Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yuri Anime First Impressions: Kämpfer

How many anime and manga series can you think of, off the top of your head, that feature a guy who physically turns into a girl? I can list...

Ranma 1/2
Your and My Secret
Pretty Face (sort of)
Cheeky Angel
Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden
Gacha Gacha: The Next Revolution
Vampire Doll (sort of)
Alice on Deadlines
Kashimashi (unique in that Hazumu had always been a girl, even if she was originally physically a boy)

Plus innumerable stories featuring guys who need to pass as girls (normally out of some craaaazy circumstance rather than gender identity), like I My Me! Strawberry Eggs, Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, Maria Holic, Princess Princess, and W Juliet.

Kämpfer doesn't break any new ground as a gender bender series, and it probably never will, but it manages to be a fairly entertaining mindless piece of B-movie crap without falling to the bottom of the heap. (*cough*AliceonDeadlines*cough*)

The show begins promisingly enough, with one girl trying to shoot our hero(ine), Senou Natsuru, until Natsuru runs up to the top of a skyscraper (nice), acts surprised when she sees that the building has an edge, and then falls off of it.

Cue the theme song.

Then Elmo Harakiri Tiger, a stuffed animal with its organs hanging out (I need me one of those) explains how Natsuru needs to use a blue bracelet to fight as a "Kämpfer", for whatever reason. Naturally, Natsuru freaks out. Not only is he now a busty girl, but his fugly bracelet somehow made him change his underwear and grow longer, perfectly styled hair.

Lucky for Natsuru, it was all a dream. (Or was it?) He runs to school that morning and we meet the wholesome girl-next-door Kaede Sakura, Natsuru's schoolmate/crush who gave him that delightful little tiger.

The same redheaded girl who we saw shooting at Natsuru in the very beginning shows up again, Natsuru changes into a girl and shoots fire out of his hand, and s/he saves Sakura from the gun-toting redhead. Later on we learn that Sakura really, really likes the mysterious blue-haired woman who saved her and wants Natsuru to introduce them.

The rom-com shenanigans continue in the second episode, when Natsuru saves Sakura from being shot by the redhead (Akane; now his ally), who thought Sakura was another Kämpfer trying to attack them in the school library. But she's wrong, of course. The mysterious attacker leaves once the class bell begins to ring, and Akane leaves Natsuru to take care of the now-unconscious Sakura. (Pretty stupid considering that she likes him.)

Sakura later asks Natsuru to set her up with the female Natsuru, and Natsuru asks the wimpy, non-Kämpfer version of Akane to come to his house, where he merely asks her for advice regarding Sakura (much to her disappointment).

What ensues is one of the funniest conversations I have ever witnessed in a bad anime.

Harakiri Tiger and Seppuku Bunny (Akane's talking, similarly disemboweled, Tamura Yukari-voiced stuffed animal) advise Natsuru to agree to meet Sakura as a female, but to make her hate female-Natsuru by jumping her. Akane reacts by (eerily) saying the exact same thing that I was amusedly thinking, but gladly agrees to help Natsuru make Sakura hate female-Natsuru.

Sakura wastes no time in asking female-Natsuru to go out with her.

Props to Sakura! (^_^)b

Natsuru runs away to ask Kämpfer-Akane for advice,

and returns with his unique plan to make Sakura hate him/her.

I know more than a few girls who would find that dance nerdishly adorable, but okay...

But he finds that he wasn't making a buffoon out of himself in front of Sakura. It's the student council president, Sangou Shizuku, who- surprise!- is also a Kämpfer.

Long story short, Natsuru and Akane defeat the kaichou, Natsuru makes Shizuku agree to leave Sakura alone, and the next day at school Shizuku-kaichou calls Akane and Natsuru to her office and informs them that she is transferring Natsuru to the girls' section of their school (yes, the male and female students at their school are relegated to different sections), which he will attend as a girl.

A very good question.

The episode ends, and the preview turns out to be the best part of the entire show at this point.

Kämpfer is obviously intended to be fluffy, mindless wish fulfillment for boys, and it doesn't pretend or strive to be anything else. It is absolutely silly and clichéd, but it's decently entertaining if one approaches it with realistic expectations and a healthy sense of sarcasm. Unless you're exactly who this series was intended for- for example, I have a college-aged guy friend in Japan who unabashedly enjoys this series since he's a seiyuu fan (especially of Tamura Yukari) and is studying German. We all have silly, crappy shows that we enjoy, and there's nothing wrong with that. The best part of this show for me is the dark sense of humor that went into the stuffed animal character designs and names, the unintentionally funny bits, and the fact that Noto Mamiko is going to voice one of the mangled-looking stuffed animals. (Yes, I'm as bad as my friend. lol) The character designs are about as bland and forgettable as they come, but the animation is surprisingly solid. (I'm pretty surprised that Kämpfer's fight scenes look more consistently well-animated than Book of Bantorra's- if not as inventive-, even though Book of Bantorra is a better series.) Definitely not the best this season, but definitely not the worst either.

Story: C-
Art: C
Overall: C-


Anonymous said...

Mmmm, I think this can be my anime yuri collection, Thank's

Katherine said...

@ Anon- Your welcome. :)