Image source: 「武装少女マキャヴェリズム」アニメ公式‏ on Twitter

Harems in anime can become complicated. But Armed Girls Machiavellism does a great job of keeping its harem small and focused.

Fudō Nomura is a student at the Private Aichi Symbiosis Academy. He wants a pass that allows him to leave the school’s campus freely. In order to get the pass, he needs to defeat a group of girls who enforce the school’s strict rules: the Supreme Five Swords.

After Fudō defeats two members of the Supreme Five Swords, the two girls have a strange attraction to him and keep a close eye on Fudō so he won’t get into “trouble.”

One of the fun aspects of Armed Girls Machiavellism is the simple but extremely funny harem. It consists of four characters: our hero Fudō, the two girls Rin Onigawara and Mary Kikakujō, and the literal bear Kyōbō. This is much smaller than many other harem anime series.

But, because the harem is kept to four characters, it allows the comedic potential of those characters to come out even more. This also means we get a variety of humorous moments throughout the series ranging from lewd and dark to jealous.

Image source: KADOKAWAanime on YouTube

The eighth episode illustrates in a moment the simplicity and focus of the harem in the series. Rin and Mary worried about Fudō being trapped in the girl’s dormitory torture room and the two go to see him in secret. And like any good harem joke, the two catch each other en route, make an excuse about why they’re out of their rooms, and try to escape the other’s watchful eye.

Because there are only four characters in the harem that we need to think about, the scene is simple in its design. It’s two characters who need to figure out how to outsmart the other. But, then the comedy is heightened because Rin and Mary act in the exact same fashion and try to execute the same plan. If there had been more characters in the harem, this simple joke would have become complicated very quickly with a focus on the situation and not on the comedy potential of the characters themselves.

Image source: 「武装少女マキャヴェリズム」アニメ公式‏ on Twitter

Moreover, the series throws in a great twist with the harem. By including the bear Kyōbō into the mix we get some sight-gag humor that’s fun to look at. There is no doubt it’s fun (and funny) seeing a bear fall in love with a human, but with scenes like Fudō groping Kyōbō, it’s even more highly entertaining. Plus, the addition of Kyōbō into the harem doesn’t disrupt the main focus: Fudō’s relationships with Rin and Mary. Kyōbō, then, is essentially there to help create some more humorous moments for Fudō.

A trap that harem anime series tend to fall into is having too many girls seeking the affection of the protagonist. This allows for some fun situations between the girls and the boy, but in the end only allows for one or two girls to shine. Armed Girls Machiavellism went the opposite direction and kept the harem down to four characters. Because of this, the humor is far better and we get a better sense of the characters involved.

Armed Girls Machiavellism is streaming on Amazon Anime Strike and AnimeLab (AU/NZ)

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