The ending to Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova was wild, but actually worked for me, strangely enough. After putting my two cents in over the differences between the anime and manga, I found that the anime’s tale was woven in a way that actually ended up being very good on its own, and still set it up for another season should it choose to do so.
As explained before, the major deviation between reading and watching Arpeggio is that Kongou had never had a skirmish with I-401 at all in the manga, as of the current chapter. Rather, the enemies of 401 and Co. were much different after escaping the island. Since the show was done before much of that material existed, they chose to deviate from the source material right around the chapters featuring Haruna’s escape from the mansion, altering how that ended as well. So instead of Haruna and Co. going north, they were rescued by Iona and the crew of the 401 and taken south to the island, where they proceeded to join Hyuga and Takao on the journey to San Diego.
So at the end of episode eleven, Kongou, who has been consumed by hatred and the need to destroy the 401, takes over Maya and a bunch of other ships and forms a Death Star with her ship in the middle, laying waste to anyone else that threatens her prey, the 401, including wiping out the American Fog fleet. The battle between 401 and Darth Kongou ensues, but not before Iona tries to turn her back to the light side, and fails to do so, the communications network severed. She then proceeds to do what any sane mental model does.
Yes, only Iona could come up with what amounted to the Eleventh Doctor’s solution for fixing the universe, she physically launches herself at Kongou and proceeds to break through to her core and slap– nope– hug her. Yep. That happened.
So a happy ending for twisted Kongou, the 401 arrives in America, and that’s the end? Right?
The disappointing thing is, we’ll probably never see the manga truly animated unless they do a movie that retells the story from start to finish along the manga’s lines. Future seasons could take elements from the manga and animate them, but their place in the timeline will obviously be different. Having shifted the Kongou conflict ahead of other conflicts, they’d be taking what should of happened there and shifting it back. It could still work, assuming they’re traveling back from America and WHAM, conflict. Or they’ll take the same event and shift its location, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, as Europe is the scene of events late in the manga’s current set. There are options to still fit the good stuff into future seasons, it just won’t flesh out the same now based on their deviation.
So overall, I ended up being pleased with what I got. Again, janky CGI animation aside, this ended up being one of my top shows of the season, and definitely worth watching each week, especially after I realized it was different, and actually looking forward to the next episode rather than just sitting there knowing what was going to happen. I would have probably tried to work some more of the manga’s elements in to set up for another season, such as his goddamn father, but I guess animation is on lock much sooner than I thought. Not like a little foreshadowing ever hurt anyone.
Also, that end card is great, because it’s mostly characters from the manga not seen in the anime, like Musashi, Bismark, Yamato, Ise, Hiei, and Repulse. Why they chose that might be the best sign that they intend to animate more. Especially after they started their collab with Kancolle.
Title: Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 8
I should note, the eight would be a nine, had it not been for the CGI animation. I think proper style would have made this show sing, but my guess is since they did the ships and battles in CGI, it was more cost-effective for them to just paint the whole thing in CGI. I suppose after something like Divergence Eve/Misaki Chronicles, that’s probably not a bad decision. Talk about truly awful CGI.