This episode begins with us watching Kanata playing her bugle/trumpet with not much success on a rainy morning, and we also see that Noel has been working on the tank’s optical system also having little success.
Later, we see that Noel and Kanata are being sent into town on a supply mission; they’re given a list of supplies they need to purchase for the fortress. As Noel is driving through town Kanata tries to talk with her but Noel won’t answer her until she arrives at their destination (it’s not safe to talk and drive).
The first stop on their supply run is the shop where Kanata met Rio in the first episode. While Kanata is looking around the shop, the shopkeeper (Naomi) asks Noel if Kanata “knows”? No. As Noel and Naomi are conducting business Kanata asks Naomi if she can check out the glass sculpture. Yes. Kanata asks if this is a fish. Noel tells her that the sculpture is called a dolphin and it’s a mammal, not a fish, and it lived in the ocean when there used to be life in the sea (not a good sign). Naomi tells Kanata that the sculpture is made at a factory just outside of town. Kanata expresses an interest in seeing how it’s made, and Noel says they’ll be stopping there later. Outside the shop, Noel tells Kanata that Naomi is trying to locate parts for the tank, and Noel is having a part made for the tank at the glass factory.
While the girls continue their shopping, Noel confides to Kanata that she likes machines because they won’t betray you (she’s never had me as BF, get with it).
As they continue their shopping, Noel and Kanata run into the nun (Yumina) that helped Kanata and the little girl that Kanata had so much fun playing with during the festival in the first episode. But, the mood is serious because a young boy (Seyia) runs into Noel causing them both to fall, and when Noel offers the boy her hand he slaps it away calling her a murderer, I hate soldiers, and runs off. Later, Yumina tries to apologize saying Seyia is a war orphan but Noel refuses saying, he’s right, we’re soldiers. Later, while on their way to the glass factory, Kanata tries to make Noel feel better by agreeing with her saying, we’re soldiers.
At the factory, the biggest one Kanata’s ever seen, Noel converses with the Meister (Carl) about how the latest lens he created for the tank was a failure. While this is going on, Kanata talks with a young female worker (Maria) who tells Kanata that Carl is one of only five masters in the whole country. Noel then explains to Kanata the problem with the optics; the tank requires two lenses and they only have one, so Noel is having Carl make a second one but none of them seem to be working right. While they know the composition of the lens they just can’t get it quite right.
Later, while Kanata and Noel are sitting on a beach, Noel tells Kanata that she likes machines, but sometimes machines hurt people and she’s sure the tank killed many people in the past, and she asks Kanata if she’s frighten of a machine that has killed people? Yes. But, Kanata tells Noel that she’s more frightened by the people that operated that machine. Kanata tells Noel that when she plays the trumpet it sounds bad, but when Rio plays the trumpet it sounds beautiful, and the tank plays beautiful music so she’s sure it’s a good tank. Then Noel falls asleep on Kanata’s shoulder. Carl tells Kanata that Noel probably worked all night, so let her sleep.
Then Maria and Kanata have a conversation about craftsmanship with Kanata telling Maria that no matter how hard she tries she can’t get her trumpet to sound like Rio’s playing, maybe she doesn’t have the talent. Carl jumps in saying that lack of talent is an excuse to give up, and goes on to ask her if she trying to force herself to make the sound instead of feeling how the sound should be made. Carl shows Kanata some glassblowing, saying he’s not forcing the shape, but the glass wanted to be this shape.
Kanata jumps up and rushes outside just as dawn is beginning to break, she tells herself to feel it as the sound wants to play itself. When Kanata finally begins playing, the sound is right and true surprising those in the factory.
When Noel awakens to Kanata’s music she and Carl realize that they can use Kanata’s fine sense of sound to choose a replacement lens for the tank that most closely matches the original; Kanata chooses the one that most closely matches the original. Opon returning to the fortress, Noel uses the lens that Kanata picked and she installs it inside the tank with the original. This time the tank’s optical system boots up properly accepting the replacement lens. After the success, Kureta makes to comment that this is the first time that she’s ever seen Noel smile. Well, that’s all for this episode.
OK, this was a very interesting episode that answered a few question while raising many more. This episode gave us a little look into Noel’s personality, while I wouldn’t say this episode qualified as a Noel back story episode I can say she’s pretty interesting. First of all, we understand that Noel is more comfortable around machines, but her comment that “machines won’t betray you” raises a lot of questions like who screwed her over/betrayed her, her parents, a lover, or the government. I feel a bit sad for Noel if she feels that she needs to retreat to the cold solace of a machine instead seeking human interaction. I could see how emotionally dependant she is on her relationship with the tank is when she basically sought out Kanata judgment/approval of the tank. I think that Kanata’s line of thought on the tank is quite right; basically it’s a version of the old line, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, but I say guns make it a hell of a lot easier to do the killing. This brings me to a quote about the intentions of tools.
“The intentions of a tool are what it does. A hammer intends to strike; a vise intends to hold fast; a lever intends to lift. They are what it is made for. But sometimes a tool may have other uses that you don’t know. Sometimes in doing what you intend, you also do what the knife intends, without knowing. “
Phillip Pullman, from The Amber Spyglass
After seeing the different modes of operation in the tank’s command menu I wonder if they really want to make it operational, because it could be something as deadly as the God Warriors from Nausicaa. I would start worrying if Kanata starts calling the tank Ohma.
We also got further information about the decay of the world when Noel informed Kanata about the dolphins, making clear to Kanata that life no longer exists in the ocean. Plus, we also discovered that while Noel and Carl understand what the tank’s lenses are made of they have no idea how it was made. This still leaves me wondering if the war caused the decay and destruction of the environment, or if the war was a result of humans fighting over the dwindling resources of a decaying world.
Who would have thought that Kanata only needed a little Zen training to become better at playing the trumpet; don’t fight the flow, be the flow. Use the force, Kanata.
Now, to the most interesting aspect of the entire episode, what is everybody (-Kureha, I assume) keeping secret from Kanata, it’s quite obvious that some people think that Kanata will be a trigger, or her arrival will herald something. If we assume that town places a lot of truth in the legend of the fire maidens could they believe that now that there are five maidens in the fortress something will happen?