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Manga / Saikano

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Saikano, a.k.a. Saishuu Heiki Kanojo; She, the Ultimate Weapon; My Girlfriend, the Ultimate Weapon. In the French translation, Larme Ultime, a pun on "the ultimate weapon" (l'arme ultime) and "ultimate tear".

The tentative budding relationship between petite Chise and bitter, emotionally distant Shuuji becomes a little more complicated when Shuuji discovers that Chise has been converted into a living weapon of mass destruction by the JSDF.

Originally a manga series by Shin Takahashi, it was adapted into a 13-episode anime in 2002. An OVA side-story was released in 2005, Saikano: Another Love Song, as well as a live-action movie in 2006. The manga is licensed Viz Media, they had the anime too, but they lost the license as evidenced by the recent announcement of the anime being rescue licensed by Sentai Filmworks.


This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Chise
  • Adaptation Distillation: The anime removes some of the extreme Mood Whiplash present in the manga.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime adds some characters and scenes to fill in the parts with long monologues.
  • Anyone Can Die: No character is safe; by the end of the story, the only two named characters that are still alive are Chise and Shuji... out of everyone in the human race. It’s also debatable whether or not Chise is actually still ‘alive.’.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0 or 1 (at the beginning of the series), and a Class 5 at the end.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: Chise gradually grows in power to the point that she can easily annihilate anyone and anything she chooses. By the end of the series, she does exactly that to humanity.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Chise, at the start of the series; this fades away, along with her humanity.
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  • Artistic Age
  • Art Major Biology/Art Major Physics: Let's cover both at once: There is no way that anything that happens with Chise's transformations into the Ultimate Weapon or what she does with her power is remotely possible in Real Life.
  • Art Shift: The art frequently shifts to Super-Deformed when Chise and Shuji are talking with their friends, especially when Chise gets embarrassed or Shuji gets mad.
  • Ax-Crazy: "YOU IDIOTS, shoot if you dare. Sorry, you're all going to die."
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In the manga, while nipples are shown for both genders, genitals are either not drawn at all or only partially rendered, despite a number of full-frontal scenes with Chise and the various sex scenes (especially in the second and final volumes).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arguable in the Manga ending. Shuji and Chise (albeit, as an intangible spaceship/hologram Chise) end up together after all, with nothing to tear them apart. They seem fully content with this situation. Shuji's final words in the Manga: "It was our love song. We're going to fall in love. We're going to live.", plus, from author's end notes: "Chise and Shuji are not happy, but they are not unhappy, either. There is no hope, but there are memories and there may be a future."
  • Black Comedy: Along with Gallows Humor below, there's a sequence in the manga where after Chise and Shuji run away and start hitchhiking, they eventually get picked up by a military truck. Chise says off-handedly that everyone that knows what she actually is is already dead. The punch line to this is that the soldiers on the truck DO recognize Chise and know what she is and have a collective Oh, Crap! in their thought bubbles.
  • Blessed with Suck
  • Body Horror: Chise's uncanny body, and taken Up to Eleven
  • Broken Bird: Fuyumi.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The show is mildly optimistic for all of one episode or so. It goes downhill very, very fast after that.
  • Character Development: Arguably the main draw of the show.
  • Chewing the Scenery
  • Child Soldiers:
    • Chise
    • The teen boys in the Japanese army.
  • Clothing Damage: At the very least, Chise's transformations tear out the backs of her blouses, and sometimes completely shred them. As the story progresses and the transformations get more bizarre, this happens to the rest of her clothes.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Chise. Also partly a case of Obfuscating Stupidity when she acts like an ordinary schoolgirl.
  • Creepy Child: Chise's Superpowered Evil Side plays with this trope.
  • Crucified Hero Shot
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Viewers often comment that if you want a happy ending to the series you should stop after Shuji and Chise skip town and go on the run from the military, because the final three episodes go quickly, horribly, and tragically downhill after that.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl
  • Determinator: One of the main themes is people's amazing will to survive even though they know they're doomed.
  • Deus Angst Machina: It can always get much worse.
  • Downer Ending: Seriously, every voice in your head that says “Dont worry, it will get better...” either stop listening to them or stop watching.
  • Driven to Suicide: The nervous, sweaty middle-age man who oversees Chise's transformation.
  • Dubtitle: Saikano, at least in the OVA, was partially dubtitled. Sometimes the subtitles differed considerably from the dub, but at other times they matched the dub perfectly. Especially noticeable in some sections where the dub dialogue was a radical departure from the original Japanese.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Akemi gives one to Shuuji.
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • Emotionless Girl: Subverted. Near the end, Chise does have emotions, but she doesn't quite understand them.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Set Just Before the End.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: At the end, Shuuji is the only human left on the desolated Earth. An early fan sub of the series put a disclaimer on the third to last episode: "A friendly warning from the team: This is the end of happiness in Saikano. If you would prefer the anime to have a happy end, consider stopping here and pretending there are no more episodes. Continuing will only bring misery and pain. You have been warned..." Never has a better synopsis of a final episode been written.
  • Face Fault
  • Fan Disservice: Usually involves Chise's scars and lack of control over her transformation.
  • Fanservice
  • Fatal Family Photo: All of the characters that carry the photos of their loved ones to war die horribly. Their loved ones die too.
  • Femme Fatale: Fuyumi.
  • Gallows Humour: Where do we start? Pretty much the whole series is this, particularly when the focus shifts to the military men.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The tsunami at the end.
  • Gratuitous French:
    • Random lines of it appear in the opening sequence. It's all correct, apart from suspect pronoun usage.
    • Some of the soldiers Chise kills in the manga are Francophones and speak pretty good French in the text.
  • Hammer Space: Chise has to have something like this. That or she fabricates the things on the spot.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: If "half human, half killing machine" fits into this trope.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Chise occasionally gives this to soldiers. Sometimes from her own side.
  • Hell Seeker: Tetsu wants to go to hell because he thinks that's where he'd go after death and that death is the only way out of his misery.
  • Heroic RRoD
  • Hopeless War: The entire point of Saikano is that one of these is causing the death of the planet. Chise pulls a planet-wide Mercy Kill to keep everyone from suffering any more; the series is exactly two characters away from a full-on Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • Hot for Student: Fuyumi, in flashbacks.
  • How We Got Here: The first episode of the anime opens with a haggard young man wearing broken glasses staggering through a deserted town, a service so that you don't mistakenly waste any hope on him later.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Shuuji is fairly tall, while Chise is very petite.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Not played entirely straight, but the show makes it clear that everyone is guilty to some extent. At the same time, some passages sing the beauty of human life and the merit of committing to memory the fact that humans existed.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Shuuji. He gets better.
  • Just Before the End: Saikano begins with everything apparently peaceful, although the weather has gotten bizarre. As Chise reveals at the end, the world was actually dying from the start. She performs a Mercy Kill on all living things to spare them the pain of dying slowly with the planet. The manga is more hopeful, in that the by-then transhuman Chise survives, as does her still-human boyfriend. They set off to explore the universe, hopefully to find someone they can talk to.
  • Kill All Humans: Chise eventually comes to the conclusion that this is the only way to end all war. She succeeds.
  • Kill 'Em All: This series gives Space Runaway Ideon a run for its money in a quarter of the episodes.
  • Light Is Not Good: When Chise uses her abilities, she starts to glow a bright white, looking almost angelic. Unfortunately, this is usually followed by lots and lots of people dying.
  • Last of His Kind: By the end of the series, Shuji is the last human alive, since Chise doesn't count as human anymore.
  • Live-Action Adaptation
  • Living Emotional Crutch: In the beginning, Chise is acting as Shuuji's crutch. By the end, Shuuji is the crutch to an emotionally destroyed Chise.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: At the end of the anime version, Chise's spirit creates one for Shuuji to help him cope with the fact that everyone else in the world has died.
  • Love Dodecahedron
  • Luminescent Blush: This is the default expression of everyone, to the point where the blush sometimes appears to be coming off character' faces and can occasionally get quite distracting.
    • The overuse of luminescent blushing leads to the strange effect that it doesn't even indicate if a character is really blushing or not. Only when the face of someone turns glaring red, you can tell that he is in an emotional state that would cause a blush (if it wasn't already there).
  • Made of Iron
  • Magical Girlfriend: Deconstructed in a horrifically mean-spirited way.
  • Manly Tears: Especially Shuuji.
  • Mauve Shirt: The story will often build up characters just to kill them off horribly in the war segments.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In the manga, one character mentions that "Chise" means "the hearth" or "home" in the Ainu language.
    • Tetsu ("iron") might be another case.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Tetsu to another soldier.
    • Chise to the entire human race.
      • Subverted in the anime. Chise wants to do this to spare everyone the suffering of the world ending but Shuuji tell her not to, that everyone has the right to live even in the face of doom.
  • Mix and Match: School life (a bit on the Moe side) + war/mecha + Magical Girlfriend + pure horror with a side of Tear Jerker
  • Mood Whiplash: Probably one of the most egregious and extreme cases in manga. Ordinarily happens several time on the same page.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: If you only read the first volume, you will think the manga is over. When you begin the second volume you will think it's an Anthology of happy little feel good Shojo oneshots instead of the most horrible and depressing War Drama ever. In the end the Heroine has to watch her boyfriend starve to death. And it's all her fault. You want to read the first chapter again and pretend the whole rest of the series was just a bad dream.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Chise practically is one, given her unstoppability and growing reputation for total destruction.
  • One-Winged Angel; Chise, and simultaneously literal and metaphorical.
  • Only One Name: According to Word of God, this was in order to create an atmosphere of familiarity with the characters.
  • Oracular Urchin: Chise increasingly knows what will happen as a result of the war.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Shuji. He doesn't have any powers, but his relationship with Chise is the one grounding element that she has that keeps her relatively sane as the story progresses.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Happens to Chise at the very end of the manga.
  • Painful Transformation: While it's inconsistently portrayed (at least in the manga), the more extreme renditions of Chise's transformations into the Ultimate Weapon are agonizingly painful for her.
  • Panty Shot
  • Person of Mass Destruction: As the Ultimate Weapon, Chise can unleash horrific destruction when she's of a mind to do so.
  • Pet the Dog: Chise and Shuuji love kitties. They die horribly.
  • Plot Hole: Could be said to be voluntary. The fact that we never learn who's at war with whom and the identity of the Big Bad strengthens the status of Saikano as an allegory about war at large. Similarly, knowing how come Chise is chosen to become the ultimate weapon and how on earth that actually works isn't quite the point. See The Un-Reveal.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Double subversion. We learn fairly early on that some soldiers speak English. Then Tetsu meets up with soldiers and tries to talk them down in English. They don't understand English.
  • Pun-Based Title: The French title.
  • Raging Stiffie: Manga-only; Shuji.
  • Rape as Drama: In a volume of canon stories happening in the universe of Saikano, one story focuses on the relationship between a teen soldier and a girl who got raped by soldiers from the other side. Particularly jarring since he waited for them to be finished before he killed them because he knew they'd feel 'spent' after sex. And since they supposedly fall in love he convinces the girl to have sex with him while she doesn't want to.
  • Rule of Cool: Let's face it, a moe with tech wings is cool.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: Played for maximum sadness when the students beg the military to allow them to celebrate the school festival.
  • Seinen: In the small Afterword in the manga, Word of God stated this was for young adult boys to adult men. This is also how he got away with including a rather graphic sex sequence.
  • Sekaikei Genre: Saikano deconstructs the living hell out of this setup. Chise is an ultimate weapon in a war and how she decides to fight (if at all) depends on her boyfriend, Shuuji.
  • Shadow Archetype
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The only thing that kept this from going full-on into this is that only two people are alive by the end.
  • Shower of Angst
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Oooh boy.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: The weapons Chise manifests in her transformations are often as big as she is, if not bigger.
  • Snicket Warning Label: Besides the Episode 10 fansub, there is a warning in the manga in volume 2 that it WILL get worse and you are in the MIDDLE of volume 2, out of 7.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Gradually happens to Chise.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers
  • Stepford Smiler: Chise; Shuuji to a lesser extent; Fuyumi; Tetsu.
  • Super-Deformed: The manga does this a lot in the most inappropriate places.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Chise's personality while in the Ultimate Weapon form could be psychotically vindictive, threatening on multiple occasions to utterly eradicate anyone who got in her way or made her mad, be it friend or foe...and that she could do so with ridiculous ease made her even more horrifying.
  • Super Soldier: Chise holds a military rank, although her real function is as the Ultimate Weapon.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The most noticeable use of English was from invading soldiers, who spoke passable (if noticeably accented) American English.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: When Chise dies.
  • There Are No Therapists
  • There Is No Higher Court: Girl changed into weapon without her knowledge or consent. No one bats an eye.
  • Too Happy to Live: Whenever a secondary character is having a happy moment, joking and/or laughing as a break of the horrors of war, they are about to be killed in a short moment by an enemy bombing or attack.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for the live-action version shows the very ending of the end of the world even though it doesn't make sense by itself.
  • Transformation Trauma: In more than one way - the pain of the transformations, Chise's embarrassment at being seen partially or completely unclothed when she returns to normal, and the knowledge that she's losing her humanity a little at a time.

Alternative Title(s): She The Ultimate Weapon


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