Argento Soma is one of the post-Evangelion series. Like series as Betterman, Reideen and Dai Guard, and even awesome series as Figure 17 and Bokura no, it features a series of smart and very hard to destroy monsters that need to be destroyed, and the lead characters have some sort of huge mecha that can do the job. There’s a lot of potential for this kind of formula and granted, Argento Soma isn’t the best of the bunch, but it’s a fine attempt nonetheless.
Argento Soma chooses for a slow-paced approach with some subtle angst, and I must say that it works quite nicely. For once we don’t have any teenagers piloting the giant mechas, but instead we have a team of people well in their twenties. In fact, there is only one child in the story, and with her it’s made clear over and over that she actually doesn’t belong in the military. Central to the story, and the definite highlight, is the relationship between the two lead characters: the young girl and one of the main pilots that is to fight the evil “aliens”, as they’re called in this series. They’re both heavily traumatized and scarred by things that happened in the past and through the series they help each other growing over their troubles.
A major theme in this series is also symbolism. There are two particular characters who have a habit of comparing the situation they’re in to either random anecdotes or figures of speeches. This show also has a nice little pattern with its episode titles, which are all emphasized at the end of each episodes. In some cases the symbolism is a bit silly, but most of the times it works pretty nicely.
You don’t want to watch this series for the battles, which more often than not take just a back-seat to other things. Central to this series is its cast of characters, which develops nicely throughout the series. There are a lot of episodes that don’t have anything to do with fighting, but instead focus on other things, like one episode is fully dedicated to politics (a very well done episode, by the way), and there are quite a few episodes dedicated to character-development. The battles themselves quickly turn repetitive though. There are also a few random plot-holes that pop up near the ending, and I also think that Soma’s voice actor isn’t fully able to make his character believable once he starts angsting. The villains in this series are also very stereotypical and really lack any sort of impact.
This series does stand out in its soundtrack and character-designs: both give this show a unique feeling. Overall though, this series could have done with a bit more ambition. It never really reaches any heights: the story is very simple if you start to see the bigger picture, and the characters themselves do feel like they could have been fleshed out a bit more, but that too has its charms: it’s not trying to become the best thing since sliced bread, but instead just puts down an enjoyable little series with a bit of depth, yet doesn’t hit heights and at that, it succeeds.