Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Non Non Biyori, and Unbreakable Machine Doll

I put myself on the record this August saying that Arpeggio might be the Those Who Hunt Elves of the modern era, with the potential to sell well enough to launch an industry trend. Only this time with all-CG animation instead of late-night TV timeslots. The CG is still a tad weak when used for big movements, or presentation that would be more exaggerated in a hand-drawn series, and it took me about halfway through the episode to get accustomed to. But once I did, there was very little not to love. Kishi Seiji is doing a good job of keeping most of the body language to more small, natural-looking motions and making every frame of that count. The big flourishes were, as expected, saved for the naval battle sequences, which looked mighty fine. The story, a large-scale ambitious beast and looking to create a sci-fi world without putting everything in space, also appears highly intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the crew, presumably a Nadesico-style quirky bunch of doers, gels together as a group as the series goes on. I’ve got at least 3 weeks worth of interest in this one.

Arp-1-1

Especially since these sub battles are going to be regular things

Oonuma Shin is sitting this season out, but one of the prospects at studio Silver Link got his crack at being in charge today. And the result was just as backgroundy as I could have hoped for. The intro was spiffy thanks to the scenery, and the rest of the episode carried on with a fun, slow pace with echoes of Hidamari Sketch and Yuyushiki. It’s getting 2 more episodes from me to see if it stays fun and consistent.

Speaking of typically one-director studios branching out, Unbreakable Machine Doll would be the only the second Studio Lerche project not helmed by Kishi Seiji. But it didn’t show much of a dropoff, and packed a mean punch with an early, fresh-feeling train action sequence. The steampunk setting seemed to offer some depth, but it turned out to be ostensibly just a battle academy series in the vein of Yugioh GX or Phi Brain, albiet with pretty action. I might have kept up with it in a less busy season, but right now I don’t see a strong appeal. Dropped.

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4 thoughts on “Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Non Non Biyori, and Unbreakable Machine Doll

  1. Lerche is a rebranding of Studio Hibari. They added a new producer to the team, but it’s the same company with a new brand.

    In terms of studios, it’s quite an interesting time for the industry. Seems that new ones are springing up every few months (next season, Production IMS will debut. They were formed earlier this year by two ex-AIC producers), which indicates some instability behind the scenes.

    • Thanks for pointing that Lerche-Hibari connection out. I guess I got confused because it followed the Silver Link/Trigger pattern of mostly carrying works by one director after “foundation”.

      I think the new studios just might be a general health of the industry thing; the fraction of big hits and average sales per show are up, so more people want to get themselves a leader-sized slice of that pie. As opposed to the significant internal friction that kicked Kouji Kajita out of Gonzo. I guess if an employee was perfectly happy at his current job, he would stay put, but leaving doesn’t necessarily say the old job was a particularly stressful one.

    • Unlike individual staffers, studios are fairly nebulous entities to me, and I’d like to quantify that a little more. I’ve got a question regarding the sub-branding; maybe you know more about this than I do and could clarify. From what I’ve seen, offshoots seem to be still distinct outfits to a degree, assuming we mean an producer-led animator unit (unless you’re sunrise and all your teams release under the same brand).

      Does the Lerche brand mean that most of the animators employed at the company are on fairly sticky assignment (i.e. the majority of people there were there when it was renamed), or is it regularly reshuffled and only the executives kept?

      • Lerche is an example of the former. Same staff, different name, so it’s more of an image refresh than anything.

        More specifically, the company uses the Lerche brand when producing an entire episode/series on their own, but for minor subcontract work, they still use the Hibari name. Therefore, an individual might be credited under Lerche on one assignment and Studio Hibari on the next.

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