I’ve been picking up more and more mecha series over the last few years, though truth be told I never cared for mecha growing up. Aside from Mobile Suit G Gundam, I never liked the Gundam shows on Toonami, but shows like Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team and Gundam 00 were too good to pass up. However, when I heard Tatsuo Satō (Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed, Legrange: The Flower of Rin-ne) was working on XEBEC’s Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen, I was set on checking it out day one. Argevollen is a slow burn, intentionally, and is almost immediately comparable to the aforementioned Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team OVA series from Sunrise in 1996. It doesn’t have the same polish and sheen that series did, but it has a very unique take on mecha battles and character development that it’s hard to turn away from.
Argevollen centers on warring countries Arandas and Ingelmia, wherein Tokimune Susumu stumbles upon Jamie Hazaford who’s caught in the crossfire, and discovering the Argevollen mech. With its questionable U-Link setup, Argevollen is only capable of being piloted by the pilot whose mind it molds to and Tokimune happens to be that pilot, so he must take up the mantle to help his country’s odds in the war. Despite the promotional artwork and previews, it seems that Argevollen is a much centered plot on Takimune, his commanding officer Ukyō, and Jamie, but we’re only a 1/4th of the way through the twenty-four planned episodes, so perhaps the other showcased characters can become more pivotal and not cannon fodder.
I can’t discuss the meticulous pacing of Argevollen is superb and although I’ve already mentioned it’s comparable to Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, I can’t stress the urgency of Argevollen’s choice of direction. Most of the mechs aren’t whipping about and flying with extreme speed; they’re lumbering, slow brutes, but still susceptible to defeat. And Tokimune isn’t immediately adept at piloting Argevollen either. Obviously, because it would take too long to show him getting the ropes of training with it, he does progress rather quickly but he still stumbles and falters more than most other kids in his combat boots would. Neither he nor Argevollen are perfect, and make mistakes, sometimes for the worse, and they put their unit in danger. One such moment has the unti set up a canyon to collapse and cut off the enemy from tracking and following them, but the enemy aren’t completely your typical enemy and Argevollen’s attempts to help nearly hinder the unit from escaping fully intact. It’s a rather splendid scene to see in action.
Argevollen has a lot to prove and a long way to go before I can recommend it to people as a “must watch”, but Tatsuo Satō and Studio XEBEC (Pilot Candidate, To Love-Ru) have a quality staff and story in their hands. It will take a lot to mess up the premise, and I trust they can deliver at least a satisfying cour if not a full twenty-four episodes. Crunchyroll has the streaming rights, and you can catch Argevollen every Thursday on their site. Stick to Geekenstein for more anime reviews.