It doesn’t take a genius to understand Argevollen. First thought that comes to mind is a generic mecha show with warfare and military concepts adapted into a struggle between nations in a world of dominance. The first episode doesn’t stride far from that as we learn the current state of affairs between the two nations – Arandas and Ingelmia. During on brief struggle, we find out that the main protagonist of the series, a young man from Arandas’ 8th unit named Tokimune Susumu is able to pilot a mysterious mecha suit. It’s known as the Argevollen and its potentials can change the course of this war forever.
Essentially, Argevollen rides on the war theme quite a bit with its introductory episodes. As an original anime though, this show has a lot of unoriginal clichés. The military warfare between two sides, troubling pasts of the main characters, generic looking robots, and political affairs are just a few to name. In essence, you shouldn’t expect anything very unpredictable from the start of the show. In fact, the series sets itself up like a rock ready to be thrown. It has all the concepts and it’s just ready to bounce away at something in front of it.
The main protagonist Tokimune is your typical main guy with the skills to pilot the Argevollen. As the title stands for itself, the series bases off the mecha by its literal term - Silver-Willed Argevollen. This actually has a bit of a meaning besides just a flashy name. Apparently, the show plays around the idea that the pilot and the mecha can become a unit where it can only be piloted by those it accepts. While it doesn’t mold with Sentai tropes (as in the pilot actually transform into the mecha), the concept still feels peculiar. Nonetheless, the show preys on several developing routes for Tokimune. He becomes more confident in combat, improves his piloting skills, and even begins to form interpersonal connections with his other comrades. The most prominent of this is seen with a young woman he saved named Jamie. Although incompatible, there’s an innate connection between the two. The problem is that their relationship really suffers from development. The war drains most of the screen time for this series and leaves room for little else. There are a few breather episodes here and there but most of that is played off vaguely with its almost sarcastic-like atmosphere. Jamie herself isn’t exactly an interesting girl either as she is often worried about what she needs to do. Likewise, Tokimune is a character that I find to be monotonously dull as he is too much of a soldier on the battlefield and less so as a person.
As the series carries on, we learn more about who Tokimune is fighting including against ace pilot Schlein Richthofen. Take their relationship as a sort of archetype rivalry like a snake and mongoose. 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.
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. Besides Tokimune, we learn more a bit more about their characteristics, background stories, and even their purpose being 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.
Throughout the course of the show, it’s also easy to ask questions yourselves about the purpose of the war. There’s also certain aspects of themes involved such as the propaganda-like atmosphere going on. Surprisingly enough, there’s a decent deal of realism (not counting the world and the mecha suits). War efforts can be felt similar to actual world wars with what commanders do to obtain absolute victory. This includes strategic sacrifices, authoritative discipline, and even potential coup among its country’s factions. I think the message the show is trying to achieve is to depict the reality of what war is like and how no one should be a doorknob. While it can feel repetitive and seemingly endless, the show never deconstructs itself from what it started originally. It can get to some people’s skins after they realize just how much the show tries to fire up their premise. Yet from my perspective, this show finds itself having fun at times with the story it has set up with its characters and concepts.
On most parts, artwork is pretty standard. Although I don’t have anything big to complain about, most of the character designs are just downright dull and generic. Almost everyone has that military-like expression whether you’re a newbie pilot or commander of a unit. The fact is, the character designs are belong average with little to write home about. On the other hand, we do have some creativity when it comes to mecha designs. The most-talked about robot would obviously be the Argevollen with its sheer metallic design covered by silver scales. Looking at it carefully, the Argevollen is the main mascot of the series for both its innovative design and symbol of hope. Other noticeable designs include the Trail Kriegers, which takes the form of walker-like war machines. It’s a war after all people.
While not very prominent, the soundtrack does play some noticeable roles throughout the show. For starters, the OP and ED songs has a serial-like war theme with its experimental tones. Meanwhile, the second ED song of the show depicts more of sadness, perhaps the horrors of war. In retrospect, OST is moderate on most parts although it can strike quite the cord during climatic battle scenes. As the show lacks comedy on most occasions, there’s also a quiet feeling for emotional scenarios and conversations. Dialogues remain very straightforward though so don’t expect any prude jokes except on rare occasions.
There’s no denying this show is about war and what it means to both sides. If the first few episodes doesn’t get you into the war-like atmosphere, then consider Argevollen enter your on-hold or drop list. There were times when I considered how a 2 cour show can build itself with all these overused archetypes. In fact, it gets to be increasingly difficult to craft a plausible show based on something so hackneyed. But looking at it carefully, the show manages to keep pace with itself. It’s not just the premise or characters but the overall development of what it’s trying to execute. Either on or off the battlefield, the show doesn’t kid around and maintain its mature atmosphere. It settles with the reality of war through death and destruction that doesn’t kill itself by just bringing in casualties. No, instead Argevollen combines general clichés with a list of generic pieces to fuse it into a big puzzle. Whether you want to be part of that is up to you