Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 01
The premiere of XEBEC’s new original series reaffirms the “advanced yet medieval” military setting that I got from the promo material, but will Silver Will Argevollen turn out to be one of the sleepers of this season? I’m hoping that it will be, given the Break Blade-like vibes that I’m getting. While a TV series like Argevollen will understandably never match up to Break Blade in terms of production quality–even with the same studio behind it–the story does involve kingdoms and nations using clunky bipedal tanks known as “Trail Kriegers” to wage war against each other. And during this war, the main protagonist comes across a special, highly advanced bipedal tank that will (presumably) turn the tides. It’s a tune that we’re all too familiar with now, whether it be in Break Blade, Gundam, or any other mecha anime. However, it’s not a tune that I’m personally tired of just yet, especially when we’re thrown into a more medieval setting that still relies on infantry and tanks to storm a seemingly impenetrable wall, which is the only thing that separates the United Kingdom of Arandas from its belligerent, the National Federation of Ingelmia, who’s discontent with how Arandas has hoarded all of the continent’s rich natural resources for itself.
Interestingly enough, our primary perspective on the war is from the Arandas’ side, whom I perceive as the selfish ones based on the speech by the Ingelmia leader Julios Unios (Hayami Shou) and the cowardly behaviour of the Arandas generals once their wall was breached. As with any story about war, I would’ve figured that the more telling perspective is from the oppressed side (i.e. Ingelmia’s), but Argevollen hedges that decision rather nicely by telling the story from an independent squad of the Arandas’ army, led by Captain Samonji Ukyou (Tsuchida Hiroshi). The main protagonist is a relatively new recruit, Susumu Tokimune (Oosaka Ryouta), who will act on his own sense of righteousness rather than simply obeying orders. It’s a characteristic that’s all too common in protagonists with the potential to end wars (albeit not realistic), which we see an example of in this very first episode when he disobeys orders to save a supposed civilian truck that is under attack and has his “chance encounter” with the heroine of the story, Jamie Hazaford (Oonishi Saori), who just so happens to be transporting the prototype (?) bipedal tank “Argevollen” in her truck’s trailer. Put the two of them in a perilous situation with unknown assailants and bam!, Tokimune finds himself as the new pilot of Argevollen–a much more powerful and responsive Trial Krieger that’s developed by “Kybernes” and partly controlled by brain waves.
While the circumstances that put Tokimune in the pilot seat of Argevollen are fairly typical, I like how he’s a member of the somewhat laid-back Independent Squad 8, whose captain is cool, calm, and collected, and would likely assess the war between Arandas and Ingelmia before blindly swearing allegiance if he ever had doubts. This may be premature, but I can already picture Samonji’s group acting on their own accord at some point, especially if say, the cowardly generals find out about Argevollen and demand that they hand it and Jamie over so that they can try to mass produce them. Samonji has quite a cast of loyal characters supporting him after all, which includes his second-in-command, Master Sergeant Suzushiro Saori (veteran seiyuu Oohara Sayaka), communications officer Terai Akino (Hayama Ikumi), and Trial Krieger pilots Silfy Appleton (Sakurai Harumi, Yuri in Angel Beats!) and Lorenz Giuliano (Hamada Kenji). They’re a unique bunch to say the least–each with their own character nuances that will surely become more prominent as the series goes on.
In terms of production, there is a fair use of 3D CGI for the Trial Kriegers that stands out but doesn’t terribly detract from the overall animation. There are however obvious dips in quality like in most TV series, particularly in the more distant shots, but for the most part, Argevollen still looks better than I’d expect from XEBEC. I like the character designs, I like the soundtrack, and most of all, I like Rinne no Lagrange and Mouretsu Pirates director Tatsuo Satou‘s involvement as the series/composition writer. While I’ll admit that this first episode didn’t particularly stand out in any way, I can see the series getting better once it gets a change to flesh out the characters and develop the story more in the upcoming weeks.
Note: KOTOKO’s “Tough Intention” was used as the ending theme for this first episode, but it’s actually the opening theme for the series. We’ll likely hear it with the actual opening sequence in the next episode.
ED: 「TOUGH INTENTION」 by KOTOKO