Anime Review – Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova

arpeggio-of-blue-steelI wasn’t a player. I was merely an observer. But that didn’t stop my mind from continually singing “you sunk my battleship” all throughout this series. Now, if you assumed this anime was largely about warships – then you’re correct, it is! (Would of been awkward if it wasn’t after that introduction). Nonetheless, pull up your anchor because it’s time to get this review sailing. Here’s what you need to know about Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova.

This premise. The world has been put under naval lockdown by a group of diversely coloured ships (personal fave is the green one) – named The Fog. These ships are commanded by “mental Models,” a robotic mind acting as the ships centre control. And while mental modes may look like your typical female, in reality, they’re so much more (hi-5 if you got the reference).

These super-robot peoples have supernatural powers and abide by the “admiralty code” – an ill-defined set of rules that seemingly justify everything. Yet one of these mental models, Iona, malfunctions and joins with our main character, Chihaya Gunzou. What follows is an enthralling quest to try and unlock the perilously guarded ocean waters and save humanity.

Iona, looking particularly cool as she jumps from missile to missile. As you do. Source: SANZIGEN
Iona, looking particularly cool as she jumps from missile to missile. As you do.    Source: SANZIGEN

The strangest thing about this series is that, well, it doesn’t feel like a series. And I know, it’s like I’m saying a cat isn’t a cat, which is simply crazy. But I really mean it. This anime has an awkwardly defined start with a lot of unanswered questions (think any political interview ever). Similarly the ending, while providing some closure, doesn’t quite wrap things up nicely.

In short, this series feels like it should be an arc within a bigger series, and standing alone, it just doesn’t quite feel complete. What is the admiralty code? Why is it followed? What is causing the mental modes to malfunction? Why is our main character so boring? Where is the sex? There are so many unanswered questions. And yes, I was just kidding about that last one :p.

The clothes stay on in this series. And for that I give it props. Source: SANZIGEN
The clothes stay on in this series. And for that I give it props.    Source: SANZIGEN

But I wasn’t kidding about our main character Chihaya Gunzou being boring. He has the personality of a concrete wall. That’s right, he doesn’t even get brick he’s so boring. As the only human in this anime that gets more than five minutes of air time he represents us pretty poorly.

The mental modes have way better personalities and they’re not even human. I mean, if a robot is more emotionally engaging then the main character then you either need a new main character or you need to throw glitter on him. This being the mental modes were surprisingly interesting. You get a feel for their robotic premise even when they malfunction and emotion starts to filter through. My personal favourite was Haruna, because her ridiculous puffy trenchcoat-inspired outfit made her look like the worlds most awkward criminal. She also had awesome character progression.

Yay Haruna! Source: SANZIGEN
Yay Haruna!    Source: SANZIGEN

And Haruna wasn’t the only good thing about this anime. I’ve thrown a lot of shade, but it really was enjoyable to watch. In particular the strategic warship fights were bangin (pun intended). I genuinely enjoyed seeing the strategies used, especially in the earlier warship standoffs. It wasn’t quite on par with the strategy in Code Geass, but it was close, and if you enjoy strategy you’ll likely enjoy this anime. This was complemented by art and animation that was reasonably well done.

Yes, the ships in this series are pretty cool and do things that would never be normally possible, like open up underwater. Source: SANZIGEN
Yes, the ships in this series are pretty cool and do things that would never be normally possible, like open up underwater.    Source: SANZIGEN

So now it’s your choice, will you step aboard? Or will you sink into the shadows and give this one a miss? If you enjoy strategy you’ll likely enjoy this series. But if you’re looking for something perfect then you’re heading onto the wrong cruise. Don’t go in with big expectations and you might just be blown out of the water. Ok, i’m done with the awkward puns, promise!

Thank you for reading my review!

Rating 7/10