Finally found an anime I couldn’t drop right after starting it. An anime that I finished in less than 2 days (except the movies, my schedule got messed up so I had to watch them a week after) and left me with a feeling of emptiness when its final credits rolled. Yes, get your self ready to hear my blatant promotion of this show because it was quite a long time already since I last felt that feeling of fulfillment when finishing an anime show. So without further ado, let’s roll!
Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova (Arpeggio of Blue Steel -Ars Nova-)
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Seinen
Episode Count: 12 and 2 Movies
I will get right at the biggest obstacle that prospective viewers will have to overcome for this show, CGI. I don’t have beef with CGI in anime (for the most part, that is) but I am also aware how infamous it is and I can’t defend it enough when they really don’t even try hard to make it fit with rest of the visuals, with that being said though I can at least guarantee that this show is not an example of that. Though the show utilized CGI for almost everything it never caused me any trouble, in fact I think this could have been the best use of CGI I have seen in an anime series had Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous) not existed, which is, to date, the most fitting use of the technique. Well it doesn’t fall behind the latter that much and I really loved how the characters remained expressive and energetic, an avenue that most shows that utilized CGI failed at because most of the time the characters feel stiff and lifeless. That is one praise down more to go.
Now off we go to the story. Ars Nova revolves around Chihaya Gunzou, Iona and the gang as they try to change the world that has fallen in a state of war that was being waged by the Fleet of Fog against humanity. The Fleet of Fog is a group comprised of unmanned overpowered battleships (you’ll soon understand why they are overpowered) that follows the so called Admirality Code and I think it is not surprising when I say that Iona aka I-401 was a former member of the fleet but due to certain circumstances is now working with Gunzou. The first episode would not have left that big of an impression given that we’ve got a lot of post-apocalyptic shows nowadays that also sports the same cliche of having a member of the enemy aid the protagonist however things started to turn for the better when they demonstrated how they’ll handle the battles and from that point onward I can’t put this one down.
I mentioned that Iona was a former member of the Fleet of Fog, and I also mentioned that the Fleet of Fog is a group of unmanned battleships and going by that logic I think you already have a firm grasp of where this is going, yes, ship girls! Anime is famous for turning anything and everything to cute girls so there really is no surprise there but people might get the idea that this is a rip-off of Kantai Collection which I would outright deny right here and now. Although both shows featured ship girls there is one big difference and that is the girls of Ars Nova have real ships that they control as opposed to KanColle where they themselves are the ship they represent. This point is extremely important because by doing so, Ars Nova was able to demonstrate a more exciting and engaging battle because the viewers get to see how each people on board the battleship gets to participate and play a role whenever they engage enemy fleet. This is not to say that KanColle’s way of doing things is bad however this just proves to show that two anime that used almost identical tropes could result to entirely different kind of experience and it will boil down to how the viewer in question likes his ship battles to pan out, will it be a tactical battle of wits and strategies or a sink for all featuring cute anime girls wearing risque outfits? I could swing either way for the record.
I think that is the best way I could explain the story and going any further may risk myself spoiling stuff which I think I should avoid, since the show, though a bit goofy at times, could be counted on to deliver when it really counts. For now I will go to my favorite part of the show, the characters and I am going with my favorite ship Takao. Her character is going to be a hit or miss because she is a little bit of a tsundere, nevertheless, she passed with flying colors as per my assessment. First of all, even though she is a tsundere she was not that annoying and never got violent with Gunzou. Takao probably is the most loyal to Gunzou among all other members of the Bluesteel Fleet and this was in full display when she did a taxing sacrifice later on the series and that is the main reason why I put her character in such high regards. Kudos to the show’s best girl!
My next favorite, surprisingly, is the main guy Gunzou. The show has a lot of good girls in it but appreciation must be given where it is due. Lately, it seems like I have been seeing a lot of good male MCs that really does stuff and Gunzou undeniably falls under that category. He served as the captain of the Bluesteel Fleet and did so without his resolve wavering even when they are faced with overwhelming odds. He is often called a gambler by his crew but the stuff that only he can do makes his character more appealing and goes to show that he can do whatever it takes just to have a shot at victory which is to my liking.
There’s a lot of other character so I will just limit it with my third pick, Iona. At first I was not really into her character because she seemed too mechanical and only follows orders but as the series progressed she finally learned to have a will of her own and felt more human (well that doesn’t feel right since they are technically not human in the first place). Her character development throughout the series was beautifully done and her part at the end where she chose to do what is right and what should be done above her own desire and attachments, voluntarily, goes to show that.
Now for the aesthetics which is probably my second most favorite part of the series. As I mentioned earlier the show utilized CGI almost all the time and that worked in favor for them whenever a ship battle occurs. Just like how CGI suits Houseki no Kuni almost perfectly because the characters are based of jewels and precious gems, Ars Nova also benefited in that the mechanical aspect gives of a more realistic vibe to it and made the movements more becoming of how real life ships would move. Well this is an anime show so having normal ships that fires normal ammunition only would be pretty anticlimactic so it goes without saying that the show had to instill that anime-ish feeling to it and they did so by having the ships fire Corrosive Torpedoes that looks like mini black holes when they detonate, Gravity Cannons that looks like your ordinary powerful beam of concentrated energy, Klein Field that serves as a strong defensive layer of protection that normal weapons won’t be able to penetrate and other powerful weaponry that would be able to sink hundreds or even thousands of ordinary ships without as much as exerting an effort. With all those all so mighty arsenal one would think that show would become too reliant on flashy effects to get things done but as I have mentioned earlier, despite all those overpowered weapons the brilliance of the show’s fight scenes still relies heavily on the tactic and execution of strategies part which the show itself recognizes.
For the last part I will be talking about what is not to my liking because I have to at least give the impression that I am not totally biased on this one (which is really the case anyway). First up is the tried and tested route that the show took when they introduced their cast and that is “if you can’t beat them, join them” trope. They did try to provide an explanation and gave some of their former enemies now allies some sort of reason to join their merry group but when you have seen a lot of shows that does just that it goes stale eventually. I am just somewhat glad that there are some of their enemies that didn’t get persuaded by their words because that would have been one of the show’s biggest downfall had that been allowed to happen. My other qualm about the show is how their allies that should be just as strong as any other Fleet of Fog member should be, easily destroys other ships like they are superior by a wide margin which should not be the case. In the end only those with roles to play are the ones that stood a chance against them and the enemies’ overwhelming number advantage falls right down the drain without much explanation which just doesn’t sit right with me because I was expecting more grounded battles, wherein losers and victors are chosen based on how well they can predict and counter their opponent’s moves instead of having the victors and losers be determined with whoever got the bigger and stronger guns.
Well that is all I can come up with and I hope I did the show justice. Honestly this was a fun show with a lot of exciting battles and waifus and the story is good enough to keep you seeking for more. The animation was also note worthy despite utilizing the not so favored CGI and the soundtrack was also a good listen. If you have spare time guys then I highly recommend this show. That is all from me for this week and I still don’t know what I should put up next week so I am in a bit of a pinch here. Well then see you again next time!