Review of Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova – Episode 10: The Crushing Depth and the Measure of Her Love

Quick Summary

In Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova – episode 10, “Devotion of Self,” the I-401 continues to sink after being attacked by her sister ships in the previous episode. The mounting pressure crushes more and more of the damaged ship. How long will Iona be able to maintain hull integrity — and the life of Gunzou Chihaya? Meanwhile, TakaoHyuuga, and Haruna continue their fruitless search for Iona and Gunzou. How far is Takao willing to go to find Gunzou? What is Hyuuga willing to do to find Iona? And will their efforts even matter?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious. 

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Takao’s Growth as a Sentient

Takao could have allowed grief to overwhelm her. She’s still new to processing emotions, after all! But she went above and beyond, as they say… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Takao’s been on quite a journey since she first encountered Gunzou and decided she wanted him as a captain. With the crew of the I-401 and the other Mental Models Hyuuga and Haruna onboard, Takao searched for Gunzou and Iona in vain. They had finally come to the conclusion that another entity (other than Kongou) was involved — and had attacked the sub. Kirishima was just trying to be reasonable when she pointed out that the ocean could be up to nine thousand meters deep in their location, so there was nothing they could do. But Takao decided there was something she could do. She borrowed Hyuuga’s vehicle and plunged into the depths herself. During her descent, the Mental Models who had remained onboard located the I-401’s distress signal. When she finally arrived at the crash site, Takao saw that Iona had sacrificed her physical form to construct an emergency capsule. The inert form of Gunzou, who wasn’t breathing, lay beside Iona’s union core (17:35). In that instant, Takao realized that Iona and Gunzou shared something that she could only observe from afar. The moment I liked? It was when Takao made her decision. She could have left Gunzou there with Iona, but she didn’t. Even though it hurt her, not only did she rescue them — she gave up her own physical form’s nano-materials to reconstitute the I-401 and Iona — because that’s what she thought Gunzou would want. 

Moment 2: Iona’s Show of Joy

Talk about heart-warming! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Takao’s not the only Mental Model to have grown a lot since the series started. Iona’s been on her own journey, too, and we catch a glimpse of how far her emotions have developed late in this episode. After the re-constituted I-401 surfaced, Iona woke up. Gasping, she remembered the situation. She got to her knees and, only hesitating a little, placed her hand on Gunzou’s heart (20:29). You could see in her expression the instant she felt his heart-beat — she brightened like a sunrise! In case we needed any other indication of her progress, we got to see her sister ships’ Mental Models more in this episode. They were almost entirely unemotional. Iona’s grown well beyond both of them! I’m glad for her sake that Gunzou survived. Oh, yeah, and for the sake of humanity, too! 

Moment 3: Kongou’s Intervention 

I think it’s safe to say that Kongou was not expecting this development! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Iona’s sisters put Kongou on notice earlier in this episode: They had been watching her to see if her contact with Gunzou had tainted her. Despite her protests that she was only trying to prevent others from disobeying the Admiralty Code, the sisters’ concern remained until it crystalized later in this episode. Kongou and Maya had resumed patrol, and you could tell from Kongou’s expression that she was dissatisfied and listless. The sisters’ submarines surfaced and reported that the I-401 had inexplicably risen from its grave. The news transformed Kongou (21:34). She felt like this was a sign that she was the one who was destined to sink the I-401. The two sisters, though, had other ideas. They relieved her of her responsibilities as a flag ship, and they put her on lock down. Why didn’t Maya, her ally, support you, you might reasonably ask? Because Maya was just a set of routines that the sisters had constructed to help them surveil Kongou. She wasn’t a true Mental Model after all! Maya started repeating conversation loops as they began to shut her down. It’s going to be awhile before I get her “It’s a carnival!” loop out of my mind!

Thoughts: Kongou’s Too Tight a Grip

You know the episode has a lot to say when they skip the OP!

Did you notice the music that played during Takao’s rescue mission? It was Silver Sky by nano. The tone, the use of piano and violin — I thought it fit the mood perfectly! You can buy the song, along with the OP theme, from CD Japan:

"Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova (Anime)" Intro Theme:SAVIOR OF SONG / nano

“Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova (Anime)” Intro Theme:SAVIOR OF SONG (Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio ver.)nano

I’ve mentioned this before, but the first times I watched this series, I kinda glossed over the Mental Models’ development as sentient beings. We’ve seen Haruna go from a human phrase aficionado to a devoted protector for Makie. We’ve seen Takao transform from a cool, aloof, and arrogant heavy-cruiser to an almost humorous tsundere to a self-sacrificing friend. Both of these characters had something in common: They were focused on showing how they felt for someone else. Their development helped them become more than they had been (well, Takao did lose her body, but the core of who she is is still intact — union core, get it?). Their development had also been healthy and positive. 

That’s an easy contrast to make with Kongou’s development, isn’t it? Haruna and Takao embraced where their heart led. Kongou denied it. She tried to crush Iona on Iwoto before the cookout. When she failed, she continued to deny that she had been affected at all by her encounter with Gunzou and his growing fleet. She denied her own feelings and sensations, opting instead for the cold comfort of the Admiralty Code.

That denial created blind spots in her psyche. She couldn’t see how she was becoming obsessed. Her out of proportion reaction to the twins when they delivered the news that they’d sunk the I-401 (4:15) should have been a clue to her. The sisters certainly interpreted it as such! But Kongou was too deep into her denial, and she kept telling herself that she was simply trying to purge those who would oppose the Admiralty Code. 

Takao’s decision to follow the development of her heart led her to this moment. I suspect Kongou’s moment will be somewhat less affectionate. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This is a great dramatization of something we’ve touched on before, like in episode 8 when I talked about how attractive a mindless interoperation of dogma can be; or in episode 9 as we watched Kongou push herself closer and closer to some kind of breakdown. To the extent she allowed herself to wallow in denial, she pushed herself away from from reality. She compromised her ability to even perceive her own state of mind. 

I’ve tended to talk about how dogma can negatively affect groups — those surrounding the individual devoted to agenda. Here, we see how Kongou used dogma to mask the reality of her own growth. Her emotions were developing, and she used her interpretation of the Admiralty Code to suppress that awareness. We all know what happens when you try to simply suppress emotions. They’re like a fast-flowing river. You can bottle it up for a bit, but after awhile, it will find a way to burst loose.

And if Kongou bursts loose, she has a battleship to help her express herself. That’s a bad combination!

What did you think of Takao’s sacrifice? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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