|Kämpfer (けんぷファー Kenpufā?, German for “Fighter”) is a Japanese light novel series by Toshihiko Tsukiji, with illustrations by Senmu. The series contains 15 volumes published by Media Factory under their MF Bunko J imprint between November 2006 and March 2010. The main series covers 12 volumes, while the remaining three are short story collections. A manga adaptation by Yu Tachibana started serialization in the April 2008 issue of Monthly Comic Alive. A 12-episode anime adaptation aired in Japan between October and December 2009 on TBS, concluded in spring 2011 with Kämpfer für die Liebe.|
The plot revolves around Natsuru Senō, a normal high school boy with blue hair. One day he wakes up to find himself turned into a girl. A stuffed tiger “Harakiri Tora” comes to life and tells him that he has been chosen as one of the “Kämpfer”, a female fighter. The Kämpfer are destined to fight with other Kämpfer. The story starts when he is attacked by an unknown girl who happens to also be a Kämpfer.
Natsuru Senō (瀬能 ナツル Senō Natsuru?)
Voiced by: Marina Inoue
The series’ main protagonist. A second year student of Seitetsu Gakuin High School, he has a crush on Kaede Sakura, one of the school’s beauties, to the point of fixation and sees other girls with indifference, and is later very dense about the feelings of Shizuku, Akane and Mikoto. He is involuntarily chosen to be a Blue Kämpfer by the mysterious Moderators and is set up as a Zauber-(“magic-“)type Kämpfer with powers based on conjuring fireballs. In keeping with the rule that all Kämpfer are females, he turns into a girl upon transformation. In Kämpfer form, Natsuru’s male student uniform automatically changes into the uniform for female students, including his underwear and vice versa when transforming back to normal, while his short blue hair becomes slightly longer, which is always arranged in a style that ties it up like a ponytail.
After a fight with Shizuku exposed his Kämpfer form to other students of the school, Shizuku arranged to have his female form enrolled in the girls’ side of the school to fulfill public curiosity in a way that diverts attentions away from Kämpfer battle. His Kämpfer form has subsequently been ranked among the Three Beauties of Seitetsu (there used to be only two, being Shizuku and Kaede). Much to his own dismay, his female form becomes the subject of intense affection from Kaede Sakura (who has displayed no particular interest in his normal male form), nearly the entire female student body, and the boys, including his male classmates. As a Kämpfer, the messenger assigned to Natsuru by the Moderators is Disemboweled Tiger, a plush toy that is part of the Entrails Animals series of stuffed toys. In the last volume of the light novels, he finally chooses to stay with Akane in his male form.
Akane Mishima (美嶋 紅音 Mishima Akane?)
Voiced by: Yui Horie
A bespectacled honor student helping in the school library and Natsuru’s friend, she is also a Blue Kämpfer like Natsuru. Normally very shy and soft-spoken, she becomes the exact opposite upon transforming into a Kämpfer, becoming foul-mouthed, aggressive, violent, and trigger-happy. Her short brown hair turns red in her Kämpfer form. She has a tendency to misunderstand what others are trying to say or do in a borderline-erotic way. She explains most of the rules of being a Kämpfer to Natsuru when his own Messenger gave him no such details. She is a Gewehr-(“gun-” or “rifle-“)type Kämpfer who uses a black Springfield M1911A1 .45 pistol and appears to be ambidextrous.
Her gun has the special property of having unlimited ammunition and does not need reloading. In addition to having Natsuru as the first male to establish friendship with her, Akane eventually begins to harbor romantic feelings for him, becoming jealous and easily irritable when he talks about another girl (most if not all of the time being Kaede) in front of her or when another girl takes an interest in him (whether that interest is romantic in nature or not). Despite often responding with indifference, however, Natsuru does later on tell her that if Kaede were never on his mind, Akane (her normal form) would have been his type of girl. As a Kämpfer, the messenger assigned to Akane by the Moderators is Black Seppuku Rabbit, a plush toy that is part of the Entrails Animals series of stuffed toys. She is the girl that Natsuru chooses in the end.
Shizuku Sangō (三郷 雫 Sangō Shizuku?)
Voiced by: Kaori Nazuka
The President of the Student Council and one of the Three Beauties of Seitetsu, she is a model honor student with a perfect attendance record. She has a lot of admirers, especially from the boys’ side who are obsessed with fantasies of her dominating them as Student Council President. She has a calm, confident demeanor which is sometimes interpreted as cold and calculating, especially by Natsuru. She is a Red Kämpfer, which initially puts her at odds with him, and is also a Schwert-(“sword-“)type Kämpfer who prefers to fight wielding two short swords/daggers linked by a chain. Her weapons have the special property of extending its chain length to necessary lengths to enable her to fight even at long range. In her Kämpfer form, the reverse side of her long black hair partially turns white, which makes the color change only visible from the front, while leaving the her hair dark when seen from behind. She easily deduces Natsuru and Akane’s Kämpfer identities after encountering them in the library and interrogating them. She has a personal objective of finding the reason why Kämpfer must fight each other, and to that end she initially fought the Blue Kämpfer to learn more.
After being defeated by Natsuru and Akane in a battle, she is spared by Natsuru in exchange for Shizuku not involving Kaede in future battles. She enters an informal truce with Natsuru and Akane while she gathers more information about the Kämpfer system and has since taken an increasing romantic interest in male Natsuru, slyly teasing him with her demands and advances, even going so far as to steal his first kiss all without losing her composure and demeanor, which makes Natsuru even more suspicious of her, despite her not harboring any actual hostile intentions toward him. Shizuku continues to give off hints to Natsuru that she is romantically interested in him, in spite of his extra denseness regarding her feelings, even asking him out on a real date and even passionately kissing him in front of Kaede and the others, although her ambiguous demeanor again seems to become her undoing (a fact she seems to have realized, calling her love an unrequited one), as Natsuru keeps thinking that she is up to something whenever she makes an advance on him.
She seeks to know why Kämpfer must fight because, as she told Natsuru, she resents being used as a pawn by the Moderators, and seeks her goal in the hope of fulfilling her ultimate objective of taking revenge against the organizers of the Kämpfer system, which cost her the life of a dear friend in the past, who was also a Red Kämpfer like her. In order to fight back against the system, and indirectly its organizers, she and her new Red Kämpfer ally Mikoto later enter into a formal truce and join forces with the Blue Kämpfer Natsuru and Akane, violating the rule that all Kämpfer must fight, antagonizing the Moderators in the process, who send the White Kämpfer to eliminate them for rebelling against the system. As a Kämpfer, the messenger assigned to Shizuku by the Moderators is Electrocuted Wildcat, a plush toy that is part of the Entrails Animals series of stuffed toys. When in the end Natsuru chooses Akane, she cries for him because her love was genuine.
Mikoto Kondō (近堂 水琴 Kondō Mikoto?)
Voiced by: Kana Asumi
Natsuru’s widely-traveled, energetic childhood friend who only recently reunited with him due to her father being an archaeologist who lives and widely travels abroad. As a result of her lifestyle, she has become a highly adventurous, risk-taking person. Mikoto sends Natsuru postcards regularly during her travels abroad, so they keep in touch even if she is away. Although she has too much pride to explicitly admit it, she has feelings for Natsuru and is more than a bit bothered by the rumors of a girl with the same name as his (who in reality is Natsuru in his Kämpfer form) and who is supposedly his romantic interest. Even after the misunderstanding is later cleared up, the advances made by Akane and Shizuku on Natsuru (Mikoto apparently does not believe Kaede would reciprocate his feelings) subsequently makes her even more nervous about her chances with him as well.
As a result, she enters their rivalry for Natsuru’s affections. When she attended the Miss Seitetsu beauty contest of the school festival, she caught a bouquet that Kaede tossed with a Messenger hidden in it, consequently being turned into a Schwert-type Red Kämpfer armed with a katana. When in Kämpfer form, Mikoto’s hair becomes a much lighter color and her uniform changes to a mostly reverse color of the original Seitetsu girls’ uniform. Her love for curry shows itself to the point of her cooking and consuming it for every meal, even to the extent of bringing a large pot of it when she goes to sleep over in someone else’s home. As a Kämpfer, the messenger assigned to Mikoto by the Moderators is Strangled Stray Dog, a plush toy that is part of the Entrails Animals series of stuffed toys.
Kaede Sakura (沙倉 楓 Sakura Kaede?)
Voiced by: Megumi Nakajima
Shizuku’s childhood friend and one of the Three Beauties of Seitetsu, she has many admirers, Natsuru being one of them. She has a large collection of stuffed Entrails Animal series dolls and likes to present them to her friends; those who receive the dolls, however, tend to end up becoming Kämpfers. She began to develop an infatuation with Kämpfer Natsuru after being saved from Kämpfer Akane at the beginning of the series, later coming under the mistaken impression that the normal Natsuru is her rival for Kämpfer Natsuru’s affection and consequently becoming somewhat hostile to him, a situation not helped after a misunderstanding in a very compromising situation leads her to think Natsuru is cheating on the female Natsuru.
Kaede’s infatuation with Kämpfer Natsuru quickly grows into an obsession as she begins to make romantic and later erotic advances to Natsuru’s female form, to the point of repeatedly barging in on her taking a shower and sneaking into her futon at night. Later she is suspected by Shizuku to have connections with the Moderators as well as having something to do with the appearances of the White Kämpfer, and that she may have been using hypnotic power to further manipulate Natsuru into doing her bidding, taking advantage of his existing obsession with her (It is also possible that his obsession with her is entirely a result of this power). It is eventually confirmed on separate occasions when the White Kämpfer swear loyalty to her and when, without possessing any bracelet so characteristic of the Kämpfer, she wields both a katana and a Beretta 93R against the Red and Blue Kämpfer coalition.
Later, it is also implied that she knew from the very beginning that there were not two Natsurus, but just one who switches gender (she personally reveals it in the anime whereas in the novel it is her White Kämpfer who would do so) and that she was merely feigning ignorance at the start, although her obsession with his female form turned out to be real, even while knowing his true nature. Kaede is shown to be strongly into female-female romance, where she is implied to be having erotic relationships with her White Kämpfer, and she even stated that she hates men and thinks they are useless. Kaede’s extensive collection of Entrails Animals is shown to be the source of the Entrails Animal messengers that turn people into Kämpfer, that she dotes on her collection, to the point of calling them “her children” and her favorite is the prototype, Burnt Alive Lion. In the end, she regains her consciousness and says that she loves Natsuru in his male and female forms, but she is not chosen by Natsuru.
The role of Messengers is mainly to assist those chosen to become Kämpfer in understanding the rules and mechanisms of Kämper combat. They take the form of Entrails Animals, plush toys that are notable for having their guts sticking out and names referring to different methods of death. Many of them have been described in the novels as having voices similar to those of specific real-life voice actors, who would in turn do the voices for them in the anime.
Disemboweled Tiger (ハラキリ トラ Harakiri Tora?)
Voiced by: Michiko Nomura
Messenger for Natsuru in the form of a stabbed, scarred tiger which wears an eye-patch. In a scene where Natsuru was asked to turn on the TV in the hotel, it stated a preference for watching the Sazae-san anime; Michiko Nomura, who voices it, is also the voice of one of the characters in that show.
Black Seppuku Rabbit (セップク クロウサギ Seppuku Kuro Usagi?)
Voiced by: Yukari Tamura
Messenger for Akane in the form of a stabbed black rabbit which has bloodshot eyes. It speaks with a sarcastic tone and has a foul mouth although it is on good terms with Harakiri Tora. Its voice was described as sounding like that of Yukari Tamura, and so she voices it in the anime. In a scene where Natsuru was asked to turn on the TV in the hotel, it stated a preference for watching pay-channel pornography.
Electrocuted Wildcat (カンデン ヤマネコ Kanden Yamaneko?)
Voiced by: Nana Mizuki
Messenger for Shizuku in the shape of a white wildcat with bristling hairs to denote electric shock. It speaks in a lively voice that sounds like Nana Mizuki, likewise she voices it in the anime. In a scene where Natsuru was asked to turn on the TV in the hotel, it stated a preference for watching Hanshin Tigers baseball games.
Strangled Stray Dog (チッソク ノライヌ Chissoku Norainu?)
Voiced by: Mamiko Noto
Messenger for Mikoto in the appearance of a strangled dog. It speaks with a soft, subdued voice typical of many characters voiced by Mamiko Noto, who in turn voices it in the anime. In a scene where Natsuru was asked to turn on the TV in the hotel, it stated a preference for watching rare commercials that are only broadcast in certain regions.
Burnt Alive Lion (ヒアブリ ライオン Hiaburi Raion?)
Voiced by: Kenji Utsumi
The oldest Messenger, its existence said to pre-date the Zōmotsu Animal toyline. The novel version of it does not have its guts hanging out of its body like the Entrails Animals after it, but the anime version does. It has the same shape as a character which Kaede imagined before, with a voice similar to that of a voice actor who performs voice-overs for foreign movie stars. Kaede got it by mere chance though it is very rare. In episode 11 of the anime, it reveals the reason behind the Kämpfer battles.
Hit-and-run Hippopotamus (ヒキニゲ カバ Hikinige Kaba?)
It was the Messenger for Tamiko Shinomiya. It has turned back to a plain doll since she disappeared. Kaede presented another Hit-and-run Hippopotamus to Midori Kuzuhara.
Exploded Penguin (バクハツ ペンギン Bakuhatsu Pengin?)
Voiced by: Rie Kugimiya
The White Kämpfers are a group of Kämpfers who follow orders from Kaede, after receiving their messengers during the Miss Seitetsu contest. Their surnames are similar to some voice actresses, who in turn voiced them in the anime.
Rika Ueda (植田 理香 Ueda Rika?)
Voiced by: Kana Ueda
Schwert user armed with a kusarigama. She is a middle school student and she is the only character who wears a different school uniform.
Sayaka Nakao (中尾 沙也香 Nakao Sayaka?)
Voiced by: Eri Nakao
Schwert user armed with a sabre. She is incompetent and indecisive.
Ryōka Yamakawa (山川 涼花 Yamakawa Ryōka?)
Voiced by: Kotomi Yamakawa
Gewehr user armed with an MAC-10 submachine gun. She seems to be afraid of everything, especially the Blue and Red Kampfer.
Hitomi Minagawa (皆川 瞳美 Minagawa Hitomi?)
Voiced by: Junko Minagawa
Zauber user. She attacks by launching energy bolts against her enemies.She is a self-described tomboy, and she is noticeably tall and athletic in comparison to the other white Kampfer.
Kämpfer (ケンプファー Kenpufā?, German for “Fighter”)
Female fighters chosen by the moderators to battle each other. Each Kämpfer has one of three types of power: Zauber (magic), Gewehr (rifles, also other guns), and Schwert (sword, or other bladed mêlée weapons). Originally they are divided into two opposing factions, Red and Blue, but White Kämpfers are formed after a truce is reached between elements within the Red and Blue Kämpfers.
Bracelet of Oath (誓約の腕輪 Seiyaku no Udewa?)
A bracelet worn by Kämpfers and comes in either blue, red, or white. This represents the Kämpfer’s allegiance and also triggers the transformation as it glows. Since Natsuru would undergo genderswap upon transformation, the glow of his bracelet would also represent a warning to distance himself as necessary from those with no knowledge of the Kämpfers.
Moderator (モデレーター Moderētā?)
Moderator is responsible for selecting Kämpfer candidates.
Messenger (メッセンジャー Messenjā?)
Responsible for granting selected people Kämpfer powers, explaining how the game works, and guiding them during their battles.
Zōmotsu Animal (臓物アニマル Zōmotsu Animaru?, Entrails Animal)
An anime franchise within this series’ universe . The primary characters, patterned after animals, are otherwise normal except that they all have their guts shown protruding outside of their bodies for one reason or another (having stomach ripped open, seppuku, etc.). Kaede Sakura has a large collection of stuffed animals from the franchise.
Bishōjo Research Club (美少女研究会 Bishōjo Kenkyūkai?)
An underground club. Natsuru was recommended for a special agent of the club against his will since he has contacts in the girls section for some reason.