Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 12 (Fin)

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Consumed with rage, an out-of-control Kongou has transformed into a massive sphere that destroys the entire American Fog fleet, then turns on I-401. When she disables the concept communication system, Iona volunteers to make direct contact with Kongou. When Iona arrives on her deck, Kongou fights her with everything she has, but the power of Iona’s will is enough to neutralize her onslaught. Finally, Kongou gives in, the sphere is dismantled, and the battle ends with Iona warmly embracing her. The I-401 arrives in Hawaii to successfully deliver the warhead.

When it all came down to it, Kongou whipped up a storm of anger not because she hated Iona or the other converted Fog ships, but because she was afraid. She didn’t know what was happening to her, and didn’t like it; she was fine with everything the way it was before, and wanted things to stay that way. When things continued to thoroughly not go her way, she lashed out—she is a weapon, after all; it was an extension of her purpose, multiplied 512 times. And we have to say, as final bosses go, she is a doozy; we’re slightly surprised the I-401 wasn’t blown to smithereens in the first five minutes. But that’s the thing: as much as she may fear it, change has come, and no amount of torpedoes, missiles or supergravity lasers can blow it up.

Iona realizes the best way to make that clear to Kongou is by going there in person in a truly badass gambit, hopping from missile to missile. She takes a beating, but ultimately Kongou’s cold (and now confused and unfocused) orthodoxy is no match for Iona’s awesome will. Gunzou’s order was only a formality; she came up with the idea on her own, which shows how far she’s come, and how futile Kongou’s attempts to deny it are. Still, we’re glad Kongou didn’t immediately join the gang, choosing to ply the seas alone and explore her new reality. And with the last Fog battleship converted, the show comes to a tidy yet satisfying close.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)
Final Cumulative Rating: 6.833
MyAnimeList Score 
(as of 12/23/13): 7.66

Stray Observations:

  • Some of the slickest battle CGI of the show happened here. Iona’s one nimble little minx, isn’t she?
  • Regarding Kongou’s tenuous state throughout the episode, remember that she did absorb (not merge) with Maya, destroying her in the process, and despite the fact Maya didn’t have a core, Kongou probably feels a bit guilty about that.
  • Takao gets her body back, and the first thing she does is pounce on Gunzou.
  • Meanwhile, Kirishima remains a teddy bear. WTF? It’s the end; give the poor girl her real body back!
  • The communique from Hawaii was in very good English, but it was still a little grating.
  • After all the emotion she unleashed in Kongou, we were kinda hoping for Iona to finally give her captain a kiss or a hug or something…but no love. Perhaps she’s merely abiding by the “non-fraternization with superior” reg…

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 11

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I-401, newly transformed by the merge with Takao (who is still alive within the ship’s systems), easily dispatches a fleet of Nagara-class cruisers and sets course for Hawaii, with I-400 and I-402 in pursuit. With a confrontation inevitable, Iona tries to talk to them, but they limit their exposure to her and open fire. Hyuuga and Haruna/Kirishima create decoys of the I-401, and the sisters are kept off balance.

When I-400 is unable to dodge an incoming torpedo, I-402 sacrifices herself for her sister, not wanting her to get hurt. I-400 is trapped in a wire net and also sunk, causing Iona distress. The I-401 resumes course only to be intercepted by a huge fleet of American Fog ships on one side, and a rapidly-closing Kongou, who has escaped custody and merged with Maya, on the other.

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Straying from the Code of Admiralty has its costs. In doing so by being sunk and siding with Gunzou, Hyuuga, Haruna, Kirishima, and now Takao have lost their ships; and now Takao’s even lost her physical model. While it’s somewhat disappointing the show didn’t have the stones give her a “complete” death, the fact that so many former ships are now limited to their mental models makes up for it. No matter how many chefs are in the kitchen, there’s still only one real kitchen: I-401. If she’s sunk, everyone sinks with her.

But the other cost in leaving the Fog is in the emotional toll, most pronounced this week for Iona, who has to kill her sister ships, whom she considers actual sisters, even if they don’t believe the same. They were the last of the Japanese fog ships that held true to the Code, but after their brief contact even I-402 can’t bear to see her sister destroyed. Iona pleaded for them not to fight her, and now she must live with the grief. Of course, with American battleships on one side and a seriously-pissed Kongou on the other, she may not have to live with it long.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The New I-401 looks awesome.
  • Haruna and Kirishima messing with the now body-less Takao (“Step into the light!”) was a nice moment of levity.
  • Nice underwater tactics this week, what with the decoys and wire trap. Those by-the-book sisters didn’t know who they were messing with.
  • Introducing an entirely new faction of Fog with just one episode left gives us the feeling that this might go another season. Not sure how we feel about that; we were kinda hoping things would resolve in 13.