Thursdays have always tended to be one of the two busiest days for decent anime, thanks in part to the former tradition of NoitaminA having two shows every season worth following. This season is a prime example – Thursday and Saturday (Friday/Sunday my time) contain well over half the new series that really interest me. And that makes the threshold for following a show on those days pretty high.
I quite like Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen, to the point where if it were airing on Monday or Wednesday I think I’d most likely cover it. As is, it’s a dubious matter. There’s not a whole lot that’s new here – this is a mecha series that’s very much by-the-numbers, from a writer and studio that have a long tradition of producing sci-fi anime. Argevollen doesn’t seem to be doing any one thing exceptionally well or breaking any new ground, but what it’s doing it’s doing quite well.
What stands out for me – aside from how closely the major plot points stick to the rules of the genre – is how coherent this series is. Coherence seems like a low-bar selling point, but it does reflect a high level of competence in the writing and direction. Much more so than with most sci-fi anime in their second episode it’s very clear who the players are and what’s at-stake, and that makes it easy to at least modestly engage in what’s happening. I also quite liked the narrative this week, where the Arandas unit fled into an old mine flue to try and escape their pursuers from Ingelmia. The setup is very standard – only the green recruit can pilot the experimental mecha, and he can’t figure out how to do it. But the execution was rock-solid – there was some good tension in the moment, and I was quite satisfied with the resolution.
I guess I’d phrase it this way – the waters aren’t deep with Argevollen, but they are clear. It’s solidly entertaining and very traditional, and I’ll certainly be watching the next few episodes to see if it can keep that up. As to blogging that’s another matter, but I’m not completely closing the door until I see how it – and the rest of the season – shakes out.
Glasslip – 02
I wasn’t all that favorably disposed towards Glasslip coming into this episode, to be honest. The premiere didn’t click with me at all – it felt very self-aware and calculated, as if it were a model built from a P.A. Works standard kit. I like the studio very much, but this played like their Tamako Market – a show that was unabashedly mailing it in. And I still have most of those concerns after the second episode, but…
Somehow, by the end of this episode I found myself sort of getting interested. This certainly checks all the PAW boxes – beautiful non-Tokyo setting, gorgeous visuals, a group of teenagers in love with the one that isn’t in love with them, magical realism. But Nishimura Junji’s talent (he’s both writing and directing) begin to lend the proceedings a certain stylistic appeal, and the characters began to distinguish themselves at least to a minor degree. It’s pretty tropey stuff – the mysterious transfer student, the majime megane-girl, the genki heroine, the beautiful best friend, the athletic boy and the dorky boy. But at least I can sort of recognize them as individuals now, and what’s driving them.
As to the MacGuffin about “fragments” and seeing the future, that pretty much seems like a standard plot device to me, but we’ll see. I think the scene that saved the episode for me was when Yuki was confessing to Touko at the end – if that had been interrupted and deferred, I might just have tossed my hands up and bagged it. But it happened – with Yanagi (who’s in love with Yuki – is he her step-brother? Cousin?) eavesdropping – so we actually see events being spurred forwards. And I liked the way it played out, with Touko’s “Doumo.” and Yuki’s reaction – I mean, that’s not what a guy wants to hear back in that moment.
We’re seen all this many times before – hell, many times before from P.A. Works – and certainly done better than Glasslip is doing it. But that doesn’t mean this show can’t be entertaining, and this episode was enough of a step-up from the premiere to keep me invested for at least another couple of weeks. As to blogging it? Again, it’s a schedule thing – this is a tough, cutthroat sort of anime day – but as with Argevollen, I’m not closing the door all the way yet.