Second Impressions Digest 7/12/14 – Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen, Glasslip

Argevollen - 02 -4 Argevollen - 02 -16 Glasslip - 02 -6 Glasslip - 02 -20

Thursdays are a ruthless, savage battleground this season.

Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 02

Argevollen - 02 -1 Argevollen - 02 -2 Argevollen - 02 -3
Argevollen - 02 -5 Argevollen - 02 -6 Argevollen - 02 -7
Argevollen - 02 -8 Argevollen - 02 -9 Argevollen - 02 -10
Argevollen - 02 -11 Argevollen - 02 -12 Argevollen - 02 -13
Argevollen - 02 -14 Argevollen - 02 -15 Argevollen - 02 -17

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

Glasslip - 02 -1 Glasslip - 02 -2 Glasslip - 02 -3
Glasslip - 02 -4 Glasslip - 02 -5 Glasslip - 02 -7
Glasslip - 02 -8 Glasslip - 02 -9 Glasslip - 02 -10
Glasslip - 02 -11 Glasslip - 02 -12 Glasslip - 02 -13
Glasslip - 02 -14 Glasslip - 02 -15 Glasslip - 02 -16
Glasslip - 02 -17 Glasslip - 02 -18 Glasslip - 02 -19
Glasslip - 02 -21 Glasslip - 02 -22 Glasslip - 02 -23

See above.

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.

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13 comments

  1. r

    Ah, okay. After your tweet, I got the impression that you really liked this episode of Glasslip, but it seems here that it was more of a engagement thing, which I think is fair.

  2. I'm quite comfortable with "a considerable improvement"…

  3. S

    Yeah, Glasslip's second episode upped the characterization to some extent. Showing tidbits of Sachi's lonely home, Yanagi intending to wait for Yuki with a water bottle and towel ready, and Touko immediately tearing down the no-dating rule worked effectively for me. Still not feeling Hiro and David though.

    By the way, Yanagi is Yuki's step-sister. Her mother died at an early age and her father remarried. At least that's what I read.

  4. R

    Okay, I'm quite thankful that Glasslip's group dynamics are a bit different from NagiAsu's. However, my main problem here is that, aside from the whole "I can see the future" plot, there really isn't a lot that stands out from the series. For one, there isn't really a larger picture from which to view the characters (it is slice of life after all). As for the characters themselves, I dunno. There is really nothing to like or hate (in a good way) about them in the same way you will hate Hikari's obnoxious immaturity but like his growth (or hate Manaka's crybaby tendencies but like her for being in touch with her emotional side, you get the point. Glasslip's cast just feels "there" to play their part.

    As for Argevollen, nothing really happens here, just the standard second ep. Though I did find Jamie's stage fright-laden introduction actually hilarious. The OP actually gave a lot more hints about where the series might be heading than the episode itself. From what I am getting, both Tokimune and Jamie seems to be somewhat related to Samonji. Maybe Tokimune is his estranged son, or it might be the other way and that Jamie is his daughter. As for Jamie, I guess (and hope) that she won't be just the bumbling engineer-trainee.

    And I definitely loved the rocket-powered club.

  5. w

    Have to agree about Glasslip, was genuinely engaged by the confession scene. Still not really sure why I thought this was a better episode than the first.. It felt less like P.A Works doing P.A Works things for the sake of being P.A Works, I guess. I can already tell that Hiro will be my favourite character by far by the end though. Naturally he's the one most likely to get the short end of the development stick… sigh. I'm coming to like Touko as well.

  6. Z

    -Bog standard PAW
    -Bog standard mecha show

    I think there are better offerings to be had this season than these two.

  7. N

    I also like the lack of over-dramatization in Argevollen: there was no massacre of the surviving enemies, just a few minor threats from both sides and throwing them into prison. These days, the mecha genre is quite obsessed about making it all as mindlessly brutal as possible so this kinda felt like a refreshment.

  8. K

    tamako market is by PA works?

  9. R

    No, but that's an analogy that Enzo is using.

  10. R

    I tried, and I'm out for both of them.

  11. m

    Some of the characters in Glasslip are starting to get on my nerves. Particularly glasses girl. That absurd reaction when Touko met up with Kakeru was ridiculous. She just dives in front of her like she was stopping a knife attack. Really? What does that do? Is he supposed to go, "Where'd she go?!?! I was going to rape her in a public place! I can't find her anymore….. I'll wait to rape someone who doesn't have a short skinny girl with glasses protecting her." Enough with these characters having an over the top jealous reaction from him just being around. It's annoying. And what the hell is that "we don't allow dating in our group" nonsense. Maybe just maybe I'd buy not wanting anyone dating each other so the dynamic doesn't get messed up from break ups, but did they really sit down and say, "if you date anyone we wont be your friends anymore"? That's a strong friendship they have there. I like the story with seeing the future, and Kakeru and Touko seem interesting enough, but I hope they stop that other nonsense.

  12. R

    Would have been better if they gave some context as to why Sachi acted that way and how their group's friendship dynamics really work. The whole "We don't allow dating in our group" bit just came out of nowhere, though Hiro did point out that it was just Sachi who made it up.

  13. m

    Yeah context would've made it better, but even Touko just accepting that behavior from her friend is annoying enough. Can you imagine a situation in which anyone would let their friend jump in front of them like that when you went to meet up with someone? At least the guy (forget his name) who likes Touko acted in a plausible way, even if it was also petty and annoying, but megane girl did that and no one even acknowledged how awkward that is. If a friend ever did that to me I would immediately ask them what the hell is wrong with them. And the same goes for "no dating in our group" being accepted. Is Toulo supposed to be such an idiot that she's unlikeable? Why wouldn't she ask her friend why she said something so weird, or just a basic elaboration of that statement. Granted I've never had a gay friend who was in love with me, but I think I can safely say no one would act like that. Ever. At least not someone with any basic social skills. I feel like it's inevitable that the excessive animosity towards Kakeru will fade, and I'm willing to stick it out for that point since it's P.A.Works, but if the characters stay so obnoxiously petty, dumb, or bitter than I'm going to add this to the short list of shows I actually never finished.

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