Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 13 (Fin)(?)

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Well now, that was something completely different! This final episode wrapped up the story we’ve seen so far, but towards the end felt far more like the set up for a sequel than the closing of the book. Whether this sequel is a sure thing or merely wishful thinking on the part of the shows’ creators, we don’t know. But if you were going to be content with a single 12-episode season and went into last week thinking that would be the final episode (like we did), this felt a bit strange and extraneous.

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We’ll admit it was pretty cool to finally see what the world of PIlot’s Song looks like: something like one of those goofy-looking fountain things you can by at a garden center. We kid; it’s actually a pretty far-out design, much like Last Exile’s hourglass world. But the show didn’t show the slightest sign of caring about any of this until just now. But what was going to be a one-way journey became round-trip thanks to the Holy Deus Ex Machina Empire, so Kal, Ari, and the rest of their class who survived the battles return home to a hero’s welcome.

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Watching Kal and Ari reunite with their awesome family was nice, but we were less interested in Ari continuing to hide her secret love for her adoptive brother, preferring to keep it bottled in and lashing out when she gets nervous. We’re not saying she’d be any better off if she confessed to Kal, as he’s pretty deeply in love with someone else, but like this episode itself, her unrequited love feels somewhat extraneous. Rather than pine for someone she can’t have and be cast as a loser and victim of fate, why not make her as determined to see Ignacio again as Kal is to see Claire?

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As for Kal’s whole coming-out-as-Karl La Hire speech to the assembled masses (which appear to number in the hundreds of thousands) and his spearheading of a second Isla Plan, well…the idea that he’d convince Balsteros to start another war just to get his love back, and the quiet sneaky classmate being some kind of informant…it’s just a piling on of plot there’s no time to get into. That suggests a sequel, when we’re not sure we really want one. Basically, we were kinda looking for closure, but what we got almost felt more like a “To Be Continued.”


Rating: 6 (Good)
Average Rating: 7.615
MyAnimeList Score: 7.33

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Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 12

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The guns have ceased, and the inhabitants of Isla are safe under the aegis of the Holy Deus ex Machina Empire. The Sky Clan even offers a truce that will give the Isla a clear course to The End of the Sky, provided they hand over one thing: Nina Viento, whom they regard as their messiah. There’s neither discussion about what they’ll actually do with her nor assurances they’ll keep their word, but that doesn’t matter to Claire, still in Amends Mode: if there’s a chance she can protect Isla by doing this, she’s doing it, period. For all we know, it’s what she was always meant to do.

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It looks like a win-win deal for everyone, except, of course, our love birds, who only just learned one another’s identities and found that their love outweighed whatever hatred or guilt they had harbored in their hearts previously. To give them practically no time together after that and split them up again with all due haste, while given adequate explanation, still signifies a certain sadism on the part of the show’s writers. Sorry kids: politics and duty trump your quaint romance!

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The last days before Claire is shipped off to the Sky Clan are really a flashback, preceded in the cold open by Kal leading the other pilots to their last sortie before reaching the aforementioned End of the Sky, clutching the pendant Claire gives him before they part ways. Their goodbye is pretty sad, but also optimistic. After floating the idea of flying off together (no dice, says Claire; that would be running from her duty), Kal pretty much accepts that she’s leaving. Claire insists to Kal what Ari insisted to Claire: that this isn’t goodbye, only “smell ya later.” We’ll believe that when we see it. Still, Kal and Claire’s promises to each other to do their duty and meet again is supported by Ignacio, who’s going along to continue guarding her.

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One gets the feeling after seeing what he can do in the cockpit, Kal’s earned a smidgen of Ignacio’s esteem, to the point he challenges him to hold to his promise to Claire. We also see that Ari is kinda upset that Kal loves Claire, but resigns herself to reality, just as Kal and Claire do. Six months later, Isla reaches the End of the Sky, which it flies into and is destroyed, along with the setting up to this point. All that’s left is to do…er…whatever it is they were planning to do after Isla was gone. The show…hasn’t really explained that.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • In the cold open, Benji’s arm is no longer bandaged, but we’re assuming the different-color glove means he has some kind of prosthesis on, because he definitely lost a hand last week.
  • Claire never got to meet the Empress of Levamme, who the representative said had a similar air about her as Claire.
  • We honestly thought this was going to be the last episode of the show. That’s what we get for believing MAL’s episode count prior to this week. So we can’t help but think of next week as a bonus.
  • Ari’s eyes are missing when her back is turned to Kal after jumping off the swing, a surefire indication she’s not okay with something.
  • Along with Oreimo’s Kousaka Kirino and SAO’s Kirigaya Suguha, Ari is the third sister character vocied by Taketatsu Ayana who appears to have the hots for her brother (though Kal isn’t related by blood). It’s good to have a specialty!
  • That being said, we’re in pretty uncharted territory with the couple broken up and Isla gone. Hopefully things won’t get too weird, random, and inexplicable in the finale.

 

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 11

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With two pairs of students the only thing between The Barco and the enemy dreadnought, we went into this episode fully prepared for the eventuality of at least some of them dying in glorious battle, saving the ship in the process. So it came as something of a shock when, despite several close shaves, nobody we know is killed. Rather than kill off more cast, the episode packs a triumphant wallop, and the show’s steady rise in our Winter rankings proceeds apace.

Noriaki and Benji find their courage in the sky and get the Barco’s guns the info they need to take out the enemy. We thought for sure they’d be gone when Benji ended up losing a hand, their plane was blown up, and they ejected, but Banderas somehow found them and returned them to Isla. Which is fine; Benji did promise Sharon he’d be back —and makes good use of her scarf as a tourniquet!

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Noriaki and Benji are able to complete their mission thanks to Kal and Ignacio, who turn out to be an ace pilot/gunner duo, who’d likely perform marvels in a real warplane. Still, all they have is their dinky trainer, they do plenty of damage—enough to strain credulity quite severely, in fact. While the lads fight, Claire pouts on the bridge of the Barco, unable to do a thing…until, quite unexpectedly, she is.

When the Barco’s engines are disabled by a barrage of enemy fire and she starts to sink, Nina calmly contemplates her death there and then, until Kal flies over their bow, and she runs out to the deck, loses the Nina wig, and re-declares her love for him, despite all she did to him and his family. When Kal whizzes by again (so Ignacio can take out the plane targeting her) he doesn’t yell “Die!”; he yells “Live!” And she does.

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Kal and Claire’s romance was something that fell by the wayside once their real identities came out, but here, it proves absolutely essential in saving the day. Because Kal remembers and finally heeds the words of his mother, forgiving Claire, who he loves despite her past, Claire is able to summon the wind again, taking out the enemy squadron and stopping the Barco’s fall.

In the crucible of revolution, the seeds of Kal’s hate were sown, but that was the war of his parents. Now that he’s in the middle of his own war, protecting those he loves (including Claire), and he’s seen that hate for what it was: an indulgent burden that hampered his usefulness. In order to live, he had to let it go.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 10

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Ignacio Axis remembers being a useless burden to his mother after they were were evicted from the palace. This episode opens with the sad tale of his wretched childhood, not just to sympathize with the guy a little, but because it shows that he played the hand he was dealt. So he struggled and strove for years to become useful…and succeeded. Then we segue to Ignacio beating the stuffing out of Kal-el.

No doubt Ignacio has been motivated for years by hatred of the emperor and the price who had things so easy, but Ignacio disgusted with Kal-el’s attitude because it reminds him of the useless boy he was. Only Kal-el isn’t a boy, and under the circumstances has no right to give up and shut down, not even acknowledging what Ari’s going through. When Ignacio finally leaves him alone, Kal-el, thoroguhly tenderized, has scarcely a minute to think about the hand he’s dealt when the air raid sirens spool up.

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The trainee pilots are once again conscripted by Melze, who doesn’t really have any other choice, after squandering so much of his force in the last battle. An observation plane needs escorts, and the kids know how to fly, so in they go. Rodrigo and Sonia are having none of it; Rodrigo tires to physically force the planes from being prepped, and Sonia flat-out quits the military and gives the students not an order, but a request, that they evacuate with the other civilians. Many of the students go, and not for a second did we blame them.

We know everyone who stays, and they all have their reasons. Noriaki’s still sore about how his last words to Mitsuo were an insult; Benji wants to prove to Sharon, whom he loves, that he’s stronger than her (and can thus protect her, we imagine). Ari would go, but she’s injured. And then Kal shows up, and decides to stop being useless. Right on queue, Ignacio shows up to be his gunner. Due to the events of the last battle, we were inclined to believe no one, save Kal, was a sure thing to come back alive.

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While we’ll grant that all four of the guys have reasons to go, it’s disappointing none of the pilots going into battle are women. Ariel may be injured, but we thought for sure some combination of Sharon, Chiharu, and Nanako would man a third plane…and yet they stayed behind. It just seemed like an odd choice to have all the guys go and all the ladies stay. That being said, the gender sorting was followed by another thrilling white-knuckle battle, this time in the daylight.

We won’t critique the specific military tactics employed here; this show never let on it was a hard military procedural, but it’s fantastic at creating incredibly tense, visceral scenes up in the sky, like the sudden pan onto the Luna Barco with her barely-adequate flak cannons abaze. Part of that is the stark contrast between the trained, seasoned enemy pilots in their sleek, fierce planes and the trainees in their, er…less sleek training planes. Noriaki, Benji, and Kal are all scared, but they play the hand they’re dealt. Maybe they’ll get lucky.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 09

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This week Pilot’s Love Song delivers an aftermath episode that’s almost as good as the devastating battle that preceded it. After the memorial services for the dead, the rebuilding of Centezual commences and Isla’s course towards the End of the Sky continues, with the consensus of the higher-ups being that they should explore an alliance with the Holy Levamme Empire. Still, the Sky Clan continues its bombing raids and the people of Isla are on edge.

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We also see that the battle has had a very understandable demoralizing effect on all of the pilots (we can’t really call them “trainees” anymore). Chiharu is inconsolable, and many a pilot’s eye is red from lengthy tears. While lying in bed Kal experiences flashbacks of the carnage; while he may have performed his duty admirably, it still clearly traumatized him, as it does everyone. Being together, helping the townsfolk, and sharing meals can mitigate that pain.

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But what can also calm Kal’s troubled heart is finding the one he loves is alive and unharmed. Again, fate seems to bring the two together at the cemetery late at night, even as Claire is resolved to disappear from Kal’s life and the life of all the other pilots. Kal’s confession of love and their first kiss is a fleeting comfort, isn’t enough to convince her that she’s misguided in her actions, and she takes this, which she perceives as the last time she’ll be alone with Kal, to finally confirm he’s La Hire and tell him the truth, something we weren’t expecting to happen in an aftermath episode. Kal reacts predictably but understandably, with an overwhelming combination of confusion, shock, and rage.

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He’s hated Nina Viento for a long time, after all; though he loves Claire, he can’t just shrug it off. In fact, he can’t do much of anything afterwards, but lock himself in his dorm and lie sulking in his rack. No one, not even Ariel, can shake him from this state (not even when she tries to talks sense into him, then tells him she has to quit piloting due to her injury). In fact, this was the first time we liked Ignacio more than Kal in an episode, as he not only lets Ariel speak to Nina (who Ariel figures out is Claire immediately) and also by crashing Kal’s pathetic pity party and tossing him in the lake. You go, Nacho.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 08

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As intense and harrowing as the last episode was, it was but the first taste of what was to come this week. We don’t know what’s gotten into this show, but we like it. It brings the hammer down hard on everyone this week, and a ton of characters get knocked off. Last week took a very telegraphed outcome and totally sold it with the execution; this week, the only thing we were relatively sure of is that our main couple would survive; for everyone else—Ariel and Ignacio included—all bets were off.

The sudden assault of Isla by air and land of the mysterious enemy forces with very modern and competitive weaponry causes different reactions in different trainees; some hunker down and rise to the occasion, Mitsuo and Chiharu. Others’ hands shake, or their resolve wavers, and who can blame them? By any measure, they’re not ready for full-on combat against an older, wiser foe. But for the likes of Ari and Kal would rather be unready than dead, and fight their goddamn hearts against dreadful odds.

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There’s only so much they can do in their training aircraft, and one by one they’re picked off, the show totally uninterested in pulling punches. Before we know it, Kal and Ari are the last ones in the air, surrounded by superior force. And then Ari takes a bullet to the shoulder, and all seems lost. In this moment, Kal starts to lose it, pleading for Ari to wake up, but he doesn’t stop piloting the plane, and doing an incredible job of it. Ultimately, he buys just enough time for a blue fighter to turn up and waste the last of the enemy before disappearing into the night. It may have been a bit of deus ex machina, but it’s a welcome ray of hope in a series that has washed much of its hope away, along with its innocence.

There are allies out here, not just foes. The dogfighting throughout is really riveting, occasionally lyrical stuff (setting aside the fact the enemies don’t have the best aim). Clearly the show had been holding back with its budget for these past two episodes. But most satisfying is that when the spotlight turned back onto Kal, Ari, Claire and Ignacio, they didn’t disappoint in their scenes. Kal and Ari’s sibling interactions during and after the battle were a highlight. Barely surviving a hellish battle in which many of their friends died tends to bring people closer together.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 07

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It may not have the best production budget, but damn, this show knows what it’s doing, delivering a fiercely emotional, thrilling, heartbreaking outing; the best of its run so far and definitely one of the top ten episodes of the season. Even more impressive is that its quartet of main characters—Kal-el, Ariel, Claire, and Ignacio—were literally on the sidelines the entire time, eager to do their part but barred by orders from ever doing so.

It’s amazing what one episode can do for your opinion of two people, but last week, we really connected with Mitsuo and Chiharu. Of course, we also knew that the fact they were laying the happiness between them on so thick was essentially setting one or both of them up for death. The episode makes no secret of the fact these young lovers could well be doomed. Hell, the title is “A Glorious Death.” Whether it’s Mitsuo or Chiharu or both, someone’s dying. We know, and the show knows we know.

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But here’s the thing: even with all the telegraphing and death flags, when it actually goes down, it still hits us like a ton of bricks. The show seems to know it was going to do so, and that’s why it was never coy. It did a hell of a job quickly establishing a romance and then snuffing it out in the cruelest way possible. And let’s not beat around the bush: their military superiors fuck up royally. Had Leopold Melze been less of a short-sighted, arrogant fool, Mitty would still be alive. Not to mention de Alarcon and Cervantes don’t even try to tell him how to do his job, even though they both smell an ambush.

The ineptitude of the brass matters not to Mitsuo and Chiharu. When something doesn’t feel right, Mitty tells Chiharu to climb higher. The tiny glimmer in the clouds he spots turns out to be a huge, advanced enemy fleet. Though they’re only trainees, they both realize they have to fire flares at the enemy in order to give their bombers light. They know it could mean their death, but they do their duty anyway. That makes them both heroes, but Mitsuo is simply a little less lucky than the girl he loves, convincing her to eject when he takes a couple bullets.

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After their plane blows up, Chiharu’s spotted by enemy fighters, and while she hangs there helplessly as they mercilessly bear down on her, our hearts sank as it looked for a moment like the show was going to take her too. She’s only saved because Banderas and Sonia disobeyed orders. She lands softly in the cockpit and collapses into Banderas’ arms, her love gone forever in the blink of an eye. It’s sudden, brutal, and unfair. It’s war.

We can’t overstate how riveting and moving this episode was, highlighting unbridled incompetence at the top of the military ladder, but uncommon greatness at the very bottom. The meekest of the trainees was the one who didn’t waver when it mattered, saving everyone. What’s more distressing is that he only saved them for a time; a massive enemy force is nearing Isla, compelling Kal-El, Ariel, Noriaki and Wolfgang to take off and enter the fray. They have a tough act to follow.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 06

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A cold open entices us with the grandeur and awe of finally arriving at the Holy Spring, which moves Claire to tears and Makes Kal wish his folks were alive to see the sight. But from there the episode ratchets down the adventure and returns us to Isla, where the students run a restaurant, of all things, capitalizing on Ariel’s superior culinary skills.

While we were a little annoyed at the exploration of the Holy Spring—and the clashes with the Sky Clan that are sure to accompany it—we eventually settled in to the slice-of-life that may comprise some of the last happy times everyone has together as a group before…things go down. The apprehension of those who’ve heard rumors spreads, but everyone works so hard, they forget about those coming troubles.

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It was also an opportunity to take stock in the various relationships that are forming: the quiet bond between Ariel and Ignacio; more of the usual Kal and Claire flirting; and the romance between Chiharu and Mitty, who have a sweet little scene. Anything to make these pilots more likable was fine with us, as the aforementioned conflict to follow will carry more weight the more characters we care about.

We also get some time at the “adults table”, learning Luis and Juan go way back, and that the instructors are understandably not happy that their students will be used for recon missions when the sky clan is sure to attack. They may have inferior planes and armaments, but they’re still a foe resolved to stop what they must see as an Incursion by Isla. And the kids are still kids.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 05

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When Claire expresses the feeling she and Kal are going in circles, we thought she was commenting on their relationship, rather than the fact they had gotten lost. All the ideal intimate situations in the world won’t change the fact that there’s a significant impediment to their romance getting any further, and it’s the inability for either to tell the other the truth about who they are, or rather who they were.

We say were because Kal is no longer Crown Prince, any more than Louis XX is the current King of France; the monarchy was dissolved. Even if Kal wanted to (and he doesn’t), overthrowing the republic that overthrew him would be a nigh impossible. There may be strict classes aboard Isla, but at the end of the day they’re all exiles from Balsteros, not expected to come back. Kal is no different.

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Meanwhile, Claire may dress up as Nina Viento, but she apparently no longer possesses the power of the wind god. We get her Kotoura-like backstory, in which she’s shunned as a witch, carried off by a money-lender (which her mom lets happen), and in a rage, destroys the town with a tornado. She agreed to fight for the rebels because she wanted to be needed, but when she looks back on her past deeds, she can’t see anyone but a monster.

It gets to the point that she can’t look Kal in the eye, but she’s calmed somewhat when he tells her all he wants to do is fly with her (or rather be with her) as long as he can, whatever the future holds. But Claire’s secret is still gnawing away at hr. We know Kal probably wouldn’t take the news well, nor can we discount the possibility he’ll forgive her. In any case, he’s likely to find out at some point, so it’s best if she’s the one to tell him. Otherwise, they’ll just keep going in circles.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 04

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With Kal and Claire lost at sea and a worried Ariel waiting at the air base for his return, there’s not a lot for anyone to do in the present but wait out the storm…and think about the past! We have to credit the show for giving us an unforced, logical vehicle for conveying a good amount of backstory. The episode gave us fresh insights into several characters and built up interest in the events to follow, while being entertaining in its own right.

Ariel’s friends stay by her side as she waits, so she tells them how her dad came home one day with this blond kid and announced she and her older sisters had a stepbrother. Not surprisingly, Ariel is initially unaccepting (especially as he’s exactly one day older than her) but eventually finds a place in her heart for him, as proven by her intense concern for him in the present and rush of emotion when he returns safe and sound.

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Kal certainly couldn’t ask for a better person to be stranded with then the girl he likes. The storm looks pretty precarious, but eventually the seas calm, the two fall in the drink trying to drain the dinghy and have to strip, and even snuggle up for warmth when night comes, with only the occasional bout of embarrassment. For her part, Claire also seems to enjoy having Kal as her fellow castaway-for-a-night, at least until he picks up the story where Ariel left off, revealing more details about himself in hopes of learning more about Claire in return. But the more Claire learns about Kal, the more worried she gets as she connects the dots.

Kal is looking more and more like the crown prince of Balsteros rumored to have snuck aboard Isla for revenge against Nina Viento. When they return to home and Claire quickly conveyed to her manor where maids strip her of her flight suit and transform her into Nina Viento, we’re left unsure whether she’s upset at the prospect of Kal being the prince because of how it will affect their friendship, or if she’ll feel compelled to kill the last “wicked” la Hire in order to complete the revolution. In any case, Kal is right about he and Claire being alike in at least one way: both are hiding their true identities from the other.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 03

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While he’s still quite young, Kal-el Albus has been through a lot in his life. By cruel fate he happened to be the last Crown Prince of the mighty Balsteros empire when it was overthrown by a populist uprising. His father the emperor was guillotined, and the last he saw of his mother, she was being carted off to her death. Her mother, a strong, fiercely kind woman despite her lofty status, begged her son to forgive those who caused him pain and grief, and not let hatred consume him.

In an act of kindness, the warden allowed a commoner to smuggle Carl out of the prison. Carl La Hire officially died with his parents, while Kal-el Albus was born. But he never forgot the girl whose mythical powers of wind manipulation proved decisive in the coup d’état success: Nina Viento. Ignoring her mother’s dying wish out of outrage she had to die at all, Kal has vowed never to forgive Nina.

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One would think being the youngest member of a royal family when it meets its demise would be enough to endure, but the universe apparently has more in store for Kal. That’s because the girl he fell for the first day he arrived on Isla; the girl he spends most of his days with training in the skies and enjoying meals together; has a secret of her own: she’s Nina Viento. She also seems to be coming around to realizing who Kal really is before he comes around to realizing who she is.

There’s certainly a foreboding quality to the way the adults of Isla are feverishly whipping the students into shape for a still as-yet unknown threat on the horizon. But for the moment, we’re more interested in what will become of Kal and Claire once their secrets are revealed. We’ve seen Kal’s side of the story, but we’re certain there’s far more to Claire’s side than “She’s Evil.” After all, she was just a kid back then, too.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 02

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Our introduction to Isla last week was dominated by Kal’s evening with Claire Cruz, but this week we learn more about the world and Isla’s mission, and we’re given a lot more names to remember, including an Admiral Luis de Alarcon, who makes very inappropriate remarks to the students. We also get a taste of what will probably be an ongoing class war within the academy, as a pair of commoners are bullied by a noble. But while the classes live separately, they’ll be training together.

This is good news for Kal, who after spending every possible moment he could with Claire after meeting her, still can’t get her off his mind. She’s thinking of him too, but as we later learn, she’s an extremely sheltered young lady, under the watch of a stern maid and held to a curfew. It’s possible Claire is so enamored of Kal because simply because he’s the first person her age who’s ever been so nice to her. Not to discount the romantic potential, but Kal is clearly the more socialized of the two at this point.

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A bit about the world: it’s certainly a very neat-looking one, with three nation-continents, two seas separated by one huge, awesome waterfall, and a whole lot of unknown left to explore. But much is being made of the fact that no one aboard Isla will be returning to the nations they left behind, and little is known about the mythical Holy Spring—at least we’re told little. When a student asks what all this military paraphernalia is meant to protect exactly, the faculty dodges the question.

Speaking of secrets, Kal’s is revealed thanks to the audible thoughts of Ignacio Axis (AKA Mister Angst): Kal’s a former Crown Prince. While it’s still unclear why he’s now pretending to be a commoner, we can guess it has something to do with a coup, purge, or some other betrayal, which means Kal may have a score to settle with the parties that caused his fam’s downfall. He may have arrived at Isla bitter about his situation, but thanks to Claire, now he’s glad he came. Kal and Claire’s romance is still simple and pure, but it’s bound to get more complicated as their respective secrets come to light.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 01

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We’re dropped right in the middle of a fantastic new world as Kal-El (Carl?) Albus and his loudmouthed sister Ariel man a cool-looking tiltrotor and head for a floating island Isla, where they’ll attend flight school as the island flies to parts unknown in what could be a one-way journey. It’s a day filled with ceremony, pomp, and excitement, and the world appears heavily inspired by Last Exile, et al.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that comparisons will be inevitable, and if the series hews too close to the themes and structure of something we’ve already seen, it will be hard to justify watching it in a Winter season that looks stuffed. It’s encouraging, then, that once the big flashy airship-y introduction is finished and Kal-El is settled in his dorm, the show switches gears to romance, something Last Exile never had in spades.

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Kal-El is clearly the victim of some past injustice that has led him to his present situation in life, and he resents the fact that nobles are all over the place, waving their nobility all over the place. When a silver-haired classmate gives him one too many stink-eyes, Kal-El runs out to the nearby river, where he meets Claire Cruz, who makes him feel better. Yuki Aoi proves again she’s as adept at playing shy characters as Taketatsu Ayana is at playing irritating ones.

The colors of Kal-El and Claire’s surroundings grow warmer and deeper as he bikes her home. He wasn’t happy about coming to Isla, but things are immediately looking up, thanks to Claire, even if she turns out to be a noble. It’s a simple but sweet little romance in the making, but the show makes it clear it’s also ephemeral, as Kal-El warns in his narration that the world will soon show them how cruel it can be. That’s fine, but considering how mirthfully the show portrays them, we wouldn’t mind seeing a few more good times first!

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)