Monday, 9 December 2013

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova - Episode 10

With the wool pulled over Kongou's eyes thanks to an effective use of Iona as a decoy, it seemed as if the wrath of the Fog fleet flagship had been avoided.  Chihaya had, however, reckoned without Iona's direct "sisters", a pair of submarines with no qualms about scuttling their kin.

Having been hit with a full-on assault, the I-401 is badly damaged as it sinks fast and begins to take on water, and to make things worse their opponent has succeeded in disabling most of Iona's ability to repair herself using nanomaterials - it seems that there's no escape from this situation as the submarine sinks, begins to collapse under the pressure and takes on yet more water.  Meanwhile, on the surface the duo's comrades both Fog and human begin the search for the I-401 when she fails to arrive at the rendezvous point, and with no sign of her they begin to fear the worst.  Without a similarly capable submarine in their number that could reach the depths inherent to this part of the ocean, a very real danger emerges that they may never find the I-401 regardless of the current status of its occupants.

Speaking of which, it's fair to say that Gunzou isn't exactly in the best of health, but rather than ensuring his own survival his commands ensure that Iona and the I-401 remain as functional as possible, even if that means purging the ship's oxygen system amongst other things.  With air running out and the temperature dropping rapidly, it seems like the game is up for Chihaya, as he orders Iona to prioritise her own survival and the mission at hand over his own life.  Ultimately, this is something that Iona simply will not accept when push comes to shove, as she shows a very human streak of selflessness in attempting to save Chihaya, while Takao in turn sacrifices herself to save both Gunzou and Iona.  With even Kongou's role within the Fog now under question however, this isn't the end of the battle by any stretch of the imagination...

After meandering into areas that really didn't work too well in my opinion, this week's Arpeggio of Blue Steel was at last a reminder of the kind of thing that its scenario can - and did on this occasion - deliver well.  The drama and tension of being trapped in a sunken submarine is a pivotal part of any movie featuring said craft, and this was brought to bear here alongside a sense of loneliness that not only pervaded the episode but also ultimately serviced its pivotal moment while making good use of Iona, and eventually Takao, as characters.  In a way, this feels like it would have been a satisfying (if bittersweet) end to the series, but there's still more to come, so hopefully we can get a little more top-notch naval action before this series is done too, allowing Arpeggio of Blue Steel to end as it began.

Plus, while we're at it, can they just hurry up and release this show's soundtrack already?  I don't want to have to wait another three weeks...

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