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Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 14 »« Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 12

Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 13

「青と藍」 (Ao to Ai)
“Blue and Indigo”

In a series with too many characters in insignificant roles already, XEBEC somehow felt the need to introduce a new main/sub character in the second half of Argevollen. Enter Natalie Namie Portman (Uchida Maaya)—a talented pilot in training but inexperienced with real-world combat. She’s “written in” as Tokimune’s junior in military school so that she has some connection with the current members of the Independent Unit 8 and can slot into the main cast somewhat seamlessly, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that there was no foreshadowing of her character’s existence prior to this episode.

What this suggests to me is that she may have been added to the script as late as last week, just so that the story has a new subplot to focus on next. However, what she adds to the story isn’t terrible, largely because I’ve felt that our main heroine Jamie’s importance to the story continues to dwindle, even as a potential love interest for Tokimune. It’s possible that the writers felt so as well and figured that throwing Namie into the mix might stir things up a bit in that regard. Be that as it may, I really don’t see the appeal of “degrading” what should be a military mecha anime into a high school love triangle romantic comedy, so I’m kind of hoping that the writers only periodically poke fun at this subplot and never delve too deeply into it. What Argevollen has going for it now with new lighter and faster ZTK5 Seiran Trail Kriegers and Tokimune pushing the limits of the “Synchro Rate” “Linkage Depth” system and going Gundam 00 Trans-Am is far better.

Granted, the addition of Namie does come of as a means to that end, because the urgency and desperation that Tokimune felt when he tried to save Namie probably couldn’t have come from any of the existing cast members. Silfy and Lorenz are unlikely to find themselves in such a perilous situation, and even if they did, I find it harder to believe that it would induce the same emotional response from Tokimune as trying to protect his junior/subordinate. So in that regard, I actually feel that Namie helped propel the story forward, even though she feels like a plot device for now. The downside of course is that we now have yet another character in main cast, leaving less time to develop any of the existing ones.

One problem that I’ve had with the series so far is that it feels like it’s only ever grazing the surface of the story and its characters, which for a viewer, makes it difficult to get absorbed in it. This contrasts heavily with Haikyuu, which I watched and blogged alongside and does all of that very well. Subplots are seamlessly woven together and the characters are given backstories that make them more relatable—even the opposing ones. In turn, everything that Haikyuu’s done well just highlights further everything that Argevollen hasn’t in the past three months, despite the fact that their two genres widely differ. That’s not to say that Argevollen is terrible though. It’s just that it continues to hover in the mediocre anime zone, and more often than not, comes off as XEBEC’s test project for new lighting and water effects. (That computer-generated water did look pretty amazing by today’s anime standards.)

Note: There was no episode last week, but a summary special about the Independent Unit 8 did air. I didn’t get a chance to watch it so I decided to leave it out of my coverage.

 

Preview

October 4, 2014 at 9:45 am
18 comments »
  • October 4, 2014 at 9:55 amSilentCid

    So is Tokimune still a punk in this second half like he was in the first several episodes?

    • October 4, 2014 at 12:35 pmDivine

      Tokimune is actually a lot more likeable now. He obeys orders and takes responsibility for his mistakes.

    • October 4, 2014 at 2:55 pmFlayvor Of Evil

      I still never really understood why protagonists in a military setting usually are rebellious and lack most of the qualifications needed to be in the military.

      • October 5, 2014 at 6:58 amp41s3r

        maybe its a subliminal message from the japanese government by saying: “you can be rebellious and join our army too!”

      • October 6, 2014 at 8:21 pmJuan

        Probably because if you were a “model soldier” you would be bland as a character, only following orders and doing what your superior ordered you to do. I doubt it would be too interesting to watch. As they say when things are going well it’s usually boring. Excitement happens when unexpected or unusual things occur

  • October 4, 2014 at 9:57 amPega

    Is it just me or did they drop the budget for Argevollen? Some characters and animations looked really cheap in this episode.

  • October 4, 2014 at 10:41 amGermanguy

    Dunno. but i fear we will see an similar Path like in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.
    This Pilot step on the path of Oni-sama God Like. he can do all things now with this TRANS-AM Mode. And the other Chars fall under Sub main cast. All Hail to Oni-sama

    • October 4, 2014 at 11:40 amGermanguy

      Trigger:

      One-san = he going asshole mode

      This Episode is more, how he calms down, and learn to take responsibility as a Squad Leader. So the new Cast member ist just for that. To push our MC in the right direction

      • October 4, 2014 at 12:08 pmGermanguy

        btw, the Budget went into the Mecha animations. because when the Voice Actors put emotion into their Voices, nothing happen visuality. They really saved on the Animations of the Chars

  • October 4, 2014 at 12:39 pmP Ko

    Shame the animation took a little hit. A lot of the faces and whatnot just looked so off. It’s not Fairy Tail levels of bad, but it was still pretty disappointing to see a downgrade. But ah well!

    I’m still on board the Jamie ship! Honk honk! The Namie torpedo shall not sink it!

  • October 4, 2014 at 1:59 pminfo600

    With the way Divine have written about Namie, I have a bad feeling that she’s going to get written off just as quickly as she was written in…

    OTOH, XEBEC’s budget management is still off-kilter. Though I can’t blame them using up the money for CGI more than the traditional methods.

  • October 4, 2014 at 2:39 pmrandomly

    I think you’re right in pointing out the main flaw of this show: everything it does has been done better by other series. Even little things like the CGI water you cited—the water in Free! Eternal Summer was much better animated.

  • October 4, 2014 at 3:41 pmPancakes

    Mediocre is about the best way to sum Argevollen up actually, it’s just there; the show simply trundles along in first gear without ever finding the impulse needed to ramp up its action and create something that sticks in the mind. Character development of course is the leading casualty here, none of the characters feel like anything more than plot devices, here to show, well, something. What that something is we can only guess, because Argevollen has also failed beyond the occasional hint to show what the central conflict is going to be.

    Overall as Divine mentioned, Argevollen isn’t bad, it’s simply boring. There is nothing here that other mecha shows don’t already do, and better at that too.

    • October 4, 2014 at 3:58 pmflCer

      I agree, it’s just ‘there’.

      But the new mech introduced in this episode looked pretty snazzy. I’m liking this second half more than the first half.

      The sync rate is a nice little plot device. I’m looking forward to what happens if it exceeds a certain threshold. If I were to guess, he’d become ‘one’ with the machine and be taken over much like his sister; That’s probably why the Captain has been flustered lately. He’s afraid of another disaster.

      • October 7, 2014 at 2:08 amshytende

        This serie is just a few steps below to be good (or even truly great.)
        It’s not bad by any means (last season, it clearly was the best mecha show, but it doesn’t means that much), but it has absolutely nothing to stand out.

        This is a shame because I’d want to really enjoy it. If it focus clearly on one of its point, it could do good things.

  • October 4, 2014 at 4:41 pmdaikama

    This series badly needs some focus. The pacing and storytelling is like a cow meandering across a meadow – both sluggish and desultory. So many things left to be resolved – not in the least the actual war >_>. Yet, let’s toss another plot ball into the air to juggle because… there’s still extra air-time to pad?

    I like Namie well enough, and she did inject a little fresh air into an increasingly (IMO) stale cast, but then again, so far her introduction seems quite scripted (e.g. plot device) as Divine pointed out. So… Tokimune is now an upstanding, caring senpai and that’s important because… why exactly? It was already pretty clear IMO that we are now on Tokimune v2 (now with 66% less angst!). I just hope her character serves a greater (ideally NON cliche’) purpose than what we saw in this episode.

    A bit random, but Samonji’s “a man of few words” character trait is starting to irk me. You can be stoic with out being practically mute. I hope is VA doesn’t get paid by the number of words spoken.

    “That computer-generated water did look pretty amazing by today’s anime standards.”

    I noticed that as well, and while the water itself was pretty cool, I did not think it integrated well with the rest of the animation which is key for CGI. Kind of garish IMO.

    Though I wouldn’t call it the best episode of the series, for some reason I enjoyed this one a little more than I expected. Maybe a week off helped. Then again, I can’t say I really missed the show either. All in all, it’s still very much same ‘ol Argevollen. “Mediocre” is one word for it, and dare I say “boring” another. Just look at the viewer commentary here – not just the overall small number, but what’s being written. There’s little, if any, discussion about what’s actually going on in the story. :/

    I decided to watch Aldnoah Zero a few days ago due to all the commentary drama. While I did think there were some serious flaws in that show, it still managed to be more entertaining than this (which admittedly is a pretty low benchmark). I don’t know how much of the blame falls on director Ootsuki Atsushi or series composition writer Satou Tatsuo, but this show still isn’t working. We’re in the 2nd half here. Time for this show to step up and deliver.

    • October 7, 2014 at 2:19 amshytende

      I think her being under Tokimune’s care is actually the most interresting with her. Not about her character (she really is a plot device for now), but about Tokimune.

      One of the key points of the serie (especially with recent episodes) is the relation between Samonji and Tokimune. There is a clear parallel between these two, so placing Tokimune on a similar situation may be interresting. (Yeah, I’m also doubtfull about her chances of survival. I guess we’ll see)

      I’m not that fond of the love triangle, however. Let’s hope it won’t take too much place.

  • October 4, 2014 at 5:18 pmSweetCoconut

    Ahaha. I knew it, Namie was voiced by Maaya Uchida.

    But seriously, the facial expressions are very weird in this episode.