March 2010


      Here’s a few new anime & manga motivational posters for the week of 3/22/2010. Feel free to share and enjoy these posters, but please at least give me a link or track back if you’re going to post them to a board or forum, Click on the poster to view at full size, enjoy.

       This episode picks up with Aisha being shot but not killed in front of Noel, and Filicia pulling a gun on Hopkins and saying she’ll shot if he doesn’t escort his men from the fortress.  Well, Hopkins’ men have left the fortress, and he’s now tied up while Yumina treats Aisha. Filicia demands to know what’s going on, and Hopkins says that they detected the movement of the Roman army over a month ago and have been following in from the rear, so far, the Archduke has ordered them to do nothing.

         Hopkins says the peace talks are a farce, and if they execute a POW in front of the Roman’s they’ll attack, he wants to restart the war because he says that Rome needs to be destroyed. Hopkins asks Noel if she agrees, and he calls her his Witch of Helvetia. Filicia gets mad at Hopkins saying he used Noel, and Yumina asks if Noel had something to do with the invisible reaper. Hopkins tells Yumina that Noel is one of the greatest scientists and helped revive the old weapons, Filicia orders Kureha to toss Hopkins in the cellar, but he says his men are already moving to attack the Romans.

 

       After Kureha returns from locking up Hopkins, she says it’s messed up because the Flame Maidens are supposed to protect the city not cause a conflict. Yumina chimes in with what Aisha told her of the Roman version of the legend and it’s different from our version. The scene then switches and we see Hopkins preparing to escape, and we see Kanata reliving Kureha from her guard duty, Kureha asks Kanata if she could shoot someone, and Kanata says if she felt it was right then she thinks she could. As Kureha and Kanata discuss the legend of the Flame Maidens, Kanata hushes Kureha and says she hears something, and the scene switches to Claus telling someone he doesn’t know how good her ears are.

          Kanata rushes in and tells Filicia that she heard the signal to stop fighting, Kureha says she heard nothing and Kanata could be wrong. When it’s suggested that they inform Hopkins about the signal, Yumina discovers that he’s escaped. Well, it’s decided that they still have to be informed but Noel says he won’t listen, when Hopkins saw the reaper kill all those people all he did was laugh, she says he’ll fight and kill until no ones left, and it’s her fault for helping him. Yumina tells Noel that if she really feels that way than she should save more lives than she took.

 

        Naomi informs Hopkins about the ceasefire order and he says no way and orders the arrest of the civilians, and when questioned about his love of war he says “war advances civilization and science”.  Then the girls find out that the Romans or Helvetians (?)Are going to attack the next morning, and they find out about Naomi’s arrest, Kureha thinks war can’t be avoided. Kanata says she still wants to go and deliver the sound she’s been given, Kureha says it’s a selfish request, Yumina asks for them to stop the war and Aisha tells Noel that like her ,she’s killed, and if no one else does, she forgives her.

 

         Kureha says if they do this there’s no going back, Filicia says OK, Kanata says OK, Kureha says do what you want, and she says she doesn’t want a girl her age to be tortured either and Kureha breaks down in tears. Noel says it’s time to go, and Yumina asks for god’s blessing to be upon the Flame Maidens.

        Well, the girls power up tank-kun, and they have also brought along the wounded Aisha. After Filicia orders Kanata to signal attack with the trumpet, they fire the main cannon blasting a hole in the fortress. When Hopkins sees the fully operational spider tank exiting the fortress he orders his forces to stop it but the civilians and Naomi say they’ll stand in his way, they don’t want more war. After Hopkins backs down and heads off to use another route, we hear the retelling of the Roman version of the legend. Long ago, god sent an angel to punish the world, but the angel was wounded so it landed to rest near a western town, and the maidens that lived in the fortress saved the angel. Even though he was sent to destroy them they took pity on him, and using the help of a giant spider they gave refuge to him in a nearby valley. They each took turns embracing the angel’s neck to staunch the blood flow, and in return he gave the maidens a golden horn but the townspeople found out and set fire to the valley. They burned the maidens, and took the angel’s head. Then a army of angels appeared and covered the sky, but a glorious sound filled the air and the angels left, the last maiden using her last breath had sounded the golden horn. While this retelling is going on; the girls use tank-kun to fight their way through (disabling but not killing) Hopkins’ forces.

        Just as dawn is beginning to break, the order is given to charge, as both sides charge towards battle tank-kun basically flies through the air to land near the Helvetia forces.  Tank-kun climbs atop a ruined building and Kanata gives the ceasefire signal but the Helvetia forces refuse to stop. Kanata exits the tank and plays amazing grace as the sun rises across the plain. The forces come to a stop and they listen to Kanata’s song. Some of the soldiers from the first episode remember Kanata from the train. A Helvetia officer starts yelling at the men for stopping the attack, but he’s soon interrupted.

        Rio appears with the royal guard, and declares as second in line for the Helvetia throne and the finance of the Roman emperor that the peace talks are concluded and both sides are to disband. Rio holds out a peace treaty signed by both royal leaders, and she goes on to say that anyone disobeying this order will be punished by the royal guard in the name of both royal rulers.  After this news sinks in both sides begin to celebrate the end of the war with Kanata getting a shout out from those guys from the first episode.

          Well, spring has sprung and the cherry blossoms are falling at the Time Keeping Fortress, and the girls are talking about a letter Noel received from Aisha but they haven’t heard from Rio. Just then, Kanata hears Claus’s bike approaching, a new girl is arriving, no, Rio has returned. Rio is now a lieutenant who asks Captain Filicia for permission to enter, make it so. Well, Rio says the emperor isn’t really a bad guy, he’s a pretty decent guy, and he told Rio that he’d grant any wish for stopping the war, so she chose this. Rio is given a warm welcome home.  Well, that’s all for this series until the bonus episodes.

 

       Well, all good things must pass, and on the whole, Sora no Woto was a wonderful but slightly flawed series. Before this series began, I like many others had sort of dubbed this series K-On! goes to war, and one could hardly be blamed for jumping to this conclusion when we saw how close the character designs where to one another. But, as I watched this series progress I became engrossed in the many mysteries the post apocalypse world of Sora no Woto presented me with; I fell in love with the legends, the history, and the characters of Sora no Woto.

      Before I continue with the series review I’ll cover the events of the final episode, for me this episode consisted of three parts.

      Part one, Hopkins and the girls; in this portion of the episode we discovered a lot of information about Hopkins and Noel, and Hopkins’s true intentions. We and girls learn from Hopkins that the Helvetia army has known about the Roman army’s movement and intentions for a long time, they’ve been following it for about a month. We can also assume that their actions are meant to apply pressure on the Helvetians during the peace negotiations; it also seems that the Archduke has made the same conclusion due to the fact that he ordered Hopkins to take no actions. We also learn that Hopkins is off his rocker, while he might have been a good and efficient soldier in the past he’s decided to take matters into his own hands and restart the war with the Romans. I support Filicia’s decision about taking Hopkins into custody when he pretty much admitted that he doesn’t care what the Archduke’s orders where, and he’s going to do what he wants to do. Also, I thought that Aisha’s act of granting forgiveness to Noel was very well done and pretty realistic, only a person who’s killed in war can truly understand the burden that taking another’s life places upon one’s self. When Kanata heard the ceasefire signal in the distance it left Filicia with a pretty important decision, if Kanata is right and they do nothing the war will restart, if Kanata is right and they take action they could still be killed and the war could restart anyways, if Kanata was wrong and they take action they could be viewed as traitors and executed, if Kanata is wrong and they don’t action the war could restart and they be killed anyways, or they could take action and they could stop the war, well, that’s 4-1 for a bad outcome, but they decide to act. 

       Part two, the charge of the light brigade the Flame Maidens. Well, it was pretty sweet seeing the fully operational tank-kun in action and it was even more advanced that than I thought it would be. While tank-kun didn’t cut through Hopkins’s forces like a hot knife through butter, the girls’ intentions were to disable and not kill, plus speed was of the essence, if the girls were out to kill they could have stood off at a distance and put the tank into stealth & sniper mode and just picked off the enemy one by one with center mass kill shots. I didn’t think that the ending was as good as it could have been but I wasn’t totally bummed out about how it finished. So, the girls and tank-kun appear on the scene, and once Kanata figures out that playing ceasefire won’t work she goes and plays amazing grace which has a universal appeal for both sides buying enough time for Rio to appear on the scene with the signed peace treaty, while this ending does stretch the bounds of reality it wasn’t totally impossible. I had wondered as the series progressed how the writers where going to incorporate the legend of the flame maidens without sending the series into BS mode , so I was quite delighted when Aisha played the role of the demon/angel, with the girls protecting her instead of killing her. It was also very interesting seeing how different the Helvetia and Roman versions of the legend where. While I had hoped that the girls and Rio would have kicked some ass and made the Romans back off, I guess Rio trading herself as a royal wife was probably the better outcome for the two war weary countries. I also think that while both countries and their leaders where tired of war, Rio had to pay her pound of flesh if the Roman side had someone like Hopkins demanding something more than just a signed peace treaty with a return to status quo prewar relations, now the emperor can tell his hardliners, see we got our war reparations and our honor is restored, now STFU.

       Part three, the ending, and the return of Rio. OK, this was probably the hardest part of the episode for me to accept, I could actually see the emperor giving his future wife a very long leash especially if my above conjecture is correct, but I can’t picture the Roman emperors future wife and the second in line for the Helvetia throne being allowed to return to an isolated and understaffed fortress, it would present to many opportunities for peace haters like Hopkins a shot at killed Rio and undermining the peace.

        Now, for the series review; like I said earlier, I found Sora no Woto to be a wonderful but slightly flawed creation. I loved the mysteries of the past wars, the lost technology, the mixed cultures, the conflicting legends, and the political intrigue, but what I didn’t like was the many unresolved plot threads and unanswered questions. I’ll forgive Sora no Woto these faults because it was probably impossible to cover all the issues and ideas raised in the series due to the nature of it being only twelve episodes long. I think Sora no Woto would have been better served as a 24 episode series, but that’s water under the bridge. I think Sora no Woto did a great job at portraying the laid back nature of secluded military garrison life, and showing the interesting things that make up a soldiers life when not at war. I think that Sora no Woto did a believable job in portraying how a military unit might function where the age of adulthood has dropped to as low as 13-14 (Kureha is 14 at the start of the series, so she probably was 13 in basic training), so I wasn’t very bothered by how Filicia and Rio sometimes acted more like mothers and fathers to the girls rather than hard assed leaders. Overall, Sora no Woto managed to provided me with an entertaining and enjoyable viewing experience that included just the right balance of Moe, Mono no Aware, drama, and lighthearted comedy.

      This episode begins while winter is in full swing with Kureha and Kanata conducting a patrol that was ordered by HQ. While deep in the back country, near the observation stations, Kanata spots a fallen person in the snow. When Kanata and Kureha are examining the fallen woman they discover that she’s a Roman soldier.

 

      Back at the fortress, we watch Noel standing near the completed tank having a flashback from several years ago, Noel is getting praised for completing a project and we hear a military officer tell her that we can win with this.

 

        Then Filicia brings Noel in a room where Kureha and Kanata are working on the woman and Filicia tells Noel that they found a Roman soldier, Noel seems to go into shock. As the woman’s condition is touch and go, Noel says she’ll care for the woman. Filicia, Kanata, and Kureha search the woman’s pack finding a bugle, pistol, map, and other things and Kanata says she thought the enemy would look more evil.  Well, Kureha gets angry at Kanata but Filicia defuses the situation by reminding Kanata that she has to play recall. Kureha asks Filicia about the peace conferences not going well, no.

 

      Kureha asks Filicia about reporting this, Filicia says if so, she’ll be taken and interrogated, Kureha says she’s in enemy territory, so torture can be expected, Filicia says interrogation and asks Kureha for more time to make her decision, Kureha tells Filicia to remember that they’re soldiers. Filicia asks her if anyone saw them bring her back but Kureha doesn’t know since they were busy with her.  Alone, Filicia asks what Rio would do. Then the scene switches to the observation posts where we see a Roman army unit making their way through the area, and we see part of the observation post light up.

 

      The next morning, the Roman soldier wakes and tries to overpower Noel but a quick breast grab puts her back in her place with a scream. Kanata and Kureha come rushing in and Kureha tries to question her but all they get out of her is her unit, name, and serial number, (she’s A’ishah Aldora, from Company B, 13th Tank Battalion, 1st Tank Division of the Roman Empire) none of them speak Roman. Filicia enters the room and makes some pretty racy comments seeing if she can get a reaction out of her to determine if she understands any of their language.  Filicia says they need to find someone who speaks Roman, they’ll hold her until they interrogate her and file a report, and Kureha says whatever happens it’s not her fault. When the Roman girl hears the name of the Time Keeping Fortress she begins to breakdown saying she made it.

 

      Well, as Kanata and Noel feed the captive and attempt to communicate with her, Noel says she wishes she had studied Roman, and Kanata gets an idea. Later, Kanata plays the trumpet for the captive, and Kanata offers it to the prisoner and she plays a few bars of amazing grace. Kanata tries to ask her about the song but they still can’t understand each other.  Well, at that very moment Naomi shows up with Yumina, it seems that someone saw Kureha and Kanata returning with the Roman soldier after all. Well, Naomi tells Filicia and the girls that the army is on the move to this town and if it has anything to do with this Roman soldier then there’s trouble.

 

      Yumina knows how to speak Roman and starts talking to A’ishah and she calls Yumina a heretic, Kureha starts to get pissed. Yumina asks A’ishah why she’s here, she won’t say anything about her mission but she does say she wanted to see the bones of the angel that’s supposed to be in this town. A’ishah says her grandmother was at this fortress and was captured on the Eastern front where she met her grandfather, and she told her about the bones when she was a child. I’ve always wanted to see the angel my grandmother had seen. The angel of apocalypse that brought retribution upon the world and it seems that A’ishah and Yumina have a slight religious disagreement.

 

       A bugle call sounds in the distance and Kanata decodes it saying that the 1st Royal Guard Battalion, 9th Mobile Division has arrived. The unit is commanded by Colonel Hopkins, the demon of Binnenland who revived ancient weapons that wiped out three towns in one night, at the mention of his name Noel slides to the floor in a fetal position. Filicia hugs Noel and says that the Colonel doesn’t know she’s here. Naomi says whatever you’re going to do you better hurry, Kureha says they have to hand her over but Kanata argues that Rio wouldn’t what her to suffer, so Filicia issues an order as the commander and takes sole responsibility.

 

       A few moments later, Colonel Hopkins tells Filicia and the group that a Roman scout was captured in Treize but due to an accident during interrogation, well……. He says there were reports of Roman forces in the area and maybe even a prisoner, Filicia says she doesn’t know anything, and the Colonel says effective right now command of this fortress is transferred to the 9th Mobile Division.

 

       Meanwhile, Noel, A’ishah, Naomi, and Yumina are hiding while the Colonel’s forces search the fortress.  Yumina and A’ishah share a private conversation on the legend of the fire maidens and it gets a start out of Yumina. A’ishah asks Yumina what Noel’s name is so Yumina tells her it’s Noel, and A’ishah calls her Noel Kannagi which Yumina says is correct. A’ishah calls her Noel Kannagi of the invisible death; Noel screams and runs away from the rest of the group.

 

      When the Coronel hears the scream he begins to grin, A’ishah follows Noel into the hallway as soldiers are drawn towards the scream. The phone begins to ring as soldiers stumble into Noel and A’ishah in the hallway. Kanata answers the phone and is informed that a large Roman force has been spotted massing between no man’s land and the town of Seize.  The episode ends with Noel and A’ishah being surrounded by soldiers with their rifles at the ready, a shot rings out and……Well, that’s all for this episode.  

 

       Well, here we go, war has shown up on the doorstep of the Time-keeping Fortress, and what the hell was Felicia thinking. While we’ve been shown that the peace talks between Helvetia and the Roman Empire weren’t going well the beginning of the episode gave us a hint that Helvetia is getting really worried because it struck me as highly unusual to see Kureha and Kanata out on winter patrol which is later confirmed by Hopkins mentioning the capture of a Roman scout a few days earlier.

       I think that Kanata and Kureha did a great job handling the injured Roman soldier; In the Army we had a procedure for handling EPW’s (Enemy Prisoners of War) called the 5-S’s which stood for #1-Search the prisoners for weapons and documents, #2-Segerate the captives by rank and status, #3-Silence the prisoners so they can’t plan with others for escape, #4-Speed the captives to your HQ or other collection point, and #5-Safeguard the prisoners while in custody, a dead or abused prisoner has no intel value.

       But, I have to ask Felicia what the hell was she thinking; Filicia was supposed to be the combat experienced leader that would keep the girls as safe as possible even in a war situation, and make no mistake, once the girls found a Roman soldier inside Helvetia territory Filicia should have known they were back at war. Once Kanata, Kureha, and Filicia searched A’ishah’s pack even a fool could tell by the light nature of her load that she was an advance scout and the main force would be close by. It might have been a different story if they found the scout lugging an 80 pound pact with a few weeks of food in it but that wasn’t the case. Filicia didn’t call HQ and report the incident. Hell, the least she could have done was put the fortress and town on higher alert, she could have sent the girls out on a rotating basis checking for the enemy. What was she going to do, just sit around like normal and wait till the enemy captured the town and fortress and end up having the girls captured, raped, killed, or maybe all three. I have to agree with Kureha saying that they should have reported it, when you’re a soldier you know what can happen if you’re captured by the enemy, sorry, but that’s the breaks.

        While I found Noel’s further back story interesting it does strain the bounds of reality; in this world only a loli girl can unlock the secrets of the past to recreate a weapon of mass destruction. Also, Filicia is completely wrong, I’d be willing to bet that Hopkins knows damn well where his angel of death is hanging out; Noel’s too valuable a military asset to just forget where she’s located. 

        Now, about the ending, I can accept a lot of different endings. I could accept all the girls dying in battle together, or Kanata being the sole survivor just like Filicia was. I could accept Hopkins coming out with some crazy nuclear weapon and the harmonics for Kanata’s music being the key to deactivating it. I could accept the war being fought and Kanata having to play amazing grace to remember the fallen. I can accept the girls’ using the tank to kick the shit out of the Roman’s whose equipment looks a lot older. I could even accept Rio showing up at the last minute with a peace treaty and all three of the girls playing amazing grace to signal the end of the war since the Roman emperor got his third piece of ass. But, one thing I won’t accept is Kanata using her trumpet to cause everyone to sit around the campfire together drinking, smoking, and hugging each other. Well, only time will tell, make love not war, Claus keep your dirty hands off Kureha she’s all mine.

I’m sorry this post took so long but I’ve been sick lately and work has been a real bitch these past three weeks.  Also, this episode was so loaded with juicy themes that I wanted to get my thoughts in order before dropping this post.

      This episode begins one chilly fall morning with Rio burning the letters she’s been receiving from her father. We also hear that Kanata has made great improvements in her playing abilities since she’s had six months of practice time at the fortress.

      Then the scene switches and we see a Yuuko and an old woman up in the hills above the fortress and the old woman seems to be ill. Later in the morning we see Kureha and Kanata helping Noel refurbishing the tank, and it looks almost ready to rock. Then Kanata asks Kureha about the princess and they look for the unit’s army almanac, but its missing and Filicia’s no help in finding its location.

      Over tea, Kureha tells Kanata more about Princess Iliya; she says that Iliya was the eldest daughter of the current Archduke and she was a famous tanker. Kanata asks her about what Claus said. She died two years ago when she assigned to the royal guard, on her way to visit a city, she drowned saving a child from a river. Kureha goes on to tell Kanata that she relieved because the rumor was….

      Later, Kanata gets a visit from Yumina and Yuuko asking for a favor. Kanata goes to Rio room and asks her through the door for help. Yuuko is the daughter of Martin (one of the shop owners they do business with) and she wants them to check on the old lady (Jacott) who sells them stuff at the market. Rio is just lying in bed in a semi-cationic state but gets up and tells Kanata that she’ll listen to her request.

      Soon, Kanata and Rio are off to the hills to check on Jacott. While they’re walking towards Jacott’s house we hear the rest of what Kureha told Kanata about Iliya; it was rumored that Princess Iliya was going to be married off to the Emperor of Rome to improve relations with them, she would have been his third wife, and Kureha says she would have been a hostage. The idea stopped when Princess Iliya died and they fought with Rome until this year’s peace treaty.

       When they arrive at Jacott’s house they find her working on the construction of a new house, and she’s not in good health. Well, they take her inside and fix her some tea. She tells them the new house is for her son who lives in the city but will return home some day. When, Rio asks. Soon, Jacott replies. Rio tells the woman she must move to the city before winter comes, but the woman refuses, she has to finish that house. Rio says she’s not ready for winter having no firewood or provisions. She laughs and says she’ll be OK.

        Back at the fortress, we see Rio chopping firewood and complaining to Filicia about the stubborn old woman, and Filicia says it reminds her of Rio. Filicia then asks Rio why she showed her the letter, and she goes on to tell Rio that the military is reporting that the Roman army on their eastern border has started to move, Rio expresses shock.

        We then see Rio waiting in the car while Kanata is inside Martin’s shop picking up supplies for Jacott, and another customer asks Kanata for news about the peace conferences. Martin laments, if only Princess Iliya was alive, and the princess had a younger sister, the rumor is that she was an illegitimate child but she’s third in line for the throne. Just as Kanata is asking about the younger sister, Rio walks in the store and asks Kanata if she wants to take a walk.

       They talk about Kanata’s village and her family, large fields and lots of cows and goats, but not many people, and Rio says she can tell Kanata had a good family. Rio grew up in a small town near the capital with pretty lakes and forests, and she lived with her mother, it was boring and nothing happened. Rio’s true joy was her half sister who loved her very much and would stop by to play with her. Rio looked up to her because she was kind, and her sister accepted her fate with pride, she learned the trumpet from her, but her kindness was her undoing. Rio goes on to talk about the town, she got lost and ended up here and felt she had reached her goal, but realized this was a dead end.

      Kanata tells Rio, no, she gets lost all the time, I like to get lost, and who cares if your where lost or if it’s a dead end because that’s how I met you.  Rio tells Kanata that she jealous of her at certain times and she wishes she could be true to herself. The scene switches back to Jacott’s place with Kanata and Rio stocking the firewood and readying it for winter.  Jacott asks Rio why she cares, Rio says she reminds her of her mother, and Rio says she was born of a forbidden love, but her mother waited for him and he might come by once a year and she died living unhappily like that. Why do you think she was unhappy, Jacott asks, I’m quite happy here.  He promised he’d come back for me, it’s all I could do, what could I have done. Is that enough, yes, because I have my memories and the hope I’ll see them again.

      As Jacott and Rio talk, Kanata listens from outside the door as the first snow of the winter begins to fall. Back in the fortress, Kureha comments that it’s cold out there as the snow begins to descend on the countryside. As Kanata and Rio sleep inside Jacott’s house we get a flashback of Jacott’s life and how she ended up this way, she fell in love with a young married merchant and bore his child, because the man’s wife couldn’t have children he took the child and left her there, but promised to come back someday. Later, Jacott thinks the man has returned and rushes to the door to welcome him home.

      In the morning, Kanata and Rio awaken to find Jacott missing and follow her tracks into the snowy countryside, but to an avail.  We hear Jacott’s voice saying in order to lose you have to have gained, and the greater the joy of gain the greater the sorrow of your loss. Kanata’s voice counters with if you have memories of your happiness, with that, you can live on.

      Back at the fortress, Naomi says that she’s found the pictures of Princess Iliya that Kanata was interested in, Filicia tries to stop Naomi, but Rio says it’s OK. The pictures were of Iliya’s unit at the Timekeeping Fortress from five years ago, and in one of the pictures we see Iliya with the owl and Rio’s trumpet.

          Kanata looks to Rio, and Rio nods to Kanata and they head off to the tower together. Rio begins to play amazing grace and Kanata joins in and their duet resounds throughout the fortress and the town. After, Kanata tells Filicia that she thinks her parents wanted her to marry and take over the farm, but she fell in love with the trumpet and ended up here. It was Iliya, wasn’t it she asks Rio. Yes. You met her, too. Kanata says her music welled up inside of me.

       Rio gives Kanata her/Iliya’s charm and tells Kanata that she thinks she ran away to this town, I knew I’d leave someday. Now, I don’t want to leave, but that’s why I have to go to do what only I can do.  She then gives Kanata her trumpet and says she won’t say goodbye, no matter how far away…..Kanata says sounds fills the air……and reaches peoples’ hearts.  Kanata was I a good teacher? Yes.  As Rio walks off, she salutes the fortress and Kanata. Kanata says she’ll forever hear her music, the sound of the sky. Well, that’s all for this episode.

      Here I go; this review will be slightly different than my previous reviews of the series since I think that the real meat of this episode deals with Rio coming to a mature understanding of her nature and her position. One of the main reasons this review has taken me so long to complete is that I had to spend a lot of time looking up, reading, and watching other media to include in this review.

1 Corinthians 13

 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. 

 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(King James Version with “charity” rendered as “love”)

      I feel the highlighted portion of 1 Corinthians 13 really explains Rio’s internal battle that she’s been waging over the past few years. Rio saw/viewed her mother’s relationship with her father through the eyes and understanding of an immature child judging her mother’s action through her impression of their relationship rather that asking her mother what she really felt. I think that Rio and Kanata’s encounter with Jacott served to awaken Rio’s understanding that she was judging her mother on only half knowledge; did she ever ask her mother if she was unhappy, did she ever ask her mother if her father lied to her mother or did they have an understanding, all Rio ever did was become angry and bitter without ever understanding if there was a reason to become so. I’ll get back to the “a glass, darkly” part later.

      I found Rio’s comment to Kanata about “her sister’s kindness being her undoing” to be quite interesting because this is the main struggle that caused all the problems in the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. A person’s nature can only be what it is, Iliya’s nature as a person and a princess was to be brave and kind and she could no more change her nature then an eagle could change its nature. While Rio might have wanted her sister to be more careful and less kind that would have caused her sister to change from the sister she so admired and loved into something else, think Anthy and Akio.

For further reading on this subject please see Ghostlightning’s post on Utena, and my comments on personal identity and characteristics.

Kanata and Rio; the free bird, and the caged bird.

I know why the caged bird sings, by Maya Angelou.

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

        This poem perfectly explains Rio’s jealousy of Kanata, to Rio, Kanata is the free bird that glides along on the current of the winds letting those winds take it to new and interesting places while Rio is the caged bird that dreams of having Kanata’s freedom . Rio lives in a cage constructed by the nature of her birth & her identity, and the responsibilities that society places upon her. No matter how much Rio may wish to be free like Kanata, she’s still a princess and owes her country and the memory of her sister a debt. Some might say that Rio could keeping running away from her father but what would that solve, Rio would still be the caged bird. I think that the only way Rio will be truly be free of her cage is for personal death.

The legend of the Thornbird from The Thornbirds, by Colleen MuCullough.

“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth.

 From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles.

 For the best is only bought at the price of great pain… or so says the legend…”

       Rio struggles her whole life against the chains and bars of her cage only to discover only in death can she truly be free. On top of the tower, Rio impales herself upon the thorn of her destiny and sings her perfect song and in the process she undergoes death, the death of one existence and she experiences her rebirth into her perfected self.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

       When Rio finally put aside her childlike thinking she was able to see clearly through the obscured glass/mirror that she’s been using to view herself. The darkness is now pulled back and now the light of self understanding illuminates Rio knowledge of her true nature and her responsibilities. The caged Rio dies on top of that tower, her fears and uncertainties fade under the light, and Rio is reborn into her true form. The bastard princess, third in line for throne, now assumes the role she was born to but fled from; she must do what only she can do, and Iliya smiles.

       Well, it’s time for a blog update. The past two weeks have been sheer hell, I came down with the seasonal flu and it kicked my ass. After finishing work I barely had the energy to watch any anime let alone keeping up with my episodic posts. So, now that I’m some what recovered I’ll be catching up with Kimi ni Todoke and all the back episodes of Yumeiro Patissiere. Well, these past two weeks have show me that at times being a solo episodic blogger sure can suck.

      Well, this episode picks up with Sawako wondering if Chizu was able to give Ryuu his birthday gift. Later that night Chizu is laying in bed thinking about that very same thing when she grabs the gift and decides to head over to Ryuu’s to give him his gift. By the time Chizu arrives at Ryuu’s, Tooru has already left, and Ryuu and Chizu share some unkind words and Ryuu ends up telling Chizu to give up on his brother, and Chizu throws Ryuu’s gift at him.

       Later, at school, Sawako and Ayane both commiserate over their uselessness and their inability to be much of a help to Chizu in the current situation. Soon, Kazehaya joins Sawako and Ayane in a stairwell conversation over the whole Chizu/Ryuu/Tooru thing, and he sort of reassures them that Chizu should be alright since she has two friends that worry and care for her.

 

    When Chizu arrives in class, there’s a tension between her and Ryuu. Also, there’s a tension between Ayane, Sawako, and Chizu, but Ayane leaves Sawako a note saying to treat Chizu normally, and if she needs support they’ll be there if she needs to cry her eyes out.

        When lunch period begins, Kazehaya takes off with some of the boys leaving Ryuu and the three girls in the classroom. When Chizu takes off to buy some lunch Ryuu gets up and leaves a few seconds later leaving Ayane and Sawako to wonder if he went after Chizu. When Ryuu confronts Chizu in the stairwell he has to grab her arm to keep her from walking off. Chizu starts shouting at Ryuu drawing the attention of the other students including Sawako and Ayane. Chizu asks if Ryuu thought she needed to be rejected, yeah. Chizu tells Ryuu that she didn’t fall in love with Tooru to be disappointed and she runs off.

       Sawako and Ayane catch up with Chizu and Sawako starts balling and this leads to Chizu cutting loose. Chizu cuts loose with everything that happened, she lets it all out, and Ayane and Sawako are just kind of there for her. Chizu tells them of her anger at Ryuu, her frustration over Tooru, and that she’s most disappointed about how she threw Ryuu’s birthday gift in his face. Chizu ends up crying while Ayane and Sawako hold her, and on their way home Chizu says she feels a lot better and is ready to eat some cake. The episode ends with Ryuu placing a telephone call to his brother about Chizu.

       Well, in this episode Sawako seems to have learned another important lesson about friendship, that being, if you can’t directly help your friend, just be there for them.  Since the end of the last episode, and through most of this episode, Sawako has been agonizing about her inability to be any real help to Chizu even though Ayane tries to tell her there’s not much you can do.  Also, Kazehaya shows a remarkable amount of wisdom in this episode, and his words seem to really help Ayane and Sawako. But, it was also quite funny when he tells Sawako and Ayane that he would most likely be useless if he was in the same situation, sometimes there are no right words to help ease the pain.  In the end I guess it all worked out of the best with Sawako’s tears causing Chizu to let loose all her sadness and frustrations in the hallway. I think that Chizu letting loose of her emotions was very healthy and is the first step in her journey of coming to terms with her feelings and herself. Well, I’m looking forward to the next episode to see if Ryuu is going to manage to set something up between his older brother and Chizu that’ll help ease Chizu past this rough spot and lead to some emotional closure for her.

        This episode begins with the girls working in their garden harvesting the fruits of a bountiful summer. While going about their labors, Kureha tells Kanata about her parents, her father was a pretty famous tanker who was wounded in battle, and that’s where he met Kureha’s mother who was working as a medic in the hospital. Filicia informs the girls that Claus will be stopping by and Kureha gets all excited. Kanata says that Kureha must really like Claus, no, I just respect him.

        At that moment we see and hear Rio start to jam out on her bugle, Kureha comments that she didn’t know Rio was that good, but Kanata seems very unsettled. Filicia looks to the sky and says the wind is starting to blow and the weather is going to get bad soon so they need to head inside.

       Later, after dinner it begins to storm and Kanata, Kureha, and Noel lounge around in their bed clothes with Kanata bringing up the fact that Rio is acting strange including the fact that she ate pepper when she can’t stand them. As the girls continue the small talk, Kanata notices that Kureha has a picture of a much younger Claus, and Kureha calls it her treasure and tells Kanata she can’t have it. A few seconds later, Noel falls asleep in her chair and Kanata has to catch her before she goes crashing to the floor, Kureha and Kanata place Noel in Kureha’s bed.

 

       Later, we see that the three girls are racked out in Kureha’s bed, and Filicia has talk with Rio. She asks about her hanging up on her father, and she brings up the fact that while Rio seems on top of things she really not, she tells Rio she’ll cover for her but act like a good leader in front to the other girls.

       A few seconds later, Claus shows up in the middle of the storm with a priority message for Rio. Filicia calls Claus the desert fox and invites him inside where he gets mad because he says he asked her not to call him that. Filicia says how about some hot tea and a bath as an apology.

        Soon we see Kureha serving Claus some of her cooking and he makes the comment that she’ll make a good wife someday. Kanata walks in and sees Filicia reading a newspaper that Claus brought with him, the peace conferences aren’t going well, and Claus laments that if princess Iliya was still alive things might be different. Kureha tells Kanata that Iliya was the hero of Vingt and the first princess of Archduke Arcadia and Kanata looks over to the book Rio gave her. Kureha goes on to call her the Helvetian army’s goddess of victory, and a tanker goddess like Claus the Desert Wolf. As the Claus and the other discuss the peace conferences, Rio is in her room agonizing about opening the message tube when Naomi and Yumina show up asking for help, Seiya is missing.

        Well, the army jump into action, Claus and Kureha head off in his motorcycle and sidecar, Noel and Filicia head off in the car, and Rio and Kanata search by foot. While Kanata and Rio are searching near the river by the waterfall, Rio has a flashback of the princess and she comments that she fell. While Kureha and Claus are searching they run into Mishio and Kureha grabs her and says the only reason she could be out here is because she knows something about Seiya, where is he, the fields.

        Well, Kureha and Claus find Seiya near the raging river trying to protect some eggplants, Kureha goes to him and he says he didn’t ask for help. Kureha is about to hit him but instead hugs him and says that kids without parents have to be stronger than kids with them because she’s an orphan too.  After Seiya gets pulled to safety, Claus tells Kureha to go next, but the path collapses and Kureha and Claus are trapped near the river with no way up, Filicia tells Rio, Kanata and Noel that it doesn’t look good.

        Kureha tells Claus that she’s not afraid because she’s with him and Claus is about to tell her something but he changes his mind. Above, Kanata says she not worried because Kureha with miracle Claus, and Filicia and Rio says that’s not true, Claus just happened to have the same name and was close in appearance and Kureha got all happy, and Claus just never found the right moment to tell her. But, Filicia says the important thing is we have to figure out how to rescue them.

       Noel suggests they send them a rope, Rio says they’re too far down and too far away, but Noel says there’s a way. Below, Kureha tells Claus that when she first met him she thought that her father would have been like him if he still lived, and she tells him that she says she knew her dad well but its all second hand since he died when she was little. Claus’s and Kureha’s little patch of ground continues to erode and Kureha clings to Claus when she notices that he’s missing the wolf tattoo on his chest that her picture has.

       As a watery death closes in on Claus and Kureha they hear a bugle call, and we see that the townspeople have pulled the tank to a spot overlooking the river. Noel is going to use a previously unseen function of the tank to fire a rescue line to them. Kanata uses her instrument to signal to Claus that a line is coming, and Claus tells Kureha that he’ll protect her in her father’s place. As the line is fired over, Claus grabs the line and reaches for Kureha as the last bit of ground washes away, nobody can see if they have grabbed the line when Filicia orders it retrieved.

       As the line is pulled up, Claus has managed to hold on to Kureha, he says now that we’re safe I have to tell you that…..Kanata interrupts him saying she knows, he’s the one she admires. After it’s all over and a sunny day has dawned, Claus says that in the end he was more afraid of ruining someone’s dream than dying, so he’s a coward, but Kanata says she still admires him. Claus tells Kanata that most of the time what you see in a person and what they’re feeling is different, and admiring someone makes your vision blurry. Filicia asks Claus if he’ll stay till Kureha wakes up. No, he tells her to tell Kureha that his face wound is the most honorable wound he’s ever received. While this is taking place, we see Kureha sleeping while holding on to her beloved picture.  Well, that’s all for this watery episode.

       OK, this was a pretty nice episode that focused on Claus and Kureha. We find out that Claus wasn’t the famous Desert Wolf, he just didn’t have will to break Kureha’s hero worship. Hell, I really don’t blame Claus for letting Kureha go on about the whole thing, who doesn’t want to be worshiped by a cute girl from time to time.

       Also, it was nice getting some background on Kureha, and it goes a long way to explaining her attraction to Claus. We find out that Kureha’s father was tank commander who might have had some pretty good moments, and he met Kureha’s mother when he was wounded. Kureha told Claus that he’s how she pictured her father looking if he had lived. It seems that Kureha’s whole life has revolved around and been affected by the military, her father was a good tank commander, her mother was a military medic, and both died in the war and Kureha was an orphan until she was old enough to join the military which became her new family. So, It’s easy to see why Kureha would fall for a military guy who she pictures as the image of her brave and courageous fallen father, go for it girl, it’s better to marry a Major instead of a Private, better billets and pay.

       Well, Sora no Woto is continuing it’s cold path to the finish, like many slice of life anime series, Sora no Woto is showing a heavy seasonal influence, we began in the freshness of spring then lazily drifted through summer to feel a stormy fall, and are now heading to the cold embrace of winter’s kiss, the only question left is how cold it’s icy embrace will be for Rio and her friends.

Earth’s Answer, from Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, 1794

Earth raised up her head
From the darkness dread and drear,
Her light fled,
Stony, dread,
And her locks covered with grey despair.

‘Prisoned on watery shore,
Starry jealousy does keep my den
Cold and hoar;
Weeping o’er,
I hear the father of the ancient men.

‘Selfish father of men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!
Can delight,
Chained in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear.

‘Does spring hide its joy,
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?

‘Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around!
Selfish, vain,
Eternal bane,
That free love with bondage bound.’