Review: Arpeggio of Blue Steel vol. 1

Contrary to popular belief, Dustin is a really nice guy. Sure he may play the asshole part to a T, but when it comes down to it, he’s genuinely nice. Why do I bring that up? Well, it’s because of him that I’m able to do this review. He was kind enough to mail me this manga not for review but just out of the kindness of his heart. That being said, it’s going straight back to where it came from. The year is 2038 AD and mankind has been forced to live and operate out in the ocean. Why? Because some mother fucking “alien” battleships have taken over the world...THAT’S WHY. Yes, unmanned battleships, herein referred to as Fleet of Fog, are now in control. If it sounds like something familiar, I’m pretty sure you’re right. It’s an overly used trope. Hell, the thing that came to my mind initially was Neon Genesis Evangelion and their Angel situation. To further dive into the similarities to NGE, our protagonist, Chihaya Gunzou, is in control of his very own Fleet of Fog, the I-401, and only responds to him.

arpeggio-vol 1After successfully taking down a fog cruiser, Gunzou is approached by a man with a sick mullet and presents an opportunity for Gunzo and his team, Blue Steel. America has developed a weapon capable of dealing with the Fleet of Fog, and it’s up to the Blue Steel fleet to transport “humanity’s last hope.” After being hesitant at first, Gunzou accepts the request and so begins their adventure and many future battles.

We don’t get a whole lot of anything in this first volume of Arpeggio of Blue Steel. There’s no real backstory, and there certainly isn’t any character development. We’re not given any reason to have any sort of emotional connections with the characters. Because of that, I honestly didn’t give a shit about them. To be honest, I wish they would have blown up during their second encounter with a Fleet of Fog. What we do learn are these two things regarding Gunzou: 1) his dad was some big military shit and has since sided with the enemies, and 2) it’s been two years since Gunzou activated Iona (his submarine. What?! See below.)

Here’s the interesting part of this book. These Fleet of Fog are unmanned, but the thing is, they’re really not. They are occupied and controlled by a humanoid avatar, a “mental mode.” It’s an interesting concept, to say the least. These mental modes are well versed with each other and know their strengths and weakness. However, Iona, the 1-401, was out of commission of for so long, so she’s not up to speed with everyone and vice-versa.

The only real saving point of this book was the art. The art is fantastic. There is so much detail in all the mechanical aspects of these ships. You can tell a lot of time and effort was put into making sure they looked like battleships and not just any regular ol’ boat. The launching of torpedoes and the charging of the cannons looked amazing. I wish I could say the same for the character designs, though. Everyone has the same face with that damned pointy nose. Luckily that’s the only thing they have in common, so I’ll let it slide.

Story wise, Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a flop. Art can only carry a book for so long, you guys. Also, scroll down and see the price of this book. No way in hell I’m going to get Volume 2 unless by some chance we Bastards are provided with it. HINT HINT? Nah. You guys can keep it.

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Arpeggio of Blue Steel - Vol. 1 Creator: Ark Performance Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment Price: $12.99 Format: TPB; Print/Digital