Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 03

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I-401 enters the fortress port of Yokosuka, but after docking, the crew taken into custody by the army, who escorts them to dinner with former admiral and current diet member Kita Ryoukan. He doesn’t believe Iona can be trusted, and demands that Captain Chihaya surrender her to the military. Cihaya refuses, and the dinner is interrupted by an attack by the Fog battleships Kirishima and Haruna. Iona neutralizes the soldiers surrounding them, and the crew boards her and prepares for battle. Meanwhile, Submarines I-400 and I-402 have found Takao, who has decided to leave the fleet, seeking Chihaya as her captain.

So the ragtage young crew of the I-401 leave the perilous high seas for the safety of a port, only to find themselves entering the jaws of an old lion in Admiral Kita – complete with epic beard. But aside from sticking a bunch of automatic rifles in unarmed a bunch of unarmed kids’ faces, he doesn’t accomplish much. In fact, the whole episode lagged a bit, owing to the fact it was the first without a naval battle in it. With nothing loud and shiny to distract us, we couldn’t help but wonder how a raw material-starved country with no access to the sea and a decimated fleet were able to build a gigantic fortress wall around one of their major ports, complete with underground dock. Why would the Fog leave them alone long enough to complete it in peace? Also, the characters look cool, but their appeal is only surface-deep.

The crew members are little more than their jobs; Iona is playing the dense robot role – not understanding cemeteries and what not – while Chihaya is full of determination and gumption, but is a bit wishy-washy in his goals. Everyone is lacking in personality, with the possible exception of Takao, the one character in this series who’s actually changed, though she went from uninspiring villain to vapid love interest. Blue Steel is a series blessed with impeccable good looks, but to hold our interest, it needs to keep the action and combat going at a steady clip. Taking its foot of the gas exposed the flaws lurking just beneath its sheen, we’d overlooked up to this point. The good news is, with two Fog battleships entering the mix, next week should be better.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta – 03

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While saving Kana and Mina from Mizuki’s runaway car, Touko squeezes them too hard, seemingly killing them, though they’re later revealed as vampires and heal quickly. Kyousuke blames Akina for not beng “dutybound” and they have a row. Mizuki and Kotoha tell Kana and Mina about Akina’s duty as Hiizumi family head to “tune” youkai into their own dimension. But because tuned youkai never return, the act is thought of as murder. In a confrontation by the river, Akina proves he’s inherited the power to tune, but chooses not to use it.

True faith does not require proof (just ask Major Kira!); so throughout the generations the Hiizumi clan has performed their duty with the faith that what they are doing is right, and that they are safely bearing grateful youkai to their proper place, even though no one knows for sure if they’re actually reaching that place, rather than simply being killed. Since becoming the leader of his clan, Akina has not performed that duty, and the youkai have piled up in Sakurashin. But it’s not for lack of faith, or resolve. Akina simply likes having youkai around, so he’s in no hurry to dispatch any of them. Mind you, he’s well aware it’s a selfish decision.

It’s understood that youkai in the human world are “irregular” elements that upset the balance between the dimensions, so things won’t always go smoothly. Take Touka: beneath her cute exterior she’s an immensely powerful ogre, and had the kids she grabbed been human, she’d have popped them like balloons. And shady characters like Lily and Ao’s brother are constantly trying to destroy everything Akina’s built. But regular human society isn’t perfect either. Akina is trying something here, and he has faith it can work.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The car accident scene, which we watched not knowing exactly what those kids were, was perhaps the most visceral of the season; a true WTF moment, set up perfectly by the extremely mundane events that preceded it.
  • Speaking of those mundane events…now Ao is just flashing her panties every chance she gets.
  • Touka’s line to Akina about taking responsibility was pretty funny, especially when she praises herself for saying it.