Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism (Armed Girl's Machiavellism) Review

Badass boy and meets badass girls

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Action, School, Shounen, Harem, Ecchi
  • Airing Date : Apr 5, 2017 – June, 21 2017
  • Studios : Silver Link., Connect

Contains Spoilers


Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism (Armed Girl's Machiavellism) Introduction and Story (Spoilers)

Originally a girls-only high school which catered to rich families, the Private Aichi Symbiosis Academy eventually decided to start accepting male students as well. Due to their limited contact with the opposite sex, the female students were overcome by an irrational fear of the unknown and requested that they are allowed to carry weapons. When this was accepted, a new governing student body known as the 'Supreme Five Swords', which consisted of the strongest girls, rose to the task of making sure that no male student steps out of line. Their overwhelming strength meant that not a single masculine trait could be exhibited while at school, which led to the literal feminization of all the male students.

Nomura Fudou is transferred to the Academy after he was involved in a brawl and was nearly killed by a fellow student named Amou. Due to his background in martial arts and unrelenting resolve to never do anything he does not want to, a bulls-eye is immediately placed on the back of his head. Rin, one of the 'Five Swords', gives him an ultimatum: either expulsion or get with the program and dress like a girl! Preferring to carve his own path, Nomura sets out to defeat the tyrannical 'Five Swords' and to gain a one-day pass so he can leave campus. His problems are confounded when he runs into another recent transfer student known as the Empress, who strangely resembles Amou.

What we liked about Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism (Armed Girl's Machiavellism)

Armed Girl's Machiavellism is a harem that also happens to be a school battle anime, but make no mistake; it is primarily a harem. Nomura is, more or less, the only male character in the series and instantly becomes the center of everyone's attention when he arrives at Private Aichi Symbiosis Academy. He is an easy character to like, managing to toe that fine line between confidence and arrogance. Despite a large amount of fan service, to the point that one particular fight is completely in the nude, these moments never feel distasteful since none of the characters are actually all that perverted.

The fight scenes are really enjoyable, as each one of the 'Five Swords' specializes in a particular style of weapon. Like most battle anime, they announce their moves after the fact, which allows the martial arts being used to be expanded on by the character. These confrontations are not only brilliantly animated but fantastically paced as well. This is not a case of who can hit the hardest, as each move feels calculated and considered.

Nearly all of the main cast goes through some character development, with the 'Five Swords' being given a considerable amount of time to flesh out their backgrounds. At only 12 episodes, it definitely feels rushed, but we appreciate the effort anyway. The cast, in general, is quite likable and diverse, as the main five girls do not feel like they were written just because they wanted another body type to bring in the viewers.

Discussion Time

After sitting through Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism, it's safe to say that this show about a single guy who beats the crap out of arrogant girls before they fall in love with him, is better than it had any right to be. It can be hard to strike the right balance between fan service and genuine storytelling, but Machiavellism manages to pull it off. The action is great to behold, and the style of combat used by each character is intertwined with their personalities. They weren't picked at random just because the writers wanted something flashy but are used to reveal elements of who they are.

An issue is a relatively huge cast for the short run time, as some back stories are done in such a frantic manner that there is barely any time to appreciate them. Although Rin, Nomura, and the Empress receive more than enough screen time to develop their history, the remaining 'Five Swords' members are largely sidelined. This was most apparent with the unpredictable Satori, who has an incredibly original back story which is only given about 2 minutes of screen time. Thankfully, the characters have enough charm to still be entertaining, if not all that memorable.

Why You Should Watch Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism (Armed Girl's Machiavellism)

Armed Girl's Machiavellism knows exactly what its audience wants and wastes no time getting right to it. The focus is 100% on action and fanservice, with both being done justice by the studio. It is clear that a decent amount of research was put into establishing the martial arts background for each of the cast members. This isn't just a bunch of flashy attacks with no real rhyme or reason, as each move is well thought out and can easily be pulled off by a master swordsman in our reality. Despite nearly all of the encounters being identical, with a weaponless Nomura taking on an opponent armed with a sword, these unique styles allow for every confrontation to genuinely feel like its own thing.

The first half of the series can be pretty darn funny as well, with Nomura's devil-may-care attitude contrasting well with the more rigid personalities of the 'Five Swords'. Although all of the relationships are kind of rushed and predictable, they still do feel genuine. With the exception of Mary, who is intentionally identical to Rin, the remaining girls are well characterized and develop a relationship with Nomura that is strictly their own. The second half of Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism drops most of the comedy and takes a more serious approach to the storytelling. There are some surprisingly dark moments sprinkled within these episodes, and some rather bloody scenes as well. It never gets too shocking, but considering its harem roots, it takes more risks than it needed to.

1. Satori Tamaba

Everyone will have their own pick for the best girl from the 'Five Swords', as each deserves praise for how well they are presented, but Satori Tamaba stood out as the most eccentric and unique of the group. Her backstory was absolutely shocking and left an immediate impression, despite only receiving one brief flashback scene. Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism's greatest achievement is managing to rise above the low standards set by ecchi shows, where a female character's only defining trait is her measurements.

2. Crisp Animation

Nobody can really blast Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism for looking cheap, as the animation is fantastic. The fight scenes are well choreographed, with each hit being amplified by the great sound work, and the characters are brilliantly designed and animated as well. Although it does not break any new grounds, it maintains the high standard set by Silver Link.'s other shows like Strike the Blood and Kokoro Connect.

3. Not a single slow moment

Armed Girl's Machiavellism does not have a second to spare. Despite the fair amount of fan service, there isn't a random beach episode thrown in half way through the series for no reason. Nomura sets his goal of beating the 'Five Swords' and receiving a one day pass in the first episode and never stops trying to achieve that. Due to this, the series does not feel static or meandering, with the plot advancing at a quick pace. It is a complete and satisfactory story as well, with no real loose ends left to set up a season 2.

Why You Should Skip Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism (Armed Girl's Machiavellism)

We ended up enjoying Nomura's adventures at Private Aichi Symbiosis Academy, but we can understand why someone might be put off. Despite being a step above most school battle anime, it is still very much of the same ilk. There are no real surprising revelations, and the ending is obvious from the very beginning. Although a lot of effort is put into avoiding the fights being carbon copies of each other, with different settings and interactions, they do all have the same progression and ending.

The budding relationships between Nomura and the 'Five Swords', especially Rin, are enjoyable, but the transition from them being enemies to friends is not handled all that well. Each confrontation is given at most two episodes, which does not allow for a lot of time to really explain why these girls have gone from wanting him expelled to thinking he is the greatest person ever. Once they are friends, their interactions are entertaining, but the only way to seemingly get there is through a resounding beating.

1. The Empress

We loved the 'Five Swords', but the Empress was kind of a disappointing villain. She is a capable fighter and has a few kick-ass moments, especially in the earlier episodes, and it was a blast contemplating what exactly was her connection to Nomura and the infamous Amou. The revelation ended up being rather underwhelming, as she was nothing more than another love-struck female character, who only wants to kill him because she loves him too much. As she was largely absent for a good chunk of the series, she and Nomura lacked chemistry, especially compared to his relationships with Rin, Satori, and Mary.

2. The plot is by the numbers and in a limited environment

Being predictable is not necessarily a bad thing, as a cliché story can still be done well. Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism adds a bit of depth by fleshing out the backstories of the girls, but the story itself never really takes any risks and, therefore, can be pretty forgettable. It might be because we watch a lot of battle anime, quite a few set in schools, but none of the surprises really left much of an impact on us. The fact that the story nearly always takes place at the same school, with nearly no excursions, does not help the matter. It wasn't necessarily boring, as they handle this tired story thread well enough, but it is what it is.


Final Thoughts

Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism was a fun and safe ride. It is not going to be for everyone, but those looking for an entertaining action series, with a bit of fan service thrown in, are not going to be disappointed. If you enjoy the first episode, it is more than likely that the rest of the show will be perfectly serviceable. It does feel like a series that will be forgotten quickly, especially since it is not available on Crunchyroll, but it is worth tracking down for a quick binge watch.

Did you agree with our review? Did you have any additional input you would like to add? Please let us know in the comments below!

Mark Sammut

Writer

Author: Mark Sammut

Born and raised on a small island in the Mediterranean, my life goal is to experience as many different ways of life as possible. Since time and money are in short supply, anime and film provide the best opportunity to experience far away cultures and worlds. When I'm not watching the latest episode of Gintama, or wondering what series to watch next, you can find me in the corner of the closest coffee shop; writing away on my aging laptop.

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