on July 6, 2003
I suppose the older I get the more I appreciate a slower-paced story. I like to discover characters and motivations over time. I enjoy stories that unfold over the full length of a show's run rather than dump the entire plot on me in the first two episodes and then all there is left to do is watch it unfold in the already known and predictable way... Thankfully, ARGENTOSOMA doesn't do that - yet I'm not lost either. There is mystery and confusion and loose ends, but then, there's supposed to be at this point in the story... Of course, I've only viewed the first three disks... so I'm hoping they wrap everything up by series end, but so far I'm hooked.
The mecha designs are kind of oddly unfinished-looking for the humans... variations of the alien technology, but modified to assuage civilian fears... The style not stellar, but at least interesting. I actually think the mecha take a back seat in this show. Of far more interest are the alien invaders and their motivations... who are they... and why did they come in the first place if not precisely to conquer?
I've heard plenty of sneering comparisons that paint every alien-invasion-mecha-suit show that comes along as a pale copy of Evangelion and frankly I'm tired of it. They're all just modernizations of scientifically-enhanced group stories anyway. (Go watch the 70's Gatchaman again and tell me I'm wrong...) It's a GENRE now people... get over it!
That said... I try to take each series on it's own - as long as it brings something interesting to the table. Argentosoma intrigues me because it's a twist on the venerable Frankenstein tale and they've given us a 'hero' who isn't just confused or reluctant... he's actively vengeful - perhaps to the detriment of the world's survival...
No, Ryu Soma isn't exactly the most likeable character. He's tempermental, shallow, obsessive, incredibly intelligent and bitter. He throws away a genius career as a metallurgical designer and becomes a fighter pilot in pursuit of his revenge. He chooses to remain horribly scarred for that same reason. The few 'poignant' flashbacks to his relationship with his girlfriend - the one he's seeking revenge for - don't always paint him in the most sympathetic light either. He's been an odd one all along, it seems, perhaps due to his genius, and his tragic loss, so far, hasn't improved him... yet there are signs, later on in the series, that his thirst for revenge isn't as all-consuming as it seems at first...
This is just the first disk - five episodes that set-up the situation/world of Argentosoma. There is much more to come... the most intriguing thing to me is what are the aliens are after in their single-minded treks toward Pilgramage Point... and what part will Frank really end up playing... and will Ryu Soma be able to rise above his own need for revenge as it becomes clear that Frank is needed to protect the human race from further destruction?
For just a few minutes in the early stages of this recent release you are going to think that you have wandered into an Evangelion clone. Nor is Evangelion the only series 'Argentosoma' will recall to mind. It is unfair to make these comparisons after seeing only the first five episodes, but there is a derivative feel to this anime that I hope does not persist. A more critical problem is that the dialog is a bit flat and humorless, and the personalities lack some needed magnetism. Part of this is the fault of a lackluster dubbing job. The original Japanese is a bit more animated but still is nothing special.
In any case, the story is set in the near future, with the earth under attack by aliens by a series of giant alien humanoids (very reminiscent of EVA's Angels). These all seem to be intent on reaching a point on the Canadian/U.S. border in Montana, for no reason that humanity can discover. Making the reasonable assumption that, if highly destructive aliens are intent on getting somewhere, it might be a good idea to stop them, a special team, FUNERAL, has been assembled to do the job. Led by Commander Lana Inness, they are a fractious crew, zipping about using giant robots called SARG's to take on the aliens.
The 'hero' of the series is a college student, Takuto Kaneshiro, who witnesses the death of his girlfriend, Maki Agata, at the hands of a giant robot (Frank as in 'Frankenstein') built out of alien parts by her professor, Dr. Noguchi. Recovering from his own injuries in the hospital, Takuto is approached by 'Mr. X,' a mysterious, classics quoting stranger, and offered an opportunity to get his revenge on Frank (who has been captured by FUNERAL). The next time Takuto wakes up he is Ryu Soma, a new addition to the FUNERAL team.
Frank actually has an unexpectedly large part, despite having a vocabulary consisting of a single moan. In typical Franken-monster fashion, he befriends a young (thirteen going on seven) girl named Harriet Bartholemew and saves her from attacks by several villainous government authorities and an alien. Harriet and Frank (who is called EX-1 by FUNERAL) become the best of friends. The FUNERAL team wants to use Frank as a weapon, Harriet wants him to take her to the elf lands (where bad things stop happening), and Ryu Soma wants Frank cut up in little bits. This will no doubt generate some conflict as the series develops.
As you can tell from some of my remarks, I am not convinced that this is a series worth the cost of six DVD's. It did enjoy a good deal of success in Japan on it's original release in 2000, so I anticipate that the story will pick up somewhat in later episodes. You may want to wait for the release of further DVD's before making a decision.
I remember when this show was coming out there were a large number of high profile shows vying for the attention of anime fans. I was intrigued by the concept (a retelling of Franenstein with giant Mecha aliens?), but he art style didn't really grab me (as some people have noted, the characters are very angular and their noses sometimes disappear altogether). Eventually I decided to rent the first volume just to give it a shot...
Amazing. This show is amazing. While the first episode or two is just setting the stage, one thing quickly becomes apparent. The music, the animation, the presentation, the quality of the voice acting (Japanese, NOT the horrible English) are all top notch. While some shows are content to just give us the same re-hashed characters, the ones found in this show are very unique, and contain a surprising amount of depth. Take the main character for instance. A lot of people have complained that he's not a likable character. He's not supposed to be! From the get-go it should be obvious that this was a guy with big issues. He was borderline verbally abusive to his girlfriend, disliked by most people who knew him, arrogant, prideful, and emotionally unstable...BEFORE HE BECAME A HORRIBLY DISFIGURED FREAK BENT ON REVENGE! Really, the protagonist in this show is probably one of the best examples of an anti-hero I have ever seen. He is consumed by a desire for revenge, yet finds himself protecting his new friends, and even saving the very creature he had sworn to destroy. And as he is pushed harder and harder and starts to lose his cool (and boy does he act cool under his new identity)...you just have to see it. Some of the other characters may not be liked well by some (I personally love the sweet, innocent, fragile Harriet), but you cannot say that they are cheap immitation of other characters. Everyone in this show is unique and fully fleshed out.
This show also features some of the finest dialog that I have ever seen in an anime show. With references from everything from Peter Pan to Shakespeare, from the Legend of King Arthur to the Bible, it truly is a cut above almost every other anime I've ever seen. The flashback sequences and subsequent character development are also extremely well done. As for character designs and artwork, they are much better in motion than in screenshots, so you should definitely watch this show before dismissing the art style as undesirable. I do have to give the show's creators applause for making the art style so unique (definitely not copying any anime I have ever seen). The music is really quite breath-taking on the whole, creating a creepy atmosphere sometimes, and beautiful moments the next (the only mis-step perhaps being the ending theme which seems a bit too different from the rest of the music, though I can understand how the creators may have wanted to end each episode on something a little upbeat to keep the viewer from getting depressed). As far as presentation goes, I knew it was pretty close to perfect the first time I saw the episode name meld into the next episode name (watch an episode to the end and you'll know what I mean).
The action sequences are fairly well done (though not the equivalent of the more famous Mecha by any means). The main premise of the fight against the aliens DOES feel awefully familiar. In this case however, it isn't a matter of an original plot so much as it is a matter of what you do with it. I don't mind seeing the same story told over and over as long as it is told well. This anime is familiar story told EXTREMELY well. Highly recommended.
on May 23, 2013
This dvd was interesting. It kind of catches your interest. I haven't had a chance yet to watch any of the other dvd's in the series, but I'm hoping they'll be as interesting and that they'll explain some of the un-answered questions from this dvd. I bought this dvd new from the seller. It arrived on time and was packaged new, never opened. It still had the factory seal, so I know it was new. However, it got scratched because it wasn't locked into place. I never contacted the seller, because it wasn't their fault. And it still works just fine, no skipping or freezing. And if need be, I can take it the Gamers Edge in town and have it resurfaced.
on January 2, 2006
..that describes Argentosoma to a 'T'.
If you're looking for over-the-top action [which can become over-rated if the storyline can't back it up], intense drama OR just suspect there is sappy romance thrown in just to keep it going, this story ain't it.
Low-key, laid-back and character driven is what Argentosoma is all about. It's a story about a man and his thoughts on revenge [emphasis on 'thoughts' instead of saying 'action' because eventually he wonders late in the series 'what was it all for?']
The purpose of this review is to give it another positive review. I've seen many folks mention Neon Gen. Evangelion, but as FAR as I'm concern the ONLY comparision is the fact the robot in Argentosoma & NGE look the same, that's IT and personally there has been TOO many mentioning of it.
Also a reviewer from another site did a review that was completely free from nit-picking and very objective that I'm putting here.
What they said..concerning Ep. 1-5
Argento Soma is the latest project from the studio that produced Gasaraki and Infinite Ryvius . Upon first look, Argento Soma is a lot like Neon Genesis Evangelion . Upon second look it is also a lot like Eva, but this new mecha anime is far more than an Eva rip-off. Rather, like Eva, it takes the mecha genre and twists it, creating a show that is intriguing and innovative.
One of the first things I noticed about Argento Soma was the retro look and sound of it. The music really reminds me of 70's science fiction movies, as do the uniforms and hairstyles of the characters. Like most of Sunrise's recent projects (e.g. Gundam Wing , Gasaraki ) the characters are distinctive and varied. Refreshingly, the military uniforms are truly unisex, so the female characters look like they are meant to be taken seriously as soldiers, not sources of fan service. A running theme, visually speaking, seems to be asymmetry, from the alien Frank's lopsided appearance to the main character Ryu's face, which is normal on one side and strange on the other. The animation is upper-end television quality, smooth, consistent and often creative. The mecha designs are quite blocky and militaristic, not nearly as colourful as the mecha seen on so many other shows; the way the Sargs transform seems to be well thought out, although I am not an expert on mecha by any stretch.
Argento Soma is set in the year 2058, at a time when space is being colonized and aliens have begun attacking Earth and her colonies. The aliens will remind viewers of Eva's tall, strange near-humanoids, although these aliens are more consistent in appearance and move more like movie monsters. What the true goal of the aliens might be is as yet a mystery, and humanity has developed mecha called SARGs to fight these huge enemies. The SARGs are used by the military-style group Funeral, who operate both independently and in conjunction with the military. One alien was captured by another group with mysterious goals, known as Morgue, and resurrected in the interests of communicating with it. It is at this point that our protagonist, Takt Kaneshiro, finds his way into the conflict.
Takt is a brilliant if rather standoffish young astrophysicist working in an American facility. His two loves are his work and his girlfriend, Maki Agata. Maki works on the same facility in bionics; she is dedicated to her work but painfully shy, leading to difficulty in her relationship with Takt. I really liked the fact that these two scientists were genuinely bad at social interaction yet managing to carry on a relationship.
Maki works closely with a highly eccentric professor, Dr. Noguchi, who is obsessed with awakening Frank (yes, this is a reference to Frankenstein's monster) to learn about it. The resurrection of Frank has disastrous consequences for Takt, causing him to lose what is most important to him and leaving him scarred and embittered. Vowing revenge, under the new identity of Ryu Soma he joins Funeral in order to fight aliens. Other important characters include Hattie, a young girl who befriends Frank, and Mr. X, a strange figure who guides Takt from the shadows while quoting Shakespeare at every opportunity. A nice change in this show is that most of the characters are adults; while I certainly enjoyed shows such as Gundam Wing and Eva with their young characters, it is nice to see adults saving the world for a change.
The music really adds to the atmosphere of the show. The opening theme "Silent Wind" sung by Sugai Eri is excellent; the end theme is very retro. The soundtracks promise to be quite good. There is heavy use of background music with a discordant, 70's feel to it, which gives an eerie feel to some scenes. Every once in a while a background piece will jump out as a bad choice, but these are outnumbered by the scenes where the music fits very well. There is also recurring use of a melancholy acapella song in the story, sung by both Maki and Hattie on different occasions.
Notables in the cast include Hoshi Souichirou ( Gensoumaden Saiyuuki ) cast as Takt and the inimitable Koyasu Takehito ( Gundam Wing , Fushigi Yuugi , Weiss Kreuz ) voicing Dan Simmons, a hotheaded pilot for Funeral.
The pacing of Argento Soma is quite leisurely and offers a nice balance between conspiracy building, mecha fights, and character development. Some viewers might find the references to Shakespeare, the Bible, Frankenstein and Faust alongside a battle between mecha and aliens makes for an odd mix. Although it does not seem all that suspenseful, it did have me anxious to see the next episode. All in all, I am very impressed with this new series and would recommend it to almost anyone. People with a low tolerance for ambiguity may get frustrated with this show, but even those who are tepid towards mecha shows may find this one to their liking.
(by Jen B.
To me, this person REALLY got it. Not to say a few reviewers I've seen hadn't, but I was impressed they understood the story from what they'd seen so far back then.
..and after seeing Argentosoma as a whole & noticing how the story comes back full circle at the end, plus Ryu Soma FINALLY comes to terms..with himself & the ghost of Maki. I have to say...I truly liked this.
on February 9, 2003
Though its allusions to Neon Genesis Evangelion are somewhat agonizing, Argento Soma's primary focus is on their characters and the interactions between them. In the first DVD, don't expect a lot of heavy action but enough to satisfy for the time being (though I assume future releases will have more). It's slightly slow but at least it leaves time to get acquainted with the characters, especially the infinitely intriguing main protagonist/antagonist, Ryu Soma, a revenge-obsessed scarred man.
on March 3, 2003
Unlike Shinji, Takuto/Ryo is quite unusual--am I suppose to root for him, or jeer him? I say this because even after changing nto the not so pleasant Ryo, he keeps having flashbacks of his past life with Maki. Now THAT is worth watching!
i like the series being set in the States, two black characters who actually mean more than most real life movie roles, and seeing Frank and Hattie too. the tone is different from Eva too--much more "normal". I'll be watching this series quite a bit.
on April 5, 2004
I think that despite some of it's similarities with past mecha series, this series is truely remarkable. The fact that it is probably going to remind alot of anime fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion still remains, however there are many differences between the two series.
The storyline is centered around an ongoing battle between Aliens and Humanity. The heavily Military influenced Galactic University has taken parts from the aliens to develop the earths counter-weapon. The funny thing is that our the earth's counter weapon is sort of a Frankenstien made up of recovered alien parts. When the experiments to wake up this re-developed alien (later to be known as "Frank" or the Extra 1) go terribly wrong the our main character, Takuto Kaneshiro, of the series looses someone very close to him, Maki Agata who was invloved with this experiment.
Takuto Kaneshiro, later to be known as Lieutenant Ryu Soma, decides to join an organization called Funeral where the Extra 1 or Frank has been taken to battle the aliens. The series revolves around Ryu Soma and his hatred towards the Extra 1 for taking Maki's life. At the funeral base the other key characters are introduced as a plot begins to develop.
I have watched this whole series and I have to say that once you get through the first couple volumes of the series, the story get much better. Trust me, the whole series is not as borring as the first couple episodes of this series may seem. There is actually more to the plot than just a silly little Frankenstien take on a Mecha series.
RahXephon, Vandread, Escaflowne, and the ever soooo popular Neon Genesis Evangelion (If you havn't seen it yet but who hasn't seen Evangelion!!).
DEFFINATLY CHECK THIS ONE OUT!! :)
on February 4, 2003
I saw the first episode and all I can say is that it seemed to remind me a bit like Evangelion.... I have high hopes for this show though, as I've read alot about it.
Check this one out
on November 3, 2015
I enjoyed the series