Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova - Reviews

Alt title: Arpeggio of Blue Steel

ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Dec 24, 2013

Arpeggio is one of those shows which will forever be remembered as “that bad CGI anime with the battleships turning to girls”. Well, there obviously are far more things going on in it but who cares; you will remember it just for that, since it is ensnared in the middle of the uncanny valley effect. This is what it boils down to; and in case it went over your head the first time, allow me to repeat it once again: A show with bad CGI and battleships that are in fact cute girls. We live in the post Avatar era, fed up with schools and moe and THIS is what some create in an attempt to make us give a damn? What were the creators trying to do; spend money for the heck of it? Burning them in a fireplace would have the same effect and would also keep some poor orphans warm. Because as sure as hell it is not entertaining, so why not make a few poor children happy?

… What? What is that you say? Some people liked it? It has lots of cool stuff in it? It’s very entertaining? Oh, that’s right, silly me, I was talking about myself all this time while writing a review that is aimed at everybody; I should take both ends of the spectrum if I am supposed to be objective. Even though objectivity does not exist. Anyways, let’s go over the several amazing traits of this show which apparently managed to mesmerize thousands of people.

1) The manga is good.
Well, I guess that is good for the manga. This though is a review about the anime, so it doesn’t really manage to prove anything to its favor, especially when they omitted a lot of scenes during the adaptation.

2) The premise is interesting.
You don’t say; the premise is interesting, let’s give it an 11/10 then. And here I thought you are supposed to DO something with it, aside from making it interesting. Wait, what is the premise again? Mankind is prevented from traveling through the seas because magical evil girls which turn to battleships are shooting at them. Since Japan is an island nation, they are trapped there, until a bunch of teenagers with hax powers save the day. Well, that’s interesting if you are still 10yo I guess. If you aren’t, well, it’s completely retarded. Not to mention, a rehash of Attack On Titan, which aired a few months prior to this, so it can’t even be considered an uncommon premise. Furthermore, we get so little exploration of the setting the story takes place in, that it doesn’t even manage to excuse its silliness. A ton of technobabble may have made the whole concept of magic girl battleships more plausible, and it turn would allow better immersion to whatever else there is in it. And nope, there isn’t any. Instead of that you get lots of badly fitting comedy and fan service, which makes impossible to take seriously a story about humanity being annihilated by doomsday devises. So no, besides a couple of interesting ideas, you get nothing else.

3) The battles are tactical.
They sort of are. They don’t simply use raw force but occasionally head for stealth and deception. But then you realize only the lead ship, controlled by a cooldere schoolgirl, is the only magically powerful enough to defeat the other evil ships, which are controlled by stereotypical girls of all fetishes. You know, that sort of renders everybody else in the world useless. Tactics mean nothing if they are used only by a handful of people and work only against a handful of girly personifications of battleships. Or do you think any of these strategies have any effect if they are used by a normal ship? Without a universal usage, you are left watching hax superpowers versus other hax superpowers with the illusion of brain power thrown in. Sort of how Code Geass is plain retarded and just pretends it is smart and full of tactics. And of course let’s not forget how bad the CGI looks, which makes the battles even harder to like.

4) The characters have internal struggles.
Yes, both the human military and the evil battleship waifus occasionally argue and are concerned with one another. Because humans are afraid the good battleship waifu may turn against them since it can easily beat them all, while the evil waifus have a thing called personality, which makes them not following their programming all the time. That manages to make the cast 2-dimensional at times. Emphasis on “at times” since they follow the stereotypes pretty close and even their supposed development is predictable. It’s not like they are gray, or complicating, or something more than just not autistic to their surroundings. This detail is hardly enough to make them worthy to remember, especially when there is very little character development to back it up. Heck, the evil waifus get more development than the main crew, which remains as a barely explored bunch of teenagers throughout the series. You have a main character who boasts being super smart, and a main heroine who is an emotionless girl battleship, and that is pretty much all you get. The rest of the human characters get even less to remember them for. So yes, the villains get the entire spotlight, and even then it is hard to like them when the show treats them as sluts in need of a psychiatrist.

There you have it, a show which did everything wrong and ends up being bad. Have fun not watching it.

2/10 story
3/10 animation
5/10 sound
2/10 characters
2.5/10 overall
Grach's avatar
Dec 24, 2013

There are few totally naval anime out there, let alone one that features actual combat, so..

Story: The main premise is that sometime in the future (shortly after the sea levels rise due to global warming) a mysterious and hostile force using what appear to be Second World War submarines, battleships, and cruisers and kown only as "the Fog" embark on a rampage, leveling anything made by humanity it can reach.  Eventually however, hope comes when one of the enemy ships is captured - a submarine.

In actuallity though, the story mostly follows the escapades of I-401 (also known as Iona), her 'crew', and the other ships (did I mention that they're all female? Or that they all seem to adore the captian of the I-401?) they encounter while transporting a new torpedo type to the United States - one of the few nations that apparently has the capability to manufacture it. Along the way, though, it is found that those of "the Fog" can develop the capability to 'feel'; that is, that they can almost become human instead of being machines.

In other words, it's a combat harem show...but instead of actual females, they're the "mental models" of the ships. So...essentially a ship harem?

Animation: Done completely in C.G.I., it leant flexibility to the capabilities of the ship's weaponry, something that really helped set this anime apart from most of the other 'fighting' styled ones. For the most part, it was done quite well - most of the actions of the characters are fluid and the backgrounds are usually stunning. However, whenever there was a close-up or the like, the apparentness of the C.G.I. took hold.

Music/sound: Nothing worth going "wow!" over, but certainly not the worst out there. The opening song was good, as was the closing, and the sound effects were generally done well.

Characters: Most of them were quite flat; they usually expressed the same emotions/thoughts throughout, making them seem repetative, but not overly so. The main complaint would have been that the majority were never totally elaborated as to their backgrounds, thus making it hard to judge how much they changed, if at all.

Overall: It's certainly a break from the usual, and while the characters may be a bit flat, certainly something to take a look into.

7/10 story
6.5/10 animation
5/10 sound
4/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
Vkfan's avatar
Aug 10, 2014

Premise and notes: If you heard someone saying "this is an harem anime, hurr durr", or something of the liking, mark them as plain idiots: Gunzou falls in love with Iona, Iona with Gunzou, Takao with Gunzou, and Hyuuga with Iona; Haruna and a rampaging teddy bear Kirishina protect a little girl. Nothing more. No more love, no more harem. And two raindrops (literally, two) don't make a storm.

Told this, let's start with the serious stuff:

Plot (no spoilers): Everyone knows that, already, but yet... in a not so distant future, the Fog ships attacked, conquered all the seas and jammed any mean of communication between the countries. The I-401 Fog submarine (a "rebel" one) has a human as captain, and this guy (Chihaya Gunzou) and his crew wander aronund the world doing jobs of unspecified nature; the 12 episodes all are about the main characters trying to deliever an experimental torpedo from Japan to America, where it will be mass produced and deployed.

Animation & Graphics: Awesome Horrible It depends. For example, there are the ships, shiny and pretty awesomely drawn, with an extra topping of explosions, missiles/torpedoes and laser beams flying everywhere.

On the other sides, there are the character, who are plain bull**** kind of horrible; those 3D models are, huh... I guess they put all of the budget on the ships.

Characters: Nothing really extraordinary; the cool and skillfull main character, his quiet and silent "first lady", the stupid friend, the computer phreak friend, the 2 female friends... standard stock, then.

Not even the enemies models (exception made, maybe, for Kongou), are out of the levels; only thing, at the end, they all become friends with the I-401 crew, but that was an almost obvious outcome from the first episode. Where else do you see a show based on a worldwide war when there are a total of 2 people dying (and you pretty much don't care about them, they appear for 2 episodes and then vanish in a pointless way). This is the thing i found most interesting in this anime (again, Power of Friendship™>>>>>>>>all), since there is nothing else to see here...

Audio: Only thing i can say is: i found the opening really enjoyable.


Ending: Disappointing is the best way to describe it. "Hey, a huge airship is raining death upon us, our super-forcefield is down and the only way to stop hundreads of torpedoes of doom flying toward us is a teddy bear playing a reaction speed-based game. What can we do (obviously excluding giving the audience a last freakin'huge fight, with ground to air torpedoes and uber-scaled laser beams)?"

Do you even ask that? That's so easy! We can solve everything by launching a single character to talk with the enemy captain and, using the Power of Friendship™ backed up by the Power of Love™(wrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy?), getting him to stop the attack. That way, the superboss will become part of the big family formed by the Blue Steel fleet crew.

Ok, but then? What is the Fog fleet? Why did she got created? Why was the I-401 "abbandoned" with the order to obey the main character's orders? Why do they have to take full control of the seas? Why some of them (not all of them, ony a few) got the Mental Models? Why was the I-401 "abbandoned" with the order to obey the main character's orders? What is the Admirality Code? What is that other dimension where the Models love drinking tea while chatting? Did the human fleet actually put that sonic torpedo in good use? How did the war end? Why was the I-401 "abbandoned" with the order to obey the main character's orders? What happened to the evil japanese guy who betrayed tried to kill the little girl? And to the other one who wanted to aquire the I-401 control? But, even more important: why was the I-401 "abbandoned" with the order to obey the main character's orders?

But who cares about all these unanswered questions! There are laser beams, flying torpedoes (can they actually fly?), Power of Love™ and everyone alive and happy at the end (everyone but the 2 Iona's sisters and the fake Model girl, but who cares about them, they were useless after all), how can i still pretend some anwers about what's behind everything that's happening on screen:3


After all, a simple and enjoyable show (just don't pay attention at those characters, duh... who knows, just stare at the background), a good time waster if you want to see cool graphical effects and a happily ever after kind of ending.

One more thing, don't even try to ask yourself any question, you'll end really disappointed.

8/10 story
3/10 animation
?/10 sound
7/10 characters
5/10 overall
Poio's avatar
Dec 24, 2013

Story/setting: (5/10)

The setting is interesting, considering there aren't so many naval-oriented battle anime, not to mention anything harem-related that has to do with ships. The closest thing to this I could think of would be "Vandread", though that one's in space.

Although it is interesting it's also lacking in many ways:

- there is no development resulting from actions taken over the course of this short series

- no backstory or explanation is being provided as to the origins or cause for existance of the Fog.

- seems like there is no real purpose to the bad guys being there except for the vague "admirality code" that states to stop all water-based trafic (in which case the logical step would be to abandon the seas and simply develop advanced flight capabilities using the new technology)

Animation (2/10):

This is the major "bummer" in this show. Even though action sequences (especially laser shots, missile launches, etc.) seem to be polished the characters are plain terrible. The drawing is in 3D making all the models look completely lifeless and sometimes you feel like you're listening to a bobblehead doll express it's feelings. This is especially terrible when put in context with the harem setting this anime was going for. Overall having drawn a single frame and making the characters not move at all would make some scenes more believable and less lifeless than what the 3D animation did to them.

Sound (5/10):

OP song is worth mentioning, voice acting is decent although the effect is lost when combined with the terrible animation technique. As for the SFX or music - nothing to write home about.

Characters (5/10):

Characters are unique, interesting and probably the best point of this show.

There's a variety of mental models for the ships as well as the crew, however there is completely no backstory for them. We have no idea how the crew made it to the ship or where they met, we only see how the protagonist met the I-401 briefly. There is no story behind around 80% characters introduced in this show, be it friend or foe. As mentioned earlier the animation does not help the character case either. If and when the character models display any feelings it feels like someone painted eyes on a balloon and made it cry.


Something that could have been really unique and interesting and ended up feeling rushed and generic mostly due to the terrible animation and complete lack of character backstory or an interactive setting. I'd recommend watching Vandread instead if you haven't already.

5/10 story
2/10 animation
5/10 sound
5/10 characters
4/10 overall
Leafx42's avatar
Feb 18, 2016

This one surprised me quit a bit. I had initially saved it to my que to watch because I thought the animation looked promising. But then my eye caught the first review displayed on this site and it talked about girls turning into ships. Needless to say this turned me off and I attempted to forget I was ever interested. But one day I was stuck in a chair with two sleeping kids and all I had at my disposal to entertain me was Netflix. Not the best source of anime, but beggars can't be choosers. I eventually settled on this thinking I should be able to stomache one episode then I can put the kids in bed and write a blasting review of how stupid anime concepts can be sometimes. Needless to say I didn't put my kids in their beds until I was through episode 5.

First thing that struck me was how deep the story really was. It wasn't as simple as an OP teenager doing what grow ups never could that I was expecting. Sure there were elements of that, but then again I'm not handing out a perfect score either. What surprised me was the underlying message about the strength of emotional bonds and the inevitability of change. I was truly expecting a terrible story and I ended up getting one that was somewhat moving. The execution could have been better (at times it felt rushed), but for the most part it was highly enjoyable.

Animation, while nice, could have been so much better. You are probably wondering how I can give it an 8 then rip it in the review. I give it an 8 because at least 80% of the time it was amazing. It was clean, colorful, and had nice character design. The problem comes during the CG battle scenes. You know the ones most people on here are raving. To me the felt fake (fake? In a cartoon? I know right?). What I mean is that it felt fake considering the world that was being created. It just didn't feel right. Plus some of the scenes were too chaotic with CG that it was impossible to tell where the ships were. Were they in the water? Underwater? In the air? It was impossible to tell. This also allowed for some cheating in which a ship would be underwater then magically in the air so it could take a direct hit. That's always annoying.

The sound was ok....I guess. I didnt notice anything out of sync or out of place. The background music seemed to fit most scenes. I wasn't very impressed with the opening song though. All in all a bit above average.

The characters were ok. They were mostly generic. Nothing really special. Plus it's hard to get completely emotional attached to a character that has virtually little to no emotion or personality, which is understandable considering that they are computer programs, and you only have 12 eps to develope them along with several other emotionless/personalityless computer programs. I understand the limitations, but a better story teller could have made stronger connections. Again, all in all about average. They decent enough to progress the better then expected story and not be detrimental to it.

When all is said and done, this was a very entertaining action anime with mostly good animation and a surprisingly deeper story then appears at first glance. If you are looking for great characters, this isn't the story for you. For you guys, I'd recommend something more along the lines of Seirei no Moribito, which is a beautiful character driven story.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall