Arpeggio of Blue Steel Season 1 Ep 3 (Anime Review)

I’ve previously mentioned that anime with a sci-fi/war twist to them are among my favourites. Usually I go in for mecha anime, but if there is a different sort of twist to the whole thing, then I don’t turn that down and will watch it as much as I can. Code Geass is one such anime although it is not about war so much as it is about an urban insurrection. Still, Arpeggio of Blue Steel is an anime that scratches my itch for SF/war shows, and it does that quite well in fact. The first two episodes have been very engaging, and although its been a while since I watched an episode of the show, my interest in it hasn’t dimmed in the least.

Where the first two episodes of the show provide a lot of heart-pumping action, episode 3 “The Fortress Port of Yokosuka” provides a fair amount of character development as the crew of the I-401 returns to its home base, or rather, the port-city where Gunzō went to naval academy. They come looking for supplies for their mission to the United States but what they find in the port is a whole lot of political turmoil and they are right in the center of it. The change of pace from action to full-on development was great, and we also got to see a lot more of the Fog this time, more ships, more mental model avatars. Fun stuff!

Arpeggio 0001The first two episodes of Arpeggio served very well in introducing the characters and the setting both. They got across the level of tension that the characters face at any given time since they are caught in the middle of a war of survival and a war of extermination. Humanity wants to survive. The Fleet of Fog wants to exterminate Humanity. Chihaya Gunzō and his crew have the unenviable task of making sure that they do their best to ensure the former and prevent the latter. And they’ve been quite successful as well since in the last two years they’ve racked up more successes as a single unit than any other fleet of warships combined.

And that’s the core of this issue. The Japanese government has been looking at the ship’s string of victories and has come to a certain decision. Or should I say, a particular individual within the government has. So to that effect, what the episode does is establish the seeds of some future episodes, where this particular subplot will really come to bloom. Hopefully. Such things are inevitable and waiting is the interesting part of such.

One thing that the episode did really well was build on the concept of the Fog ships’ Mental Model AIs being weapons. This is something that Gunzō and Iona discussed extensively in the previous episode and which I found to be a most interesting concept. If they are weapons then by that very nature they are neither good nor bad. That distinction applies to whoever is using the weapons, in this case Gunzō using Iona counts as morally good since he is using the weapon at his disposal to save his people from annihilation and strike back at a vastly superior enemy. Where the Mental Models themselves, and by extension the ships of the Fog are concerned, they lack that kind of control. They are weapons, driven by… logic, and they do as they want, and their primary objective is to annihilate Mankind.

The episode later on goes even further with this concept when we meet up with Takao and see what she has been up to of late, and what she intends to do in the future. After being soundly defeated by Gunzō in the previous episode, her… outlook on what she and who she has changed, and so have her needs as well. It is a good moment for the character, but the way that it is filmed for the episode made me cringe since it was all very…. lovey-dovey, as if Takao is hopelessly enamoured of Gunzō. And that’s not something that I want to see, and hopefully the next few episodes keep that in mind. Hopefully.

The way that this episode ends leaves little in doubt how dedicated the crew of the I-401 is. If there is any one thing that I think needs an improvement at this point (and it could very well have been addressed already since I’m catching up on this anime rather than watching it as it is released), it is that the crew of the ship is largely faceless for me. We don’t really learn who they all are and why they joined with Gunzō and Iona. We saw some of it in the first two episodes, but I’m still waiting for something much more concrete than that.

Arpeggio 0002With this being my third episode now, my objections to some of the CGI remain, but at the same time I am also getting used to it in a way that the deficiencies don’t bother me all that much. And it is not that the CGI is horrendously bad or anything. Just a few things here and there that need to be improved on, such as the facial expressions or some of the poses occasionally. But that’s really it. Since most of the this episode is focused on non-physical action and character moments, there aren’t any opportunity to do flashy things on a big scale. But at the same time, the vision of Takao’s ship rising from the water was really cool, as was the sequence when the I-401 returns to Yokosuka and docks in the underground port. Lots of really cool moments there.

The long and short is that I am still loving this anime and now that I’ve gotten back in touch with it, I am definitely going to catch up to the whole thing in short order.

More Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ep 1, Ep 2.

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Posted on April 27, 2014, in Anime, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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