Arpeggio of Blue Steel
by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
So what exactly does the future hold for our world we call Earth? It seems the more and more we listen to the news, the more we hear threats of potential nuclear attacks, the rise in global warming with the polar ice caps melting, the depletion of the ozone layer, new galaxies with potential extraterrestrial life forms, an ever growing human population with a depletion of natural resources… in a nut shell, it’s rarely positive when speaking of the future of our planet. And what if the future holds a combination of these things, how exactly would the human race survive? Such is a part of the story for the new anime, Arpeggio of Blue Steel.
In the early 21st century, due to global warming, much of the Earth’s lad mass is now under the sea. The rest of the population has amassed on what land remains. To make matters worse, a race of life forms have come to the Earth, in the guise of naval warships knowing as the “Fleet of Fog”. The Fog have brought advanced technology and weaponry to destroy humanity. The world got together, initiating an all-out attack on the Fog, only to be utterly destroyed by superior technology, weaponry and defense.
Seventeen years after the Fog arrive, a former student of the Japanese National Marine Academy, Gonzo Chihaya, along with his crew, command their own Fog ship: the submarine I-401. Fog ships are equipped with a mental model, a version of a human which is basically the ship. I-401 has Iona. So it is up to Gonzo, Iona and the rest of the crew to strategize and defeat various fog ships and give humanity a chance at survival.
What initially may sound like some standard war on water story line happens to be much more. The members of the Fog fleet have a collective type thought process. They are, to an extent, machines… more weapons, with one purpose given to them. They are to carry out these orders without question or fail. So, when they meet Iona, they are unable to understand how a member of the Fog can take up arms against her own kind. How she could deviate from her mission and side with the humans. It defies their logic and, being that they are unable to understand feelings and emotion, view Iona as defective and a vessel they must sink. It isn’t until post fight that these mental models begin questioning whether Iona has it right, and many times it’s after meeting Gonzo. As battles rage, the once thoughtless Fog begin questioning their roles, almost as if they are slowly becoming human themselves.
When it comes to the story and animation, it’s nothing drastically new but it does have a freshness. Putting the battle in the water isn’t something we see in animation very much, and giving the ships mental models, so we may understand their actions and watch them grow, gives it a more human feel. The battles, themselves, are rather entertaining in their own right, with the Fog ships being worlds ahead of the Earth’s forces. And watching Gonzo captain I-401 against the Fog ships provides an insight into what it means to be human, and how human nature can play a part making it difficult for the Fog to understand tactics, which may bring upon the demise of Fog ships. The characters are also fun, with each having their own personality and growth. It’s a nice contrast to see where a character begins and where they end up at the end.
Arpeggio of Blue Steel wasn’t a highly noted anime this past winter unlike Attack on Titan, but it was very good in its own right. It does have a little fan service, which isn’t needed in this anime, but it isn’t too obtrusive. And while it is about a war, the series has surprising depth and character growth to it. With so many anime out there, when something entertaining with good depth comes along, it’s something that you can’t miss. So take the opportunity and watch the series in its 12 episode entirety.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars