I wasn’t going to probably write about this week’s Arpeggio, but after making my blogging rounds and reading ol’ Jinx’s reaction to the tenth episode, well I can’t just ignore my civic duty to WORDSWORDSWORDS into this husk of the internet? Right?

Actually I happen to have the next five days off from work so I am procrastinating going to sleep.

Since getting a Nexus 7 last fall I’ve been making more of an effort to read more manga. I mean, I could before a tablet, but my netbook is awkward to hold at night in bed, and lacks a touchscreen. So being able to flip through pages on Batoto made blowing through all of Hayate, all of Kami Nomi, and all through about a dozen other titles really easy. So when Arpeggio started airing, naturally I picked up the manga and started reading. With forty-nine chapters up, it covers all of the projected anime season and then some, which was great, because I couldn’t put the fucking thing down.

The manga and anime’s basic premise is unchanged. It’s still about the same opening, Gunzou encountering Iona at the academy, and then touring around with her for two years attacking Fog battleships, including Hyuga, and picking up more human crew members along the way, mostly his friends. The show matches the illustrated material up until the sixth episode, where Haruna and Co. are attacked at the mansion. From here, the show and the manga split into different directions. But before the drastic split, it also omits two other pieces of the story in the manga, namely the Hakugei, a new Japanese battleship that assists the 401 with the battle against Haruna and Kirishima, but also Hibiki Maruri, who is on board as a special guest, but was the former sonar operator of the 401 prior to Hozumi. I didn’t really raise too much over their omission of these in the show, because they really haven’t done anything with either since the battle, nor have they really delved too deep into Maruri’s connections with Gunzou, only that they are linked to Yamato. In either case, they can easily be overlooked in the show by 401’s tactics in the fight against Haruna and Kirishima, which took elements from the maneuvers Hakugei performed in the book for itself.

So what happens at the point where Haruna, Kirishima, and Makie are fighting the soldiers trying to kill Makie at the mansion?

Yeah? Well I'll give you heavy.
Yeah? Well I’ll give you heavy.

In the book, Makie is rescued by Makoto, a representative of the northern government. Makie evacuates by helicopter, while Haruna and Kirishima escape aboard Maya, who came to their aid after they were sunk. Although Maya is not siding against the Fog, she helps Haruna convince Kongou to look after Makie both for surveillance and recon for the fog. They begin to sail for the northern prefecture while 401 heads back to Iwo Jima, their home port. Takao, after meeting 400 and 402, decided to race ahead and wound up meeting Hyuga, who administrators the island. It’s there she learns about Hyuga’s involvement with Blue Steel and decides to join after meeting Gunzou. Unfortunately the island comes under attack, and they’re forced to flee, but as they’re beginning the journey to America, it all falls within their plans, only their attackers weren’t the Fog.


I tried to leave most of the good spoils out for those who haven’t read the manga, but suffice to say, it deviates very much from the anime, at the point of Haruna and Co. at the mansion.

So what changes? Why are these changes important?

Kongou. Her role as the flagship is barely seen in the manga, namely because her sphere of influence isn’t nearly as large there. Yamato being the actual flagship regulates Kongou to a lesser role where she still is in charge of much of the fleet there, but behaves much more according to the Admiralty Code than her deviations in the show. But the major factor is she does not fight 401 at all in the manga, as of the current chapter. Not even a skirmish. Their plans were made to evade her picket lines, but they wound up tangling in battles with other ships or forces before her, which is why I never considered her to be a factor in the show at first, until they changed everything after the sixth episode. Now all the sudden, she is at the front of the pack leading the charge against 401, and being the one responsible for the attack on Iwo Jima, which also did not happen in the manga. Basically she took center-stage as one of the main characters, where she was more rear-stage in the book, biding her time for what I presume to be a much larger battle, possibly involving more than just the 401 and her crew.

That's our way of saying you've already broke the fourth AND fifth walls.
That’s our way of saying you’ve already broke the fourth AND fifth walls.

The show has yet to really tell us why the Fog is here, and what sort of changes they’ve experience since Gunzou and Iona hit the scene two years ago and started making waves. So all you’re getting is a dozen flimsy humans and some ship girls. It has about as much plot as Futurama, with considerably less funny. Gunzou’s father, Shouzou, is mentioned in the first episode, but hardly since then. Parallel in the manga, he is mentioned a number of times and establishes a major presence in chapter thirty-six. There is an entire sphere of influence separate from the events in Japan happening in the book that plays into Gunzou’s role, and makes him much more of a central character than the show did. The mental models certainly are stars in their own right, but many don’t serve vital roles beyond those interacting with Blue Steel or The Scarlet Fleet. Now, discarding the manga for a moment and going anime-only, we have a show about sentient battleships forcing humanity out of the water for a number of years, and one ship “going rogue” and pairing with a human, in order to fight back against the Fog and free humanity. Add some more rogue battleships, a few more humans, some political strife, and you have a show. But here, the ship girls are pushed further up on center-stage than the humans, and the humans are given minimal back stories and no real connections to what got the ships there in the first place, or even the second and third place.

So when it comes time to make an almost Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan type scene in episode ten where Gunzou nearly dies protecting Iona, only to have Takao save them and merge with Iona, sort of cheapens the story they were building in Arpeggio’s Alternate 1985. In this timeline, where the Hakugei isn’t a thing, Japan doesn’t try to murder children on an island, and Germany doesn’t even bother, you’d think you’d try to make something fill the hole that would make the humans slightly more important than the crazy mental models the ships have that get caught trying to figure out why the sentence is false.

But Gunzou himself, in the anime, has about as much value as Alternate Marty McFly had in Alternate 1985 when Biff became a billionaire and gave his mom a boob job. Gunzou in the manga had considerably more value, because unlike Alternate 1985, Gunzou’s father, again, plays a role that I won’t detail for spoilers, but goddamn matters in the book, making Gunzou’s existence necessary.

Absolutely. Killing Gunzou off at this point would not matter. They wrote themselves into this hole to begin with separating from the manga’s story. I’m told they began production around the events of episode six, which caused the deviation. At that point, you can pretty much go with whatever you want. Kill off Gunzou. Force Iona into a corner where she probably comes back to turn Kongou into sheet metal. Or Takao and Iona still merge and do her in all the same. It’s risky business killing off characters in a show not named Valvrave, and for all we know, killing Gunzou in the anime wouldn’t have worked well for them, because as noted, they did not build his character the same way the manga did. It would have been an empty death, and cemented the show from getting a second season. I don’t even think the manga could kill Gunzou off at this point either. I mean, they could, but that’d basically be like killing off Maverick in Top Gun and leaving Goose to sort the shit out. It might be interesting, because no Tom Cruise is better than Tom Cruise, but you’d lose that loving feeling.

I don’t think this really changes my opinion of Arpeggio. The anime will always be dinged for it’s janky animation style with those weird CGI effects, but now that I know they deviated from the source, I was still willing to see where it would go, where I might otherwise had maybe ignored it thinking it would just be the same. But I feel any time someone deviates from the source, they better be able to back that ass up with some decent material to replace it. I really love the manga much more, and I am rather glad I read it first, because had I read it last, this post might be much different. I mean, I don’t know if this show has reached Symphogear power levels for me in FUCK YEAH. I don’t think any show in the last three or four years has reached Nanoha power levels of greatness for me. Believe me, if and when they green light a season of Vivid or Force, I will forsake everything else to watch that shit. Especially Force. Things get fucking real there.



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