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Arpeggio of Blue Steel

October 22, 2013

With the popularity of the Kantai Collection online game, it is undoubtedly an auspicious time to air an anime series like “Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova”, a show all about naval battles that feature ships whose advanced AI manifests as a humanoid avatar called a ‘mental model’.

Based on the “蒼き鋼のアルペジオ” manga by Ark Performance, this science-fiction action story takes place in a future where rising sea levels have reclaimed much landmass, submerging many coastal regions.

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To make matters worse, humanity has been driven out of the seas by the fleet of Fog, mysterious warships with advanced weaponry that decimated all nations’ naval forces and confined mankind to their respective continents and islands.

So far, “Arpeggio of Blue Steel” has been excellent, featuring lots of naval battles, post-apocalyptic science-fiction, along with just enough character development and plenty of mysteries to capture the viewer’s attention.

What took some getting used to for me, and is likely so for other viewers too, is the animation style, considering the show is entirely rendered using CGI. Personally, this all CG animation has not been as bothersome as I had feared it might be.

Studio Sanzigen visibly put a lot of effort in creating fluid animation for character close-ups and related visuals, such even that most often the difference with regular animation is not too jarring.

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Studio Sanzigen was responsible for, or has contributed to the CGI effects of many anime series like “To aru Kagaku no Railgun”, “Black★Rock Shooter”, “Gundam 00” , “K”, “Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon” but also “Dog Days” and “A-Channel”. Their work here shows CGI in anime really has come a long way.

Iona, the cute mental model of the I401 submarine is voiced by Fuchigami Mai, she also voiced Miho in “Girls und Panzer”, Maekawa in “Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko” and voices Petralka in this season’s “Outbreak Company”.

Of the other mental models, Takao is voiced by Numakura Manami, she also voiced Riko in “Love Lab” and Hibiki in “The iDOLM@STER”. Yukana voices Kongou, she previously voiced CC in “Code Geass”, Ai in “Amagami SS” and voices Cecilia in this season’s “IS: Infinite Stratos 2”.

Touyama Nao voices cute sonar operator Shizuka, she previously tackled roles like Chiho in “Hataraku Maou-sama!”, Karen in “Kiniro Mosaic” and Yui in “Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru”.

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Although Iori, the shapely engineer of the I401 crew was voiced by Toyosaki Aki for the previously released drama CD, in the anime she’s voiced by Tsuda Minami who also voiced Yui in “Yuyushiki”, Sasara in “Fantasista doll” and Yui in “Yuru Yuri”.

While the all CGI anime style took some getting used to, really like “Arpeggio of Blue Steel” so far, hence I will gladly keep on watching this excellent series. Do hope that a single cour of only twelve episodes will be sufficient to properly tell most of the story.

If you like seeing sci-fi action shows or military style series full of naval battles, and you don’t mind that the ships’ personalities are embodied by cute girls, then definitely try “Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova”.

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