An Austrian soldier equipped with the standard-length Steyr AUG. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well, I finally got around to finishing the short, rather strange anime series known as Upotte! which is basically a 10-episode series + OVA aimed at gun fetish otaku who are also into "moe" girls. It's a story about middle and high school girls who are anthropomorphized military rifles. They walk and talk like normal girls, but can basically summon their true form from virtual "hammer space", their trigger is located where their clitoris should be, etc. It's a very strange, strange story. It's mostly slice of life style b.s., some tournament anime b.s., and then a ginned up conflict between "Western" weapons (our protagonists) and Eastern Bloc weapons from Russian companies (AKs, Saigas, et. al.); it culminates in a climatic battle during a class trip to the beach...but it finishes inconclusively as a draw and some random philosophizing about arms races and the role of weapons in war, etc. It's rather incoherent.
Although a significant section of the show is gun-porn fanservice, describing the various actual weapons, etc, and while most of the info is correct, the show does make some glaring errors and some of the mini-lectures are superficial at best.
One translation error has one of the girls incorrectly identifying the Steyr Aug rifle as "Australian" rather than Austrian in the dub script. The description of shotguns is a little lacking, failing to mention the Winchester 1897 Trench Gun used in WW1 and to a lesser degree WW2. There's also a scene where the M16A2 character ("Ichiroku" = One Six) is squaring off against an opponent with an autoloading Saiga shotgun with a box magazine. Her companion states that the enemy (who has the pair pinned down) has superior range, which is utter nonsense. Shotguns are close-range ONLY, they're utterly ineffective beyond a certain range. The problem is the M16A2 is engaged in a close-range street battle versus the Russian shotgun, which is why the situation is so hairy. I don't know if this is a case of bad writing in the original Japanese or again a translation error. If the M16A2 were engaged in a fight on an open battlefield, its superior range and accuracy would make mince meat of the wielder of a Saiga shotgun, whose only chance would be an ambush at close range. I'm wondering if the Japanese script writer fetishizes guns but doesn't truly understand them beyond what can be gleaned from reference books.
The action centers around the Belgian FNC, known as "Funco". Basically the characters are named for Japanese shorthand for their formal military designations. Her best friend is a Sig Saur assault rifle from Switzerland. The Austrian Steyr Aug (known simply as "Aug") is revealed to be lesbian with unrequited romantic longings for Funco. Meanwhile, Funco herself seems to harbor a schoolgirl crush on her one human teacher, the newly hired Japanese instructor at their school, and even seemingly flirts with him from time to time.
One of the veteran teachers (also a gun) is modeled after the US WW2 M-1 Garand Rifle, voiced by Andrew Love and dressed up like a US Army Drill Sergeant from that era. Another teacher is named Mrs. Thompson, modeled naturally on the Thompson sub-machinegun and voiced by Cynthia Martinez. Brittney Karbowski voices the brash American M16A2 and delivers a quite humorous performance. The only reason to watch this Anime is for the gun play and the moe girl stuff. The OVA is, of course, a kind of "hot springs" episode insofar as the four main girls take a camping vacation at a large forested riverbank where they can swim and fish. They jerry-rig their own "natural" hot-tub of sorts and of course sit around topless just relaxing, etc.
The story itself is largely incoherent nonsense and there'd be zero point to having any second season, etc. It's sole purpose is to look pretty and fantasize about guns, and girls with guns, and to a lesser extent follow the emotional lives of these unusual gun-girls. It's not suprising they only managed to squeeze 10 episodes (+OVA) out of this very thin premise. But since I am something of an amateur firearms enthusiast myself (something I used to do more often, but largely have moved on from, as it's a very expensive hobby), I decided to give the Blu-Ray of this a chance. This is not a "good" anime by any means. Most anime fans would regard it as gawd-awful, and they'd be mostly right. But it scratches a particular itch for me (firearms) and I don't have the kneejerk reaction against moe and fanservicey perv-cams and nudity the way some fans do.
I'd say that Girls Und Panzer, by comparision, is a far superior story with a more compelling story and coherent narrative. It features girls + tanks and is far more interesting and engaging. I'd recommend giving Upotte! a pass unless you really actually care about military firearms and their specifications. There are far better "moe" shows than this; the militaria is really the "hook".
It's pretty to look at on Blu-Ray, but overall it's a pretty dumb anime.