This episode’s biggest problem was that I kept finding myself pausing it every so often so that I could, well, do anything else. Browse Reddit, listen to sports radio, watch League of Legends streams, etc. Hey man, I gotta get my up-to-the-minute updates on where Carmelo is headed in free agency! Probably not to the Lakers, but I’m not so sure how much I would want to pay a 30-year-old superstar a max contract. I mean, the team already fucked up by giving Kobe a giant deal! Oops, this is supposed to be an anime post! See? I’m doing it again! I can’t keep myself focused on Argevollen! Sigh, so what’s wrong with it? Well, the anime just has no personality.
That’s not to say every mecha series that gets made needs to be increasingly over-the-top and flamboyant like Valvrave, but seriously, this first episode is so boring. Everything about it is generic and shoddy-looking. Even the soldiers’ uniforms look drab and ill-fitted. Worst of all, the mecha designs themselves are uninspiring. Our hero gets a special one, of course, but it looks like everything else I’ve ever seen: white, tall, slender, etc. So if the special one doesn’t look cool, what hope do the rest of them have? Not surprisingly, the other mechas are slow and clunky in contrast to our hero’s high-tech, bipedal weapon of mass destruction.
At the end of the day, the biggest problem is that almost every single one of these mecha shows feel the need to follow the same boring template for their first episode. And what’s that template? Oh look, two equally generic superpowers are at war! One of them has even been conquering and absorbing other nations. What a fucking shocker. And ah yes, we must totally talk about our hero’s rite of passage. It’s dangerous out there, mah boy! Here, take this random superpowered mecha that’s lying around, waiting for you to grip its controls. Sure enough, Tokimune, our hero, comes across, uh, Jamie, our damsel-in-distress.
No doubt she’ll be the primary “love” interest, but there won’t be any true love to be found here. We’ll just drop some scant hints here and there in hopes of tantalizing a certain subset of the audience who even gives a shit about anime romances, especially in mecha series. In any case, by official anime decree, all blondes must be tsundere in nature. So even though Tokimune is kind enough to save Jaime’s ass from imminent capture by the enemy forces, she can’t help but insult his piloting skills. How dare he not perfectly understand how to operate a new, state-of-the-art mecha that he has never seen before! But anyway, so much undue attention is paid to the hero’s rite of passage that we know nothing else about the story.
I guess this post is still a little on the short side, so let’s find something else about the show to talk about. Well, Jaime pretty much shows up at the very last minute, so there’s not much to discern about her character just yet. Other than that, y’know, she’s seems like a tsundere. As for Tokimune, he appears to be new to his squad. As such, he hasn’t quite fit in with the rest of them. It probably doesn’t help that he openly defied his instructions to stay out of the fray. Like most mecha protagonists, therefore, our hero has an unerring sense of black-and-white justice. Combined with his youthful brashness, he’s bound to get himself into a few sticky situations. This all serves as a contrast to the rest of his fellow soldiers.
Those guys are content to put their lives in the captain’s hands: “We just need to keep our mouths shut and do what the captain tells us.” While this sort of mentality helps to keep a squad unified and efficient in the heat of battle, they will only go as far as their superiors can take them. Maybe this Captain Samonji is a good dude, but as you can see, Arandas’ generals appear to be self-serving fogeys, a bunch of uninspiring leaders all too willing to sacrifice the young lives of their soldiers as they scurry from the front lines: “Tell everyone to defend this base down to the last man.” As always, leadership falls apart in these stories, allowing for special individuals like Tokimune to carve his own path. How else are we going to glorify heroes in a war that involves hundreds of thousands of people on both sides?
Alright, I think that’s about all I can say about such a generic episode. Oh wait, a couple more things: the animation is unremarkable, and I can’t say there’s anything special that I can notice about the voice acting either. This is just about the blandest opening episode possible. It’s not even bad in a way that demands attention. Rather, the episode is enveloped in a force field that seemingly repels any attention from the outside world. “Please! Don’t notice me! I beg of you!” Nevertheless, this show is somehow going to get 24 whole episodes, so there’s a tiny, teeny glimmer of hope that the rest of story will blossom from here on out. But honestly, when was the last time this has ever happened after such a clunker of a first episode? I’m still going to give Argevollen a couple more weeks before I drop it down to the “Everything Else” pile, but the early prognosis doesn’t look good.