Review: Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova

Review: Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova

Looking for a satisfactory Action anime with ship-to-ship combat, well give this one a go.

I must say, I’m glad that I decided to pick this up. If you’re wondering why you should invest your time in this then it’s strangely simple, you should do it for the ships. To be more correct, you should do it for the ‘girls’ cause the said girls are the ships themselves. But let’s just back off a bit and discuss what it’s about.

Things about it: The crew of the Fog submarine I-401 receives a task by the government to deliver a secret weapon that might be capable of defeating the Fleet of Fog once and for all to America no matter what it takes to do it. But they will not reach America that easily.

Okay, what is going on here? What about the Fog? What secret weapon? Well, because a mysterious Fleet appeared out of nowhere when global warming and rising sea-level made most of the earth uninhabitable, that’s why. Seems cliche right? They take the weapon to America and any Fog ship that gets in their the way has their ass handed to them, am I right? Wait, there’s more to it than that……..

(1) The thing about the ships/girls

Seeing that they were incapable of devising tactics like humans, the Fog created a ‘mental model’ for each ship to cut the slack. They gained the ability to memorize and create their own tactics but they lacked human emotion. See where this is going? During the show the other ships actually change sides all on their own for one. They leave the Fog because they followed their emotions not their orders. They follow orders from the Admiralty Code (which is basically what it sounds like, it’s the highest order) well until they defect of course. You could tell from the start that they already had some level of emotion, their personality, whether they know it or not. The rest of the shows follows their confusion with confronting their emotions. Each ship turns for a reason, be it for love, friendship or inspiration.

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And here comes the million dollar question, is this a harem?, the answer is No. The Captain of  the I-401, (his name is Chihaya Gunzou by the way)  is not the main focus of this anime, rather it’s his submarine, Iona, that gets the attention.

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Meet Iona, Gunzou’s ship. She’s cute right?

She’s the real protagonist here. It might seem like she’s going to be under-developed but she is very interesting. The last order that she remembers is ‘become Chihiya Gunzou’s ship’ (obvious plot-hole there. She doesn’t remember so they don’t explain it. Ha! that was easy). The plot goes on, she becomes Gunzou’s ship and has to fight other Fog ship, she doesn’t generally want to but she does want to protect Gunzou. She’s at first frustrated that she does not know why the other ships label her as an ‘anomaly’ and also confused she can’t figure out exactly why she follows Gunzou. The other ships all tell her that they were created as weapons and her attempts to persuade them don’t work out very well. With every passing battle she ‘changes’ a little, new emotions might appear, new situations might arise, she might need to make difficult choices and so on. She’s alienated at herself for this but later learns to accept it. These alone make her better than every other character in the show.

All the other ship too learn that they should follow what is right to them. They make some very ‘human’ choices on their own. It’s a very huge transformation, one that can easily be missed when you don’t pay attention. What I can safely say about them is that they are not too annoying but they’re also not too good either. They are fairly likable.

(2) The crew is just there for show

While Gunzou does most of the logic, the crew are there for uhm…….being there? They don’t have any fascinating qualities. They are classmates of Gunzou (well former anyway) and don’t ask me why they want to be apart of this. “We’ll go wherever you go Gunzou,” they say ,”Why would you say that???!!” says the person typing this right now. I kind of feel bad about these guys because nothing is explained about them and they’re only in it for the battles. Poor guys……

(3) The battles

I’ve been waiting to tell you about this. They’ve got super-gravity cannons, torpedos, corrosive torpedos, missiles and a Sonic Death Ray, maybe not the Death Ray part but they’ve got the other four. When the ships engage in battle they use everything that they’ve got. The ships are futuristic-looking with the glowing symbols and all. The battles are beautifully animated the atmosphere is spot-on, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s the battles act as a add-on to the story. It does has some epic battles. The effects as well as the ships are awesome to look at. They do make good use of all these in animating this show.

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Now about how they escape these encounters, I’m convinced that it was through some strange luck. I-401 is under-powered compared to other ships but there’s almost always something up their sleeves. Don’t get me wrong, the battles are interesting enough to keep a lot of people entertained.

NOTE: The show cell-animates not only the ships but also the characters too. Thought the backgrounds are clearly painted. You will need some time to get used to it but I got the hang of it around episode 6 or so. Be ready, or you will be caught off guard, which is not a good thing.

The Conclusion

It’s not a bad show at all if you believe what I write is even semi-interesting. The shows deals with accepting your emotions and acting on what you feel is right rather than what others tell you. The ships/girls are all interesting and their actions are what makes up this anime’s plot. It’s not about the mission to deliver a secret weapon to America but about the characters change. There are moments where the show tries to be funny but they don’t hit the spot. I guess they are meant more to relieve the viewers than to tickle your funny bone. The action is a plus but it’s not what it’s about. If you’ve come away disappointed with similar series (i.e High School Fleet/Haifuri), this might just fit in your pocket. Don’t worry, it is the size you’re looking for……….





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