Keep in mind while reading this review that it was written by someone who had not seen the main series it is from. This is Hidan no Aria AA.
To better explain my thoughts I will be comparing the show to Soul Eater NOT! as both have similarly structured.
Alternate title: Aria The Scarlet Ammo Double A
Genres: Action, Comedy, Girls With Guns, Yuri
Number of episodes: 12
G-Rating: 8/10 (Favoritism), 7/10 Overall.
Plot Summary: Akari Mamiya is a freshman and E-rank student who looks up to her upperclassman, the S-ranked Aria H. Kanzaki. They both attend Tokyo Butei High School, which employs the “Amica” system, allowing an underclassman to train alongside an upperclassman. Akari is determined to be paired with Aria.
The best way to describe Aria AA is that its concept is similar to that of Soul Eater NOT!: Both spin-offs star a group of girls who are part of a class that is lower than their main series counterparts. Both feature cameos from the main series whose roles range from co-protagonists, relevant side characters to “hey, I’m part of the main series” appearances. The female cast of the main series play more important roles compared to the guys. Both focus more on the girls having fun, occasionally engaging in action scenes of varying intensity, getting character developing segments while snippets of the main conflict are scattered throughout culminating with the antagonists executing their grand assault in the last quarter of the show. That is Aria AA in a nutshell.
The fun segments are standard Girls Club fare with each girl being a classic anime archetype in both GC and Yuri shows.
The action scenes range from fast and cool to slow and methodical. The former get the job done in pumping viewers up while the others have varying results. Some enjoy them while others do not as they prefer all action scenes to be fast and cool. This brings us to the main conflict of the show. While I personally enjoyed both shows and gave them an 8, after thinking about more they are still 7 shows when looking at them objectively. Having said that the conflict of SEN’s was more dire and had more intense moments than Aria AA’s. Both pale in comparison to their main series counterparts (or so I heard from Hidan no Aria fans. Soul Eater’s is obvious) but they get the job done of providing an entertaining season finale endgame. Do not expect anything heart wrenching in Aria AA, just take it for what it is worth.
The animation quality differs in the televised broadcast. Most of the time it is good stuff but there are a few occasions where it felt like the writers did not put much effort. Thankfully those are few and far between and can be easily remedied in the blu-rays. The soundtrack is enjoyable and the OP and ED are catchy.
Before getting to the main event let us discuss the main six. Yes there are four pictured here but the main protagonists are Akari and Aria. As mentioned above each of the girls has an anime archetype: Shino is a caring ojou-sama with an initially hidden but quickly revealed “other side”, Akari is the “looked down upon newbie with a great hidden potential”, Kirin is an elegant fangirl and Raika is a cool tomboy with a feminine yearning. Aria is the badass senpai who is super serious but warms up to Akari and friends’ company. I assume she is the same in the main series but since there is also a male protagonist in that one and there are several other girls…Anyway the cast of Aria AA is pretty cool with some initial jerks quickly becoming likable in time. Akari however, can upset some, which I will explain in a bit. The girls from the main series, Aria, Riko and Hiina being the three most recurring of the ones who show up, all rock.
Last but not least the yuri, which Aria AA’s beats SEN’s by a mile. Let me put it this way, apart from Aria and Akari to an extent, every other girl who forms part of Team Akari is gay. I do not mean strong subtext gay…these girls crave female flesh and their sexual preferences are no secret…except to Akari (and Aria in a sense but that is mainly because she does not show an interest in romance in AA). This is why Akari is somewhat annoying to some yuri fans. While her character arc and development are good, as a yuri harem lead…she is not one of Iono-Sama’s best students. One of the more important lessons, besides being awesome, that the “Iono-Sama Institute of Chick Magnets” teaches is that a disciple must either be aware of their power or at least be aware that they have some kind of charm over girls and women around them. Basically if the disciple is oblivious to their lesbian charms then they are not true Iono-Sama disciples. Akari Mamiya is one such person. In short she is an oblivious ditz. I personally did not mind as I liked her. I just felt it was worth mentioning. On the bright side, as one of my peeps mentioned, Akari’s “I want Aria-sempai to notice me” dedication is yurirific enough. The other lesbians are awesome, there is another disciple who IS worthy and we even get a canon couple. Said couple are the best characters on the show, or at least steal it every time they are on screen.
Overall Hidan no Aria AA is average but quite enjoyable. As a Girls Club show with canon yuri content it is pretty good. It looks good, the girls are fun, range from cute and their developments are neat. However, the action scenes are mixed and the main conflict, while it had a decent setup was underwhelming. The best advice I can give to Hidan no Aria fans is that Aria AA is different but still has a bit of what makes the main series enjoyable. Take that for what it is worth. Viewers who want to see girls with guns occasionally kick ass and both attempt and successfully snuggle with one another, this show will please. As for everyone else, I dunno.