Monday, 23 December 2013

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova - Episode 12 (Completed)

For all of her talk of abiding by the rules and codes of the Fog, it's fair to say that Kongou has gone a little.... "off the rails" as we enter Arpeggio of Blue Steel's first episode.

If anything further evidence were needed that she's gone bonkers, her first attack is not to take out Iona and her crew but to obliterate and effectively absorb all of her allies.  It's a move which leaves everyone baffled, but a discussion between Kongou and the other Mental Models soon reveals the true extent of her insanity - an all-encompassing hatred of what she calls "errors" who have somehow taken on human traits.  Now that she, too, is one of those "errors", she seems to have no qualms about destroying herself alongside her former comrades.

Iona is having none of this however, and pleads with Gunzou to let her talk directly with Kongou to save her - a request which requires actual physical contact between the two of them.  It seems like an impossible mission, but it's one that the crew take to with aplomb as Iona, freed from her ship, goes head-to-head with Kongou.  It's a discussion that is certainly far more physical than verbal, and one that Iona looks to have no chance of winning as Kongou sets herself up to obliterate them both.  Perhaps, however, Iona's "error" in the form of her feelings towards those around her are actually not a weakness, but her greatest asset when her back is against the wall...

Although it in no way tackles all of the ideas and issues set up across the duration of the series, this was still a pretty satisfyingly action-packed finale to the show - a little hard to swallow in places but with a pleasing sense of the theatrically grandiose and a visual scope to match.  It isn't the kind of ending to leave you thinking, and it could be considered lightweight and trivial, but then again that matches the tone of much of the second half anyhow.  That feeling of potential that was neither entirely squandered nor fully realised really sums up Arpeggio of Blue Steel as a whole - a series with some fantastic episodes that really made the most of its setting and premise, but not frequently enough to provide anything truly memorable beyond short-term entertainment value.  Still, with animation that seemed to improve by the week, if nothing else this does perhaps offer proof that you can make a pretty decent late-night anime using CG alone, which could well be a notable landmark that does leave us talking about the series in years to come.

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