It’s no surprise to anyone that production of mecha shows has slowed down considerably over the past few years. I always take note of the mecha shows that do come out, but sometimes you have to wonder why these sorts of shows don’t get produced often. Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen is a show with few surprises for anyone familiar with the genre. In fact, I could potentially write an article discussing how Argevollen plays things safe, but I won’t. There’s some subtle potential about this show, and while I hope it does become a great show, this show has a long way to go.
Argevollen takes place in a world where two countries are engaged in war. One side is losing territory quickly, and the rookie pilot of one unit, Tokimune, rescues a girl transporting an experimental new unit that could turn the tides of battle. Let’s get the cliches out of the way. We’ve already established that he’s a rookie, but he’s also hot-headed, has a hero complex, has trouble following orders, figuratively falls into the cockpit of a prototype mech, and defeats his immediate hostiles. I’m sure some of my readers know what to expect from there. Argevollen’s female lead, Jamie, is also somewhat of a female counterpart of Tokimune. She’s not a pilot, but she’s also rather opinionated, and doesn’t respect orders too well. In her defense, she is a civilian.
Similarly, the story treads familiar ground. So far, it’s actually very similar to something like the original Mobile Suit Gundam, or Gundam Seed, where a squad on one side of the war is constantly on the run from the other military, and carries a prototype mech. I honestly can’t see it picking up from there, at least for a while, so I’m afraid that much of the plot will be uneventful.
At the same time, Argevollen has some pretty solid atmosphere, as evidenced by how characters treat war. Tokimune is not a whiz kid, and is not a talented pilot, especially when using the Argevollen (he’s arguably even worse with it!). Jamie and Tokimune are both frustrated with how terrible of a pilot he is. Moreover, however, both are afraid of actual combat. Tokimune understands that it’s very easy to die in combat, and he should just focus on surviving. The supporting cast is also quite strong, and helps set the war atmosphere. They’re not tightly wound like Tokimune, but are far more serious when it comes to war. They belong in a setting like this, and best of all, they’re helping Tokimune develop quickly.
CG in mecha anime is slowly getting better, and while the CG on display here does not blend so nicely with the (quite nice) 2D animation and art, the mecha animation is decently animated. The fights have so far been above average, and that’s with conventional weaponry like ballistic firearms and melee weaponry alone! The music fits in quite well, enhancing the enjoyment of the show.
Argevollen has a solid foundation with its atmosphere, and while the characters and plot are a little stale at the moment, this show could grow to be something great. In the mean time, don’t be surprised if it plays things straight for a while.
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