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)

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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)