Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen Ep. 1: Bland

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.


16 Replies to “Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen Ep. 1: Bland”

  1. It was a completely by the numbers start. Nothing special. Which is a problem if the show doesn’t create an identity of its own, but there’s still a limited amount of time to accomplish this, at least in theory. I don’t have much to praise or criticize either. I guess the music was nice.

    1. My only question is why not try to hook people in with the first episode. That’s what it’s there for. The whole “get your mecha” rite of passage is so played out now, it’s no longer a hook. Time to come up with something new.

      1. I think the industry has actually adapted some of the anime fan’s logic: It gets better as it goes on. But that’s a horses fecal matter. A good show should be good from the start. I can understand slow build ups, but it’s just dumb how boring a pilot can be when it has such great potential to break norms.

        And thank God I’m not the only one who pauses his boring anime to “accomplish stuff”.

        Felt like a heretic to the community for a second there…

  2. >Browse Reddit,
    OT: When I was younger I liked forums and I thought Reddit would be the same. I was wrong on many levels. The level of discussion is at best so-so and most of the time people are posting pictures.

    Thanks for the review and now I know not to watch this show this season. OK, I typically don’t watch mecha but sometimes SnG is almost worth it if only for Chamber. I never did watch Gundam:SEED either orz.

    1. most of the time people are posting pictures.

      And that’s what I’m there for. It’s a nice aggregator for amusing pictures and catchy headlines when I’m just looking to chill.

      1. Pictures are nice but I thought it would be nice place to discuss hobbies too. I got sick of /r/anime and /r/manga in a few weeks because of all the topics by People Who Just Didn’t Get It.

        OK, I know the internet is vast and magical place but sigh.

        1. The larger a “community” is, the harder it is to get discussions. At some point, the prevailing opinion just outshines everything else, and that’s no longer a discussion but an echo chamber. It also doesn’t help that posts can be shuffled away to the bottom of the pile just because people disagree with them. That isn’t to say the upvote/downvote thing is all bad. Certainly, the place has a lot of unsavory characters, and their comments add nothing to the discussion. No one’s going to lose any sleep over those posts getting buried. Still, Reddit has some serious limitations.

  3. Kobe when he is not hurt is a god. It is kobe who fucked up by staying with the same team for so long he should have been left the Lakers.

    1. A god four or five years ago. He was merely a great player two years ago when he wasn’t hurt. Who even knows now?

  4. i for one think the lakers are just being nice to kobe for all he’s done. lakers are like “we can’t just hurt our beloved kobe bryant’s legacy for the good of our franchise.”

    but seriously, hopefully julius randle doesn’t start out like this anime.

    1. They didn’t have to hurt his legacy. Just don’t give an injured, over-30 veteran 24 million dollars a year. 18mil per would have been so much more reasonable at the time while still acknowledging everything he had done for the team.

        1. Eh, I can’t blame Kobe. If someone hands you that much money on a plate, you gotta take it. It’s the organization’s job to pull back and say, “Whoa, what are we doing?”

  5. Want a decent meccha? Watch 08th ms team, war in the pocket, stardust memory, turn A gundam and even gundam unicorn.

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