Post Reply Arpeggio of Blue Steel
Content Overlord
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Posted 1/17/14
Written by hanachan

Before the new season even started I’d heard that Arpeggio of Blue Steel was pretty much moe Battleship. I’ve always been a fan of Battleship--the game--but I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch an entire series of it. Luckily, Arpeggio turned out to be have a compelling storyline with some depth and a lot of exciting naval battle action, as well as characters you get to like early on and come to care about during strong character development.

In the series, Earth has mostly been covered with water due to global warming. While humanity is struggling to come to terms with their new way of life after this cataclysm, a group of sentient warships, called “The Fleet of Fog” suddenly appears out of nowhere. As The Fog blockades the countries to the point of economic collapse, humanity attempts to fight back. It does not go well.

Nearly two decades later Chihaya Gunzou, a student of the Japanese National Marine Academy, comes into contact with a captured Fog warship. A girl appears and tells him she is the ship’s “mental model,” or a human personification of the ship’s “soul.” The girl, Iona, offers the ship to Gunzou’s command. Thus, the most powerful ship available to humanity is captained by a young student and his ragtag band of classmates. It’s impressive to see their competence and intelligence in managing their positions on the submarine.

They take on missions from the government but seem pretty autonomous. There’s a lot of other stuff that goes on, such as dealing with political jockeying, and defeating The Fog ships one after another (which the mental models seem oddly enough to enjoy). One of the ships, Takao, becomes a key character after being defeated by Iona and Gunzou. She becomes kind of obsessed with having Gunzou as her own captain (or maybe just having him as her own in general).

The naval battles are really the highlight of the show for me. The technicalities of the strategy and the intelligence of Gunzou, as well as his crew’s trust in him are fascinating to watch. The use of the mental models is something I haven’t really seen before. The other Fog ships begin to question what they are and the purpose behind themselves early on in the series. You see a distinct change in their attitudes and personalities as they become closer to people.

It’s a hard series to put into a few paragraphs, since every episode I watched seem to have a lot going on in it, character and plot-wise. The music is really nice, and I liked the opening and ending a lot. The animation is totally CG, but looks really nice. I can definitely say the story is interesting, the battles are awesome, and there’s a lot of variety in the characters (including every type of moe I can think of). The premise may sound kind of silly, but I think it’s a strong addition to this season’s anime series and it will appeal to a lot of people. If you’re into moe, battle strategy, or just interesting stories, you should definitely check out Arpeggio of Blue Steel!
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Posted 3/8/14 , edited 3/8/14
I understand that they took some significant changes in direction from the manga in this show including rewriting an ending (which the manga hasn't had) to allow th series to be a stand-alone 12-episode show. But then they left enough not done in the end to allow it to carry on if there is demand and they can find a way to wrest the plot back to the manga so they have some source material.

This, I venture, is a brave decision.

Normally, departing from the manga is a kiss of death for a show as the "true fans" depart in droves and talk the show down, and the lack of source material going forward pretty much nails the coffin lid shut. But I hope that if any show can pull itself around with a surprising twist of unseen strategy then this show will do it. Not only because of the delicious narrative imperative that it should do so (that is the plot of all the naval battles) but because it's a good show with captivating characters and a lot more of its world yet to reveal.

I have heard there is going to be some kind of a tie-in with Kantai Collection which will be . . interesting . . chiefly because the mental models are used by the ships as a way of interfacing with humanity for the sole purpose of understanding why computationally "perfect" strategy can lose to mere human inventiveness, when the massive technological advances are levelled out. Whereas KanColle is much more like Upotte (or Hetalia maybe) with ships instead of guns or countries - and the ships are an actual manifestation of the ship, not a subsystem.

Either way, "Silver Sky" by nano is my favourite piece of animé music for a LONG time and a song that is likely to be a permanent fixture on my iPod for years to come. It's most obvious use is in Episode 10 but you will notice it throughout the series in various places and also the OP theme "Savior of Song" is almost as good and significantly more like nano's regular musical stylings.
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