February 25, 2010
This episode begins with Sawako leaving her house for her first sleepover, after saying goodbye to her parents she heads off to school. At school, we see Ryuu run into Chizu in the hall and he’s about to tell her something when she get pulled away by Ayane and Sawako. Before walking off, Ryuu tells Chizu to not stop by his house tomorrow or the next day, and Ayane wonders if Chizu made Ryuu angry.
Once the girls get to Chizu’s place we see that she’s steaming because she wanted to borrow a game from Ryuu for their sleepover, and Ayane asks Chizu what she did to make him mad. After explaining how she booted him out the other night, Chizu wonders what she’s going to do because one of her banned days is Ryuu’s birthday. Chizu gets really upset about not being able to give Ryuu his birthday gift. Ayane suggests that they drop it off tonight, and if he gets angry, so be it.
Over at Ryuu’s place, we see that Kazehaya, Ryuu, and four other guys are hanging out and joking around when Chizu, Ayane, and Sawako walks in on them. Well, it turns out that the boys were holding a party to cheer up Jo after his confession “crash and burn”, and soon a little bit of kidding takes place about how the broken hearted Ayane and Jo should hookup. After joking around for a while everyone just hangs out and chats, and Sawako just sort of enjoys taking it all in.
When Ryuu gets up to get more stuff Chizu takes the opportunity to follow him and try to give him his gift. Chizu asks Ryuu, “Are you angry with me”? Ryuu tells her, “no, but I can even be hurt being sent out like that”. Chizu says she’s sorry and she says she’s ready to listen to anything he has to say to her.
Well, just as Ryuu begins to talk, Tooru walks inside the door. Tooru sees Chizu and calls her Chii, and she rushes over and begins to hug him. Tooru got off work early and came home a day early. During the confusion of Tooru’s arrival, Chizu gets a big shock when a young woman walks in behind Tooru. His girlfriend, Chizu asks? No, it’s my fiancée. Chizu turns as white as a ghost and goes into shock.
After a few seconds, Tooru formally introduces his fiancée, Haruka Katayama, to his younger brother Ryuu, and to the girl he’s always loved as his younger sister, Chizu. After Tooru and Haruka have said their hellos, Kazehaya suggests that it’s time to break this party up and head home. So, everyone says their goodbyes to Ryuu and heads home. As Chizu turns towards home with a forced smile on her face Sawako wonders what she’s thinking.
Later, Ryuu thanks Shota for getting everyone to leave because he says if he would have intervened Chizu would have gotten even more flustered. Ryuu tells Shota that he would have been alright with Chizu getting angry with him, but he’s pretty sure she’s depressed now. As, Kazehaya is ridding off he realizes that Ryuu really loves Chizu.
Back at Chizu place, after four hours of playing cards, Ayane asks Chizu if she alright. Chizu says she’s OK even though it’s clear that she’s not really OK. Ayane tells Chizu there are other guys in the sea, but that really doesn’t seem to cheer her up. It’s getting really late (4:30) so the girls decide to call it a night and hit the sack.
Sawako falls asleep thinking about what happened to Chizu and her unrequited love. The next morning Sawako sees Chizu getting dressed, she reaches for the mini-skirt but changes her mind and goes for her regular stuff, and Sawako is at a loss for words. After Chizu sees Ayane and Sawako off, Sawako is upset to the point of tears because she could offer no support to Chizu, but Ayane says she didn’t offer much real support either.
When Chizu gets to Ryuu’s house she hears laughter coming from inside and sits on the stoop thinking that she’s not really their daughter, not really their little sister, and she’s just a neighborhood kid. Chizu sits there thinking back to all her childhood memories of her trying to get Tooru’s attention; he never got mad and only smiled. Chizu says there were always girls around Tooru but none of them ever lasted, so that’s why she felt that she would have been his wife someday. Chizu gets up and heads towards home thinking that she won’t be the one living the dream of being Tooru’s wife. Well, that’s all.
Well, it wasn’t much of a surprise watching Chizu’s unrequited love come crashing down in flames around her. In this episode and the last episode Sawako was quite happy watching Chizu bask in the joy of her unrequited love but Sawako is also learning that love is tough. In this episode we saw Chizu at her most girly, normally a tomboy, we watch her worry about her style, her appearance, and we see there’s a really a shy girl buried underneath her tough exterior. Chizu’s upbeat and happy mood about seeing Tooru was perfectly contrasted by Ryuu’s dark and foreboding mood.
The way the last couple of relationships have been going at Sawako’s school reminds me of the Lady Gaga song, Bad Romance. Let’s see, Jo gets shot down in flames, Kurumi can’t get what she wants, Ayane gets treated like shit, Chizu as reality crush her, and Ryuu’s love is in love with his older brother.
I really felt bad for both Chizu and Ryuu; Chizu for having reality smash her dream, and for Ryuu being in a no win situation. Anyway Ryuu could have played this situation he would have ended up with Chizu becoming depressed over Tooru’s upcoming marriage, or Chizu being pissed at him for not telling her that Tooru was in town. So, maybe, it was best that Chizu found out about Tooru in the way she did.
If I could do anything to shake this series up it would be to start shipping some crazy relationships; Ayane/Jo, Kurumi/Ryuu, and Pin/Chizu since they’re both dense. Oh-well, I guess I have to wait for 52 episodes before anyone even holds hands or shares a real kiss.
February 25, 2010
This episode begins over breakfast with Kanata getting the lowdown on a mission the platoon must complete sometime today. Twice a year, HQ, located in the capital city, conducts a maintenance check on the phone line to ensure it’s in working order, and someone from the platoon must be present to answer the phone. Filicia and Rio go on to state the importance of not missing the call, and Kanata volunteers for phone duty.
After breakfast, Kanata begins her phone watch, and she takes her mission very seriously, even going as far as practicing how she’ll answer the phone. After a little bit, Filicia and Kureha have to run some reports up to local HQ leaving Kanata with Rio and a missing and probably sleeping somewhere Noel.
As lunchtime approaches, Rio stops by and asks Kanata what she wants for lunch. Well, Kanata tries her best to have Rio watch the phone, suggesting she’ll make lunch, but Rio wants to know why it seems that Kanata and Kureha have been trying to keep Rio out of the kitchen even when it’s her day. Kanata basically lets it slip that Rio’s cooking has a lot to be desired, and Rio says she was cooking just fine before you two came along.
In the end, Kanata gets saved from Rio’s cooking because Naomi stops by bearing gifts and needing to talk with Rio. Naomi has brought some apple cider from where they get their apple juice, and Kanata asks if it’s related to our Calvados (their wine). Naomi seems a bit startled that Kanata found out about their little bootlegging operation. Kanata finds out that some of their wine (?) will be given as a gift at the local guild meeting that’s being held tonight.
While the girls eat a lunch prepared by Kanata, the subject of how Kanata discovered the bootlegging operation comes up, and Kanata tells Naomi that she’ll tell her that story another day. Also, we find out that Naomi’s visit isn’t all fun and games when she tells Rio that she wants her to attend the guild meeting. Naomi tells Rio that she’s become quite popular after she played the Flame Maiden during the festival, plus the guild wants an explanation from the military about the news from the peace treaty conferences, it seems to be not going well. Rio tells Kanata that she has to do this, and Kanata’s all in now that she’s a Fortress Maiden, heart and soul (a full member of the criminal enterprise).
Before Rio takes off, she gives Kanata a book of sheet music for the trumpet as a gift for all the hard work and practice she’s been putting in with her trumpet. Inside the front cover of the book, we see the name Fliya Arkadia written.
Later, it begins to rain and Kanata has to run outside and collect up the platoon’s laundry which has been drying on a clothesline outside. Just as Kanata drops the clothing in a corner some visitors stop by the fortress. The priest, Seiya, and Mishio and show up, and the priest tells Kanata that he stopped by to say goodbye since he’s leaving town. Kanata shares some of the cider with them and she also tells them about her phone mission. During their talk the priest mentions Rio, and he notices the name inscribed in Kanata’s trumpet book. Once the priest finds out that Kanata’s never used a phone he rigs up a tin and string play phone and has Kanata practice talking on the phone with Seiya.
As Kanata and Seiya play phone, Mishio becomes attracted to the owl and spooks it while attempting to touch it. Well, the owl spooks Seiya, and all hell breaks loose; the priest ends up in the pile of girl’s underwear, Seiya ends up on the floor, and the phone goes flying. While Kanata saves the phone she ends up with cider spilled all over her. At that moment, Yumina walks in on the mess and chews out the priest and the kids for making a mess of the place. After Yumina helps Kanata clean up the place she gives Kanata a dress to wear that’s been donated but was too large for any of the kids to wear. As everyone is saying their goodbyes to Kanata, Seiya seems quite taken by Kanata and her cute, frilly dress.
Now, Kanata left alone with the phone and a ever growing desire to pee. Since the phone cord stretches nowhere long enough to reach the bathroom she decides to hold it in. As times drags on, Kanata’s need to pee grows ever larger, and she begins to worry about pissing her pants. Kanata gives a quick thought to using a pail but decides to hope that someone will return soon.
At the last moment, Rio returns from the guild meeting and relieves Kanata so she can use the bathroom. As Kanata rushes off to the head, the phone begins to ring and Rio comments on Kanata’s timing. Rio gets stuck answering the phone, and she hears a voice that she didn’t want to hear. The voice says I heard we were confirming your phone line so I insisted, and Rio makes a disgusted sound, and the voice asks Rio if you’re going to run, no. So, you still haven’t forgiven me. Rio asks, what do you want after all this time. Please, I want you to save this country, save Helvetia.
While Rio is taking the phone call, Kanata rushes to the bathroom and almost runs into Noel who’s exiting the bathroom. In an attempt to avoid a collision with Noel, Kanata ends up on the ground and ready to burst her kidneys. Kanata learns that Noel had spent the entire day sleeping in the bathroom, oh, the irony. Just then, Filicia and Kureha walk in on the scene, and after assessing the situation they help up a frozen in place Kanata leading to a breaking of the dam (?). Well, that’s all for this fluid episode.
Well, this episode was very interesting and intriguing for several reasons, and it seemed to have set in motion the buildup for the final story arc. But, before I get to the major points, I have to say that watching Kanata perform her phone watch was very funny. Lesson 1 Kanata, NEVER VOLUNTEER FOR SHIT! Leaving that aside, Kanata took her phone duty very seriously and followed her three general orders to a tee, but someone should have taught Kanata the additional two unofficial general orders.
The Three Official General Orders.
1. I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.
2. I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner.
3. I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the commander of the relief.
The Two Unofficial Additional General Orders.
4. I will guard my post from flank to flank and take no shit from any rank.
5. Fuck it!
If I was Kanata I would have been really pissed at Noel for not checking on me. I mean, come on, it’s the job of NCOs to check on the welfare of the junior troops when pulling guard duty, she failed as an NCO.
Now, to the real meat of the episode, foreboding and foreshadowing. While this series has been walking a fine line between fluffy moe and more serious dark leanings this episode firmly places Sora no Woto down the path of a darker, sadder, and probably more meaningful ending. While this series has been hinting at the possibility that Rio was very important or even royalty, this episode pretty much confirmed Rio’s status as a VIP. I don’t really understand the source or reasons for Rio’s estrangement from her father. I thought that how he asked Rio not to help him but to save this country was an important indicator to how bad their relationship really is; her father had to call on Rio’s responsibility to country not family.
To me, the foreshadowing in this series has been very heavy, beginning with the seasonal hints of how the freshness of spring moved to the lazy, slow day’s of summer, and how summer is now giving way to the stormy days of fall to be followed by the cold embrace of winter. The foreboding and foreshadowing in this episode also was reflected by the mood of the guilds members over the news of how the peace negotiations aren’t going very well, they wanted reassurances directly from the uniformed military not a BS press release. When the series first began I had figured that if anyone was going to be sacrificed it was going to be Filicia, but now I’m pretty certain that’s its Rio who’s going to have to pay her pound of flesh. The only real question will be what the form and nature of the sacrifice that Rio will be asked to make, and I think that she’ll most likely be asked to give up her freedom in form, maybe via marriage or assumption of the throne. So, I think Sora no Woto will end with the sadness of the girls having to part ways with Rio having to sacrifice freedom, joy, and happiness for duty, honor, and country.
February 17, 2010
Posted by animewriter under Adventure
, Slice of life
, Sora no Woto
| Tags: anime
, Anime Series
, Sora no Woto
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Well, this episode begins with Filicia having a dream/flashback from the war. In her flashback, Filicia’s a young member of a tank crew that’s just destroyed an enemy tank, and the tank commander orders the communications officer to signal the rear and orders Filicia to back her up. As the bugler is signaling the rear, Filicia notices an enemy tank on their flank, but it’s too late. The enemy tank fires a shell at point blank range, Filicia’s tank is destroyed and Filicia is blown out the hatch, shaken and injured, she’s the sole survivor.
Well, summer is fully upon the fortress, and it seems that the local version of Obon is near. Kanata spends her time making food offerings for the deceased in the shape of animals. Kureha inquires about Obon and Noel explains the purpose and origin of the festival; Kureha freaks out about the idea of the dead returning.
Later, we see Rio and Filicia returning from the town with additional materials for the festival, and we also discover that the local church is in on the festival even though the main church would frown upon the practice. Kanata explains to the platoon how her town/village would celebrate Obon, the making of food animals, the Bon-Odori (the Bon Dance), and so forth.
While all this talk of the Bon festival is going on, Filicia cuts her hand and has another flashback of the war. This time we see a heavily injured Filicia traveling through an active combat zone in an attempt to make it back to friendly lines. Filicia encounters rifle fire, machinegun fire, canon fire, and tank fire; it’s like hell on Earth. When Filicia comes out of her daze Kureha says it’s not like her to make Kanata-like mistakes. Filicia says it’s been hot and she hasn’t been able to sleep much and walks off. Kanata is about to go after Filicia but Rio stops her and says to leave her alone because there are things she doesn’t want other people to know.
Noel goes after Filicia saying she knows about what happened first hand, and she finds Filicia standing next to the tank lost in thought. We see that Filicia is remembering different experiences she had with her dead tank squad mates, and we hear them discussing the war and the end of the world.
Then the scene switches back to Filicia’s combat experience and we see must have been knocked unconscious from a shell blast and now she’s waking up to find that she’s fallen from the active combat zone into a basement where she discovers a dead soldier who’s written his last words in what appears to be Japanese style writing. Filicia lights a small fire and begins to cry for all her fallen squad mates wondering why she’s the only one left alive. Then the dead soldier begins to speak to Filicia, and once he realizes that there are survivors left in the world he apologizes to her. The soldier says he’s sorry for losing to “them”, and we see a battle scene that looks like it was a terminator-like, man vs. machine war, with the humans resorting to nuclear weapons at the end. The dead soldier asks Filicia “so, you’re the last remnants of humanity”, and he goes on to tell Filicia that the world will never regain its former glory so why not end it. He asks her if surviving in a world like this is really worth it, and as she’s tries to answer him she hears a bugle (amazing grace) call in the distance. The bugle call snaps Filicia back to reality and she begins to yell that she’s trapped below and someone needs to save her.
Soon, someone breaks through from above and lowers themselves to rescue Filicia, and we that it’s the woman from Kanata’s memory, the woman from Rio’s past, and it turns out to be Princess Iria.
Later that night, as Kanata, Noel, and Kureha are playing with fireworks, Felicia and Rio have a serious talk about duty, the past, and what happens if “they” come back. Rio gets mad at Filicia and tells her not to carry all the weight herself, and Filicia agrees to tell her. But, Filicia starts up with BS and Rio gets mad and asks her directly what happened at the front.
At that very moment, the town is beginning to send the lanterns down the river, so Filicia decides the platoon should join them at the river. Everyone but Noel has made a lantern, and we see that Filicia’s lantern contains the name of her fallen comrades plus the unknown Japanese soldier. Kanata tells Filicia that since she makes her worry so much she would listen to any of her problems and she tells Filicia that she loves her; Filicia says she loves Kanata too. Filicia hugs Kanata and tells her to stay the same, and she also hugs Kureha, and Noel. As each girl places their lantern in the river they say a little prayer for their departed ones; Kureha for her parents, Filicia for her comrades and Rio for her mother and sister. As Rio is placing her lantern in the river the priest sees her and says that girl is ……..
Later, Filicia and Rio continue their conversation about whether or not there is some meaning in this world and Filicia tells Rio that since she was the sole survivor this question has haunted her and she’s come to the conclusion that there isn’t any. Later, Filicia points to all the people and asks Rio, isn’t this wonderful, and she goes on to tell Rio that her meaning is to be here because she doesn’t want them to suffer like she did. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Well, each additional episode of Sora no Woto continues to impress me with how writer manage to give just enough additional information to keep me hooked. This episode gave us quite a bit of history about the latest war and the “great war/cataclysm”. Firstly, we learned from the dead soldier that Japanese-Asian culture and technology had spread across the European/Asian continents (it’s never explained if this occurred by means of war, or more likely due to natural population expansion on one side and depopulation on the other side), and they failed to protect the population of “them”. Well, the use of “them” is quite interesting, because, to me, that word would seem to imply that they were fighting something “other”, meaning other than human. So, what I’m going to assume is the “them” was some form of human technology or AI that got out of control ala The Matrix or The Terminator; I know I’m jumping to an conclusion by excluding the possibility of some sort of alien invasion or just a plain old human vs. human war of annihilation, but I’m leaping. Also, it seems that nuclear weapons were used as a final option to stop the attack, and the dead soldier makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t think very highly of the way life is going.
Filicia’s war flashbacks were quite a contrast to the flashbacks of the “great cataclysm”. In the “great cataclysm” we see war and destruction on a global scale, masses of modern armor and cities being leveled, but through Filicia’s eyes we see the brutal nature of war up close and personal. In combat, the job of any combat arms soldier is to close with the enemy and kill them, its kill or be killed, and you pray that you’re better trained, better equipped, or just plain luckier than the other guys. Filicia’s battle experiences show us the arbitrary nature of warfare, one minute you’re moving through the fog of battle making a kill, and the next minute you’re the hunted. I felt that Filicia’s reaction to being wounded and the sole survivor was pretty spot on; I could really understand how she would be left wondering “why me, there has to be a reason”.
The conversation that Filicia has with the dead soldier where he asked her if life was worth living in its current state reminded me of some similar conversations that took place between Princess Nausicaa and the Keeper of the Garden, and then with Master of the Crypt of Shuwa. In those conversations the Keeper and the Master both try to convince Princess Nausicaa that life is too miserable to bother going on with. They use the argument that because of all the suffering, all the death, all the pain, and all the struggling wouldn’t it just be easier to just give in, and fade away. Nausicaa and Filicia both reject the offer for similar reasons even thought it takes Filicia longer to come to her understanding of why.
When Nausicaa has her confrontation with the Master of the Crypt of Shuwa she is told that the path of humanity only leads to more suffering and possible extinction, so give in and let the current humans die out and be replaced by genetic engineered humanoids that were created to replace the current humans once they die out. The Master tells Nausicaa that this is the true path of light, the path of science and technology. No, Nausicaa rejects their offer as a false light, human life is right, and the human ability to adapt and survive should the sole determinate of whether human life continues or fades away, while humans may struggle and suffer there’s a beauty and righteousness to the human will to live that must be defended. In the end, Nausicaa destroys the Keeper and the Crypt leaving humans and their ability to adapt and evolve to determine their own fate.
So, when Filicia tells Rio that she’s come to the conclusion that life has no meaning, but she tell Rio isn’t it beautiful, she’s come to Nausicaa’s conclusion, there’s beauty in the everyday struggle to live, love, and survive, she treasures Kanata’s innocence and vitality, so her meaning is to protect these treasures. This is the same lesson that the priest was trying to explain to Kanata in the previous episode; there’s sadness and bravery as humans struggle to live in the face of loss.
I also loved how Kanata’s cheerful mood concerning Obon contrasted with Filicia’s more somber mood. While Kanata probably views Obon more as a welcome back to lost relatives who died at their proper ages, Felicia views Obon through the experience of having lost friends and comrades too soon in the flower of their youth. This difference is kind of like how Americans who’ve lost close friends, relatives, or comrades to war observe Memorial Day differently than people who’ve just view it as another day off.
This episode also gave me some interesting food for thought concerning Rio, and Noel. It was heavily inferred that Rio is most likely a Princess, maybe the younger sister of Princess Iria. This would explain the vibe that I’ve been getting that Rio’s father was a high ranking military officer and they’ve had a falling out, ala Eika and her father from Sky Girls. This episode also let us know that there’s more of a connection between Noel and Filicia than we were lead to believe since Noel admitted to have firsthand knowledge of Filicia’s combat incident.
Overall, this was another great episode that manages to keep a good balance between a series that could be considered lighthearted slice-of- life moe and a series that could head in a much darker direction, all I know is that I’m hooked.
For those who think that war is sometimes glorified and coveted by soldiers, remember the words of General Douglas MacArthur from his farewell speech at West Point May 12, 1962.
“…..This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
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