Shriogane no Ishi Agrevollen – 12

Argevollen - 12 -12 Argevollen - 12 -15 Argevollen - 12 -22

Now that’s how you end a cour, right there.

I don’t know what’s going to happen as regards Argevollen and my blogging schedule next season – there are a lot of variables at play here, both in terms of what happens with the show itself and otherwise.  But given that this is the end of its first cour (next week it’s taking a break) and it was probably the best episode so far, it only seemed right to address it with a full post.  It certainly offered enough grist for the mill.

This is a quintessential “tortoise” show, not making a big impression out of the gate and providing very little flash, but slowly grabbing a toehold in the imagination.  I’ve made it clear what I like about Argevollen – primarily that it’s one of the most matter-of-fact and realistic mecha series I’ve seen.  That’s a low bar, for sure, and there are plenty of things in the first 12 episodes (including this one) that stretch credulity some.  But on the whole it plays very much like a RL war drama if there were mechs in RL.  I also like that Satou Tatsuo has structured it more as a mini-series than a true series – each episode plays like a stand-alone mini-movie, but they all fit together nicely.

But it was this episode that really started to fit the pieces together in a big way, and I thought very effectively.  It brought us the full backstory on Nanjou Reika (Hikasa Youko) which is really the pretext for the entire character side of the series.  I’ll certainly grant that the unmanned Kreiger program she was working on isn’t one of the more realistic technological angles Argevollen has played, though given what we’ve seen of the Arandas military leadership the nation that they’d manage it in such a callous and frankly stupid manner is at least consistent.

What we saw was quite a bit different than the picture Samonji painted for Tokimune last week, but there’s a very good reason for that.  As I mentioned in last week’s post, it struck me that Samonji was trying to get himself punched by Tokimune, and I was very glad to see that turn out to be the case – the writing did a great job of suggesting it without beating us over the head (something Argevollen generally does well). The reasons, however, were beyond the simple assuaging of his own guilt – he was trying to get Tokimune taken off the Argevollen assignment so as to avoid seeing both siblings die under his watch (and I think we can assume Reika asked Samonji to look after Tokimune).  It doesn’t work, of course – the brass needs Tokimune in that cockpit and a stray punch at a disgraced officer matters not a whit – but it was an interesting attempt anyway.

The hard truth is that Samonji in fact has very little reason to feel guilty about Reika’s death.  She was engaged in what she knew was a deeply flawed experiment, and one in which the brass likely intended to push her until she broke permanently – but she believed in the overall cause and did it anyway. And he effectively destroyed his own career in the final attempt to save her from herself.  Even then it’s clear Cayenne was a dangerous guy, and he may have been in even deeper than what we saw – I would bet he intentionally planted Tokimune in Samonji’s unit for a variety of nefarious reasons, some plain and some still unclear.

I liked the dialogue across the board here as well (Quasimodo is always a good addition) – it was quite natural and even very funny at times, which Argevollen normally can’t pull off.  This was certainly the first time we saw Samonji turn himself loose emotionally, and while that’s risky for a character this deep into a series I though the build-up made it very believable.  In the final analysis this was an episode that played to Argevollen’s strengths, and that’s almost always a good strategy – it just so happens that this was a more ambitious and dramatic 22 minutes that any we’ve seen so far.  It piques my interest for the second cour, and for an episode at this spot on the schedule that means mission accomplished.

Argevollen - 12 -7 Argevollen - 12 -8 Argevollen - 12 -9
Argevollen - 12 -10 Argevollen - 12 -11 Argevollen - 12 -13
Argevollen - 12 -14 Argevollen - 12 -16 Argevollen - 12 -17
Argevollen - 12 -18 Argevollen - 12 -19 Argevollen - 12 -20
Argevollen - 12 -21 Argevollen - 12 -23 Argevollen - 12 -24
Argevollen - 12 -25 Argevollen - 12 -26 Argevollen - 12 -27


  1. R

    This was quite a fascinating episode actually. I wouldn't call the whole concept of mind controlling unmanned drones unrealistic (it's not exactly a full on mind control setup. More like a Master-Slave system). After all, some scientists over at DARPA are actually crazy enough to experiment on the concept. I also liked that Samonji actually called out the researcher on the issue of the stress it puts on the pilot.

    Aside from the whole drama, what I find interesting is the technological implication for the Argevollen. After all, almost all mecha shows which did the whole "your brother/sister/parent died in an experiment" plotline always end up having said experiment have connections to the protagonist's mecha. So, I am guesssing that the Argevollen actually has the ability to control its own unmanned drones (which i presume is probably the new trail kriegers shown in the preview. And the whole linkage counter seen a few eps back is probably going to show up again once Tokimune unlocks that ability.

    And this brings the series to a somewhat predictable twist. Since the drone system can drive the pilot nuts (as shown in Reika's case), I am speculating that Jamie would play the role of an emotional anchor to keep Tokimune from being overtaken by Argevollen's system. I just hope that they would build her character more if she does indeed play that part.

  2. G

    If you think this cour ender was good wait til you see how Aldnoah Zero ends…

  3. I'd take this one, to be honest.

  4. s

    In that case prepare yourself enzo for those who read your thoughts on RC

  5. I

    I loved this one as well as Aldnoah's but for different reasons. This one was more emotional and heartfelt, while Aldnoah was heart pumping and edge-of-your-seat. Aldnoah's season finale makes me anticipate the new season more, while Argevollen's sealed it for me that it was a good thing that I stayed with the series.

  6. D

    – In that case prepare yourself enzo for those who read your thoughts on RC

    I think Enzo doesn't really need to prepare himself, he can just ignore and not read those type of comments.

    Good lord, some of the comments last week were just Youtube/Reddit-level bad.

  7. I've pretty much decided to ignore the comments fields on this series over there. When a show gets this popular, it becomes a playground for outright fanboyism and blind hating, with little tolerance for anything in-between.

  8. s

    pretty much

  9. D

    – I've pretty much decided to ignore the comments fields on this series over there.

    A wise decision.

  10. K

    But this was actually "good" not "stupid twist for shock value good" that Aldnoah.Zero pulled off

  11. I

    I loved this episode. Seeing Reika and Samonji's relationship evolve from dislike, to an understanding, to friendship, and then to love. I love her last whispered words of "I love you" to him. And really seeing his emotions for the first time, it was so heartbreaking.

    As for Cayenne, I wouldn't be surprised if the guy had actually sabotaged the whole project. He doesn't seem to want Arandas to win anyway.

  12. H

    When I feel like watching something like this then I will make a date with 8th MS team. Stylistically more appealing to me for a start.

  13. m

    This was clearly the best ep of the series so far, but they all have taken a small step forward each week, minus a few exceptions. This show really keeps reminding me of Band Of Brothers more and more as it goes along. Yeah the setting makes it significantly different, but the concept and the way it plays out is very similar. It's one of those shows that every minute you spend with the characters just slowly builds up the level of emotional attachment you have in the show. This ep also marks the first time that you get a really big sense of loss from a character that you can put a face on, and a few characters that you can feel the fallout of their loss. That's part of the realism the show gives off as well, the way it builds attachment to its cast slowly over time as you would a real person. Not from big events and dramatic moments, but from smaller things and real moments. It would definitely take a lot of work to reach it, but I could see Argevollen being the top show of the fall. It might not be the most likely thing to occur, but the groundwork has been laid, and if done correctly it has the second cour has always had the potential for greatness.

Leave a Comment