「航路を持つ者」 (Kouro Wo Motsu Mono)
“Those With Shipping Routes”
Look, I’ll be honest. Part of me just wants to say “all I saw was piew piew and it was fabulous” and be done with it, because to me, that was first thing that comes to mind when I try to describe the awesomeness that Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio ~Ars Nova~.
A throw back to an older era of Sci-Fi in some respects, the series revolves around a world where humanity has lost most of its land due to climate change and other factors. To compound this loss further, a mysterious “Fleet of Fog” appears and blockades all of humanity’s shipping routes, plunging all the remaining nations into a steep isolation that makes it impossible to even confirm one another’s existence. 17 years after humanity’s total naval defeat, an inactive Fleet of Fog submarine is captured and codenamed the I-401. Responsive to only naval officer Chihaya Gunzou (Okitsu Kazuyuki), the I-401 (and it’s humanoid interface Iona, voiced by Fuchigami Mai) take on the Fleet of Fog.
And that’s what this introductory episode essentially ends up being—an action packed first episode that establishes the setting, introduces some mystery, and gives us some background conflicts to whet the appetite. All things considered, it successfully does what an introduction should do, and does it with a flair that few series have—I mean, how can do you match a series whose torpedos do this? Sure, the main characters haven’t exactly outed themselves as particularly unique and the series does rely on a few Sci-Fi tropes that we’ve seen quite a few times before, but the fact remains that we’re dealing with a story where the main character wants to utilize a newfound strength to “break the stagnant status quo,” and it’s a formula that spells potential awesomeness. Indeed, the grim backdrop and the insanity that is the Fleet of Fog are just a hardcore Sci-Fi fan’s wet dream, and the anthropomorphism of each ship into human-like “mental models” just pads the cake with another source of potential entertainment.
What ends up being perhaps the most notable thing however, is the fact it’s essentially all rendered with CGI—which while being the highlight of the series, may also be the element that chases some people away. Because whereas the action scenes are superb beyond description and some scenes make it so that the CGI is virtually indistinguishable from being hand-drawn, there are some scenes where the deficiencies of our current level of CGI technology really rears its ugly head. Personally, I do love the stylistic choice the studios did in deciding to create this series this way—and the positives do end up outweighing the negatives in this regard by far in my opinion—but I can see why people may think differently, and it’s something that ultimately makes this series something that’s obviously not for everyone.
Obviously though, it’s something that was right down my alleyway, and I honestly ain’t even completely sure why I feel this way. Maybe it’s just the diehard Sci-Fi fan in me doing all the talking or something, but yeah, I loved the introduction despite some of the aforementioned flaws, and I’ll definitely continue following Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio ~Ars Nova~ to see how it ends up. Sadly, it might get a bit rushed considering it’s only one cour, but I suspect the entertainment value and Sci-Fi goodness will be more than enough to overpower any negatives in this regard—especially if you’re someone who can overlook the occasional CGI deficiencies and/or are a diehard fan of the Sci-Fi genre (being an Action genre fan helps too). With that said, it’s looking highly probable that this series gets some extra coverage over the next week or two (with the potential of being picked up for full coverage in the future), so look forward to it. I-401 FULL STEAM AHEAD!
OP: 「SAVIOR OF SONG」by nano feat. MY FIRST STORY