Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a show that, by rights, should not work on any level.

Despite which Arpeggio of Blue Steel is much better than it has any right to be.

Reasons why Arpeggio of Blue Steel Should Suck

Arpeggio can be accurately described [1] as Chihaya Gunzou and his harem of anthropomorphic moe battleships.

The success Arpeggio of Blue Steel is probably contributing to the green lighting of the Kan Colle anime [1].

There are far too many targets for the EscherGirls. Takao (as shown in the poster above) is the worst offender with an outright centaur pose in at least one episode.

The fanservice is barely within tolerable limits.

There was a beach episode, with all that that implies.

Defeat Means Friendship, if not outright adoration [3], is a heavily used (if not abused) trope in Arpeggio.

Reasons why Arpeggio of Blue Steel Didn’t Suck

The combat sequences were excellent, well thought out, and visually superb.

The characters have a surprising amount of depth, and several of the characters show remarkable growth.

Several episodes rise above the clichés. The beach episode contained actual plot and philosophical discussions. A nasty cliffhanger in one episode was surprisingly, and convincingly, resolved without breaking the established rules of the world. Of course the resolution did require significant sacrifices on the part of three characters, none of whom flinched for a second [4].

The finale took a slightly unexpected route to Defeat Means Friendship, and pulled it off convincingly.

Arpeggio is a very tightly edited show, and needed to remove the opening/closing songs on several occasions. I appreciate this when it is done right, and I have to say that the script editing of Arpeggio is superb.

The Verdict

I really shouldn’t like Arpeggio of Blue Steel. The things that are wrong with it are SO. VERY. WRONG.

Ultimately though Arpeggio is saved by its characters, some very clever scripting, and by the fact that it is a very pretty show to look at.

Better than it has any right to be, and worth a look if you can get past the flaws.

[1] Much I think to @jaydzed’s disgust.

[2] There really will be a Kan Colle anime, much to my disgust. More details here.

[3] Including two yuri examples, and probably for the usual reason.

[4] I said that the characters had a lot of depth, and this was the episode that proved it.