‘Aoharu x Machinegun’: A battle of life and non-fatal injury

A duel to the death normally involves death – unless you are dueling with airsoft guns.

Aoharu x Machinegun is an action-packed story of the high-intensity sport that involves replica firearms that use compressed-gas canisters to fire the pellets. Many of the weapons are modeled after real firearms from today and yesteryear. Our story takes place in contemporary Japan and centers around the airsoft group Toy Gun Gun as its members attempt to dominate the world of competitive airsoft.

The shonen series was first serialized in Monthly GFantasy Magazine, written and illustrated by NAOE. The series is available to read in English now, published by YenPress. There is also an anime that came out in 2015, which is available on Crunchyroll.

The story is centered around Hotaru Tachibana, a proponent of justice who fights wrongdoing and stands up for those in need. When Tachibana’s friend says that she was swindled by a host, Tachibana rushes to confront him. The host, Masamune Matsuoka, says he will accept Tachibana’s challenge to a duel – an airsoft gun duel. Tachibana loses and ends up having to join Masamune’s team. It also turns out that Tachibana’s friend lied, and was not swindled. Also Masamune is Tachibana’s neighbor, living in the apartment next to Tachibana. Also, Tachibana is a girl – which no one seems to realize, mainly because she dresses in the boys uniform and is routinely beating people up.

So begins Tachibana’s adventure into the world of airsoft survival games. I say adventure as that is the tone of the series. While normally, sports manga have a serious edge to them, this kicks it up a notch. Each match is life or death – although no one can die. I mean the tension of the characters is absurdly high for essentially a game of paintball. The characters talk about dying in the game as if it is real death, or the teams as if they were real soldiers. It is hard to tell the reality of the game from the reality of the story’s setting. Which is fun and also comical at times. The series is rooted in comedy and action.

The characters are quirky and interesting. Tachibana is fiery and headstrong. She firmly believes in her own sense of justice and fights to right wrongs. Which gets her into trouble some of the time because she is incredibly stubborn. Masamune is a giant flirt and more than a little shady at times – but he is very caring about his team mates although he is also a bit dense. The other member of the team is Yukimura, who hates other people except Masamune and writes and draws erotic manga professionally. The situations they get into are humorous, the fights they have are tense, and the story is interesting.

The gunplay is lifted out of action movies and action manga. Everyone seems to be incredibly dexterous and fast as they fight other teams. Also, every person involved acts as if each time someone gets knocked out of the game they have died – which is funny in a sense, if not a bit too ridiculous. Characters talk about grudges from other teams, other players being “killed” in the game, it all makes it seem much more intense than it actually is. Intensity is the keyword, as this series has a lot of it. All of the action is drawn and handled in a way that is quite thrilling. Even though there is no sense of danger, or real consequences, besides losing the match.

This is a fun, action-packed story. Although at times it gets a bit silly with the over dramatic attitude. Still, the story is fun, the action is gripping, and the characters are silly. Have a blast and go read this series.

Read Luke’s review of ‘Bunny Drop’