Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 08

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When Kongou’s fleet surrounds Iwoto, Chihaya invites her and Maya ashore to talk. He serves them tea and throws a beach barbecue party, giving Kongou an opportunity to observe the other Fog mental models interact and even have “fun.” However, Gunzou’s “trap” to “contaminate” Kongou and Maya are for naught, as they are merely decoys; their cores remain aboard their ships offshore. They return and begin bombarding the island. When Hyuuga’s shields weaken, Takao, Haruna and Kirishima combine their strength to reinforce them.

Chihaya’s mission is to get that weapon to America in hopes it will ultimately create a situation whereby the Fog will be forced to negotiate and the human race will be saved, not take on Kongou’s fleet when he only has half the numbers. With that in mind, he does everything humanly possible to try to neutralize her without fighting. He may have failed this week, but not before a lot of valuable facetime (or at least decoy-facetime) with the stern, humorless, ruthless flagship. Despite her confidence her time with Chihaya and the misfit Fog had no effect, the fact is, Kongou saw and heard what she saw and heard. It seems to us that’s enough to plant a tiny seed of rebellion in her core.

When she felt the heat of the tea, watched Hyuuga and Takao fight over grilled meat, or Makie and Maya having fun taking away Haruna’s coat (she’s apparently quite attached to that coat), or took a nibble of that kabob, she was experiencing things for the first time, which should stay with her. Hell, the inviolable “Admiralty Code” she speaks of says nothing about meeting with humans, talking with them, or going through all of the seemingly pointless motions she went through this week. We’re not ready to give up on Miss Kongou; she’s merely a tougher nut to crack, that’s all. Of course, at the moment Chihaya and the Blue Fleet just needs to slip past her; not convert her.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • As we suspected, all the Fog ships thus far have had female mental models because of the human penchant for referring to ships as female. That being said, watch Kongou’s superior be a dude…
  • So one of Iona’s special powers is that she can see into the future. Kongou also seems to think she’s responsible for that dream-like mental contruct the Fog use to communicate.
  • Maya doesn’t seem particularly swayed by Chihya’s tactics either, but only because there doesn’t seem to be anything in her head whatsoever.
  • It’s a shame Kirishima is still a teddy; we relly dug her regular character design. Still, getting heavy from the water was pretty funny.
  • It seems like Iona was “born” (or whatever) without the need to follow the Admiralty Code, but only her own code, which was to be Chihaya’s ship.
  • The cut from Iona to Takao suggests Iona fights for Chihaya because she “loves” him, but still can’t quite comprehend what that is. Maybe if she hung out with less cardboard humans?
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Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 07

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With Makie, Haruna, and Kirishima aboard, I-401 docks at her secret home base on Iwoto. The fast battleship Hyuuga, a former fog flagship, is there to welcome them, and she has the wayward Takao in custody. In a virtual meeting with Kongou, Haruna refuses to return to the fleet, vowing to stay by Makie’s side, while Kirishima wishes to continue observing Haruna. Chihaya gives Takao the choice to return to the Fog or stay with what Hyuuga calls the “Blue Fleet.” As repairs on Iona near completion, Kongou orders Maya to rendezvous at Iwoto. Gunzou intends to abandon the base and get the vibration warhead to America.

“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” Those are the words that precede the end credits, the visuals of which this week went from being the Fog ships’ mental models to their true ship forms, which we thought was an interestingly-timed switch. Those same three questions are recited by Hyuuga, discussing with Takao why she’s abandoned her the original mission. From the first time she spots and gropes Iona, Hyuuga’s hots for her are played for laughs that never occur, but she’s genuinely interested in Iona; at this point, more interested than she ever was in subjugating humans, because that route was never going to help her answer those nagging questions. Hyuuga isn’t the only one with those questions rattling around in her head.

At this point, Iona’s crew has basically been supplanted in show precedence by all the Fog ships, now wrestling with emotions. Chihaya & Co. were merely the catalyst that started what could be a major Fog revolution, or evolution, as Hyuuga supposes it could be. Iona was a mutation: a Fog ship that rather than destroy humans, sought one out and was genetically predisposed to following every order. Iona’s always been comfortable in this role, but when the competitive Takao asks her if she has feelings for her, she can’t answer, and it troubles her. Meanwhile, Kongou is clearly getting annoyed by losing so many Fog ships. But all the events since Iona and Chihaya joined forces suggests she could be on the wrong side of history. Iona is most likely the harbinger (intentional or not) of a future in which Fog and human coexist in harmony.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Chihaya is delivering the warhead to America in hopes that its mass-production will even the playing field and force Kongou to enter negotiations. But that’s pretty naive of him. Who’s to say the humans won’t use their new superweapon to simply annihilate the Fleet of Fog?
  • This show is no stranger to superfluous fanservice, and this week it drives that point home with Hyuuga’s attempted undressing of Iona as well as Takao, Haruna, and Iona relaxing on the beach in swimsuits, just ’cause…
  • That said, we hope Kirishima gets her regular body back at some point.
  • We really enjoyed the dinner scene: humans and Fog putting aside their past conflicts and simply sitting down for a meal. This could be a glimpse of the future.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 06

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Haruna creates a Makie decoy and distracts the human soldiers while Kirishima (still in a stuffed bear) protects the real Makie. After her contact with Makie, Haruna finds she isn’t able to kill the soldiers, so attacks them non-lethally. This drains her energy, and the decoy dissipates. The soldiers find Makie and Kirishima and open fire, but Haruna shields them in time, becoming pinned down herself. She pleads for someone to save them, and Iona and the I-401 arrive to do just that.

After last week’s fiasco, we approached this episode in a bit of a sour mood and with much trepidation. Could Blue Steel manage to pull out of this tailspin? Things were looking grim in the first minutes, with Makie’s lame dying creator-dad breaking out this gem:

You were created as a puppet. And yet, I came to care for you. And now, you are attempting to form a bond with the enemies of humanity. How ironic.

It’s not ironic, it’s just freaking stupid. Anyway, we weren’t about to let this show break our spirits and defeat us, any more than Haruna was going to let those army dudes lay a hand on her dear new friend. So we decided to accentuate the positives. Fortunately, there were far more than we anticipated.

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First of all, as the episode progressed we actually bought into Haruna’s sudden friendship with Makie. She’s Fog after all, so a day of contact is apparently enough for her to form an intense bond with a human, to the point she fights with everything she’s got, but stops herself from killing. All her amassed data and observations led to that bond and the development of emotions, which end up circumventing her Fog directives. There’s also a nice symmetry to Kirishima getting caught up in Haruna’s new-found compassion, just as Haruna got caught up in Kirishima’s sabre-rattling in the naval battle.

Secondly, there was no shortage of “Fuck Yeah!” moments throughout: From Haruna stepping out into the hall to face off with the soldiers, to all of her myriad bullet-deflecting and gun-melting, helicopter-killing tactics. Ridiculous as it was, watching Teddy-Kirishima kick ass was still hilariously awesome to behold. And Iona’s timely arrival and subsequent pwnage of the soldiers—irrespective of her past beef with her Fog sisters—was also most satisfying. This episode did much to assuage the grief last week’s stoked; for the moment, the series seems to be back on track.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 05

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As the crew of the I-401 take on their Vibration torpedo payload, Haruna and Kirishima end up as guests of Osakabe Makie, a young girl with no parents living in a huge mansion. After downloading Kirishima into a teddy bear, Haruna gradually becomes friends with Makie. After delivering a status update to Kongou, Kirishiima and Haruna are led to a secret facility below the mansion, where they meet Osakabe Toujuurou, who created Makie to do what he couldn’t: design effective anti-fog weapons, including the Vibration warhead. When the government discovers Makie has had contact with Haruna, they send troops to the mansion.

Hold on, now, what the heck was that? We didn’t sign up for this! How does the show go from a submarine crew battling two battleships, to one of the battleship’s avatars turning the other into a teddy bear and then spending an entire damn episode bonding with a little rich girl who comes totally out of left field, who of course is a manufactured being herself, because SCIENCE! C’mon, seriously. Why do we have to hang out with the little rich genius test tube girl? Why’d they have to introduce her and the old decrepit bedridden guy suddenly bringing up all this stuff about human experimentation? What in the world does this have to do with awesome naval battles? Why 109 embryos?!

We get it. We brought this on ourselves. We knew that a lull was coming after a battle as big as last week’s; that’s just the pattern this show is following. We also know that the more the Fog girls hang out with humans (at least some of them), the more trouble they have accepting Kongou’s assurance they’re only inhabiting “temporary personas.” We knew last week that little girl found Haruna. But did the show have to forget about the crew of the I-401 for an entire episode? Not that they’re the most interesting bunch in the world, but you can’t just…change shows in the middle of a run. For us, this was simply a turn down the wrong road.

To quote Haruna when Makie wouldn’t give her coat back: “Sniffle, sniffle.”

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Rating: 3
 (Bad)