Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 24 (END)
「白銀の意思」 (Shirogane no Ishi)
XEBEC’s original series draws to a close, and while it may not stand-out in the eyes of many, it manages to remain atypical until the very end. Almost all anime stereotypes that we’ve come to know were avoided and all the loose ends were wrapped up rather nicely. The writers managed to leave things open-ended for a potential sequel too.
The biggest uncertainty going into this finale was what motivates Samonji to go on a suicide run and it turns out it’s because he feels obligated to look over the U-Link System on Reika’s behalf. To me, it felt like an excuse for Samonji to throw away his life more than anything else, so I was glad to see Tokimune call him out on that. That scene kind of reiterated the sentiment that Tokimune’s matured drastically as the main character and also reaffirmed how he’s unlike most mecha anime male leads. It was befitting that he was the one lecturing his former captain, turning the tables compared to the first half of the series. I wasn’t too concerned about exactly how Tokimune and Jamie were able to overcome Perfevollen’s Fascinator a second time—simply chalking it up to how their “link” with Argevollen was simply stronger—as I was more interested to see how Samonji respond. What I expected to see was Samonji fighting Tokimune and intentionally losing, but the stoic captain just forcibly shut down all U-Link-enabled Trail Kriegers instead. No epic final battle or anything. Just an end to the war with Izumi’s forces coming in to clean up. It was a bit anti-climactic but so refreshingly different that I walked away from this finale more satisfied than I thought I’d be. The ending was “great” in the sense that it didn’t conform to how most people would probably expect a mecha anime to end.
As for the other loose ends, they didn’t really confirm whether or not Richthofen survived, but given that he was on the battlefield in search of Argevollen, I did feel like it was a sufficient conclusion to his subplot. Much like the fighting between Arandas and Ingelmia, his vendetta with Argevollen had lost all meaning at this point. It simply didn’t matter when everyone except the militaristic activists wanted to stop fighting and Tokimune was only interested in making Samonji come to his senses. Cayenne and Suguro also met their end, and while I could have anticipated that Suzushiro was going to kill the former, I really can’t say the same about Quasimodo assassinating the latter on Izumi’s behalf. That came as quite a shock, since characters like Suguro usually slip away into the shadows to scheme again another day, even if he did give Jamie a huge lump sum of cash as a nice gesture. Similar to the lack of romance from the main duo in the series, that proved to be yet another example of how Argevollen differentiates itself. For me personally, the most satisfying part of the of the ending is that Samonji survived and is left with the burden of being the emissary of sorts for the Arandas military. This finally put him face-to-face with Holmes, which I was anticipating for some time now. It also left things open-ended for a sequel, but even if one never comes, it hinted at how the efforts of Unit 8 are only a small part of a much bigger world and changing the world doesn’t happen overnight.
When it comes to a XEBEC original series featuring clunky mechs reminiscent of Break Blade, I, like many others, had reservations. Twenty-four episodes later, it’s fair to say that some of those reservations were well-warranted while others were not. Production-wise, Argevollen was actually pretty consistent across the board. The use of computer generated imagery didn’t detract terribly from the overall look and feel of the series and actually meshed well with all the lighting effects. The artwork never really faltered either, whether it be the character designs or the background scenery. The story on the other hand is something that deserves both praise and criticism. Praise for being distinctly different from what one would expect from this type of anime nowadays—side-stepping most tropes and not conforming to another cookie-cutter series—and criticism for not doing enough to draw viewers in, grab their attention, and never let it go until the very end.
To put it bluntly, Argevollen was distinctly different to almost a fault, despite how much longtime anime viewers such as myself welcome it. After all, it’s one thing to be different in an amazing way and another thing to be different for the sake of different. Luckily, Argevollen falls somewhere in between the two extremes and for that reason, should be remembered as an original series that a lot of people had a predisposition about and turned out to be a lot better. Taking a step back and looking at the broader picture, I have some renewed faith in XEBEC and their future original productions as a result. I’ll still have some reservations since their portfolio is ridden with mediocre series, but I’ll remember Argevollen as something that strived to be different and achieved it partly. I’m by no means hoping that they’ll make a sequel, but if they do, I’ll probably watch it with some optimism.