So I’ve been watching both Argevollen and Aldnoah.Zero this season, although while I’ve followed Argevollen from the get-go, I only picked up Aldnoah.Zero after the airing of episode four (Gen Urobuchi and me just don’t really get along typically). Although they’re our two mech shows of the season, they are quite a bit different, even down to the very way in which they are mech shows – for a show with so much mech combat, A.Z has sort of weirdly nondescript mechs, while Argevollen has the titular mech itself. Sure, the bad guys in A.Z have had impressive machines with theoretically memorable abilities (theoretically since I actually can’t recall what was so fancy and difficult about the one they beat back in episode four – I think? Not the one that they fought first, or the one with all the arms, the one in between those two.), but the protagonists have been using bland training units for combat – their new ship certainly stands out, though… as do the landing castles, now that I think on it. Is this show actually more like an Outlaw Star in this regard, then? At the same time, I’m fairly convinced that some fancy-ass mech is in the offing sooner or later.
But, the largest difference – where Argevollen is a pretty standard giant robot show and doesn’t seem to have an interest in being anything but that, A.Z is the show that has larger intentions, or so the tone suggests. Argevollen has a soldier somehow survive a direct hit from cannon fire? A.Z has the people of New Orleans disintegrated where they stand when one of the landing castles of the Orbital Knights makes landfall. That’s the difference in a nutshell.
To be honest, the reason behind this post at all is that I wanted to talk about how much a character like Tokimune (Argevollen) benefits from being in the same season as A.Z. Tokimune is the typical hot-headed shounen hero who acts first and thinks after (if at all), with a slight smidgen more of self-awareness that most of his peers lack, even if that self-awareness doesn’t really alter his behavior after he does impulsive things (he verbally notes his stupidity in the first episode after he rushes in to assist Jamie despite being told to stay out of it, yet he later charges headlong into another situation after being told to not do so and nearly gets himself killed). But watching episode seven of Argevollen after seeing A.Z’s, I was struck by how much more I like Tokimune as a character than Inaho. In episode seven, when Jamie is bummed out upon learning she can’t get the massage she was looking forward to, Tokimune rushes about trying to find something else to do. Can you ever imagine Inaho behaving similarly? The kid couldn’t even be bothered to try to wake his sister up for work in the first episode of the show!
Tokimune might be a stereotype and lack much in the way of depth as a character, but he’s practically a godsend compared with the casting blackhole that Inaho provides. What do we know about Inaho? He’s a good tactician. He’s a teenager. He has an older sister who is a warrant officer. In the latest episode (as I pick up this post from where I left off over a week ago, whoops), his sister tells us that he allegedly has a crush on Asseylum and also that his happy face is this =\ and his sad face is =|. It’s difficult for me to envision what he does off-screen at all; I picture him as powered-down and in a corner waiting for his next needed appearance.
I actually met someone a few days ago who professed a liking for Inaho due to a wish that more people were that capable of being coolly analytical (or, at least, that’s roughly what I gleaned from what they said about him). I can certainly see why a person would find a more cool-headed lead since we’ve gotten scads of excitable, hot-blooded and not terribly bright leads in the mech genre to date, but it simply doesn’t make for compelling TV. Inaho could be good under pressure but still display a personality. Hyouka and Nabari no Ou both start with unmotivated leads whose personalities become more apparent as circumstances force the matter and we get to know them better, but Inaho presents in episode nine roughly as he presented in episode one. Of course, he’s hardly the only static character in the show (how’s that character arc working out for you, Marito?), but at least the other static ones started out with something to them. And, honestly, maybe there’s the underlying issue – none of the characters are particularly intriguing, so having a really dull one at the center really undoes the whole thing. Consider Gundam Wing, which also has a couple of fairly uninteresting characters as part of its core cast, but has a bunch of better characters around them to distract from their lack of characterization.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure I would even be still watching Argevollen if it wasn’t airing in the same season as Aldnoah.Zero. Argevollen isn’t too terribly different from Buddy Complex, as both are fairly bland mecha shows, and I failed out of Budcom after six episodes even with the ridiculously homoerotic jargon of its world. Hell, I’ve even warmed to Jamie, and she annoyed the shit out of me originally.
Yeah, actually, its a bit difficult to pick up a post after a week away from it. TL;DR, Tokimune isn’t original at all but I’d rather watch him be shounen protag than snore my way through Inaho making the many faces of Inaho.