First Impressions: Argevollen


War Stories

If I were a less charitable and much lazier recapper, I'd point you to my First Impressions of Buddy Complex and call it a day. Heck, nearly all of it except the basic plot description still applies!

That's because Argevollen is "that" mecha anime of this season: It's that show which at first glance, feels like it could've been constructed automatically by some kind of Rube Goldberg machine designed to create products with no human intervention or input.

Generic Country With Difficult Name A is making war upon Generic Country With Difficult Name B, breaking through its walls with a combination of 23rd-century mecha, 21st-century tanks, and early 20th-century infantry, for whatever reason.

Rookie mecha pilot Tokimune is being naive and hot-blooded, and disobeys orders to go save some civilians who happen to be driving a mech-sized truck. In the truck is a big custom mecha that moves a lot more naturally, has some kind of brain interface, and allows Tokimune to be a general badass. The battle is won, but at what cost? 

Sound familiar? It should, since it's every single military mecha anime cliche thrown in a blender, just as Buddy Complex and the first episode of Valvrave the Liberator were every post-Code Geass anime cliche in that nutshell, and Majestic Prince was every post-Macross anime.

Don't get me wrong, though: I don't prize originality very highly when it comes to my Japanese cartoons. I had fun watching all three of the shows I mentioned. As a person who enjoys many products of the mainstream game industry, I can understand that "derivative" does not equate to "bad".

But Argevollen will have its work cut out for it if it seeks to rise above the crowd. That's a shame, because on the writing front, Argevollen feels far less "forced" than almost any other genre show this season. Sure, everyone's a cliche, but they settle into their niches quite naturally, and much of what happens in this first week doesn't feel trite. Most of the characters' interactions, barring a "lions leading sheep" moment from the old generals and an unnecessarily hostile first meeting between Tokimune and his love interest, flow well and "click" in a way that rarely happens in anime.

At the same time, though, on a technical level Argevollen's making a much worse first impression than any of the other shows I've mentioned. Buddy Complex had appealing character designs, good-looking mecha, and some well-executed framing early on. Majestic Prince's fights started out strong and only got stronger, eventually rivaling the best of Macross and being a CG showcase. Valvrave went off the rails just before the credits and never got back on. 

By comparison, even in this first episode where all the resources are supposed to be front-loaded to make a good hook, everything and everyone's movement is more stilted stiffer than Mahouka's storytelling. I can get behind the mook mecha's Front Mission look, but things are really going to have to step up if they want to get the kind of good war story credit shows like the 8th MS Team are remembered for. 

[Catch Argevollen streaming on Crunchyroll!]

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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