Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 19

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Can a character like Cayenne be redeemed even this late in the game?  Sorry, I’m not buying it.

This was a strange sort of episode for Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen, perhaps most acutely for the fact that I’m not sure how the audience was supposed to interpret it.  There was a weird dichotomy between the ultra-morose and serious thread following Samonji and Cayenne, and the fluffy surprise party for Tokimune thread.  They never felt like they were part of the same episode, but that disjointed quality may have been exactly what Ootsuki-sensei was going for.

Then we had the behavior of Cayenne himself, which is likewise a mystery to me.  When he tells Samonji that he intends to use the U-link system because he doesn’t want the lives of the soldiers who’ve died in the war against Ingelmia to have been lost in vain after a bad peace settlement, are we supposed to see that as a sort of rehabilitation for his character?  It would be a partial one admittedly, as his logic is twisted even if he’s being straightforward – but if we’re being asked to see him as a misguided general who has good intentions, I’m just not sold.  Knowing what we know about what he’s done, I don’t think that character gets to go there now.  A corrupt leader in league with a cabal of weapons dealers doesn’t get to have noble intentions about stopping a war he’s partly responsible for propagating in the first place.

Of course, Satou-sensei may be in that same camp, and this may be just be one more bit of craven manipulation by a venal and despicable man – and the fact that Suguro was standing behind him as he made his case supports that notion.  Samonji certainly seems caught in the middle here – all the more so when Col. Izumi tells him that the politicians are planning to cut a deal with Ingelmia – giving up significant territory in the process – and that the militarists are cooking up a secret plan to foil them.  Samonji (and we) know that plan of course – a fleet of mass-produced Perphevollens and the same U-link control unit that Nanjou Reika died in (and which according to Samonji still smells of her blood).

It’s hard to believe Samonji would allow himself to become a pawn in this knowing what he knows, but the fact that he didn’t share the details of Cayenne’s spicy plot with Izumi is worrisome.  What the shrewd Cayenne is playing on, of course, is Samonji’s sense of guilt over Reika’s death, and the notion that he might be willing to chase her fruitless “army where no one dies” dream by playing along with the usage of the U-link system.  It would be a terrible mistake but I suppose he’s just unhinged enough that it might be possible – and is he thinking of having Tokimune pilot it, or of doing so himself?

As all this is playing out, the crew is planning a surprise “recovery party” for Tokimune, which they’ve also decided not to tell Jamie about because she’d surely spill the beans.  And Suzushiro – clearly sensing something is very wrong – is searching desperately for Samonji.  The whole party plot is very lightweight and silly, but because of what’s going on with the rest of the episode (including a strange seizure of sorts Tokimune has while staring at Arge) it has a kind of bleak fatalism to it (again, perhaps intentionally).  And Suzishiro is a very sad case – it seems obvious that Samonji doesn’t feel the same intense devotion to her that she does to him, and even when we finally see them sleep together it comes off as rather tragic and bereft.  We still don’t know the whole story of what happened between those three when Reika was alive, but it’s clear that her death has pushed Samonji’s heart to a remote place where Suzushiro can never truly reach it.

My sense has never been stronger that there will be major sacrifices before Argevollen reaches its conclusion.  The pathos when Tokimune and Jamie are talking enthusiastically about how he’s going to pilot Arge again and how she’ll support him is thick enough to cut with a knife – their youthful naïveté hits like a blow to the solar plexus.  It’s a great contrast watching the two of them together and then Samonji and Suzushiro, so wounded and defeated by life, and the likes of Cayenne and Suguro with the craven and detached greed and megalomania, heedless of the lives they’re destroying.  That’s powerful stuff, and Argevollen has earned that power patiently and diligently over the course of these past nineteen episodes.

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  1. R

    I wish they had shown a bit more of that part where Samonji took control of those Perphevollen drones, just so that we could more glimpse as to why he would decide to side with Cayenne here. That's really what annoys me about the series at times, as it just tends to cut off the me4cha scenes at inappriate moments at times. I don't know if it's budget issues, but those cuts don't really come off as really good narrative decisions.

    Also, this is where the low quality character animation becomes very bothersome. Samonji is already a difficult character to read, but the animation's tendency to go off model in presenting his expresions makes it even harder.

  2. m

    Haha it always baffles me when ppl say "off model". I mean I guess there have been a couple of occaisions where it's been so bad that I've noticed in shows, but what they hell r u doing while watching and reading the subs? Are you pausing and comparing images to confirm? How do you notice that? I haven't recognized it once in Argevollen.

  3. m

    From what little I know of you, you aren't the type to do this, but there does seem to be lots of anime veiwers who like to pick apart weird pointless details so that they can act stuck up about anime. Haha those ppl r the worst. It's a tv show, it's not anything of significant value. I wasn't saying that at you Roger, It just came to mind when I was wondering how ppl notice those off model images.

  4. s

    I wouldnt necessarily say that it's not of significant value just because it's a tv show. Mediums like these are forms of expression so by that reasoning they are significant. Now granted, there are a few ppl who pick at certain things because it gives them a sense of superiority but that is not always the case. From what i know and my experiences, sometimes when a person is watching something; in this case we'll use an anime as an example, and they notice something "off", it doesnt hit them immediately what that "off" thing is. With the power to rewind, some people will go back and watch that certain moment again and pinpoint exactly what they felt was "off" by that scene. I personally, because im so use to having an eye for all kinds of details (to the point that it sometimes spoils things for me), i notice these things most of the time without exactly looking for them; and that's the thing, there are times that ppl aren't looking for mistakes, it's just that their natural attention to detail points it out for them, especially if it's a glaring detail.

    I think it depends how that information affects the person watching the anime. I myself will overlook certain things such as that most of the time but i will mention it here and there if it is too noticeable. At the end of the day, it depends what you pay attention to. A fair share of anime viewers dont have a good background of cinemotography or animation detail when it comes to anime so if a certain show has bad shot composiition, while someone who does not pay attention to that stuff wont give a damn, someone who does can be turned off by that stuff as much as they want to un-notice it. I think it's alright to notice these things and have an opinion about it but i feel that if a show's story, writing, and directing make up for the shot composition (or in general if a show's positives considerably makes up for it's negatives), you should give the show a chance.

  5. R


    but there does seem to be lots of anime veiwers who like to pick apart weird pointless details so that they can act stuck up about anime.

    I don't exactly get what you mean by acting like being stuck up about anime, but I guess this is the artist in me talking. Not that I can claim that I draw exceptionally well. But, as Sonic points out, I just tend to be a bit more keen on such details. As for what I mean here, there are certain inconsistencies in the art I can't help but notice. And having watched my share of Xebec shows, I already have a certain familiarity with their animation style, such that I could opine that this really isn't one of their top tiers as far as that aspect is concerned.

    Note that I am not saying that Argevollen is bad as a whole. In fact, I am still very much engaged with the story. But since this is anime, it's really just fair to expect that the animation would be at the same level as the story. For instance, while the4 dialogue (and the voice acting) can already convey information, the character animation, if done right, can do a lot more to enhance those elements. And that's what kinda bugs me with the character animation of the series.

  6. i

    I do think the differences between Sainonji's parts of the episode and Tokimune's parts of the episode was intentional. There were some parts of the party story that were legitimately funny, but all that was undercut constantly by the unsettled nature of the rest of the events going on. Like, the contrast between those two parts of the episode was stark.

    But, for the show as a whole, this just means that I'm intensely interested with what's happening next. How much of Jamie/Tokimune's naiveté are they going to destroy to arrive at a solution to this war and the corruption driving it? I'm worried for them—and I wonder if we might see a Zankyou no Terror-type ending with Tokimune dead trying to stop Saionji and Jamie having to live on without him.

  7. A

    I know I might be wrong but I'm seeing a more tragic end for Samonji. A huge part of him already died when Reika died and now he feels he could use Cayenne's twisted plan to his benefit and have "a war where no one dies" along with at least saving her brother but for all that to occur there would be a huge sacrifice.
    Samonji out everyone, I believe knows the price.

  8. That's definitely a strong possibility. I think he's trying to figure out a way to sacrifice himself to save Tokimune (and everyone else).

  9. A

    I never get tired of watching Tokimune and Jamie just sitting around and talking. About anything. It's a relationship that has been built over the entire series without devolving into teenage romance, and I really appreciate stuff like that. It would really hurt to see either of them go down tragically, so if they were trying to make me give a damn about them, well, mission accomplished.

  10. R

    I get the distinct feeling that anything out of Cayenne's mouth is just further manipulation. Considering how vulnerable Samonji is right after Tokimune little brush with death likely reminded him of Reika, I wouldn't be surprised if it were enough to push him over the edge. Or at least be willing to take greater risks with less thought of consequence. You can only push a guy so far before he snaps.

    Man, what a wonderful trainwreck this is building up to be. There might still be room for a happy (-ish) ending but I doubt it'll be without sacrifices.

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