Monday, 7 October 2013

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova - Episode 1

On a future Earth decimated by global warming, things have only been made worse by the appearance of an unidentified alien force known only as the Fleet of Fog who have systematically taken control of the seas and destroyed most human communication capabilities.  In other words, humanity is in rather a tight spot.

There is, however, one hope for mankind, and that's the I-401 - a Fog submarine powered by an artificial intelligence (who of course inhabits the body of a young girl) known as Iona who has ended up serving as a mercenary rebel against her former comrades under the command of a young naval captain.

After showing us what the I-401 can do in action, we rewind to discover the original of the unlikely meeting between boy and submarine with the former, Gunzou Chihaya, the son of a much-lauded captain who died in the last major battle agains tthe Fleet of Fog.  When Gunzou visits the dormant I-401, kept in holding by the navy after appearing out of nowhere one day, his presence immediately awakens Iona, who ultimately has some simple orders - to obey whatever Gunzou commands her to do.  Glimpsing the chance to both avenge his father and turn the tide of the war against the fog, he turns rogue and makes off with Iona (I said makes off, not makes out, okay?  Save that for the doujinshi), leading ultimately to the situation which began this episode.

As opening episodes go, Arpeggio of Blue Steel certainly managed to cover plenty of vital ground - admittedly, the presentation of parts of this origin story were pretty stiff, but there was just enough action and moments of "alien submarines are cool" to get away with it.  The bigger question marks here might well be about the show's all-CG animation, which is wildly variable in quality from really quite impressive in one shot to atrocious the next.  It never quite descends into Miku Miku Dance bad, but... well, we'll see what happens when the animation budget starts to run out.  Overall though, simply seeing what Sanzigen can do with sole control over a TV series after their work on 009 Re: Cyborg is enough to fascinate me, and if it can do that while also offering some big explosions and epic naval battles then that'll be enough to keep me on-board (with every pun intended) for the time being.

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