I threatened to do an full episode post on Argevollen last week, but didn’t get to it. I’m remedying my laziness today! And, fortunately, this was another excellent episode from the best of Xebec’s two offerings this season. I think I pretty much figured out why Argevollen clicks so well with me—it cares about the details. Characters, events, moments, looks. Argevollen understands that life is made up of a lot of small things that happen in between the big events that define us, and it takes the time to let us experience them.
Moments like the one in the picture above would be some kind of epic, triumphant moment in any other show, but in Argevollen it’s a quiet moment of Jamie coming to terms with the fact that this is how her life is going to be. She’s going to spend her days as the engineer for a robot fighting in a war she never wanted to join, sending a mere boy out to face death time and time again. This occurs, of course, after what is essentially a quiet fight between her and Tokimune post her discovery of him in the graveyard.
Jamie doesn’t want to hear, she doesn’t want to know why Tokimune is willing to risk his life on the battlefield, but he tells her anyways. I think it’s partially that he wants her to understand him, and partially that he just wants someone to hear him say it. Understandably, Jamie doesn’t take well to his explanation and it shows the difference in their mentalities. Despite now being a member of the Eighth Independent Battalion, she’s still just a civilian, with a civilian’s concerns—namely, staying alive. Tokimune has the…advantage…of being both a soldier and driven by revenge. This is, more or less, an irreconcilable difference in priorities, and it’s enough for Jamie to almost request that Tokimune be replaced as Argevollen’s pilot.
I very much appreciated that both Tokimune (through Jamie’s unnamed girl pals on the squad) and Jamie (through Samonji) get a talking to from people who are most affected by their fight—Tokimune is confronted with Jamie’s hard work, even though he knows she doesn’t want to be there, and Jamie is harshly brought back to earth by Samonji’s reminder that Tokimune saved her life. The upshot, then, for both of them, is that they need each other—and Tokimune then takes the surprisingly assertive initiative to ask Jamie if she’s in love with her. It’s startling and more than a little hilarious, but not a bad question. After all, Tokimune knows Jamie doesn’t want to be there, so what could be her reason for saying? Love isn’t a bad guess. Of course, that’s not it (yet!), but the question and Jamie’s answer to it (and prior commitment to her duty ) essentially closes the argument between them. It’s, as I said above, an acceptance of reality.
I have to say, a shounen mecha protagonist looking to avenge his sister is much more interesting to me than just some do-gooder guy who wants to save the world. Sure, Tokimune does typical protagonist idealistic nonsense, but it’s been made pretty clear by this point that, while his captain may allow him to get away with it, it’s not a sustainable course of action in this world. Again, Argevollen‘s focus seems to be on reality in all its gritty detail—don’t gloss over the fact that you could die out here, don’t ignore the harsh reality that you don’t always get what you want, don’t forget that people can fight through their weaknesses and doubts to take action.
And Argevollen takes the time to show that. We get to see Silfy clap her face before striding out into battle, we get to see Jamie’s glance linger on Tokimune—still disturbed by his lack of fear—as the hood of the Argevollen shuts, we get to see the flick of the lever as Samonji’s troops prepare to fire their flare. Keep it small, keep it little, and let the details speak for themselves. Because these moments pepper the entire show, it’s really hard to point to one moment and say, “Yes! That’s it”—each moment is an “it” moment, a little revelation about the characters.
Like the war council that Samonji holds with his troops—he doesn’t just give orders without explanation and expect his men to obey. He gives them the whole picture, treats them like people, not tools. But we don’t get a speech from Samonji (or worse, another character) about how he cares for his squad. We see it in these moments, in his actions.
So, after two episodes of no action whatsoever, Argevollen returns to the battlefield next week, and the preview seems to indicate that Tokimune still can’t figure out his mecha and that Jamie will have to run to save him. I wouldn’t say this is a subversion of mecha tropes, but I very much welcome the fact that running the Argevollen has essentially become a partnership between Tokimune and Jamie. Despite their differences, they’ve come to understand each other a little more. I’m looking forward to seeing where Xebec will take all of these characters and relationships as Argevollen moves forward.
Also, everyone should ship Tokimune X Lorenz after this episode!