First Reactions: Arpeggio of Blue Steel Episode 11

If it hasn’t been abundantly clear, I love the way this show just faces 12 o’clock down a straight line and does what it wants with supreme gusto. Lining up 22 frickin’ battleships in a row and sweeping them like bowling pins with a combination of Space Battleship Yamato’s wave motion gun and Initial D’s inertial drift was an excellent way to start the episode off. And that testosterone-pumping curbstomp was followed by a hilarious exchange; the two-second fade to a sad ditty when Takao was mentioned only for her to show up and point out she wasn’t dead was a great way to get mileage out of last week’s overly melodramatic sacrifice scene.*

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Since the narrative’s not Onepunchman perfect enough to give us a full episode of curbstomps and witty banter, the majority of the episode was dedicated to the confrontation between Iona and her two sister ships. This particular battle got a lot closer towards the scrappy pragmatism the crew displayed while dealing with Haruna and Kirishima way back in episode 4, as they whipped out decoys with live ammo and a submarine-grade fishing net to pull out the victory. Iona’s emotional role in that confrontation was a bit less nuanced than her previous interactions with Gunzou, but it filled in some variety and kept the scene moving.

I didn’t have any doubt that Kongou  was headed for a breakout when we saw her in King Kong chains that were meant to be broken. All they had to do was make her angry and *poof*, Death Star.

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I think the comedic and combat elements of the series, while individually satisfying, could have been integrated a bit more fully rather than split across more tightly defined arcs, with a lot more light material in the middle. That said, I have no real issue with the naval combat being used more to bookend the comedic parts of the series if the finale is a well-handled 3-way between super-Iona, a giant enemy fleet, and Death Star Kongou.

*Nostalgia tangent: For the record, the best time that happened was the midway climax of Dai-Guard, when everybody’s making mournful observations on the radio about the supposedly-dead Akagi Shunsuke while he’s in a truck on his way there, causing the guy driving him to double over in suppressed laughter. Good times.

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