constant Leeroy Jenkins "tactics" ends up getting her hit almost immediately in almost every match. Eventually Masamune gets tired of her antics and throws her on the other team.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: Masamune uses this against Tohru when the latter complains about being tired after a short run, claiming that he'd be useless in combat with such low stamina. Tohru suddenly has the urge to take part in the training.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: The first team that Toy ☆ Gun Gun competes against are notorious cheaters with a habit of not calling out when they get hit.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Hotaru first meets Tohru, she's exiting the women's changing room and is mistaken for a boy. Tohru assumes "he" was in there to 'fantasize' and approves, much to Hotaru's moritifaction.
  • One Bullet Left: Aversion - Masamune only puts in one pellet at the beginning of his duel against Hotaru as a handicap.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: Occurs in a Flash Back during Episode 9, with Hotaru giving her teammates encouragement during a dodgeball match they were losing. Though it's not initially heard what she says, it seems to give her teammates some hope. The end of the episode reveals her saying that it would be worse for them to give up before even trying, which Kanae uses to get Hotaru out of her Heroic BSoD.
  • Serious Business: The airsoft "survival games," lampshaded a few times when it's pointed out that it's not actual combat and features toy guns. This does nothing to change anyone's attitudes.
  • Slasher Smile: Often a result of Hotaru's 'blood-lust'.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: A lot of the girls Hotaru goes to school with unknowingly play into this, as Kanae has to tell them that Hotaru's actually a girl. Also Masamune is shown to be attracted to Hotaru before he learns she's a girl, though that may have been his "host sense" subconsciously recognizing her as female.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Oftentimes there are extended dialogue scenes during the battles. Almost no action takes place until said dialogue scene is finished.
  • Theme Naming: Outside of Toy ☆ Gun Gun and Hoshishiro, many of the named TGC contestants follow a particular name pattern of '[Number] [Animal/Creature]. For example, Team Nine Tails and Team Eleven Dogs.
    • Many of the characters have the names of notable warlords and samurai, including all of Teams Toy ☆ Gun Gun and Hoshishiro and even some of the minor characters, like Captain Sagara.
  • Title Drop: Several episodes of the anime have the title of each episode dropped.
    • Hotaru drops the episode title at the end of the fifth (I Don't Want to Leave This Team) and the sixth (The Storm is Coming) episode.
    • Midori drops the title of Episode 8 (What Controls Your Mind Now) to Hotaru upon defeating her. Also doubles as a Wham Line.
    • Kanae drops the title of Episode 9 (That's What Makes Me Cool) to Hotaru when challenging her to a race.
    • Hotaru drops the title of Episode 10 to Masamune (I Want to Fight With These People) when explaining her love for survival games.
    • At the end of Episode 11, Hotaru drops the title of the episode to Masamune again (Let's Do Something Fun) when she challenges him to a one-on-one duel.
  • To Be a Master: The desire of all teams to come out on top at the TGC national competition is a driving force behind the matches, but it's especially strong motivation in the case of Team ☆ Gun Gun because their grudge against Midori means It's Personal.
  • Tournament Arc: Around half of the manga takes place in the TGC tournament where Toy Gun Gun must win against several teams before facing Hoshishiro in the finals.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Subverted during the TGC match. Despite several Hope Spots, Midori takes out Toy ☆ Gun Gun almost single-handedly, finding time to inflict physical and mental torture along the way and afterward gloating about the years of hopelessness that Masamune and Tohru have endured. We're then matter-of-factly informed that Team Hoshishiro won the tournament for the fifth year in a row.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Yukki to Mattsun, to the point where it's basically his defining trait, and later Hotaru to the former two.
    • Kanae to Hotaru, who helps her friend out of a Heroic BSoD after losing in the TGC tournament.
  • Wham Episode:
    • When facing off with Masamune and Tooru in the TGC match, Midori takes his sweet time destroying both them both, physically and mentally crushing Masamune and physically overwhelming Tooru . When Tachibana shows up and gets the upper hand, Midori reveals that he knows her secret - her actual gender - and freezes her long enough for Ichi to snipe her, then tells Hotaru that lying to stay on the team makes her "evil" despite her claims of justice.
  • Wham Line:
    • After the first match against Captain Sagara's team, she mentions that Toy ☆ Gun Gun doesn't allow girls on their team. And Hotaru hadn't yet told the others about her true identity...
    • Masamune delivers one to Hotaru after a light-hearted yakiniku party, asking if she likes survival games. After Hotaru's enthusiastically positive reply, he immediately tells her to quit the team and pushes her out of the apartment.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tooru does this to Masamune after their yakiniku party for kicking Hotaru off the team. While Tooru initially says that he understands why Masamune did it, he follows it up by punching him, chewing him out, declaring that he won't go along with Masamune's decision, and storming out.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Kanae sees how depressed Hotaru becomes, she recalls an earlier event where Kanae encouraged her teammates to continue playing a dodgeball game where they were losing every match. She ends up racing her and bringing up said event, which helps Hotaru out of her Heroic BSoD.
  • You Are Too Late: Midori tells Hotaru this when she shows up after he's already curbstomped Masamune and Tohru during the TGC match.

Alternative Title(s): Aoharu X Machinegun