「航路を拓く力」 (Koro o Hiraku Chikara)
“The Power to Open a Path”
Just when you thought there was no way the series could further explore the themes it’s bought up so far, we get an episode that does just that—all while culminating the series in a send-off that was as spectacular as it was fitting.
Because with Kongou’s arrival, we get the expected destruction of the American Fleet at her hands, and the completion of her fall from grace. After being thrown aside by the very people she dedicated her life to serving, she was left alone and forced to deal with emotions she did not yet understand—all while trying to process the biggest mental shocks she could’ve possibly received. It goes without saying that the loss of her only companion in Maya (and the loss of her purpose as a member of the Fog) were two things that did more harm than any physical damage could inflict, and it’s something that makes her fall from grace not only understandable, but fitting of her new disposition as human-like being.
Just like a human thrust into a sudden series of unfortunate circumstances, Kongou ends up responding in the most human of ways—mixing anger and sadness as she lashes out at others (the Blue Fleet) while giving no heed to her own well being on the belief that there was no longer any reason to live. At the same time, she defaults to the views she’s known all along—that the Fog are weapons that don’t need to change or have free will—as she tries to deny both the circumstances at hand, and the existence of those that caused it. It all comes together as a classic example of a human going through the stages of loss and grief, and it goes to show not only how human she and the rest of the Fog have become, but also how well the people behind this series have managed to develop her and the other characters throughout.
Continuing the theme of the developments being nothing but appropriate thematically, it’s only fitting that this denial—this logical response to loss and grief—gets counteracted by the other side of human nature: the illogical desire to risk one’s life to save another. And it’s here where Ars Nova really shows that it knows exactly what it’s trying to do, because there were few other things that could’ve done this finale justice than having Iona be the one to make that choice. Not only that, she does so while requesting herself that Gunzou give her the order to do so. It’s something that she didn’t have to do—it was her idea after all—but the fact that she took the time to request it is significant beyond description. It demonstrates her willingness to trust that Gunzou will provide her the help she needs as a friend, throws back to the fact that she hasn’t forgotten the fundamental bond they’ve shared together since the beginning, and highlights her evolution throughout the last 11 episodes. This was a scene that culminated an entire series’ worth of developments. This was a scene that demonstrated just exactly what Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova has been about. It wasn’t just a series about naval warfare and the newest in CG tech. It’s was series that explored the nature of being human, and it did so in a fashion that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Why did we end up with such bothersome logic routines?
Weren’t we just weapons?
No. It’s not about what you were.
It’s about who you are now.
This was a quote that goes not only true for the people in the Ars Nova universe, but for us in real life too. As time goes by, we inevitably change. How we change depends on what we do and the goals we strive for. Gunzou had his, and it wouldn’t be a stretch that Ars Nova also wanted to do one last thing with its thematic exploration, which was to ask viewers what they’re striving for. Looking back on it now, the show wasn’t just about the Fog asking where they came from, what they are, or where they’re going. Arguably, it was asking the viewers themselves too. Do you know where you’re coming from when you do the things you do? Do you know what you are and what it is that you want to do with the free will you have? In this world where things change in the blink of an eye, do you know where you’re going? Did you have something you wanted to but gave up on a while back? Only you know the answer. Just know that if you do have something you want to do, you can’t wait for someone else to do it. You need to grab it with your own two hands.
Ultimately, this was an episode that wasn’t so much about the final battle (even though it was quite epic) as it was the thematic exposition it was going for. They ended up blending pretty seamlessly, but truth be told, there was enough here for this finale to have been great even if it didn’t. In this respect, this finale reminds me quite a bit of Zetsuen no Tempest’s, which is great considering how much I loved that series too. But yeah, I guess there’s no delaying the inevitable anymore. This episode brings an end to what’s been a good run, and all that’s left is the final impressions (you’ll find this after the epilogue caps and end card).
Zephyr’s Final Impressions:
Truth be told, there isn’t much here to say that I haven’t said before. As such, I’ll keep it brief. I came into Ars Nova for the naval combat piew piew and came out with much much more. To say the series exceeded everyone’s expectations was an understatement, and it isn’t every day that you get a series like this one. Powered by a spectacular OST, over the top action, complex themes on human nature, and the newest in CGI tech, Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova was a bundle of joy throughout. And there just aren’t many words to describe how sad I am to see this show go. Out of all the series I watched this season, this was the one that consistently kept me on the edge of my seat and kept my writing juices flowing. It only helped that it was a Sci-Fi series through and through, and it really says a lot when I can say that I watched over 25 series this season and none of them were as enjoyable as Ars Nova was.
That said, let’s not forget that the only reason I was able to even find time for this was due to Zanibas’ help with the caps (and the occasional post) throughout the series’ run. So if you’ve enjoyed the coverage, please extend some thanks to him for taking the time to help out here on top of all that he already does on this site. Last but not least, I’d like to just say thanks again to all of you that came to read and comment on this series week in and week out. It’s not quite the gift I’d like to give you guys—you guys deserve a lot more—but like this last episode, I figure it’d be fitting to wish you guys a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year by pointing you guys over to some great Ars Nova t-shirts (there’s more on the second and third pages) they just put up for order over at AmiAmi. They’re quite fabulous if I do say so myself. I snagged the black Takao shirt… though that Kirishima one really tempts me…
Zanibas’ Final Impressions:
Ars Nova did its primary job–providing adrenaline-packed pew pew–but also went above and beyond, providing an interesting insight as to what it means to be alive. As a show that was quickly dismissed for its heavy use of CGI, it quickly disproved those expectations and went above them. It veered away from the source material, yet created an original story that many claim compliment the manga well. Though it may not get a second season, it was a pleasure to watch this show and see the well-balanced cast shine in their respective moments. Also, Kirishima is best bear.