Argento Sōma

The Boring Info The Characters The Terms The Songs The Opinion
Kaneshiro Takuto
Harriet Bartholomew
Frank
The rest
Alien
Pilgrimage Point
SARG
Silent Wind
Horizon


The Animoo

The year is 2059 and the Earth is threatened by frequent alien invasions from giant, metallic aliens. Kaneshiro Takuto, the protagonist of the series, receives an e-mail from his girlfriend, Agata Maki, who had been missing for some time. In his search for her, he enters the office of Dr. Noguchi, as this is where the e-mail was sent from. Here, he finds out about the organization “Morgue” just before being taken in by the UN army’s military police.

Takuto is taken to Morgue where he learns that in an attempt to better understand the aliens, Dr. Noguchi and Maki (his assistant) are creating an alien of their own from the body parts of destroyed aliens. They name the being Frank, likely due to its likeness to Frankenstein’s monster, and employ Takuto to help them revive it. However, due to outside interference, the revitalization goes awry; Frank is revived but the entire staff, including Maki and dr. Noguchi die in the accident, leaving Takuto as the only survivor.

While in the hospital, recovering from his grievous wounds, he is secretly approached by a charismatic, red-haired man with a silver tongue (metaphorically speaking). The man (Mr. X) gives Takuto two options: either forgive Frank, whom Takuto blames for Maki’s death, or take his revenge. After some time, he chooses the latter and Mr. X injects him with a sleeping agent. Upon waking up, he realizes that he has been given a new identity, Souma Ryu, and that he is to become the newest SARG (a giant, transformer-like plane/mech) pilot for Funeral, a military-like organization which specializes in confronting and killing the aliens and that managed to capture and detain Frank and use him as a weapon of their own. Now, Takuto/Ryu bides his time fighting other aliens on the same team as Frank as he plots his final revenge for the death of his beloved Maki…


The Boring Info

The anime is 25 episodes long with an OVA serving as God knows what (it’s from before the main storyline of the series). This is one of the few anime series I know that is not based on a story in a different media (e.g. manga, game, movie, etc.).
The title of the anime, Argento Sōma, is meant to mean “Silver Body” in Greek, probably referring to the alien robots. The anime writes the title in Greek letters as “ΑΠΗΕΝΤΟ ΣΟΜΑ” which is incorrect as “Π” is the letter “pi”. I only ever noticed this error because I can read Cyrillic (yay for Serbian upbringing) which uses the same symbol for the letter “p”. After some discussion with a buddy of mine, Faethin, who knows a little Greek, we came to the agreement that the correct spelling is “ΑPΓΕΝΤΟ ΣΟΜΑ“.
The naming of each episode was extremely interesting to me. It would always consist of two nouns and the particle と (in this case meaning “and”) twice. The second noun would then become the first in the next episode. For instance, the first episode was named 再生と死と (Rebirth and Death), the second 死と少女と (Death and the Maiden), and the third 少女と出会いと (The Maiden and the Meeting). The name of the last episode (not counting the OVA) then completes the naming circle by being named 愛と再生と (Love and Rebirth).
Episode 5 seems to have a minor error, as Ryu’s discoloured eye gets… well… discoloured. In stead of the usual blue of his injured eye, it was coloured brown (the colour his regular eye has). And since we are already in the realm of mistakes, there were cases of Engrish where “LOCK ON” was romanized as “ROCK ON” XD


The Characters

In snack-sized bits. Click names to see images.
Kaneshiro Takuto – Takuto is a young man with a brilliant mind and an interest for outer space. In his search for his girlfriend, Maki, he is dragged into reviving a giant alien they named Frank. When things go awry and everyone, including Maki, are killed, he blames Frank for her death. In order to get his revenge, he makes what appears to be a deal with the devil and is given a new identity. As Souma Ryu, he becomes a member of the organization Funeral which specializes in exterminating the aliens that approach Earth while he “plots his revenge”. Personal Note: He is completely consumed by his hatred and grief and quickly becomes the least liked character because of it.

Harriet “Hattie” Bartholomew – A young girl who became an orphan at a very young age during the first invasion (a few years before the main storyline) which left her heavily traumatized to the point that she has relapses and shuts down whenever she hears gunfire, since she associates the noise with the loss of her parents. She was raised by her grandfather who dies during the second episode (also from an alien attack), leaving Hattie without any living relatives and with her dog Walton as her only companion. She has the unique power to communicate with Frank, which is later theorized to because she has alien shrapnel embedded in her body. Personal Note: She lives in a fantasy world of elves due to her grandfathers many stories to help her get passed the trauma of losing her parents. This is why she is always searching for the land of elves, which she has been told that all dead people go to (she wants to be reunited with her parents and grandfather).

Frank – Is an alien composed of the body-parts of other aliens. Frank is probably derived from “Frankenstein’s monster”, which was also created from the body-parts of others. Funeral and the army gave him the codename EX-1 (Extra-1). His background story is revealed towards the end of the series.

The rest – Everyone else more or less takes a back-seat to the above three characters, but are still important enough to deserve an honourable mention (which is especially important if you heed the advice in the “The Opinion” section), so I’m keeping it short.

  • Dr. Ernest Noguchi was the man mainly responsible for the creation of Frank. He was very passionate about research and science and was the boss (and idol?) of Maki. Personal Note: Like most scientist trying to create life, he seems somewhat deranged and probably has a “the end justifies the means” type mentality.
  • Agata Maki was Takuto’s girlfriend. She rarely expressed herself, which greatly annoyed Takuto to the point were I actually said out loud “Dude, chillax… O.o“.
  • Mr. X (he was never called this in the anime, but was addressed so in the credits) is mystery man with many connections. His identity is revealed later in the series, but until that point came I called him Lucifer because of his looks, habit of quoting Shakespeare, and love for apples. So very stereotypical Devil in human form.
  • Commander Lana Ines is the commander of Funeral. She sacrificed her family life for her career, which she now, after the death of her young daughter, regrets. Personal Note: She believes that every decision made concerning her by her superiors is due to her being a woman. It becomes bothersome having to listen to her asking “Is it because I’m a woman?” all the time.
  • Captain Michael Heartland is the leader of the group Takuto joins. He seems to be among the most balanced in terms of ethics and military duty. Before becoming the leader of the Funeral team, he lead another team (probably regular army) where first lt. Simmons also served under him. Personal Note: His “mother hen” like attitude towards his subordinates is due to having lost his former team in the line of duty.
  • First Lt. Dan Simmons is from a British noble family and eager to prove himself as the best mecha pilot on the team. He takes an instant disliking to Takuto when Takuto joins the group, probably because he feels his spot is threatened, but also because he is unable to figure out Takuto’s intentions. Personal Note: his brash behavior and reason for joining the military is from his dissatisfaction with his father’s reaction to his mother’s death. He joins the military to be on the front lines instead of just “pushing papers and counting deaths.” He still keeps in touch with his sister.
  • First Lt Guinevere Green is probably the most humane of the bunch, acting as a an experienced, level-headed older sister to the group. Little is however revealed about her. Personal Note: She often hints that she is in a similar position as Tukuto and that she got there the same way he did. This is however never fully explained.
  • Second Lt. Sue Harris is the youngest of the group and the pilot of the transport aircraft the team uses to get from location to location (the aircraft also carry the SARGs around). Sue is truly a child at heart which is why she is the one that took care of Harriet in the beginning.


The Terms

Alien
Alien is the name given to… well… the aliens which all seem to share a collective mindset. There are essentially two types of aliens, a regular type and a “progressive alien”. As the name suggests, a Progressive Alien is an alien that has progressed (“evolved”) into a more advanced type of alien, increasing its deadliness by having an additional new power which corresponds with the type it progressed to. In the duration of the series, Heat, Liquid, and Composition/Gravity types, among others, are seen. Frank is unofficially classified as an Alchemist type, which is similar to Composition. Common for all aliens (except Frank and the parts he is made of) is that they can fire a laser from just in front of their heads. Their six crystal “eyes” seem to indicate their state of mind, aqua/green-blue for docile, red for aggressive. And for some reason, they all sound like whales…

Pilgrimage Point
The Pilgrimage Point is the military codename given to the point on Earth that all the aliens seem drawn to. While no one knows why this is despite dozens of tests on various parameters, as per one of the scientists, the military is quite certain that if an alien reaches the point, it will be game over for Earth. This is why Funeral was originally created, to prevent the aliens from reaching the Pilgrimage Point at any cost. Towards the end of the series, it is revealed why the aliens flock towards this point.

SARG
SARGs are major mecha/aircraft transformers that are Funerals primary offensive measure against the aliens. No real details are given about them, except that they run on “alien engines”, the same engine that power the aliens. In that sense, the SARG pilots are essentially piloting dead aliens. The army later creates an upgraded, but far more dangerous and unstable version called the TOD.


The Songs

Silent Wind
Silent Wind is performed by Eri Sugai. The beginning of the song sounded strangely familiar, but I have thus far been unable to remember where I heard it (or something similar to it). It’s a decent song with some sad undertones to it (the lyrics deal with loss and loneliness), but I can’t really say that it’s too memorable. It appears to use an array of instruments, but for some reason, all I could focus on was the sad, but strong-willed violin that was particularly noticible at 0:40-1:03.

The animation is a bit… I dunno. The first 30 or so seconds emphasize the music and lyrics really well by showing the main character as a scarred angel missing his left wing, trying to catch his lost love as she vanishes into a cloud of angelic feathers. The rest is shown to contrast the song by Funeral setting off to engage the enemy.


Horizon
Horizon is performed by Sphere. It was so totally the kind of music that would play during the credits of a 1970s action series and it made me want to do silly, retro dance moves, but other than that, it did nothing for me. Not bad, but not good either. It’s the kind that if you had an old style radio with a tuning nob, and you’d accidentally tuned into that song, you do some silly dance-like moves and then 5-10 seconds later tune away.

The animation seemed somewhat simple. Pictures of astronauts lay spread around, and as the camera zooms out, a person (Takuto?) can be seen on the right in what seems to be an extremely light astronaut suit. The person stays as the background first changes to a spaceship exiting earth’s gravitational field and then again later to outer space. It should be mentioned that all three backgrounds are seen in three different episodes of the anime (one per episode), albeit only for a second or so.


The Opinion

The English voice actors are pretty bad, because as it unfortunately usually is with English voice actors, it’s like they lack any emotion other than melancholy when voicing a character. The only ones that sounded remotely good in English version were Hattie and Sue. I will however give them props for at least trying to give Dan a British accent, though it wasn’t completely successful. Needless to say, I watched it with Japanese voices and I suggest you do the same.

Aaaanywho, I have mixed feelings about the anime, though leaning mostly towards that it was bad. I was not too fond of the drawing style, since in my opinion, the characters all looked like mannequins of the 1990s; like they were lacking noses. The music, at least what I can recall of it, was decent enough though. The characters were not really relatable and were in fact rather shallow since you, as the viewer, only get one random flash-back or comment to justify why the characters are the way they are (written as the personal note in the character section).

The story was not that great either. More than half of the episodes were probably made so that the viewer could get a better impression of time passing and see the team get used to working together and with Frank. So let me say this: Time passes, they get used to working together and with Frank! Now, just watch episodes 1-4 and 18-26, the rest are, in my honest opinion, worthless filler episodes with sub-par storylines and are so mind-numbingly boring that if I hadn’t been asked to review the series, I would have quit after the 6th episode.

I will say this one good thing about the anime though: if you manage to drag yourself through the painstakingly boring episodes that make you wanna go “This is almost as bad as Tekken: The Motion Picture” and reach episode 18 (or maybe it was 17, I’m a bit unsure now), you’re in for some decent, sudden plot-twists that even I didn’t see coming, and I’m usually good at figuring out stroylines early on. The last few episodes are also what brings morale and afterthought to the themes, such as perception of humanity, human action, and good and evil, however, it is too little too late. Instead, I would recommend watching Kaiji which deals with similar themes, albeit in a far more extreme, yet successful way.

If I were to grade this anime on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), I’d give it a 4 for the most part and 6 for the last few episodes.

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