Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova, is a show about ocean battles with girl battleships that is not Kantai Collection. I was introduced to the show completely blind, only seeing the OP by Nano. I’ve already seen Kantai Collection and it can be compared very simply as a Girls und Panser with ships instead of tanks, or… a slice of life with ship battles thrown in the mix.
Ars Nova (As I will now refer to it as) is not of the same nature. The show instead incorporates darker war elements along with the theme of change and evolution from a robotic standpoint. I will discuss two individuals in this show that affected me the most out of the cast and that’s Haruna and Takeo.
It wasn’t until episode five that the show started to show its true colors. Haruna was probably the most robotic out of the battleships, recording phrases in a self-contained dictionary; and rather than being influenced by Iona or Gunzō, she was instead swayed by Makie, a young girl who is subjected to the underworld of the war effort. After learning about Makie’s past, Haruna is given the push as the government makes the decision to dispose of Makie, knowing that she has come into contact with a member of the Fog. Even after Makie rejects Haruna, discovering that she has been hiding the fact that she’s an “enemy”, Haruna decides to protect Makie from the soldiers, while at the same time refraining from killing the soldiers. A member of the Fog protecting the girl who created a super weapon, intended for the destruction of the Fog Fleet.
The concept of friendship guides Haruna to change as her motives change from destruction to protection.
Haruna isn’t the only one that changes as a result of interaction. Takao also gets similar treatment, even if that treatment isn’t reciprocated at all. Takao takes an interest into Gunzō after being defeated. She begins to want Gunzō for herself and goes out to intercept him at his base. Takao from that point on takes a backseat and is the subject to affection jokes through out the series, as she turns tsundere for our main character. She’s a recurring character after episode two, but she doesn’t get her debut until episode ten.
In episode ten, named Devotion of Self, She takes the initiative to search for the attacked I-401 ship, letting her emotions rule over rational judgement, almost letting the ship and its inhabitants into danger. Takao alone searches the abyss, regardless of the statements by her fellow battleships, in the possibility that her beloved captain will still be alive.
Takao finds an injured and unconscious Gunzō in a safety pod, created using the remaining of Iona’s power, reverting her to a core. And she realizes the truth, illustrated by the shot below.
She has no chance against Iona who had already sacrificed herself in order to keep Gunzō alive. Even so, she goes through the valiant effort to sacrifice herself in order to bring the both of them back. This is quite the improvement, displaying that these “weapons” can change emotionally after human interaction. Her and Iona’s actions both deviate from the Admiralty Code of the Fog and the both of them don’t regret the decisions they’ve made.
With Takao’s death, the show would have shown that these “weapons” would be willing to die for humans. The act of defiance against the Admiralty Code of the Fog, which the show make out to be a controlling God, would have made a huge emotional impact both thematically and in terms of the plot.
At least if they went with that.
And that’s all that become of Takao after that. Sadly disappointed by the sudden cut off of her development, I continued the show, further seeing how the theme of sentience would continue…
As for the Ars Nova itself, I quite enjoyed parts of it… While I deeply enjoyed Haruna’s small arc, Takeo’s development cut off left a bad taste in my mouth with its resolution. The preview summary of the anime doesn’t correspond the actual course of the show. The show’s change in direction links its themes nicely with its characters and it does well in that category. However, it is quite shaky in its relation to the original plot it gives out, leaving out plot elements that should have been brought up. I’m looking at you, Admiralty Code. If you are looking for what is given by the preview, chances are, you will probably be a bit disappointed.
But I’ll let this ship sail.