Plastic Memories – 03

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Oh dear…last week’s revelation that Isla has only 83 days left (and quite a few days fewer than that now) had rekindled our interest in Plastic Memories, but after a total dud like this third episode, I don’t see how I can ever trust it again. I mean, seriously, three eps in and we get a hokey, uninspired moving-in/living with a girl episode?

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Rather than anyone telling Tsukasa what should be obvious to anyone who’s been around her for a few years that yes, indeed, Isla will meet the same fate as all the other giftia they retrieve every day, the guys in the office instead offer him increasingly ridiculous advice that Tsukasa carries out Wile. E. Coyote style, to no avail.

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It’s cliched, repetitive, and boring, killing all urgency and goodwill created last week. Worse, the fact several days go by as Tsukasa struggles to connect with Isla in their dorm where she used to live alone. He never bothers to wonder whether Isla prefers to keep professional distance despite the fact they have to live together, a stipulation for which there is never any good reason given, so all we have is the implication that “well, if they’re not in the dorm there’s be no opportunities for lame comedy.”

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Things take a turn for the dark and pathetic when Tsukasa, now just treating Isla like a normal human girl, which she clearly isn’t, insists on shopping for clothes for her, unaware she has so little experience with street clothes she doesn’t know how to put them on. It’s nice to know Isla wears panties, but I don’t think that was the reason we were welcomed inside her changing room.

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The most irritating part of all of this is that Isla likely knows her time will soon be up too, which is probably why she’s trying to avoid making happy new memories or getting closer to anyone. She really doesn’t seem to want Tsukasa in there for that purpose…though I would hope she’d reconsider whatever feelings she has for him after witnessing his unbelievably stupid hijinx.

By the end, he realizes the only thing she’s really comfortable doing is serving him tea. We apparently had to waste a whole episode for him to learn that.

As unflattering as Tsukasa was this week, we also learned that Yasutaka and Kazuki, the two people we know without a doubt know Isla will be gone in less than 80 days left, are petty cruel people. What do they have to gain by keeping that info from Tsukasa…Productivity?

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Plastic Memories – 02

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This second episode of Plamemo was better than the first, which I can chalk up to getting to know the cast and particularly the protagonist a little better. I can also get on board with the fact that any workplace with such a somber job is probably going to be as laid back and cheerful as possible to avoid going mad with second-hand grief.

That being said, I’m still not fully on board with the whole concept of Giftia retrieval, nor do the additions of two more boilerplate characters like the ulcer-ridden Takao, who is just used for a joke, and the overly-informal veteran Kaji Ryouji Yasutaka, who feels like he needs to touch everyone during his intro. I think Michiru hides because she doesn’t want him to touch her.

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As derivative a character in look and feel as he is, Yasutaka does consistently bring one thing to the table: brutal honesty. For all of Tsukasa’s narration and other characters’ exposition, Plamemo has been unusually skittish about answering or even bringing up the tough questions that might allow us to make a better emotional connection.

The fact that Akari Shinji Tsukasa got this position at all thanks to his father’s connections is a welcome wrinkle in his heretofore plain beige sheet of a character. It means he knows he has to work that much harder to prove he belongs there, which is hard to do when he’s constantly having to babysit Isla, who seems increasingly incapable of doing anything right. Heck, he couldn’t even serve Takao his tea; she let Yasutaka snatch it.

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I also liked the obligatory professional dinner date between Tsukasa and Katsuragi Minato Kuwanomi Kazuki, who comes off as your standard late-20s/early 30s schoolteacher who hasn’t found a man yet and can’t hold her liquor. Then again, considering her job is not teaching kids but sending them out to tear families apart, it’s not unreasonable for her to want to drown it all out with booze. Yasutaka is made less of a prick by the fact he always gets Kazuki home safe from her routine imbibings.

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In a core dynamic similar to the one going on in DanMachi, Tsukasa and Ayanami Rei Isla are both working harder to improve themselves, in order make themselves worthy of working beside the other. There’s no mention of last week’s utterly unearned love-at-first-sight moment (probably for the best) but it’s good to see Isla actually undergoing training and tests, and her bumbling in the field explained by “rust.”

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As for Angela Langley Soryu Kinushima Michiru, well…she’s a bit of a problem, as I’m guessing she’s supposed to be the third side of a love triangle with Tsukasa and Isla. She hides her unsure feelings for him behind an overly rude and aggressive facade, which she at least has the decency to apologize for.

That being said, I like how her affection for him grows a little when he finds out he’s protecting Isla by sharing the blame for their failures. It not only shows he’s not as incompetent as she initially thought, but also a kind and caring dude. Which makes her jealous that Isla’s so close to him. She’s on the outside looking in.

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That looks to be the case for the foreseeable future, as Plamemo brings the hammer down, courtesy of who else, the truthsayer Yasutaka. He doesn’t give too much away to Tsukasa, only mentioning the consistent decline in her physical data (paired with what looks like a rise in errors). He also tells him Isla’s training is pointless; Giftia retain everything they learn and don’t get “rusty.” Even so, he respects Isla’s guts for doing everything she possibly can to stay in the game.

The most important question so far is answered, at least partially, to my satisfaction, in a private moment between Yasutaka and Kazuki: Isla has 2,000 hours of lifespan remaining. That’s only 83.3 days, which, assuming a Giftia’s max lifespan of nine years, would make Isla 8.99 years old. This revelation floored me, and put Isla’s motivations more emotionally accessible. I wish last week ended this way, rather than with a toilet joke.

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P.S. No, I didn’t really accidentally give lots of Plamemo characters Evangelion names…but I wanted to point out the rather bizarre abundance of similarities to Eva characters in the Plamemo cast…though some are admittedly more of a stretch than others.

Plastic Memories – 01 (First Impressions)

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My first impressions of the futuristic sci-fi anime Plastic Memories weren’t all that great. The show just felt a bit off to me from beginning to end, starting with the protagonist Mizugaki Tsukasa stating in his thoughts that he may have fallen in love with the android Isla the moment he laid eyes on her, before he has any idea who or what she is.

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From there, we go on to Newbie’s First Day, with his new co-workers feeling him out while telegraphing their personalities in the most unsubtle way possible. I just felt like I’ve met all these people before, especially Isla and Tsukasa, only with different names and eye colors. Everyone comes off as a bland cypher.

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The uninspired characters aren’t the only problem, though they’re a big one (the impish Zack and tsundere Michiru are particularly grating). While this is the future and we see some futuristic cityscapes, the show doesn’t feel all that futuristic or special; there’s no awe or grandeur.

More importantly, I have a problem with their whole business of selling androids that are treated like family for nine years, then ceremoniously “terminated” by the team Tsukasa joins. Like…what the hell?

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I don’t doubt there’s money in such an enterprise, and maybe this is my early 21st century liddite-ism talking, but it just feels like the company is exploiting the grief or loneliness of their customers. The crassness is amplified by the generally cavalier attitudes and zany antics of the team members, the fact Tsukasa is sent into the field with zero training, and the fact that Isla fails about 90% of the time.

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The tonal dissonance of the show reaches its apex when Isla finally speaks form her own experience as an aging giftia to persuade the “grandmother” of Nina to sign the release form so they can “retrieve” her. I don’t say this often, but as well-performed and well-animated as it was, this tearful scene felt manipulative, after all the slapstick that preceded it. I was more weirded out by the macabre-ness of it all than moved.

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The seriousness of that scene is also undone when, in Tsukasa’s final scene with Isla in the car is a joke about her having to go potty. Har har. What with Tsukasa being just barely there as a character, and his so far arbitrary and unearned feelings for Isla, and the general discomfort I have with the whole 9-year android business, I believe it best to pass on this show. But I’ll watch another week or two to see if any of the issues I mentioned are remedied.

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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

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 – 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)