「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.