Supernatural


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.

        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.’

        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.” 

       Well, this episode starts out on a bright and sunny morning with Kanata getting ready to head out to town, it’s her first payday and she wants to buy a present to send home to her mother. Kanata is surprised to learn that she’s getting paid in real money, not scrip, to which, Kureha tries to reply “that’s why we have our other job” but Noel grabs her and stops her from talking.

         After Rio and the others she Kanata off, Rio chews out Kureha for almost spilling the beans about their other job. Kureha says that no one would really believe that they got paid on time all the way out here, but Filicia says that what makes her Kana-chan. As the other girls walk down to the locked storage area Rio said that neither Noel nor Kureha believed it, so today we forget about our main job.

       As we see Kanata wondering around town we see Naomi (the shop keeper, and Rio’s friend) pay a little visit to the fortress telling the girls they have a little problem. Then the scene switches to a building sitting below the shop where it appears that Filicia and the girls are making a deal to sell wine and other beverages to some shady characters in a black market deal. The transaction goes bad and Rio, Noel, and Kureha end up gunning down three guys in a gun fight.

       Afterwards, we find out that this was all done as a show to scare off two men that have been hanging around town and snooping around the shop. After the two men run off, the three men that were gunned down get up and are thanked by the girls. They call the girls the Central Area Mafia and they agree to a “you help us and we help you relationship”.

       In the confusion, the two “bad” guys’ car was smashed up before they fled so everyone agrees to take the stuff and split the profit. A little while later we find out that the girls are distilling the wine and spirits at the fortress violating the federal monopoly & tax codes and could be court marshaled for treason if caught. Also, we find out from Filicia that the fortress maidens seem to have been doing this for quite a while, and that Rio didn’t object when she arrived at the fortress.

       Then we switch scenes and see Yumina trying to get the orphans dressed up and ready for a visit to the church, and she has problems with Mishio who ends up running off alone.  A bit later we see Kanata getting pushed into Naomi’s shop’s window where she sees the two guys from later gunfight play. After Naomi speaks with Kanata for a while about the dolphin she likes Naomi tells Kanata that she’ll save the dolphin until she says she doesn’t want it.

        While Kanata is walking away, she says she’ll buy everyone a gift before she buys one for herself, and it seems that it’ll be quite a while before Kanata gets her dolphin since she’s got a lot of gifts to buy (mom, dad, grandparents, and even a great-grandmother). Once Kanata reaches the main market she runs into Mishio who who’s looking for a certain box, a box that we’ve seen sitting inside the bad guys’ crushed car.

        A little while later, Kanata runs into Yumina who’s looking for Mishio, and we find out that Mishio’s mother died and all their property was taken, and Mishio searches the market hoping to find that family memento. As Kanata is searching for Mishio, she spots her on the roof of Naomi’s shop. As the “firecrackers” begin to go off it startles Mishio causing her to slip, and she ends up hanging from a gutter calling for Yumina. Kanata rushes to the roof and saves Mishio in the nick of time but their struggle causes debris to cascade down crushing the bad guys’ car.

       Later, Kanata takes Mishio below and apologizes to Naomi for the car and even offers her paycheck in compensation for the damage. Naomi begins to laugh and tells Kanata to keep her check when Mishio spots “her” box inside the spoils taken from the car.

       Inside the church, Yumina tells the priest that no matter how hard she tries to be Mishio’s family she’s not good enough. A few seconds later, Kanata brings Mishio to the church where Yumina sees that Mishio has found her box. Mishio gives the box to Yumina, the box contains hair braiding trinkets, and Mishio tells Yumina that she mother told her to give this to the person the person she’s closest to and have her hair braided by that person.

       While this is going on, Kanata and the priest have a conversation about how Mishio’s father joined the army and never came back (KIA?), and how the invisible/phantom killer struck Mishio’s town and her mother became ill by the time she arrived in town then died. Kanata and the priest then talk about how man can live on even though we lose the one’s we love, and how it’s a very sad but brave thing.

      Back at the fortress, Kanata sees that Rio has washed her hair and offers to dry it for her. While drying her hair, Kanata and Rio have a discussion about fate, Kanata believes in it, but Rio doesn’t. Rio hates the idea that things are decided or given to you at the beginning but she says it’s possible that something that happens by coincidence can go around and around and change someone’s life in a big way; maybe you can call it fate. Rio falls asleep as she’s talking to Kanata and the charm she’s wearing jingles a D-flat, and Kanata says Rio must have had a good day. Well, that’s all from mafia central.

 

       First of all, I have to say that this was an extremely enjoyable, interesting and enlightening episode.  I found it very enjoyable watching Kanata going through the town and its market exploring the wares. I did the very same thing when I was first stationed in Korea; “must get gift to send home to mother (or else)”, and it wasn’t unpleasant watching a cute girl doing cute things (oh-no, I’m falling for Kanata Moe).  I also really enjoyed the gangster shootout scene because it was such a contrast to what I had come to expect from the girls, and I never would have thought that the big secret the girls have been keeping from Kanata was that the fortress maidens are bootleggers, quite a nice surprise.

       What I found enlightening in this episode was we got another glimpse into the real state of the country and its military in the current post conflict stage. This episode showed us that the military is in quite bad shape because it can’t pay its soldiers on time or with real cash. In the military we had a rule called the three M’s when it came to taking care of the soldiers (meals, mail, and money), meaning that the morale of the soldiers depended on the soldiers receiving those three things.  Also, it was quite shocking how poor the room conditions are for the girls at the time keeping fortress, notice that Kanata sleeps on a pretty ratty looking mattress/futon and she doesn’t even have a basic military wall locker to put her uniforms in while she not wearing them. The issuance and use of scrip inside the girls’ home country is quite surprising.

       Note: When my father was stationed in Japan in the early 1950’s they were paid in military scrip and they hated it. Scrip is used to control the soldiers’ spending, and is also used to control the local economy. The government authorizes what stores can accept scrip and also basically sets what prices the stores can charge for their services, so if a soldiers wants to spend scrip at a place that doesn’t accept it they can usually spend it there but they’ll be charged a huge markup because that store must then exchange that scrip with a store that can accept the scrip. Stores or businesses that are authorized to take scrip then exchange the script for real currency but the government can put the screws to the businesses by not giving them a full exchange rate if things are fiscally tight or if they just don’t like them. 

        Also, we found out that Kanata’s basic training was only one month long, and she received no pay for basic training. Well, it seems that any military that can’t afford to pay its soldiers for basic training is pretty poor, and it’ll probably only attract only those who truly want to join the army for some reason (like Kanata wanting to learn music), or those who have no other way of earning a living or have no family. This information seems to line up nicely with the soldiers from the first episode’s surprise when they found out that Kanata was a volunteer.  One month of basic training is a very short time indeed since Kanata probably spend one third of that time traveling to and from basic training, filling out paperwork, and getting uniforms and equipment issued to her leaving very little time for real training. 

         This episode also highlighted how naïve and idealistic Kanata is compared to the rest of the girls. While Kanata doesn’t even wonder why she’s getting paid on time, and in real currency when all the previous stories she’d heard contradicts her experience while Rio confirms that neither Noel nor Kureha would have believed it to be true.

         So, the fortress maidens have been bootlegging wine to supplement their incomes for quite a while, and this was confirmed when Rio has a flashback from her childhood of her mother drinking the wine. Soldiers bootlegging and black marketing stuff is as old as the wind, and in times of war and financial stress it’s often overlooked. This doesn’t mean that the higher ups won’t crack down if it gets out of hand it just means that they understand that the military can’t properly care for their force the way it needs to be taken care of. When I was stationed in Korea in the mid 1980’s, I and several of my fellow soldiers did a little black marketing of booze, smokes, and other items to make some extra pocket cash.

         While I think this series has been very lighthearted with a few somber moments I think that it’s going to take a dark and more serious turn in the future. I think that the higher ups must be aware to some extent that fortress maidens are doing their bootlegging thing but I think that they believe that there’s some purpose to having those maidens at the fortress, so they tolerate the back dealing. We’ve been given too many hints about past legends, invisible demons, fate, and destiny for this to be red herring. When Kanata and Rio had their little discussion about fate with Kanata saying she believes in the concept and Rio hating the notion we’re entering a pretty well trodden anime path. Many great anime series such as Princess Tutu, and Escaflowne use the conflict between free will and fate/destiny as a major theme, or maybe the writers are going to keep this a military slice of life anime with heavy themes of mono on aware, fooling me, and most other viewers.

        It’s quite possible that the creators intend us to just watch and enjoy Kanata and the girls trying to live life to the fullest in a society starting to recover from a devastating war and ecological disaster, life is beautiful, or as the priest comments how man going on in the face of loss is both sad but brave. Well, if that happens I guess I would have fallen for the concept of synchronicity, this is concept that Rio tried to find the words for when she was discussing how seemingly unrelated events could have a large impact on someone in an unforeseen way. But, I’m siding with the idea that Kanata appearance at the fortress is like placing a small stone in just the right spot in a river causing the river to change its course (idea swiped from Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass), so I feel that something big is going to happen, but I don’t know if the girls will find it very pleasant.

On Synchronicity see this entry.

For more info on scrip see this entry.

For more info on mono no aware see my review of.

Natsu no Sora episode 12.

Toki o Kakeru Shojo.

      This episode begins with Kanata getting the honor of sounding the morning wake up call, and she’s as bad as before. Then the platoon enjoys a breakfast cooked by Kanata, and her cooking is much better than her bugle playing. Later, Felicia informs Rio that she’ll be going into town in the afternoon with Kureha to pick up a shipment of supplies sent by HQ.

       The squad spends the morning doing typical army things; cleaning the area, cleaning & practicing with their weapons, and conducting classroom training. Kanata also cooks lunch for the squad, and Rio takes her lunch with Felicia in her office where Felicia talks about how well Kanata is fitting in. Rio tells Felicia that Kanata works hard and tries hard but those qualities aren’t enough by themselves, Felicia just smiles at her.

       After lunch, Felicia heads off with Kureha and Noel to pick up the supplies leaving Rio and Kanata at the fortress. Rio has Kanata practice with just her mouthpiece, and later she asks her what she things about military life and why she joined the army.

        Well, Kanata tells Rio that she found out that the military would teach you music for free, oh protecting the country is also important. Kanata than asks Rio why she joined the military. Rio says her reason were almost the opposite of Kanata’s. While Rio is explaining her situation to Kanata she notices that Kanata is looking really sick. Kanata starts to collapse, and she starts babbling about how Rio’s music sounded like music she heard as a child and that was the sound of the sky.

       As Rio rushes to Kanata’s aid, when Kanata starts calling to her mother saying she’s burning up. Rio carries Kanata inside where she gets Kanata out of her uniform and into bed. Kanata thinks Rio is her mother and reaches for her saying she wants to eat snow (ice?).  Well, Rio rushes around the fortress looking for snow (ice?) and medicine where she discovers the first aid supplies empty and ends up cursing the supple corps. Rio has a flashback from her childhood where her (mother?) was sick and jumps on the unit’s motorcycle and rushes to town for help.

       Rio ends up in front of what looks like a church where she asks a young female (nun?) for help. Once the woman has a look at Kanata she says it’s most likely Malaria, and she gives Kanata some medicine. She (Yumina) tells Rio that Kanata should be fine with the proper rest, and she gives Rio some additional medicine for Kanata before leaving.

       While Kanata is sleeping, she has flashbacks of her encounter with the bugle player from her youth where Kanata is standing there listening to her play amazing grace (?).  Kanata awakens from her feverish sleep to hear Rio humming that very same tune.  When Kanata gets Rio attention she apologizes for being useless, and she asks Rio the name of that song. When Rio doesn’t reply, Kanata begins to hum the tune and Rio says that it’s amazing she knows the song so well after only hearing it one time. Kanata tells Rio that she heard the tune long ago. Rio takes Kanata to the tank and powers it up, and she hits a command key and the tank begins to play the tune.

       Kanata and Rio listen to the tune together, and Rio explains to Kanata that music and a squad function alike, every note and member is needed. She tells Kanata that she needs to tell her if something is wrong, and she’ll help her.  Rio goes on to tell Kanata that it’s all right to not be able to do something right the first, and she should remember how it feels to be helpless because someday it’ll be her job to teach someone.

      Once everyone returns to the fortress they discuss Kanata illness, and Rio’s use of the tank. Felicia asks Rio why she listened to the song when she swore that she’d never listen to that some again? It’s a secret. Well, that’s all for this episode.

Getting the feel of military life right.

        After finishing this episode I have to give the writers and creators credit for getting the feel of what it’s like to be stationed as small military away from the main force correct. Back in the day, when I was a young soldier I spent six months performing duty with the Multinational Force and Observers Group verifying the terms of the Israel-Egypt peace accord in the Sinai Peninsula. When we were stationed  at the remote checkpoint we (about 12 soldiers) lived at a camp that consisted of about three trailers for a period of two weeks at a time and our day went pretty much along the lines of what the girls are doing at the Time Keeping Fortress: we had first call for PT at about 5 AM then ate breakfast together; then we performed weapons/equipment maintaince and barracks cleaning in the morning, then we ate lunch together; then we would conduct some classroom type instruction during the afternoon then we ate dinner together. Of course, we had our observation patrols and watch shifts, but overall it was very low stress and mellow duty unless a higher up decided to stop by.

       Also, I thought that the episode captured the nature of a relationship between the sergeant (Rio) and the young recruit/private (Kanata) nicely. A sergeant, contrary to popular media portrayals (movies), is much more than someone who yells at you when you screw up; they’re combination of a leader, a teacher, a surrogate mother & father, a marriage counselor, a motivational speaker, and on occasion an amateur physiologist. When you receive a private fresh out of basic training they’re going to suck, the recruit was taught only the most basic military skills necessary for survival, and it’s your job as the sergeant to bring them up to speed, it’s like going from kindergarten to high school. I also loved the conversation that Rio and Kanata had about joining the military, my first squad leader asked me that very same question, and I also asked every new soldier that got assigned to my team/squad/platoon that very same question. Like Kanata, I also told the truth, I joined the army because I was bored with college and because the navy’s nuclear program wouldn’t take me because of a color vision defiency. 

Rio, religion, and mythology.

       I found the entire Kanata illness segment to be fascinating insight into Rio’s views on religion and mythology. On one hand, Rio seems to have a dislike/distrust of religion stemming from a childhood incident involving her (mother?) and a priest, while on the other hand, Rio’s mind flashed to the legend of the fire maidens as Kanata was falling ill, and she also played the major role in the town’s annual festival.

Oh, I found this interesting forum post  concerning a Chinese myth that’s strikingly close to the myth in the series.

The tank, the apocalypse, and lost technology.

       When I watched Rio activates the tank a couple of thing struck me. Firstly, no matter how you want to argue the point, the tank clearly originates from a technological base that’s totally beyond anything that’s currently operating in the world of Sora no Woto. When the interface popped up, one of the options on the screen was for stealth mode. Hell; none of our current modern tanks come anywhere close to being as advanced as that tank. I also liked the navi reference, could that be a shout out to Serial Experiments Lain, her computer interface was a navi.

      So, I’m tending to assume that Kanata’s world is a future version of our world that underwent some great apocalypse that caused the loss of technology and culture. I’m almost to the point where I’m going to assume that something much deeper and darker is hiding/obscuring the truth of the world ala, Green Legend Ran, Scrapped Princess, A Wind Named Amnesia, or the Matrix. 

The Sound of the Sky: Amazing Grace and the promise of salvation and power of redemption.

       I really liked how we were shown that the music that touched both Rio’s and Kanata’s souls was Amazing Grace. While I’m not very religious, I’ve always be touched by the powerful emotions that Amazing Grace manages to stir up every time I hear it played, it gives me the feeling that no matter how bad something gets that there is always hope for salvation and redemption just around the corner. 

So, in the context of Sora no Woto, here’s my crack at the meaning of the song.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John Newton, 1779

       So, I think that the playing of Amazing Grace with the proper internal understanding of the beauty and the joy of life will unlock some failsafe in an illusion or program that’s currently obscuring that truth of the world. Maybe, the world is being punished by someone or something because of past behavior and that punishment will only be lifted when some person is able to sound the correct call for salvation and redemption.

       Well, this episode begins with a flashback of a crying young girl watching older blonde haired female soldier getting ready to play a trumpet. Then the scene switches, and we see a young teen aged female soldier waking up on a military train. We overhear much older veteran combat soldiers talking about how glad they are to have survived the war, and how an armistice was signed six months ago. During a conversation between her and the veterans we find out that her name is Sorami Kanata and she’s a volunteer who wants to learn music.

        During the opening song we see Kanata hanging out with the veterans while the train is traveling across the land. Once Kanata reaches her destination (the town of Seize) she driven by motorcycle and dropped and told she’s been assigned to Time-keeping fortress.

 

          The town of Seize his holding a festival today, and Kanata wanders through town taking in all the sights as she makes her way to the fortress. Kanata then gets caught up in the town’s celebration which involves throwing water and other stuff on everyone. Once, Kanata is thourghly soaked a woman yells at her for getting soaked and brings her to her house so she can get cleaned up. While bathing, Kanata finds out that the festival is honoring a local legend that has Maidens of flame protecting the city.

         While Kanata is in the bath, the older woman and her mother take notice of Kanata’s charm (?) and it’s familiar to them. Once Kanata finishes her bath she thanks them for their hospitality, and Kanata and the woman head out to the balcony where an owl flies by and snatches the charm from Kanata. The woman chews out Kanata because she almost fell off the balcony trying to get the charm back. Once Kanata is dressed she gets sent on her way to the fortress but she hears the sound of the bell inside the charm and gets drawn towards it.

 

         The woman who helped Kanata plays the lead role in the festival honoring the maidens, and we get some back story on the legend. A long time ago a winged demon live in the ravines near the city and it rained fire on the land, causing pain and suffering to the people, it snatched the young babes living there and kept the prisoner (maybe just a dirty old man), then the maidens used a golden horn bestowed by god to escape and defeat the demon taking its head. But, the head continued to spew fire so the maidens took turns embracing the demon and the people poured water on them every day, and after a year the fire finally went out, now the town holds the water festival to honor the souls of the maidens who saved the city.

        Later, we see that Kanata has followed the sound of the bell down a path going down the side of a cliff, and when she attempts to jump a gap she falls into the water. Kanata tries to swim but the weight of her rucksack drags her deeper underwater where she see the headless skeleton of a giant bird.

 

         Well, Kanata finally gets the charm back but she’s says she got lost again, she also says she sucks, and she’s says she has fun meeting people and hates being alone. Then Kanata has a flashback to the first memory of the series where she’s told that her sound will reach her mother, so Kanata pulls out her horn and begins to play.

 

        Well, Kanata’s playing interrupts the conclusion of the town’s festival drawing the attention of the woman and the other townspeople. Kanata hopes her sound will reach someone, and she breaks down in tears and dozes off to sleep when she hears another horn answering her horn.

          The next morning Kanata is woken up by someone yelling at her, and she finds herself inside the Time-keeping fortress. Kanata sees that the person yelling at her is the woman from the festival, and she’s also in the military. She takes Kanata outside and up to the top of a tower, and tells Kanata she’s going to show her why this is called the Time-keeping fortress. She also tells Kanata that she has to be more careful in the future. At the crack of dawn, she plays her trumpet bringing in the new day. Afterwards, she introduces herself as Kazumiya Rio and tells Kanata that she’s going to be her trumpet instructor. When Kanata addresses her as sergeant she tells Kanata that the captain doesn’t want them to use rank so just Rio will do.

 

       Once Rio gets Kanata started with her lesions, the whole town, along with Rio soon discovers that Kanata really sucks. Well, that’s all for this episode.

        OK, I know that when this series was first announced and the character design were released, many people, me included, called this show some variation of K-On! goes to war. This line of thought was completely understandable considering how closely the character designs matched the designs from K-On!, and let’s not forget the music plotline. It would be completely understandable if other anime series were to copy the basic character designs of popular shows like K-On!, and Bakemonogatari considering how much cash they made for their studios, but it would be unforgivable to completely plagiarize those very same characters.

        So, what’s my opinion of the first episode of sound of the skies, is Sora no Woto a K-On! rip-off. No, it would have been a shame if it was. Yes, Kanata and Rio do look very similar to their counterparts, Yui and Mio, from K-On! But, there’s a big difference between the behaviors of the main pair of Rio and Kanata from Sora no Woto, and Mio and Yui from K-On! First of all, Rio is much older than Mio, and Rio is more mature than her counterpart. Now, to the Yui look alike, Kanata, while at first glance she looks like a close match in terms of looks and personality to Yui. In K-On!, Yui was pretty much an airhead with no life goals, and almost no self-awareness to her own flaws and failings as she moved through life, whereas, Kanata begins the series with the goal of learning to play music, and she’s so dedicated to achieving her goal that she joined the military to facilitate her goal. Also, Kanata is fully self-aware of her failings and weakness, in fact, she tells us she sucks, and she freely admits to herself and others that she gets easily lost. But, Kanata is a more complicated than just a girl who sucks at her desired goal who gets easily lost because she admits to herself that she likes getting lost because it affords her the opportunity to meet new people, Kanata hates being alone.

        Also, the settings for Sora no Woto and K-On! are completely different, Sora no Woto is set in a post war mountainous European-like area whereas K-On! was set in your typical anime high school setting. Another difference between K-On! and Sora no Woto is that Sora no Woto contains an element of magic and myth in its storyline whereas K-On! didn’t have that sort of element.

        Well, my verdict for the first episode is that I found Sora no Woto to very relaxing and calming in the mold of YKK, Haibane Renmei, and others of that ilk. I also liked the post conflict vibe and the small dose of myth thrown in for good measure. I really don’t see the war restarting, or the fire breathing monster returning, but it adds enough to the mellow nature of the story to keep it interesting, so I’ll keep watching.

Urin is attacked 

       This episode begins with us seeing the last couple of minutes of the previous episode where Marin and Kanon slowly losing consciousness after discovering Sedna’s true nature and having been infected by the heart of darkness. As this is happening, Urin wonders what she’s has done? Sedna tells her that she’s obtained her power while she’s obtained Urin’s body and that the darkness has won out. Urin asks what will happen to her sister? Senda says that unless Marin embraces the darkness she’ll fade away with the light. Why don’t I feel sad? Because you’ve been released from the eternal sorrow. As Marin calls out to her sister we get the introduction animation, but this time everything is dark and there’s no living creatures in the sea or on land.

Dark Urin rises

       Urin goes to her sister and takes her hand and she tells her that she would have been better off if she’d never went to the sky, or became a shrine maiden. Marin struggles up and takes her sister’s hand, hugs her, and tells her it seems like its been so long since we did this. Urin then tells Marin that she’ll use her powers to turn her heart black too; Marin says no because she’ll lose her affections for Urin, and this seems to have some affect on Urin because she takes her sister in her arms and takes her away from the others.

It's been so long since we did this

        While Urin is holding Marin she asks Urin if she wants to see the coral again, and Urin tells her that it would be better if we had never seen them or we had never met. Urin tells her that it would have been better if she had never called to her, or met her, or that Urin had ever liked her right away. Marin begins to cry in Urin’s arms, and Urin says that way she never would have become sad. While Urin is holding Marin, she asks Urin if she wants to see the coral again, and Urin tells her that it would be better if we had never seen them or we had never met. Urin tells her that it would have been better if she had never called to her, or met, or Urin had ever liked her. Marin begins to cry in Urin’s arms, and Urin says that way she never would have become sad.

never 001never 002never 003

never 004

       After a few minutes, Kanon and the Turtle Elder wake up, and Kanon explains to him what exactly Sedna is, and how she was born. They both decided to try and find where Urin and Marin have gone off to.

the darkness in our heartswe pour them into the seabecausw we're afraid

We're all Senda

        Then we see that Urin has taken Marin to the place of their memories where she wants to use her powers to make Marin hate her so she’ll turn to darkness and won’t die. As Urin unleashes her power memories of the two sisters come flooding back and Marin asks her to stop, and Urin says she has to hate her, or she’ll dies. Urin also tells Marin that it’s OK if she’s hated, and alone. Marin tells her no, she’s sure that they’ll be able to return to those days from before, and that someday she see her smile again. Marin’s words seem to have some affect on Urin.

this it the place of our memories

       While Marin makes her way toward Urin she tells her that nothing she could ever do would make her hate her, and that she could never think of anything more painful than hating her sister. When Marin gets to Urin, she hugs her and tells her that she always loved her and still does.

I can never hate Urin

       Sedna’s spell over Urin seems to be broken, but Sedna’s powers is inside Urin fighting for control. Urin screams in pain and pushes Marin away from her, she says she’s sorry, she won’t do bad things again, and that she still her heart of light inside of her. As Sedna assaults Urin’s body, Urin says that she loves her sister, and that every time she thinks of Marin it causes Sedna pain.

I love you too

      As Senda continues to assault Urin, she tells her sister to keep back, she tells Marin that she has the power to seal Sedna. Then Sedna’s voice tells Urin that if she goes, she’ll take Urin with her and that Urin will evaporate into bubbles of light and disappear, Urin tells Sedna she’s fine with that.

You will fall into darkness

       As Urin starts to be consumed by Sedna she says she’s alright with it but Marin yells that she’s not. Marin tells Urin that she loves her, and doesn’t want her to disappear. Soon, Urin also cries out for her sister saying she doesn’t want to disappear, and that she loves her. The turtle Elder tells the girls to keep back, but both Marin and Kanon enter the power bubble to reach Urin. Marin hugs Urin and tells her that she won’t let her go anywhere.

Embracing the darkness

       At that moment, the Turtle Elder notices that Sedna’s power is weakening. Sedna’s voice says that she’s doesn’t want to be alone, and that she wants to her I love you. Kanon says that she can feel Sedna’s heart, it’s all their hearts and feelings that were unable to be expressed, it’s not light or dark, and it’s just our weak hearts. Kanon, Marin, and Urin’s love embraces the darkness that is Sedna, and her power begins to transform and blend with the light, the darkness is melted by the light. Urin transforms back to her normal self and Sedna’s power begins to fade from the land and the sea.

the darkness and the light

     Then we see the island’s sea priestess over looking the transforming sea and she tells us that the darkness and the light now understand each other, and now it’ll return to the hearts of the people, and even if the darkness returns, we just have to remember to forgive.

embracing the light

       Back on land, Marin and Urin have to return to the sea with Warin and Sam, and they ask Kanon to come with them but the Elder says, no. He tells them that soon everybody except people born with sea or sky priestess blood will soon have their memories of this fade to a dream, plus they aren’t meant to live together. Marin tells Kanon that she loves her, and before Marin can fully return to the sea Kanon finally tells Marin that she loves her too.

I also love you

       Later, when summer break is over, we see Kanon finally tell Kojima that she loves him. This is overheard by a lot of other school kids including Ooshima who says the real competition begins now. Well, that’s all for this series, until the special DVD only episode comes out next year.

the battle starts now

       Well, this was a very sweet ending to a very enjoyable magic girl series where the power of love and understanding reigns supreme. Since Sedna’s was a creation of every one’s abandoned feelings the only real solution was to embrace all those hurtful and scary emotions, we don’t throw them away, we allow ourselves to be transformed and changed by our life experiences.

      If anything, Sea Story was a tale about growing up and learning to accept all the scary emotions that come along with being an adult. Kanon’s fear of being rejected, Marin’s fear of the darkness, Urin’s fear of loneliness, we shouldn’t hide these emotions, we need to share them with others who care for us, and forgive the weakness inside our hearts.

       While our nature might be good, we all  harbor some darkness inside our hearts, it waits, quietly, until we become fearful, uncertain, lonely, and depressed, then it slowly grows, and can cause us to say cruel thing, and to be unkind to others. But, with the knowledge of its existence we can fight to keep it in check, and when we do slip up, we ask for forgiveness. 

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