I recently found myself having a conversation with a friend about why I like a certain character from the Anime Apreggio of Blue Steel. Somehow, as conversations go, it ended on the question: Was Arpeggio of Blue Steel actually any good? The best way to answer that, of course, is to re-watch it, so that’s exactly what I did.
The anime Apreggio of Blue Steel was produced by the studio Sanzigen, also known for their CG work in the anime Black Rock Shooter. Go figure that while completely unrelated, two things that I’m fond of are in fact connected by some means. With that tidbit, let us begin.
Apreggio of Blue Steel takes us to a future, where the ocean levels have risen due to “global climate change and other factors.” Shortly afterwards, an “enemy of unknown origin appeared” (or rather the Fleet of Fog) and basically took control of the seas, cutting off all trading routes and communications. Our story focuses on Chihaya Gunzou and Iona (the submarine I-401) and their quest to transport a newly developed warhead from Japan to the United States.
Chihaya Gunzou is the only human character that matters in the show. He is an idealist protagonist who seeks peace with the Fog because they have developed “mental models” (physical bodies like Iona) and have developed self-aware existences and personalities. The rest of the human cast are simply there because… they were his friends at the military school, and to fill out the Star Trek-esque bridge of the I-401.
Iona and the rest of the Fog are clearly the real stars of the show. They develop as characters more than any of the humans do, and are simply more memorable. Granted, the fact they’re the personifications of their respective warships probably helps a bit.. that or the fact they’re actual characters rather than fillers. Although to be fair, as far as their characterization goes, they remain a rather simplistic, yet likable bunch.
The anime has a few plot holes, but it’s not enough to tear the story being told apart. That shouldn’t really diminish your enjoyment, unless of course it’s one of your pet peeves and you simply can’t stand plot holes. For example I can forgive them for saying the ocean levels have risen, while showing us a world map that’s no different than one you’d see now. One could argue these plot holes might be solved via the manga, but considering they’re two different entities, I shouldn’t have to go to one to answer something in another, especially when the stories diverge. That said, a plot hole’s one thing. Being left in the dark is another. I’m fine with not knowing, but when you throw in a small quip about something as if I were aware of this since the beginning then I’m just left scratching my head.
Arpeggio of Blue Steel doesn’t necessarily have a very memorable soundtrack. Though, it does have a great opening song performed by Nano and the band MY FIRST STORY, called “Savior of Song” which goes pretty well with the opening animation. Maybe it’s my general bias towards Nano, but Arpeggio of Blue Steels OP is generally one of my favorite OPs, even if it does get a bit fan-service-y with 5 of the 9 “mental models.” Speaking of which, yes this show does fall victim to a certain amount of fan service, the worst of it appearing in episodes 7 and 8. It’s not too much, but it did get my eyes rolling. But enough of that. Nano performs another song at a touching moment in the anime, and when you hear it… well, I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
All in all, Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a straight forward anime which does not fail to entertain. The CG animation can come off as a bit stiff, but when the naval battles are at play, it proves to be nothing short of impressive to watch. During that discussion with my friend, I asked myself is Arpeggio of Blue Steel a bad anime? The answer is no, no it is not a bad anime. While it’s not the best, it definitely is competent, and fun.