When I first read about the premise of Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio (or Arpeggio of Blue Steel) – that is, battleships who are personified by young girls – I laughed and dismissed it. But after watching the PVs, I was actually pretty excited about it, particular the battles between warships. This first episode wasn’t hugely exciting, but did introduce us to the cast of characters and set the scene for the series. That said, I found it interesting enough to keep on with it.
The series is set on Earth, about 30 years in the future. Global warming has massively changed the face of the Earth, and as if in response, a force known as the Fleet of Fog appeared, attacking and annihilating humans who were on the sea using super advanced battleships. The Fleet of Fog also rendered all communications useless, cutting nations off from each other, and from themselves. Humanity continues to struggle against the Fleet, but with little success. However, a military cadet, Gunzo Chihaya, is approached by a member of the Fog, Iona, a sentient battleship who offers to obey his every command. Gunzo and Iona then set off, along with their crew, sailing the world to take down the Fleet of Fog.
That about sums up the episode. We find out how Iona and Gunzo met, and learn about the nature of their relationship. I’m not super keen on Iona’s whole, “I live to serve you” thing, but hopefully their relationship develops beyond this (and not into some romance. I’d really just like mutual respect and caring!!). Other battleships possess fairly strong personalities from the short amount of screen time they’ve had, so I do think there’s a great opportunity to develop Iona. It was also refreshing to see a capable MC in Gunzo, rather than a hero who shuts down and then suddenly gets mad before annihilating the enemy. The other crew members haven’t really been expanded on, but I imagine we’ll get to know them better over the course of the series. My hope is that there’ll be a real family dynamic, a la Celestial Being of Gundam 00. I love that crap.
One of the most polarising aspects of Arpeggio is the animation, which is almost entirely done in 3DCG. While its use in battles is brilliant and really adds something special, the character models aren’t exactly fantastic. I’m not exactly sure why this decision was made. I imagine it is more a cost saving exercise than an artistic choice. So yeah, it’s a little distracting, and I can understand why some people would be put off by it. However, for now, I am interested enough beyond the appearance of Arpeggio to care. As I said previously, the CG really shines in the battleship battles, which will most likely be the highlight of the series. They’re intense, fast paced and hugely exciting to watch. I can’t wait to see what happens when the Arpeggio goes head to head with the other cruisers in the Fleet of Fog. From what I understand, the battles were pretty amazing in the manga, so I hope this translates to the anime, too.
While the battles are definitely keeping me watching Arpeggio, I’m also keen to see what they do with the world. Obviously with the breakdown of communication, countries being sieged by the Fleet of Fog and global warming, this world has gone through massive upheaval politically, socially and culturally. Gunzo mentions that he has no idea if America exists anymore, despite the fact they’re currently transporting a weapon there. With humanity being as connected as it is today, I can’t imagine how the world’s face would change when suddenly we’re not able to communicate with other countries, or even people in another town. Even if the Fleet of Fog is defeated, how will Earth recover? We’re heavily dependant on communication systems for the day-to-day functioning of most services, so humanity in the world of Arpeggio has got some major rebuilding to do should they win their war with the Fog. Which raises another question; who are the Fog, and what do they want? Is their appearance coinciding with global warming a coincidence, or a direct consequence of that? Do they want to conquer Earth, or save it (and by save it, I mean the planet, not its inhabitants). Hopefully these questions can be answered. If Arpeggio can do that, while also exploring what it means to live in their world void of communication and a guaranteed future, I think we’ll end up with a really cool show. If we don’t, well, the OP is still freaking badass.
Possibility of blogging: Moderate – high; let’s see what the next few episodes bring
Possibility of watching: Definitely watching!