Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio [10]: Reincarnation of I-401

Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova, has seen the mental models steadily progress and develop human nature into their personalities as they diverge from the Admiralty Code and drift away from Kongo and the Fleet of Fog. The show has done an excellent job of showing the steady changes of these AI weapons as they turn towards Captain Gunzo and Iona to discover a meaning to their existence beyond that of being a pawn of the Admiralty Code.

Episode 10 serves as the pinnacle of character progression for Takao and Iona, as they begin to understand their feelings and take action based how they feel rather than logical courses of action.

After being attacked by Iona's twin sibling submarines I-402 and I-400, they slowly drift towards the bottom of the ocean with no means of recovery as their oxygen supply and temperatures continue to drop. The conversation between Gunzo and Iona show just how much Iona has changed since Gunzo first met her. Her speech and body language is less stoic as she becomes more human after her emotions conflict with her program instincts telling her to abandon Gunzo, she expresses worry, sadness, and desperation as she looks for a way to save the young captain despite his orders to give up on him.

Everything about this episode was saddening and emotional as the mental models awaken to their newly established sense of humanity. Iona shows that she is not bound to her own Admiralty Code of obeying Gunzo, and while she was ordered to abandon the captain, she could not bear the thought of forsaking him, her decision to keep him safe is own not only of loyalty, but shows her desire to be with Gunzo.

Takao's connection with Gunzo was unrequited, and unfortunately they never had any moments together aside from some humourous encounters where Takao is too shy to approach Gunzo head on. Takao's scene was almost too sad to bear, the music playing in the background as Takao dives to find the I-401 was just heart wrenching as she finds Gunzo barely alive thanks to Iona's effort. Seeing Gunzo and Iona's core together in the pod saddens Takao as she realizes she probably doesn't have a place by his side, and in turn she sacrifices her nano-materials that make up her physical form for Iona to recover in what is one of the best scenes of the show.

The result was a super bad-ass combination of Takao and Iona to create a new battleship. Takao will be missed, she was my favourite character, but alas, the new I-401 submarine will serve as a reminder to her. One of Takao's better moments was in episode 9 where she changes her colours from red to blue in defiance of Kongo but also as a statement that she belongs to Gunzo's fleet.

Before the episode ended, Kongo shows her own progression as her deep desire to fight Iona and kill Gunzo comes crashing down on her as she is betrayed by own kind, with Maya being revealed as an empty surveillance unit meant to keep tabs on Kongo. I-400 and I-402 submarines are shown as Iona's twin sisters who are fully under command of the Admiralty Act and seal Kongo away as she is seen as defected, how ironic.

I was rather surprised by Kongo's expression towards Maya's sudden exposure as a fake. It seems pretty obvious that Kongo was about to call Maya her friend before being sealed up by the submarine twins. I do hope Maya comes back, as her cheerfulness and happy personality will be missed, especially whenever she would shout " it's a Carnival!" I wonder if Kongo will end up joining Gunzo's side, as the real enemy is yet to be revealed, but all I can say is I hope Haruna, Kirishima and Hyuga reclaim their battleships and duke it out with the submarine twins I-400 and I402.


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.


Madoka Magica: Rebellion - The Other Side of the Coin

So earlier this week the Canada showing finally came. It was a tough journey avoiding spoilers for a good 2 months but I lasted; I think it was worth it. Suffice to say, this post will be filled with spoilers so if you haven't watched the movie, I suggest you don't go further. Though opinions on this movie are most likely highly conflicted (as was I after first finishing), I feel I can finally calm down enough to write cohesively.

Coppelion - Life in a Contaminated City

As far as post-apocalyptic worlds go, we've seen a lot of them; nuclear bombs causing human extinction, random weird viruses, and the fan favourite zombie infestation. I've always liked the notion of a post-apocalyptic setting, but most of the time I feel like its used as a stereotypical setting with really shallow excuses as to how the world become so fk'd up.

Coppelion has a realistic and relevant reason for its apocalyptic city. A nuclear accident occurs and ends up contaminating the city of Tokyo in radioactive waste, forcing most of the population to flee, however plenty of people were left behind and forced to live in hazmat suites awaiting rescue from the outside. Whats interesting is how the actual nuclear destruction in Japan back in 2011 is still a concern and shows relevance to the story of Coppelion, kinda showing a "what-if" scenario, even though the manga was released back in 08.

Coppelion is actually the group of high school students who were genetically modified to be immune to the radioactivity, and serve as government workers to rescue those who are still trapped in the contaminated city, as well as clean up the large amount of waste. We follow the rescue team of Ibara, the fearless leader and perhaps the only interesting person in the show; Aoki who is only ever used as a humour scapegoat as we spend more time laughing at her than with her; and then there's Taeko, the girl who can talk to animals and is completely invisible to the show.

The show is 10 episodes in, and so far my opinion has changed about three times. When I first started watching the show I thought it was going to be about humanity and our lack of care for the world. The beauty and melancholic environments gave me an impression of how beautiful our world can be without mankind. The background art and setting of this contaminated city is wonderful and the OST is very fitting and somehow reminds me of Virtues Last Reward. A few episodes in and it becomes apparent that we're merely following Ibara, Aoki, and Taeko as they aimlessly rescue small groups of survivors with no actual plot or deeper understanding for the environment. I started getting bored relatively quickly with the characters, as they weren't really doing anything interesting.

The show started throwing in some government involvement in regards to how the whole city was contaminated and closed while people were still inside. I liked the idea that the remainder of the survivors were mainly criminals who weren't evacuated from their prison, as well as the 1st division government army that was tasked with the evacuation but were left behind and has since turned towards revenge. I started to enjoy the show once more with the whole survival theme as Ibara, Aoki and Taeko have to hold out against an army while their government has to get past a summit meeting before rescuing the remaining survivors.
The first division army ends up being the antagonist that was missing for most of intro, but it was worth the wait as their plan to contaminate the rest of Japan and the world is quite a feat.

After becoming interested once again while enjoying the show a bit more as a casual watch, a few random characters are added into the mix to take the current theme and push it a little to far to the point where I'm just sitting along for the ride and don't really care. It's unfortunate the show kept degrading itself to a more casual watch that has shallow meaning, but it's still fun to see how the cast manages to make everything entertaining a midst the somewhat serious events; it's worth the watch.