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Argevollen Collection 1 Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Argevollen DVD CoverMilitary mech battles, political intrigue, mystery, and drama combine to make a fairly interesting yarn. However, does it rise above the others to become a beacon of the genre or is it a dud?

What They Say:
Tokimune Susumu has every reason to distrust the military and question orders. His sister has already died in the service of the Arandas military, and his secret reason for enlisting is to ferret out the truth behind her mysterious death. So, when a civilian convoy is in jeopardy and his own battle mech is destroyed, Susumu’s all too ready to break ranks and jump into the cockpit of the experimental Argevollen. What he isn’t expecting, however, is that activating the Argevollen conforms it to his mind alone. Now he’s on the frontline of the ongoing meat-grinder that the war between Arandas and Ingelmia has become, and his only certain ally is an attractive civilian contractor whose reasons for being in the war are as convoluted as his own. Knowledge is the most powerful weapon and Truth is the first victim as the mechs of war are unleashed in ARGEVOLLEN!

The Review:
The score is competently handled by Kotaro Nakagawa (Code Geass, Accel World, Prison School). Each musical composition fits the scenes well from the rest periods to the brutal battle scenes. The opening, “Tough Intention” performed by musical artists KOTOKO has a solemn but inviting beat that is captured well in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0. This is played throughout the first half of the series with the exception to a few serious episodes (including the first and last episode of the volume). The ending theme by —– is soft, but fits perfectly, especially after an exciting episode. The sound effects are handled very well by acclaimed sound director Jin Aketagawa (Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Aldnoah.Zero) with each punch, explosion, and sound of nature is handled well and coordinated smoothly to fit Dolby Digital 2.0 format. The Japanese only vocal track is handled well given the aforementioned.

The packaging is sound with the two main characters of the series front and center and the titular mech in the background, which tells a story about the show as well as the genre itself. The box art also sports a crimson “1” to add to the military ambiance of the series. The coloring and chrome text of the standard DVD standout while the random images on the back of the set along with the description fit the tried and true Sentai Filmworks framework of releases. The screenshots take show each facet of the show fairly well from the Argevollen to facial expressions of various characters and shots of the battles.

The menus feature the pivotal characters to the story as well as the opening theme song. Adorned in the same color as the box art, the menu is pretty standard fair with nothing really unique.

The only extras included in this volume are trailers for other Sentai Filmworks titles, the textless opening and ending sequences.

The series revolves around two countries, Arandas and Ingelmia, at war with each other that recently reached a stalemate. The two introduced giant robots known as Trail Kriegers into the mix to turn the tide in the conflict. Arandas gains the assistance of a military contractor to create the Argevollen, the most advanced giant robot created with a unique system that synchs with the pilot’s mind, allowing said pilot to control the machine without physically manipulating it and cannot be accessed by another pilot due to the . Enter Tokimune Susumu, a rookie pilot who finds himself on the frontlines with comrades and a junior engineer assigned to help with the Argevollen, Jaime Hazaford. Tokimune and Jaime form a working relationship that takes them through a great deal of obstacles and more in this story. Add a fairly large cast of characters, military style carnage, and ground terrain combat this side of Mobile Suit Gundam, and you have a real giant robot story with a little charm, a lot of action, and some character decent development.

The flaw against the show is its moderate pace. Although it’s done to give time for some character development, the first few episodes are more concerned with the setup of the series, so political intrigue takes the focus between the fights and the cast. There’s even mild cheesecake or fan-service added to spice things up, but it’s pretty fair about it in the latter episodes of the volume. The show felt like a procedural military actioner until the sixth episode where a great deal of depth emerges and the plot starts rearing its head. In addition, the characters become more fleshed out with each episode where personality is displayed in not only Tokimune and Jaime (who stands out in the first episode) but also the brooding Ukyō Samonji the trio of female mechanics and the rest of the ragtag cast. Even the representatives of Ingelmia have a little personality, especially Schlein Richthofen, the Char Aznable to Tokimune’s Amuro Ray. The most riveting episodes of the set are six and twelve (the last episode of disc 1 and the last episode of disc two respectively) that will leave most yearning to see the rest despite some of the clichés and tropes. The latter run of the volume combines mystery and drama immensely and manages to bring a balance to the series that makes it enjoyable.

The show is animated by none-other than Xebec (Martian Successor Nadesico, Fafner in the Azure, Broken Blade,) which is a plus given the studio’s history with the genre. The animation is handled well throughout despite minor instances involving the 3-D rendered mechs. There are scenes where the 3-D animated mechs, including the titular giant robot, look out of place with the 2-D animation. It’s not as apparent as early anime works involving the hybrid style such as Blue Submarine No. 6 or recent fair like Dai-Shogun-Great Revolution. But some of the scenes are little more glaring than others in that regard. The animation shines especially in the show’s display of warfare and the battles showcasing the abilities of the Argevollen.

The mecha genre has seen its ups and downs over the years. The new wave of Giant Robot anime started in 2013 with series such as Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Valrave the Liberator, and Majestic Prince (ironically, those shows were released the same year as the motion picture Pacific Rim). Since then, more mecha shows have emerged to take center stage. Argevollen is a middle of the road title with some good and bad aspects that make up its fairly entertaining entirety. Its emphasis on action sequences in terms of cinematography make the battle scenes engaging. Although its moderate pace is a double-edged sword when it comes to the meandering political intrigue and the struggle of Tokimune and his partner Jaime amidst the plot (which may not be original to seasoned mecha fans,) it also aids in displaying the harsh world of the series. Character development is apparent in this volume, but the scattershot execution of the aforementioned character development between episodes. However, the well-executed action scenes, credible drama, and a solid presentation of guerrilla warfare with giant robots carries the twelve episode volume to a good run and leaves on an interesting cliffhanger.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Philips 32PFL3506/F7 32-Inch 720p 60Hz LCD HDTV F7 and Playstation 3 Blu-Ray Player with HDMI link.

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