Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova-: A Quick Take

bluesteel01aGunzou and his friends become responsible for carrying humanity’s last hope on board a ship that is personified in the form of a small girl named Iona in this apocalyptic military drama. The world had been taken over by a mysterious entity known as the Fog, which took over the seas as the land was ruined by climate change in the early 21st century. Nations became cut off from each other and battles with the Fog were lost comprehensively. In a flashback, the story is told of how Gunzou and Iona came together as submarine and ship captain to ultimately become traitors to both sides.

They key word in this episode is mechanics. Everything about this episode felt that way in the sense that the CG characters moved like robots. If you can see the screenshot above, you will also notice Iona’s cold deathly moe stare as she demands to speak to Gunzou. In the action scenes, the CG works perfectly well. Sea battles aren’t exactly the most three-dimensional action settings so they are probably much easier to render and look decent.

The story itself seemed passable up to a point. It’s stoppage time for humanity now and all bets are really off, so Gunzou choosing survival over humanity’s efforts to collectively survive are quite understandable. That he convinces his friends from the academy to go with him serves to give him a some sort of moral justification for going the route he does. There’s also the weapon which America helped construct that the I-401 crew is going to have to transport which serves as the MacGuffin in this series which the Fog will do anything to destroy.

Of course, things quickly go downhill when the other Fog ships are introduced. Like Iona, they all end up being one-dimensional moe archetypes that move awkwardly like robot dolls. I really couldn’t help but feel my will to continue watching this drain as they were introduced to one another. One of them even plays terrible piano as their charm point. I’d rather not bother to be honest.

Reasons to Continue Watching

  • Some good insight into humanity under extreme duress
  • The naval action scenes look pretty good
  • This is really a look into the future of animation; it has to start somewhere

Reasons to Drop

  • This style of animation isn’t ready for a mass consumption because the scenes of normal life look appalling
  • The character personalities for the Fog ships is questionable at best
  • The plot reveal does a good job of invalidating all the unseen battles that the I-401 took part in

My Verdict: For those really wanting moe anthropomorphized battleships in an anime, you would best wait for the adaptation of Kantai Collection coming next year. This is just girls as battleships without irony. There’s no fun here since that apocalyptic setting demands that everything is deadly serious. Unfortunately, any personality the characters had went with it as well.