Mar 26, 2015
Renegatz (All reviews)
Argevollen isn't as bad as people made it out to be after the first episodes rolled out. It was a rare and appealing experience to a military history fan in that the plot structure is often focused around the political and military dynamics of the conflict. Unlike in a lot of other anime, we're simultaneously privy to the strategic momentum of the war from both sides' perspectives, their internal divisions and agendas, as well as progress on the field involving a whole array of tactics and plans. This means that there's more to it than a screaming protagonist smashing bad guys. Unfortunately he just has to be there in the first place.

Indeed, to be blunt, none of the characters in this show were good. They had so much time in the quieter filler episodes to make things interesting, but the dialogue and artistic direction outside of action sequences really didn't hit the mark enough to create memorable character-based moments and foster genuine character development instead of empty sentences thrown back and forth between Tokimune and Jamie. There was a lot of time wasted on the numerous side-characters whom it's hard to really connect with except on a very basic level, such as the primordial charm of the two other pilots of the Independent 8th (though don't be expecting them to receive any development at all). This is especially true of Namie, who was simply a plot device from start to finish. Moreover, although it was supposed to be a story based in war, there's a distinct lack of tension and tribulation. Nobody ever seems to feel under pressure, everyone is always clean, laughing and comfy, dramatic emotional sequences are kept to a minimum, we're very rarely exposed to the grimmer sides of conflict, and throughout it feels like we're watching a bunch of kids pretending to fight a war for a school play rather than the real deal.

To be fair, however, it's an action and plot-driven show rather than one based around characters, and things were kept fairly interesting for me because apparently unlike a lot of other viewers I'm quite happy with a bread and butter of honest warfare between two sides and some background political/technological dynamics that keep you guessing how things will end up. There were sprinklings of good drama at odd points though perhaps not enough to warrant the wooden characters and attempted seriousness of the mood most of the time.

Essentially it's the SAO of mecha to me - very fun and watchable when it sticks to its guns (literally) and gives us plenty of high-class action, but usually falls short when it tries to be deep or create interesting characters.