The truth at last!
Hey kids! Let's see how Argento Soma stacks up on our Derivative Anime Series Checklist!
• Mysterious alien threat to the very survival of planet Earth? Check!
• Angry young protagonist named Ryu? Check!
• Evangelion-style giant robots that are sort of alive? Check!
• Macross-style convertible mecha? Check!
• Vaguely United Nations-like gathering of men in suits arguing hysterically? Check!
• Teenage pop star singing the same cheesy tune over and over again throughout the entire series? No, thank God!
There are three ways to look at a series like Argento Soma. One way is to view it as an affectionate homage to 1980s anime, faithfully replicating nearly every distinguishing element of that era's classic series. The second way is to view it as a pathetic retread of 1980s anime, rehashing all the golden oldie clichés and throwing in some '90s anime clichés for good measure. The third way is to not view Argento Soma at all, which is the choice this reviewer would strongly recommend.
As this is the final volume of the current series, I won't reveal the plot of the three (or four, counting the bonus episode included on this disc) episodes that make up Argento Soma: Annihilation except to say that the massive alien hurtling toward Earth is still hurtling, and the team trying to stop this imminent catastrophe has come up with a dramatic, highly scary solution. Needless to say, that solution involves battles and explosions galore. There is much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Scowling and gesticulating are also present.
Fans of the series will no doubt be riveted by this frantic conclusion to the Argento Soma saga, but I was bored stiff. There just isn't enough here that transcends the trite-and-true anime conventions to inspire more than sporadic interest. The story is so generic that much of it sort of dissolves into static. About the only interesting twist is the protagonist, Ryu, who's sort of a Frankenstein amalgam of two characters, but unfortunately both of those characters are derivative and boring. After a while I found myself making up my own story, about a giant Irish robot named Argent O'Soma. Frankly, I liked my story better.
Aside from a bonus episode which acts as sort of a prequel/epilogue to the main story, extra features are minimal, consisting of a character gallery and a "Tech Files" text-based supplement that offers some background information. Video/Audio quality are solid, very much in line with the overall quality of Bandai releases, with vivid, defect-free images and decent Dolby 2.0 stereo sound.
If you've made it this far into Argento Soma, there's no reason, aside from a sudden epiphanic realization of how much time you've wasted on a series of such dubious merit, to turn back now. But prospective newcomers be warned: Argento Soma, or Argento Sominex as I've come to think of it, will only seem fresh and exciting to someone who's missed out on every significant anime title of the past 20 years.
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