Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: (1-9) Naval Warfare with Ship Girls

Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova, thrives on two factors which makes the show incredibly entertaining; tactical naval combat and entertaining battle ships that manifest into living female dolls built from nano-technology; its awesome.

When I first started watching Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio, I was quite skeptical and quite honestly turned off by various factors. The characters were boring, the plot appeared weak, the notion of mankind being cut off from electronic communications was "meh", and I really did not care for the 3D animation. While Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio had a slow start, it picked up speed and quickly turned into the most entertaining show for myself.

The naval fire fights are half the reason to watch
The naval battles are both tactically surprising and visually awesome. I can't think of any other show that has naval battle, so I guess Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio gets a +1 for that. What makes the naval fights so entertaining is the fact that these battleships are alive and super beefed-up on steroids, they manifest themselves into a female "doll" called "mental-models". These "mental models" are weapons set out to push mankind out of the sea in order to slowly wipe them out. Each of the mental model characters have different personalities and have awesome character development that are essential to the conflicts and growth of the show.

The battleships are visually amazing, with all the crazy firepower of a Gundam except on the more modern and realistic naval warships. Unlike most shows were the battles are determined by fire power and a will to fight, Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio uses tactics and the human factor of protagonist Chihaya Gunzo as he always finds a way to not only turn the tides of battle against the other mental models, but also spares them and teaches them about what it means to exist, simultaneously converting them, he kinda reminds me of Lelouch.

While the "main" cast includes captain Gunzo and his submarine mental model Iona, the rest of the crew are introduced early and easily forgotten, in fact they are pretty much swept under the rug and only serve to inform us of the situation during fights or panic during some of the tense moments. I would consider the human crew members to be "seat warmers" as all they do is hold the front until the mental model characters step in and take the stage.

Heavy Cruiser Takao is the first Fleet of Fog member to engage Iona in battle, and as a result grows a desire to have Gunzo as her captain, she becomes more girlish towards Gunzo and is easily one of my favourite characters.

Submarine Iona is an emotionless little girl mental model that obeys Gunzo and slowly begins to experience human characteristics.

 Battleship Haruna is somewhat of a database that collectively stores human terms and ideals, while she is always calm and collected, she looses all composure if her coat is taken off. She begins to change and devote herself to protecting Maki, an artificial child created by humans who refers to Haruna as Haru-haru. Haruna is easily the most popular of the mental models.

Battleship Kirishima is uncertain of what to do and tends to just follow Haruna. She is excited and overjoyed during her battle with Iona as her boredom of the Fleet of Fog becomes apaprent when she finds herself "alive" when dueling with the submarine. I tend to forget what Kirishima looks like. Since her destruction after battling with Iona she takes over a stuffed teddy bear until she can gather nano-machines to rebuild her body, which is sorta funny but I grow tired of seeing her as a teddy bear attached to Maki.

Battleship Hyuga is the more technical of the other mental models, taking on a scientific apparel and becomes infatuated with Iona. Her unrequited affection to Iona along with Takao's desire to have Gunzo makes for some light, enjoyable comedy.

Head Battleship Kongo serves as a pillar of the Fleet of Fog as she sees Iona's actions as a mutation that must be vaporized. While she is at the head of The Fog, she begins to develop human emotion, but only of hatred and develops a desire to kill Gunzo to restore the Fleet of Fog to its power and wipe out humans.

Heavy Cruiser Maya is a cheery energetic mental model that finds pleasure in everything she does as a weapon. She follows Kongo and is always chanting "It's a Carnival!"

Submarine I-402 is one of the twin sisters of Iona and is fully under the Fleet of Fog's Admiralty Code with no emotion or personality.

Submarine I-400 is the other twin sister of Iona and I402, like her sister I-402 she is fully under the Fleet of Fog's Admiralty Code with no emotion or personality.

Since the rest of the human characters are pretty much ignored, this leaves plenty of screen time for the battleship mental models to take the stage and deliver and awesome combination of epic naval fights and personal conflict and development. Each mental model has their own motive for existing, and while they are not exactly on each others side, they create a diverse and entertaining series of events as they each learn different meanings of existence, whether it be love, desire, family, or simply doing what they want to.

The mental model characters all start off with the notion of being a "weapon" and nothing more, while they certainly have a personalized appearance and different attitudes, they are quite set on being nothing more than AI that follow the "will of The Fog" rules. The Fog is what the battleships belong to, it is their identity as a sudden alien attack on humans, they refer to themselves as The Fog and operate only to follow a set of rules they have (Admiralty Code). Iona is the one exception to this, as she has a different set of rules that outline an existence to follow Gunzo's orders and nothing more.

I really love this show and how it deviated immensely from it's original setting and turned into an awesome conflict of interests between Gunzo and the mental models.