Arpeggio of Blue Steel

Very Good

This is what I had hoped Kantai Collection would be like.  It’s quite similar in concept – girls are the personification of a particular ship of war.  The glaring difference between the two is that this is stronger in every way.  It has a much more serious tone and they actually depict the ship of war itself.  This makes for some really interesting naval battles.  I am a fan of naval combat (or battles, in general… I just realized I sound like a certain Major and his war speech…).  This is a notable anime both for its characters and its action sequences.

Purpose: Very Good.  This is primarily an action-focused anime with a strong amount of character development.  The overall goal for the characters isn’t very lofty and this anime doesn’t really break ground in where it goes, but what it does, it does quite well.  Much of the anime is actually pretty limited in scope to the action and events surrounding the main characters.  Interestingly, the focus shifts to the Fog, the story’s enemies.  Actually, it’s as if the camera is following the “main characters” but the story is about everyone else.

On a broader note, the anime is initially action-focused.  However, the action focus slowly gives way to a character drama.  The character drama adds a great deal of intensity to what’s going on and helps put an extremely interesting spin on the finale.

Characters: Very Good.  The character development was very different from what you’d expect.  Actually, our main cast was relatively flat and un-developed.  The main development came from the Fog, the enemies in the series.  The Fog, being ships of war, make a very interesting and continuous journey as characters.  Essentially, they’re built from scratch.  Once they are distinctive enough characters, the focus then becomes how they interact with each other.  Several characters’ development is extremely subtle and difficult to recognize how the characters have developed, except when directly brought to our attention.

World: Good.  Not a whole lot is explained, but it isn’t really necessary for the story.  By that I mean that it would be really interesting to know all the ins and outs of the world, but it would probably be distracting from what they were trying to do.   As it was, we got to learn enough about the world through the characters interacting with it.  That created a very interesting dynamic between the viewer and the anime.  Everyone else seemed to know what was going on, so the viewer was treated almost like an outside observer.  Then again, this anime wasn’t so complicated that things really needed to be explained.

For the specifics, we don’t know much about the threat facing the world, where they came from, what they are, and why they act.  We don’t know how the societies developed apart from each other.  We don’t know a great many other things.  Not to say that it detracted from the anime, just that what we learned about the world did a sufficient job, but had a much greater potential to grow.

Plot: Good.  The plot is also relatively uncomplicated.  Generally, it was “defeat the enemy.”  That’s perhaps putting it too plainly.  The enemies have to be defeated within the context of some other goal going on.  Thus, their defeat is merely incidental to the main plot.  However, the plot itself shifts focus from world events to character events.  What essentially happens is that we get a very generic overall plot of “deliver the item,” which effectively stalls it out.  Then, in its place, we get the character plots that involve a great deal of inner and relational conflict.  In other words, characters have difficult decisions created by their own turmoil and their relationship to other characters.

Storytelling: Very Good.  There are two main areas affected by the storytelling – the battles and the character development.  For the battles, they were done in a very skillful manner.  Many of the battles had a great deal of cleverness to them.   The cleverness added to the tension by making it a battle of wits, rather than firepower.

The storytelling involving the characters was also quite skillful.  Many of the character developments were quite subtle.  Based on the character development, they managed to build some really excellent character scenes.  The stand-out would have to be the main antagonist of the show.  The way her story is told makes for a really poignant finale.

Pace: Good.  The pacing was solid throughout.  There were some areas that hiccupped slightly, making it feel slower.  For the most part, the action sequences had a pretty strong pacing, which helped keep the tension moving throughout.

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