Review : Shirogane No Ishi : Argevollen


Shirogane no Ishi : Argevollen is a very much old-school mecha anime from an old hand at that, Sato Tatsuo. It also comes from an old school studio too in Xebec, who aren't going to blow anyone away with fluid animation or detailed backgrounds but do seem to have an affinity for these sorts of sci-fi shows.


Story 

"In this anime, We're dumped right into the middle of an ongoing war between two nations, Arandas - which is an old-world power somewhat reminiscent of China and seemingly run by corrupt old generals and politicians spewing Marxist ideology - and the aggressive Ingelmia.  So far the sympathetic eye is on the foot soldiers of Arandas, most specifically the still-green mecha pilot Susumu Tokimune. Ingelmia has been advancing on Arandas territory for years only to be stopped by their Great Wall (very original) but as the series start they've finally breached it, utilizing what seems to be a big leap in mecha technology their enemy was unprepared for." From what is pretty clear after reading the synopsis, this show has often been accused of being 'generic,' while it is anything but that. As it is by all means a show that could be called a 'Real Robot' anime, it is best to not even consider it a mecha - rather a military drama, that features giant robots. More than anything, we are watching the daily life of a platoon of troops as they move from place to place.


Characters

The main character Tokimune was a pretty standard, hot-headed rookie who the veteran soldiers and support officers mercilessly have sport with as he acts on his own sense of righteousness rather than simply obeying orders, which we see an example of in the very first episode when he disobeys orders to save a supposed civilian truck that is under attack and has his “chance encounter” with the heroine of the story, Jamie Hazaford. Tokimune is a member of the independent squad 8, whose captain Samonji Ukyou is cool, calm and collected. Samonji has a cast of loyal characters supporting him, which includes his second-in-command, Sergeant Suzushiro Saori, communications officer Terai Akino, and Trial Krieger pilots Silfy Appleton and Lorenz Giuliano. They’re a unique bunch, each with their own character nuances that are very prominent.

As the series carried on, we learn more about who Tokimune is fighting including ace pilot Schlein Richthofen. While Tokimune does have the skill to use Argevollen, Richthofen proves his skills in combat through his natural instinct and abilities. His skills can be easily recognized in the beginning stages of the series as he takes out multiple opponents on the battlefield. At the same time, it’s also noticeable that Richthofen isn’t a cold-hearted man as he values his comrades shown in several episodes when his forces are decimated. Nonetheless, his encounters with the Argevollen brings about the best of what technology can do. And speaking of technology, that’s actually a funny thing to bring up. Technology in this show is very fictional. While it’s believable that mecha doesn’t exist, there are also hardly any other modern weapons of war such as cruise missiles or fighter jets. In reality, the world this show takes place in is more like an example of an alternate universe. 

Also, As a 2 cour show, one should also carefully consider investing time with its characters. There’s no doubt that the show has a wide range of characters from various backgrounds whether it’s the serious commander of Unit 8 (Ukyo), experienced pilot Silfy Appleton, lone soldier Masaru Okui, or freshman recruit Namie Portman. Although the show isn’t able to fully focus on all of them on an individual basis, it does succeed in getting people to notice them. I’m not just talking about their roles on or off the battlefield but them as people. Also, We learn more about their characteristics, background stories, and even their purpose of being a part of the war. And to be honest, that is quite important as reasons is what drive people to do things such as fighting. Likewise, Tokimune’s reason regarding his past involves his sister as he plays an avenger-like player in their cruel world.


Animation and Sound

The animation and artwork had a fair use of 3D CGI for the Trail Kreigers that stands out but doesn't detract with the overall animation. There're obviously a little dips in quality, particularly in the distant shots, but Argevollen still looks a lot better then what I did expect from XEBEC. Though, the fact is that the character designs were belong average with little to write home about. On the other hand, we did have some creativity when it came to mecha-designs. The most-talked about robot would obviously be the Argevollen with its sheer metallic design covered by silver scales. And Looking at it carefully, the Argevollen was the main mascot of the series for both its innovative design and the symbol of hope. Other noticeable designs included the Trail Kriegers, which took the form of walker-like war machines. It’s a war after all people!

For the sound, I liked the soundtracks, they were all well done and fitted in with the overall theme of the show. The openings and endings were also good, but there were no songs that I found myself particularly drawn to. The voice acting was top-notch and I think all the voice actors also did an amazing job.

Enjoyment 

Yes, I really enjoyed Argevollen and the meticulous pacing of this anime was really amazing. Also, it had a unique take on mecha battles and character development which certainly was hard to turn away from! And, It had a quality staff and story that delivered a satisfying cour of full 24 episodes.


Overall, It wasn't the best Mecha show in 2014 Summer season, But, Beggars can't be Choosers. Also, I kind of liked Argevollen, though I certainly acknowledge it isn't pulse-quickening and the hero is a bit of a trying character. But, the gritty and unpretentious realism of this series worked for me. Though, if the armies were using tanks instead of mobile suits it could have easily passed itself off as realistic. Also, Either on or off the battlefield, the show didn’t kid around and maintained its mature atmosphere. It settled with the reality of war through death and destruction that didn’t kill itself by just bringing in casualties. But, instead it combined general clich├ęs with a list of generic pieces to fuse it into a big puzzle. Whether you want to be part of it is up to you, But I highly recommend Argevollen because if nothing else, it really is a show which is unlike many others of this genre.



4 STAR ANIME.


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  2. I definitely give it a try^^

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    1. Haha, I'm glad my review helped you Fluff & Thanks for the comment. ^~^

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  3. does it have superb action sequences like attack on titans

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