Arpeggio of Blue Steel Review

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Seiji Kishi, director of Angel Beats and Danganronpa: The Animation, is back again for the CG anime adaptation of Arpeggio of Blue Steel.  Subtitled as Ars Nova, many fans are already hoping to see more from this series.  However does it shine from the crowd is what we’re here to analyze.

Story:
arpeggio2Arpeggio of Blue Steel opens up with a whopper of a setting.  Due to temperature changes, sea levels rise and land mass is greatly reduced.  On top of that, an unknown fleet of ships have appeared called the “Fleet of Fog” that has destroyed all attempt at humanity at sea.  Even communications have been severed due to satellites being destroyed.

Fast forwarding to the future, a young man named Gunzo Chihaya at a marine academy is allowed to get a glimpse at a vessel from the Fleet of Fog that is supposed to be non-functioning.  Upon approaching the ship, it activates for a brief moment.  Later, he is confronted by a girl who claims that she is the human formed AI of the very same ship and that she has only one task.  To find him and follow his command.

Despite the beginning, this show really revolves around the ships and their “mental models”.  Which are human representations of the computer AI running the ships within the Fleet of Fog.  Which begs one of the biggest issues involving this show, the characters.  The only real interesting ones of the show are the mental models themselves and nothing outside of that.  Even Gunzo, the starting protagonist, takes a backseat to his mental model Iona.

The show itself is driven mostly by Gunzo’s self discovery and figuring out the details behind his father’s disappearance.  This morphs into the self acceptance of the mental models and humanity itself.  The true drive of understanding what really is humanity also comes into question throughout the show.  For example: Is self-awareness all that is needed in order to question the very existence of oneself?  These are generally put into play during tea party discussions between mental models.  Taking place more and more often as the story goes forward.

arpeggio1Animation:
One of the biggest set backs of the show is the exclusive use of CG.  Everything from ships, to environments, and even characters are done in full CG rather than 2D animation.  Overtime you get used to it and it becomes less annoying, however the thought of the entire show being done this way was slightly irritating.  The show could have been beautiful and to be honest the use of CG is just plain lazy and insincere.  Often robotic looking.

Conclusion:
In the end Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a good show.  With great characters and a lot of fun interactions.  Coupled in with the great tactical actions; there’s nothing to keep you from enjoying your time.  There was some vague and ambiguous plot points.  Even though the characters help drive the show well, the loss of direction can be a little frustrating at a few points.  Close to the end I was very excited about seeing its conclusion but unfortunately it just didn’t deliver.  I can only assume the writers planned for a second season which I honestly hope for.

VERDICT: 3.5 / 5

Pros:

  • Great tactical action
  • Interesting AI to Humanity element
  • Solid foundation for a series

Cons:

  • Exclusive use of CG
  • Some vague plot points
  • Ending short of potential
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. Chris has been a fan of anime for over 20 years. Once amassing a huge collection of DVDs during the DVD boom, he's consumed hundreds of shows and isn't looking to stop any time soon.