English: Sound of the Sky
Synonyms: So-Ra-No-Wo-To, Soranowoto, Sora no Woto, Sora no Oto
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 5, 2010 to Mar 23, 2010
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or olderL represents licensing company
Score: 7.581 (scored by 19121 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
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Apr 17, 2010
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see..."
John Newton and William Cowper (Olney Hymns - 1779).
The problem with first impressions is that all too often they are wrong, and this is one of the main reasons why a number of great shows don't get the recognition they deserve. Unfortunately, every season more anime are added to that list.
Sora no Woto (Sounds of the Skies), is one example of this mindset at work.
The series is the first production of a new initiative known as Anime no Chikara (The Power of Anime), which is essentially a collaboration between TV Tokyo's anime department and Aniplex that was established in 2009 . Part of the mandate for this project is to create and produce original anime which are not based on any previously published material (so manga, novel and game adaptations are out of the window). One of the advantages of this is that the writers have far fewer restrictions placed on them from the outset, and it seems as though this freedom has been put to good use here.
The story is about a young girl, Sorami Kanata, who, having heard a trumpet rendition of "Amazing Grace" played by a mysterious female soldier, has resolved to become a bugler. She is assigned to the 1121st Platoon, who are stationed at the Time Keeping Bastion in the town of Seize, and is taken under the wing of Master Sergeant Rio Kazumiya.
Now, one would be forgiven for initially thinking that this series is nothing more than K-On! in the army, especially given that the character design is very similar between the two anime (I thought like that too, at first). However, the differences between the two shows are palpable from the very first moments of Sora no Woto. The plot, which is more on the episodic side for the most part, is far more reminiscent of Haibane Renmei, and although there are a few points that deserved more focus, the story is actually very well crafted. The pacing is extremely good throughout the series, and the seemingly slow progression promotes a feeling of relaxation rather than boredom in a manner very similar to Aria.
The one thing that really captures the viewer though, is the bittersweet yet hopeful undertone running through the series, and nowhere is this more prominent than in the characters. While each of them are somewhat stereotypical, the show develops in such a way that the story becomes inclusive of them, rather than having one true lead while the other "leads" are nothing more than glorified support. The upshot of this is that, come the end of the series, the viewer is left with a sense of catharsis that very few shows manage to achieve, especially ones that, at first glance, fit the "moe" archetype.
One of the supposed problems with Sora no Woto is the fact that the characters are designed with moe in mind, however the show is surprising in that, while the characters are reminiscent of certain other shows, this is where much of the similarity ends. In all honesty I found the character design somewhat off-putting at first, however this perception was dispelled very quickly as, although the characters are very clearly "moe" in their design, the fact is that this allows for a great deal of expression as well - something that is put to good use throughout the series. What is most surprising though, is the distinct lack of visual hooks associated with this sort of character design, in particular things like fan service. Instead, the series uses the characters in a manner that is far removed from the norm, and the effect of this is that, come the end of the series, one really begins to wonder why everyone made such a fuss over K-On!
Animation-wise, the series is very good, especially with character and vehicle movements. There is a fluid, almost naturalistic, flow to the animation which is present even during the scenes in which very little happens. The biggest pluses though, are the backgrounds and settings. Unlike most "moe" anime, the attention to detail in this area is truly good, with much of the scenery being evocative of old European towns, villages and countryside. As well as the visual style of the settings, the show also includes a number of European references (Helvetia is Switzerland for example, the Romans speak German, etc), all of which add to the series, and allow the viewer to become more absorbed in the show.
The acting is pretty good throughout the anime, and many of seiyuu really show their talent with their respective characters. Granted there are a few moments where Sora no Woto slips into "moe speaking mode", however these become fewer as the series progresses. The real star of the show though, is the music, in particular the lone trumpet playing "Amazing Grace".
Now, one thing that should be clarified here is just how important that one hymn is to this show. Hearing it is what spurs Kanata into becoming a bugler, but it's also something that links a number of disparate threads throughout the series. The hymn is about salvation and redemption, and ultimately that's what this series is all about. To be honest though, whenever I heard it, all of that didn't matter. The image of the lone bugler playing that song is one of the most evocative to appear in anime for a long, long time, and is made more powerful because this show is effectively about the effects of war, not just on the common people or the military support staff, but also on those who fight.
In effect, this is what makes the characters in Sora no Woto so very different to what one would expect. While there is a degree of stereotype to them, the show is careful not to let these personality traits take over, and as the series progresses the characters are allowed to not simply grow, but to evolve, something which although limited at times, is laudable as this type of development is rare in anime.
Sora no Woto is, by any measure, as much a character piece as Haibane Renmei, Kino no Tabi, or any other show of that ilk. While those other shows may have far more character development, this series is no slouch, indeed some of the characterisations are extremely powerful, especially Illya Arkadia, a character who doesn't appear too often and has very few lines, but whose presence is almost tangible throughout the show.
It should be clear by now that I enjoyed this series immensely, something which I still find somewhat surprising given that I initially avoided it because I expected something extremely "light and fluffy" like K-On! To say that Sora no Woto has far more substance than the series it looks like is an understatement, and while the difference may not sit well with die hard K-On! fans, it should be noted that the aim of this show isn't simply to entertain, but to tell a story. The subject matter is open to interpretation, but the inclusion of possibly the most recognisable hymn in the world speaks volumes about how the series should be perceived.
That said, Sora no Woto does have some "light and fluffy" elements to it, but ultimately it's a tale of salvation, redemption and hope, and it's because of this that the series stands apart from many of it's visual counterparts.
Sometimes the resemblance is only skin deep. read more
Mar 26, 2010
When So Ra No Wo To was first announced on the winter season roster, I wasn't planning on watching it. Despite reading the plot synopsis, I did not think it was a 'moeblob in the army' kind of story. That only came later when many, many people decided to put labels on it. Still, I wasn't inclined to watch the series. That is, until I saw the beautiful concept artwork by Kishida Mel. It was amazing and it made me want to see the series in spite of the much talked about art shift towards moe. (By the way, if anyone knows where I can find more of this art, feel free to tell me as I only have the two widely distributed images.)
I will say it once at the beginning of this review: this is not a moe series. It has moe character designs, it has some familiar character archetypes, but it is not a moe series. There is no pandering sexual material nor is there any outright moe or fanservice outside of episode 8 (if you consider that fanservice). There is a difference between a character like Kanata, who is inexperienced and idealistic because of her youth, and someone like Yui, who is a helpless mess of idiotball. I know that it's easy to be cynical and look down upon anybody who isn't a realistic superman with mature character flaws considering the current state of commercial anime, but if you can't recognize the difference between these two characters, you will probably never be able to enjoy this series.
I was already caught when I watched the first episode. This was the single best premiere of the new season. On the other two hyped up series of the season: Durarara!!'s first episode was only told from the point of view of one character and would need the added perspectives of episode 2 onward to develop it into the great series it is. Dance in the Vampire Bund, on the other hand, went the Haruhi route of having the first episode have little to do with the story arc of the series, instead vying to prove the premise of the existence of it's title species.
Sora no Woto, on the other hand, set up everything in the series from episode 1. Whether you loved or hated the show, very few question the sheer potential and number of possibilities that could spring from the series, especially considering it was anime original material. It set up the characters Rio and Kanata: one, a talented but cold and mature veteran, and the other, a bright and optismistic newcomer. It sets up the wonderous setting: the village of Seize, a quiet town that has become a corner of the habitable earth, and the world itself. And what a world it is.
The settting of Sora no Woto is a character in and of itself, and much of the intrigue of the first few episodes is trying to discover just what happened to the people that live here. Being a slice of life series, the series portrays the extraordinary in the mundane. Something terrible has happened to this world. There is no life left in the oceans. Entire species' have been wiped out, and humans aren't doing too well themselves. French and English objects are common place, and Japanese is a forgotten language. Technology that we would marvel as futuristic is considered ancient. In the first episode, we see something deep in a river that could not be explained by anything present in our world. Everything we find normal are leftovers of an era gone by.
And yet, the characters themselves are so fantastically ordinary. Despite the possibility and potential for this show to jump off into the land of fantasy or science fiction in the very next episode, there is a realism that permeates this series. This is no dark, dystopic vision, despite all the characters referencing a near apocalypse in the recent past. There is no police state, nor is there a heavy presence of the military. In fact, there are only five members of the military in the entire town. Two of them are women, three of them of are kids, all of them care little for war and all that comes with it. And watching the members of this village go through their daily lives, be it a glass-blower, a shopkeeper, a pair of orphans and their young guardian, or an elderly woman living in solitude in the mountains, you get the feeling that this is what it would be like. This is how people try to move on. Despite the fact that there are ongoing peace talks, there is no talk of peace in Seize, nor is talk of war. This place is so far away from civilization, you wonder why the military even have an outpost here. Then you realize that just a few miles from this town where war "could never happen," there is barren, empty place known as No Man's Land. And something terrible happened there.
When watching this series, you really get the impression that the writers and producers have done an immense amount of research. There is a strange mix of culture and history in this world, with art and architectural references abound. The story takes place in a small European town, and the architecture, landscape, artifacts, even the plantlife are portrayed correctly. There were no corners cut when they were creating the atmosphere of this series. While the animation is ordinary, it is the vivid and detailed artwork that make this series memorable. From the aging suburban buildings, to the fresh and maintained farmlands, to the lifeless desert with "modern" skyscrapers peeking out of the sand, to the untamed woods, the beautiful snowfields, and the distant mountains covered with deteriorating ruins of the futuristic technology of the old days. Everything is coloured and detailed wonderfully, and sprinkled with the anthropologic evidence of the time of war. This place was once important. Now it is not.
The show has great sound, period. Being a series where music is a big part of the plot, it is to be expected. The sound is crisp and clean, voice acting is top notch and stays in character, and the original musical composition is much more akin to "traditional" European classical music as opposed to your standard, synthetically orchestrated background music. A French vocal piece, the orchestra work at the end of episode 10, the music over the end credits of the final episode, and the numerous trumpet solos and renditions of "Amazing Grace" are some of the highlights. The opening sequence is visually stunning, with a very aged, mythological feel, and a retelling of a not-so-much-a-fairy-tale story you will hear in the first episode. The ending is a catchy song with visuals that once again serve to remind us that this series is not about moe caricatures. It is about a group of people that share bonds, experience hardships, laugh with and criticize each other. Friendship is a very important theme in this series.
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(For the remainder of this review, I will be discussing the plot, characters, and themes of the series, and there will be MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS after the break, including events from the finale episode. So, for all of you that haven't yet watched the series, I really encourage you to watch it now. If you still don't plan on it, I encourage you to read the rest of the review.)
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When I started this series, I had to admit that the characters were the weakest part of this story. The supporting and minor characters were all very well done and helped to create a rich environment, but the main characters weren't so fortunate. They were all likable, but you couldn't really deny that they were cliche, sprung from the regular anime archetypes and lacking the depth that I'd really want to see in this show.
However, Sora no Woto managed to subvert the standard cliches that befall this type of series. The characterization is archetypical -- that is undeniable. But the depth and development that these characters get is not. I attribute a lot of this success to the way the series structured its episodes. Like another currently airing series, Durarara!!, this show has character centric episodes. Episode 1 and 8 are Kanata, 2 and 9 are Kureha, 3 and 10 are Rio, 4 and 11 are Noel, 7 is Filicia, 5 is about the youngsters of our group developing a bond that will stick forever, 6 is about the town of Seize and its secrets, and 12 is about the very world itself. Now while the plot progresses from episode to episode, if you were to watch, say, episode 4 followed by episode 11, you would see all the pieces of Noel's character come together. The question she poses to Kanata in episode 4 regarding the tank and what evil could come of it now makes sense because she is looking to make up for the atrocities she made possible in the past.
More examples. Look at episode 2 and then 9. Kureha's speech about being self-sufficient, as well as that small flashback of her being powerfully embraced by Rio in 2 are given their background in 9. She needs to be independent because she is an orphan and grew up having to do everything herself, and lectures a little brat about it. She looks up to Filicia and Rio as her mother and father, respectively. Look at episode 3 and 10, where we see a young Rio looking up to Iliya, and how she avoids the townsfolk and tries to deal with thing herself. Now take episode 10, where her relationship and responsibilities as Iliya's sister are revealed, as well as the fact that she has been running away from them all her life. Episode 3 is titled "Rio Runs."
The only character that doesn't really fall into this pattern is Kanata herself. But I think we can all see by now that Kanata is a little special. While Kureha constantly derides her, she also becomes her best friend. While Rio smirks at her naivety, she also wishes she were a bit like her. Noel is so out of it that she already considers Kanata someone to look up to, or at least sleep on. And Filicia of course, with her maturity veiled behind a decieving but honest smile, already knew all of this. Kanata is a fool by there standards. She hasn't gone through much hardship. She lived on farm, happily with both of her parents. She is a kid and she knows it. She wasn't forced to grow up quickly like the other four girls of this series. She is average is just about every way. And that is precisely why she changes her companions so much.
Another reason why this series succeeds is the sheer attention to detail that it bestows upon the characters and plot. In episode 7, when Filicia runs out of the room, Noel stops Rio to go after her herself, telling Rio that she is the only one that understands Filicia's trauma. Compare this to her later mental breakdown in episode 11. During Filicia's flashback to the war, we see the reflection of a giant, unholy wing in the mirrors of a high rise building. At the end of episode 7, when the girls are sending spirits down the river, Noel sends no one because their numbers are too many to count. (Wow, a lot of these happened in episode 7.) Episode 10 featured the story of a woman living alone, waiting for the man she loved to return to her. In any other series, this would have either been a filler stretched for the length of an episode, or shoehorned into a regular episode clumsily. But in Sora no Woto, it is brilliantly used as a foil for Rio's own feelings, and both stories are poetically resolved by the end of the twenty minute episode. I must applaud the director and the writers for the skillful execution of stories like these.
It isn't just the characters. While you could say that the plot of this series was pretty simple in the present, the scope and amount of thought that went into detailing this world is immense. This series developed a beautiful mythology of its world, with concepts such as the angels, the fossil in the river, the ghosts in the abandoned school, the Takemikazuchi, the old era tanks and technology, the security system with Japanese characters out in the woods, No Man's Land, the Invisible Reaper, the political discourse going on in the capital, events of the war, and historical figures such as Princess Iliya, Desert Claus, the Demon of Vingt, and the Witch of Helvetia. Where did the fossil's head go? Were angels supernatural or extraterrestrial? Why is Japanese a forgotten language? With all this technology, why did the military use trumpets to communicate? Was it because of an A.I. virus or something else? The amount of history and cultural depth is awe-inspiring, and the open-endedness blurs the lines between science, fantasy, and reality. When combined with the beautiful visuals and emotion-filled music, it makes for a religious experience.
There were a lot of mysteries in this series, especially regarding the setting and what happened in the past. Those were the main reasons I couldn't wait to watch a new episode every week. This show didn't answer any of them. And by the end of the last episode, I didn't care.
"You have suffered enough."
Ultimately, Sora no Woto is a story of redemption and the constant hum of Amazing Grace hammers that home. It is the story of a group of people who appear cute and harmless on the outside, but are quickly shown to be haunted by a past they can not escape. Much like the world they live in. And by the end of this series, they all come full circle. At the end of episode 11, I thought there was simply too much to be resolved. But sure enough, all of the threads that were left dangling throughout the course of the series were woven together into a beautiful fabric. And that was the real miracle of this series, not Kanata's trumpet-playing at the end.
Noel wanted to be forgiven for the lives she took as the Witch of Helvetia, and she is, even moreso by a solidier of the nation she massacred. Kureha played the "bad guy" military realist all her life because she was an only child, despite having her entire family. Her mom was cheerfully aloof while dealing with her own problems in secret, her dad was the only girl she looked up to but she was long gone now, and her two sisters were both airheads, one having a reason for it and the other just being that way. And at the end, she breaks down, finally admitting that she doesn't want to be alone anymore. And she is embraced by her family, who were always standing with her the entire time. Filicia wants to put an end to war once and for all so that she is the last person that has to watch all her friends die before their very eyes, and she takes the first step in ensuring that future. Rio avoided following in her sister's footsteps all her life, but in the end, she does what she must, having been inspired by Kanata and the rest of her new sisters. And the reward is far beyond anything she ever imagined. Kanata's goal of learning how to play the trumpet quickly becomes synonomous with saving the very world itself. And she does.
"Even if no one else forgives you, I will."
Aisha says these words to Noel in the finale. But after watching the whole series and taking a step back to soak it all in, I believe these words are referring to the world itself. The people of this world have experienced a very terrible thing: a war of unimaginable proportion, so widescale that nearly everything they held dear is now gone. The people of Seize try to move on with their lives, but they can't. The soldiers don't wish to fight, yet they still do. The reality is that no one has moved on. The peace talks are deteriorating. War is on the horizon despite how quiet the world has become. Because the people of this world have not forgiven themselves.
The ending of Sora no Woto was not a miracle. As Kanata has stated time and time again throughout the series: She is just a girl who wants to play the trumpet, to communicate people's thoughts through music. She is just the messenger. And as she plays her trumpet atop the Takemikazuchi, to the armies of both Helvetia and and the Holy Roman Empire, she is doing just that. All throughout the series, she is both complimented and condoned for her innocence. And yet in the end, it is because of her pure heart that she realizes the message first: she loves this world. As does everyone else, but they have forgotten. By tragedy, loss, heartbreak, and the false idea that they could move on without forgiving themselves, they have forgotten.
A big reason why I love this show is because it reminds me of two series that I hold very dear: Haibane Renmei and The 08th M.S. Team. Both are series with heavy slice of life elements, yet manage to explore philosophical and war themes. After seeing the first episode, I knew that this series would start off as a happy-go-lucky slice of life but would eventually tread deep into darker territory. The opening sequence and the foreshadowing of the girls reliving the myth of the Fire Maidens made it even more likely. By around episode 4, I learned that this series was done by the director of Elfen Lied, at which point I had no doubt there would be a tragic ending. I thought this series would have the world reunite against the revived angel, where war would return with numerous losses. Eventually, the five girls would have to make a tremendous sacrifice and end up becoming the very Maidens they looked up to.
However, Sora no Woto gave me an ending I never knew I wanted. It was humanity itself that was its own worst enemy. It fought a war, but at what cost? It was humanity that felt the guilt of the old ages, and it was humanity that was unable to find redemption. When Yumina began to retell the legend of Fire Maidens, it was an emotional experience. The moment I saw Aisha as the angel, I realized for the first time what this show was tring to accomplish. I knew it wasn't going to come back to the angel fossil or any of the other questions they raised, because they weren't important anymore. The girls do indeed make their own Odyssey-like epic and become like the Maidens of the legend but not like I thought they would. They weren't burned at the stake like the Maidens either -- humanity has become much more forgiving.
To me, Sora no Woto is the story of a girl who makes the world remember what they had all along: forgiveness. Whose message was it? I can't answer that question. Nevertheless, it was a sound in the sky, and it was heard by five girls who, after finding peace in their own redemption, take it upon themselves to share that message with the rest of the world. But maybe that's a miracle all by itself. read more
Nov 4, 2013
There are very few anime with as bad a case of mistaken identity as Sound of the Sky, also known as Sora no Woto or, if you’re kind of a jerk, So Ra No Wo To. Honestly most people will take one look at the art and character designs and think one thing: K-ON
And this is really a shame because other than a couple of similarities in character design, Sound of the Sky shines on its own with no relation under the surface to our favorite (or least favorite) slice of life. This issue has led to Sound of the Sky’s problem, a nice way to phrase it is to say it’s a hidden gem, a less polite term would be “sold like cold cakes.” Some skipped it thinking it would be moe SoL comedy #284, others were disappointed that it wasn’t just that, the bottom line is it was not and still is not especially popular.
It is a tragedy that preconceptions blinded many people to the merits of Sound of the Sky. However, I wager most people who seriously watch it will be surprised. Sound of the Sky is truly special, there is no anime quite like it.
It isn’t easy to pin one of our familiar anime genres to Sound of the Sky. I suppose the term “slice of life” wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate, but it’s not in a high school and the characters aren’t…ok actually they are cute girls. This does not mean Sound of the Sky is not story driven, in fact the plot helps carry the series.
Sound of the Sky is set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been partially rebuilt. It follows the soldiers of the 1121st platoon in the border town of Seize (Says). Despite being soldiers in a war, a country town like Seize doesn’t see a whole lot of violent action. The story is more focused on the characters and their relationships to their world and each other.
The story is gorgeous: thematic without being pretentious, unrushed without being vacuous and passionate without being melodramatic. The series is deceptively deep with themes ranging from duty to desire, religion, war, hope, despair and love. The most important is finding a place in the world, something almost all the characters struggle with. In this anime, the world has already ended.
But due to greatly different attitudes, the characters react to this and other problems in vastly different ways. Some characters choose to resign themselves to the whims of fate and others face it head on. Their world does not want them, or even worse, wants them to fill a role they are very reluctant to do. The characters struggle to find meaning to a meaningless world, and watching them defy nihilism in such a position is marvelous. Although the plot shines, the true beauty of this story is less the plot and more the interactions of different attitudes and worldviews.
The story really picks up in the last few episodes building up to an incredible climax. The ending is both extremely tragic and filled with hope. Sound of the Sky is a little reminiscent of something like Haibane Renmei in the regard that it doesn’t necessarily answer all the questions about the world, but still satisfies. There are a few details intentionally left open, but if anything this adds to the anime.
Finally I want to offer my praise for this anime actually having a conclusion, something growing increasingly scarce. It is not unambiguously happy but the ending was by far my favorite part of the piece.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Sound of the Sky doesn’t exactly have all the budget in the world. But I don’t mean to say that it’s an ugly anime, quite the contrary: it’s quite striking. Seize and the Time-Trumpeting Fort may not always be rendered in stunning detail, but they always look charming and attractive.
The biggest problem is the character designs. I’m not quite sure what A-1 was thinking when they decided to make them so reminiscent of moe anime, but it was a poor decision to say the least. Most of the anime may be “slice of life” but it hardly could be described simply as “cute girls doing cute things.” The magical story and characters are really quite undercut by this flaw.
As might be expected of an anime called “Sound of the Sky,” the soundtrack is excellent. It contributes greatly to the mood and is punctuated by liberal use of silence that effectively adds to the focus. A recurring motif in the anime is the song Amazing Grace, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. In Sound of the Sky, it represents connection between people and is the focal point of some of the most emotional moments in the anime.
The phrase “I love them, but I don’t like them” is pretty common among parents and marriages with a short future, but I can’t imagine that it is especially popular for describing fictional characters. But when describing my feelings about the characters of Sound of the Sky, I think this phrase is quite appropriate. I really don’t agree with many of the characters, their attitudes or their decisions, but I still found them some of the most compelling characters I have ever seen.
Kanata may look like your typical overly optimistic slice of life protagonist from the outside, and to be honest she does have a pretty chirpy personality. However there is a lot more depth to her than is first apparent. As the story kicks into high gear in the later part of the anime, we see that she is quite capable of acting serious and even rather assertive and aggressive, but not in a way that contrasts her established character.
But the one who really steals the show is Rio. In anime “tragic” is usually a synonym for “edgy.” The tragic hero of anime is more often a Dark Flame Master than an Oedipus. Rio is a tragic character with a backstory that doesn’t strike at all of the ridiculous, and she has a believable reaction. She has to cope world that refuses to give her what she wants, and rather than sprouting superpowers to change that paradigm, she is forced to deal with it. And she deals with it like an adult, I may not agree with her decisions, but they strike me very much as the sort of decisions an actual human being might make. It’s really a sad reflection on anime when that is such an incredible thing.
I could go on about the other characters but I think I’ve made my point: Sound of the Sky has some of the most compelling characters I have ever seen, and while it had a short run time, it fleshed them out beautifully with depth and realism.
Sound of the Sky does not appeal to everyone, and it doesn’t try to. There is a little action, but it is overshadowed by slice of life and drama. If you’re more the pre-teen melodrama fan then this may be a bit too subtle, and if you only like cute girls doing cute things then you may be put off by the somber tone. It isn’t easy to pin down what kind of person would like Sound of the Sky because I can’t make easy generalizations like “if you liked X you will like this” because there isn’t really a parallel. It’s a true hidden gem that I personally enjoyed and appreciated immensely, but I can’t deny that there are aspects that would turn some people off.
Sound of the Sky is one of my favorite animes ever. It is beautiful, powerful and emotional in all the best ways. This anime hits hard and is something I have no reservations calling truly unique.
PS: There are two specials that fit very well into the series, watch them at the same time. read more
Aug 13, 2013
Originally featured on the opening debut of “Anime no Chikara,” or the “Power of Anime,” a TV block dedicated to the creation of original Japanese animated series, Sound of the Sky was scripted by Hiroyuki Yoshino and directed by Mamoru Kanbe. Produced by A-1 Pictures, who has done other works such as Anohana, Working!!, Blue Exorcist, and Sword Art Online, we follow the daily dealings of the 4 female members of the 1121st Platoon of the Helvetian Army. Initially appearing as stock anime stereotypes, each main cast member is fleshed out, the backstories behind their behaviors fleshed out, one episode at the time. With each episode, a common denominator between them is discovered. Their lives have been defined by war. One is an orphan. Another is a valuable political asset. Still another is haunted by the horrors she unwittingly endured. Last is one haunted by the horrors she unwittingly committed. And then, we have the Platoon's newest recruit, Konata Sorami, an optimistic adolescent who volunteered for free bugle lessons. In the absence of functional radios, bugles have that advantage of being loud and distinct enough to offer some semblance of communication and coordination amidst whatever shit is raining from the sky or zipping past the ground, though that's hardly the reason she signed up for the task. Nor is it simply a matter of wanting lessons just because.
Sound of the Sky has a fantastic world setting. It's not very often a show incorporate the presence of different cultures interacting with each other, and more often than not, these cultures are usually organized into their own separate national entities and seldom have different speech. It's something else that this show is able to incorporate cultural identities both without and within state boundaries, pluralistic societies, in other words, and enrich it with it's own meticulously crafted folklore, religions, and customs, like something out of a Miyazaki film. I was particularly impressed with the use of different accents when the reality of different languages came up. Combined with the various festivals illustrated and mentioned throughout this show's going, it adds this sense of authenticity as well as immersion and scale. And yet they have commonalities between them, suggesting shared histories as well as demonstrating cultural biases, accentuated by geographic barriers, past fighting, and inflammatory propaganda. Many share similar mythologies on certain phenomenon, like the one presented in Episode 1. Many share similar values, a love for their homes and a disdain for unnecessary bloodshed. Many share similar sentiments toward one particular tune.
“Amazing Grace,” by John Newton and William Cowper, and rearranged by Michiru Oshima, is the most defining piece played throughout the show, by the characters themselves as well as by the OST. Despite its roots as a religious hymn, there's a reason it has transcended to become the most universally recognized and lauded song throughout space and time. It's a captivating melody, the brass a capella of the trumpet, followed by the string cantata of the orchestra, to be sure, but what makes it inspiring is its message, a message that characterizes Sound of the Sky as a whole. That while there's still beauty in this world... that there's still hope. Hope despite the blasted landscapes. Hope despite the battered limbs. Hope despite the scarred psyches. The show wouldn't be the same without it. Still beautiful to listen to is the OP, “Hikari no Senritsu” or “Melody of Light” by Yuki Kajiura's Kalafina, whose lyrics, when sung by the combined passion of melody and harmony, reinforce this prevalent theme, to the point where the OP's climax, feels like a call to prayer. The flute gives way to classic guitar, cymbals, and xylophone that complement the voices, soon transitioning, transcending to chords of electric guitar and clangs of drum set that contribute a radiating sense of power. The visuals, depicting portrayals of the girls doing sedentary farming and closed-eyed reflection, courtesy of Kanbe, who also had a major hand in designing Elfen Lied's OP “Lilium,” are inspired from the works of the Austrian symbolist painter, Gustav Klimt. ED, “Girls be Ambitious” by Haruka Tomatsu is, more or less, your uppity J-Pop single, reflecting, from the sounds to the looks, the show's slice of life.
Speaking of which, the show has its issues with that aspect. On the one hand, it's a war fallout narrative. On the other, it's a slice of life. It's not as though these two different genres are mutually exclusive from each other. After all, many a war's consist of mainly of small part's adrenaline and large part's tedium. Soldiers have lulls of at least informal leave out of their trenches or, if that isn't possible, in them. At times, it's a serious evaluation of war's toll on both places and people, both on the battlefield and beyond it. Depending on the tides of war, non-combatants can escape nearly unaffected. At others, it's cute girls doing cute things with military garb. It's like something out of K-On, and it doesn't help that the character facial models are indistinguishable from the other. The expressions these textures allow can come off to be emotive. They can also come off as distracting. If you're going to handle a subject as heavy as war's consequences, it must be handled with gravity. That isn't to say the show doesn't take itself lightly at times. For instance, Episode 7 deals with PTSD. Episode 8 deals with a juvenile-to-borderline fetish involving pee. In addition, it's often layered with a lot of subtlety. I love subtlety. But sometimes, I think it's too subtle for its own good, to the point I feel like I'm grasping straws.
In spite of its efforts come off as mature, it plays what is effectively its moe factor way too much to come off many a time as anything but. Though to what details that it does take itself seriously in, the staff behind this show can take some pride.
I give Sound of the Sky a 7 out of 10. read more
May 6, 2012
Sora no Woto, or Sound of the Sky in English, is a 2010 war anime. War is this title’s main theme, but a viewer will find many other genres in this amazing title, including themes of yuri, GAR, moe, humor, psychological drama and horror, mecha, religion, mild fanservice and much more. Sora no Woto brings so much to the table, and what it brings is definitley worth seeing.
Some may compare the art-style and character designs to that of K-ON! Well, I must admit: Kanata Sorami, the main character of Sora no Woto, does look an awful lot like Yui Hirasawa, the main character from K-ON! Because of this “moe” style, the characters in Sora no Woto are often kawaii and cute, even to the point of sometimes being “derpy.”
The show also deals with many controversial issues, such as the moral implications of an army using female child soldiers, the perils of underage drinking, and the absence of morality in war. Underneath many of Sora no Woto's seemingly innocent and light-hearted scenes lie some of mankind's darkest impulses. Sora no Woto is a great title in the fact that it can be at once both funny and horrifying.
Sora no Woto is a sleeper hit of true creativity and deep story-telling in an industry that is, for better or worse, saturated with light-hearted “moe” titles. Unfortunately, the fans prefer the latter. I'm all for silly, non-sensical moe stuff from time to time, but serious works of art like Sora no Woto are needed to break up the monotony and add some variety to things. I feel a little offended that this stupendous title isn’t more well-known or discussed in anime circles. But I guess that would just be a popularity contest. Yet if Sora no Woto was more popular, that would be great because more people would be aware of this great show, and be able to watch it.
Only then can they realize that these moments are the future…
Mar 15, 2012
Story (4/10): I should begin by explaining that the story isn't the strong point of this show. The reason for this is how long it takes for the story to develop into anything with real plot substance.
The beginning of the show is done well enough. We see the main character, and are quickly charmed by her kindness and innocence, and see that she has become a soldier, and is headed to her first deployment. The problem is, we aren't given very much exposition to explain the world she lives in, why her country is at war, or what her family or her home are like.
As other characters are introduced, we begin to understand the dynamic that they share. As I learned more about the characters, I thought that perhaps this show would be more "character-driven" rather than "plot-driven". However, this wasn't really the case either, as the characters don't seem to go through much change early on. They simply have small "adventure" each episode, that doesn't require much prior knowledge of the show, and leaves the characters more or less the same as when the episode started.
Also, seeing as the main cast is composed of soldiers, I thought that they would do more...well, soldier things. All the soldiers where the protagonist ends up are women like her, but they don't really have a whole lot of militaristic duties. They rarely go on patrols or even fire their weapons, for that matter. Ultimately, not much is done with the soldier aspect until the very end, and the rest of the time, these women could be an ordinary group of people who just happen to live in the same outpost. This is why I had a problem with the episodic nature of the show, because it rarely felt like anything of consequence was happening, despite the fact that I was watching a group of soldiers.
I suppose there's nothing technically "wrong" with having an "episodic" feel to a show, where there isn't much overall plot to connect the episodes. However, it's certainly not what I prefer. I personally like to see a strong plot that connects the episodes together, or even having the way the characters interact with one another to create drama and tension. I just didn't feel either of these things with Sora no Woto, which is why I rated the plot so low.
Now, the show doesn't stay this way the entire time. Toward the end of the show, there is a very nice span of two or three episodes where some very big events occur, and I was genuinely excited by what happened. I only wish that more of the show had been so plot driven, and had shown the storytelling prowess that the final episodes did.
Art (9/10) - This show was really quite beautiful to watch. No details were skimmed over, even in the background details. Mile after mile of gorgeous countryside was carefully painted into each frame, making it worthwhile to watch the background nearly as much as the characters. There were some pieces that were animated by CGI, which I didn't find as pleasant as the hand-drawn details, but I suppose machines an be very hard to do by hand. This is probably the show's strongest point, which makes me sad in some ways, since art has noticeably less to do with what makes a show good than many of its other aspects.
Sound (9/10)- Music is a large part of what drives this show, as the tune from "Amazing Grace" often fills the sky. I really enjoyed hearing this piece as it was played on the trumpet, and even in a full orchestration later on. The soundtrack overall was quite good, and I found it interesting that Amazing Grace was so integral to the story. Sora no Woto does mean "Sound of the Sky", which very well may refer to that familiar tune that so many people love.
Character (5/10)- As I mentioned before, there isn't much background given of the protagonist early on. And frankly, we never really learn much about her at all. The main problem I had with the characters was that we learn more about a "supporting" character than the main character. All we know about the protagonist is that she wants to learn to play the trumpet, and that's why she joined the army. We learn more about the background of basically every character than the protagonist, who remains a charming and very lovable, but ultimately very shallow character.
Perhaps what really made her seem shallow was her apparent lack of any sort of character flaw. She is completely selfless, thinking of others before herself, works hard, is completely loyal to her fellow soldiers, and never says anything unkind to anyone. This is all wonderful, but we never see what lies inside her heart. Is she only nice to cover up something tragic that happened to her? Is her loyalty due to the fact that she felt she betrayed someone in the past? The show never really attempts to answer these questions.
The show gives plenty of development to a supporting character that I mentioned previously, which makes it seems as though she should have been the protagonist instead. The cast is ultimately very likable, but their development is rather unbalanced, and we will ultimately learn things about them at the last second so that we can understand something. The creators caught themselves a few times, and had to have a character suddenly say "Oh, by the way, there's this really important thing about this other character's past that we forgot to mention until now, so here it is."
Not a bad cast, just one that was mishandled.
Enjoyment (6/10)- I had to force my way through one or two episodes where nothing really happened in the overall plot. Charming and fun only works for so long before someone like me will get curious about the plot, and this show seemed to forget about the plot until nearly the end. If it weren't for the mismanaged characters and lack of plot, this show could have been a lot better.
Remember how I said that it shows some truly beautiful colors at the end? Well, it does, but not until I had to sit through ten episodes of basically nothing. The end of the show was wonderful, emotionally moving, and brought a very satisfying conclusion to everything. It just wasn't enough to make up for early problems that hurt the overall enjoyment value.
Overall (6/10)- Ultimately, this show is worth watching, but only with realistic expectations. It's a lot of fun to watch at first, gets boring in the middle, but does end on a high note. Just don't go into this one expecting anything mind-blowing. read more
Feb 17, 2010
The story lacks a forward direction. However, for that reason, as you begin to understand why things are going on, it makes it a much more enjoyable experience. As I mentioned above, if you're looking for a straight-out war show, look elsewhere. If you want to watch "cute girls doing cute things in cute ways", you may like Sora no Woto, though in recent episodes (6, 7) the story overall has taken a darker shade, as some of the truths around the 1121st platoon come to surface.
The animation of the characters themselves was a little unsavory in the very first episode. However, it has become smoother (or maybe I've just gotten used to it)... but the real beauty in this show is in the backgrounds. The setting itself is based off the city of Cuenca, Spain, a city built in a mountainous range, with a variety of steep cliffs and water. This is well represented in the show, where most of the backgrounds make you stop and watch them instead of the characters, if you happen to notice that kind of thing. That being said, make sure you watch this show in at least 720p. ;D
There's a wide variety of sounds in Sora no Woto, but the most noteworthy is the music. Not the background music - the music that comes from bugles, which is a focal point early on in the series. When the main character, Kanata, first begins to play the bugle, there's not much that can express the sounds that come out of that instrument. Myself being a trumpet player, I couldn't help but laugh the second I heard it, and once again laugh when Kanata suddenly vastly improves with one small piece of advice. In addition, the OP theme, by Kalafina (known for their work in the Kara no Kyoukai series) seems a little flavorless at first, but as the series progresses, it more closely resembles the overall feeling of the show.
Everybody seems to think Sora no Woto takes the characters from K-On! and puts them in a different setting. Honestly, that's just wrong. While they do look similar, the characters in Sora no Woto have much, MUCH more depth to them than the K-On! cast. Each character shows many sides, straying away from static personalities, though to be fair, it does employ anime archetypes.
From beginning to end, each episode so far has been enjoyable, to where when it ends, I wonder, "It's already over?" This show keeps you guessing what's going to happen next, and why some of the small subtleties are how they are. At the very least, the animation staff did a decent bit of research, and they are putting forth an effort to keep things consistent across each episode.
I know, mathematically that's not the average of the scores. So far, though, this has been among the best shows this season, and with the production of bonus episodes, a manga, and a visual novel, odds are it's going to maintain the same high standard of quality throughout. read more
Mar 23, 2010
Sora no woto, aka ‘Sound of the Sky’ is a mixed culture setting war zone folktale involving a young girl who only came to military to play nice trumpet. If you just read the synopsis, it seems like a very unique and refreshing idea for slice of life genre anime. Sadly, it is not, because the major problem that this anime falls down is from the concept from the start. When you think of slice of life genre, the most important thing is always consistency on everything. Theme, settings, plot, relevance, comedy, all these thing has to be in balanced and united by one main flow of atmosphere. Sora no woto ultimately fails to do that.
Think about the setting of this anime first. There is a war and a town. Only soldiers there in that huge fat town are 5 females, three of them is not even capable of using the guns right. Trumpet is being used for the military communication, and yet they have extremely advanced tank we’ve never seen in any animes. Mixed culture of Europe and Japan looks just awkward as it is. There are all sorts of mysteries arising, yet none of them is properly solved or introduced. Yes, this anime doesn’t make sense of anything. My understanding of 'making sense' is completely different from Gurren Lagann pierce through the time adventure with galaxy sized robot, it's more about the relationship between its circumstance. Sora no woto always involves the paradoxical elements at the same times, and tries to tell two completely irrelevant lines of the story. I’m just utterly surprised that this anime actually ended with this horribly introduced setting and backgrounds.
There is no real plot we can call; it just portrays the life of 5 girls in military. It’s basically a war zone, so it partially success on telling this story of blood and massacre that those disasters create (*Or not, perhaps. I'm just making this up). Some episode actually does make us to become a bit emotional. It was pretty nice. The problem is, it still doesn’t make ‘sense’. The whole this creation of story looks like giant piece of junk art, chucked in random elements together in one; even Homer Simpson can make that kind of stinkers. I’m seriously concerning about the ability of script writers for this anime. Conversations are very unintelligent and none of them is memorable. I mean, what the hack is all of those flat, cheap, overused and retarded jokes? I mean, they just don’t work for me. From my theory, this happened due to indecisive nature of the staffs who’s trying to make anime deep and emotional but funny and cheap at the same time. Anime clichés with fanservices and terror of war just don’t match; they are basically trying to something that is facing the complete opposite directions. It will never work. Those writers tried to do two things at once; they wanted war drama which will make some of emotional scenes that will cry people in a river, but at the same time, they wanted moe appeals, for financial issues. Well, if they had ability, they really could've used those services in 'appropriate' moment, then I will at least say 'oh well, they wrapped up war and moe nicely'. It doesn't. Some episodes were totally tainted by irrelevant use of moe fanservices, and these taints ruins the whole flow of the mood.
Not just that; maybe the idea of war itself is actually the reason that Sora no Woto breaks apart. I’m not saying war is such a bad theme or whatever. It is just overused way too much. *War is bad thing! I’ll protect this village from that bad thing!*… seriously, everyone knows that. War is bad, and should be prevented whatsoever; and this anime tries to tell us about ‘THAT’. For 12 episodes long series, only thing it said is this one philosophical and complex phrase; ‘WAR IS BAD’, but nothing else excluding the pee joke. Shallow… way too much shallow…
Episode is very, very inconsistent. Some episodes are alright, trying to raise our hopes a bit more. Later, it crushes by terribly executed episodes that are absolutely pointless to put. When some scenes are well concerned, other parts are just utterly boring. It is sad that there are only a few ‘truly’ good scenes, but almost about 15 minutes per episode is just futile. With this shallow plot and setting, it can only do stretching itself out to fill the bottle of 25 minutes. Those filled materials are the main cause of this boredom, and occurred due to simplistic storyline. If they’ve made some solid basis at the start, this never happened.
Thing I can praise on this anime is BG art. It was one of the most gorgeous looking scenes I’ve seen in a while. It is breath-taking, and all those buildings, trees, lakes, cliffs, bridges form a perfect harmony, contrast what I’ve seen in its story. I was utterly surprised about all the animation quality from this anime. CG tank (although it doesn’t make sense) looks great and very well animated. OP animation had some beautiful and abstract art works. On the other hand, it might be just me, but I hate that character design so much. That’s one of the major reasons why I hated K-On. This part of me is pretty much biased, so I will not count this part on the rating; amazing BG art covers all.
Sound is another astonishing thing; I just love classics and violins. A lot of them sounds greatly, although most of time, they are used in inappropriate time. OP is not bad; serious and calming although it was not that candy for me, but ED was seriously mismatching the theme of war. It was funny seeing this difference between opening, ending songs, since that’s what they exactly did for the plot of the anime. OP = War drama!! ED = MOE MOE!!
Sadly, characters in this anime are the most stereotypical, and uninteresting ones I’ve ever seen. I felt like being tortured watching all those crappy cliché treatments. Starting with Katana, she joined military only to learn how to play trumpet. She is really bad at it, but in certain episode, she just miraculously learns how to play it perfectly, for some superficial reason. ‘LOL SHII IZU SUCH A GENIUUSSU!!’. Hell no, that’s brainless on the side of production staffs. She is enthusiastic, cute and naïve; so typical. There is nothing special or interesting thing about this character at all.
Next, we have Kureha, tsundere. Actually, one of those annoying ones. She acts all over the place spreading her faggotry like ‘Katana we are fuckin soldiers, it’s a SERIOUS BUSINESS, don’t play like weabooooz.’ Yet, she can’t even hold her gun tight. This is just another clichéd character, and we can expect nothing new from her. Same goes to silent moe Noel-chan and typical mother type glassed girl whose existence makes no sense. Only character I can say ‘not that bad’ is Rio; the only person there who in fact make sense being a soldier. She is cool and gets annoyed a lot for the ‘proper’ reason, such as Katana being empty-headed. She still has major bullshit things that make everything senseless, but better than all the other lowly characters. Ultimately, the character lacks some large amount of depth overall. Their reaction is so predictable due to the oversimplified personality. They are all clichéd and uninteresting.
Did I enjoy watching this? Try to throw yourself into the trash-bin and swim; you will find it more enjoyable than this shit. It was more of pain; everything absolutely makes no sense, and is more of quasi-experiment without a single noticeable moments. I’m just terribly disappointed how this gorgeous art and my favourite classical music background OST got wasted for this terrible series.
Sora no woto had a potential. So, I just blame production staffs and industrial crisis. Hurr durr. read more
Mar 24, 2010
Sora no Woto, is a deceptive little thing about what it really wants to be with the plot. Young Sorami Kanata, a bugler and a private of the Helvetian army, arrives as the new meat of the 1121st, an all female tank crew/squadron. Suffice to say, a slice of life romp ensues. Albeit, it is one with slightly dark undertones here and there. You'd almost forget about them until the masterstroke at the end arrives, heralding the end of the almost idyllic life of the Maidens of the Time-Telling Fortress. But the end, comes almost too fast, yet still feeling it could have been resolved earlier. Its a quick succession of events towards the end but it still manages to follow through to a satisfying conclusion. Not perfect, but still very good.
As for the art, it is outstanding. The bright backgrounds and lighting really help make the setting feel alive. All of Sora no Woto is beautifully animated, whether from the Takemicaduchi and myriad tanks in 3D to the expressive characters. It helps that the quality doesn't suffer at any point either.
And to go with this art, is also an outstanding sound department. The background music really does this series justice, coming in just at the right time. Supporting the scenes actively without being overbearing. That is not to say the voice acting or the effects were poor. They were indeed fitting but the props really have to go out background music. That is not to say, actual music is not played. As a signaller of the tank crew, our little heroine doles out a piece that has touched many hearts, hers included, before the story even started. Another touching piece would be the French, I believe, insert song. But now I'm just listing things. Even so, I am still wishing to hear them outside of the anime in all their glory.
The characters are as I've already mentioned, very expressive. I really don't know what to say here. I was just along for the ride as everyone told their own stories and talked more about themselves. At the main characters did. Though, special mention goes some of the minor characters as, Colonel Hopkins, or Major Krauss despite their limited appearances. Heck, everyone is accounted for, even if they only say few lines. Which is nice attention to detail.
I love Sora no Woto, it cannot be said enough. Simply because the world is so fascinating and colourful despite the actual backstory. Most if not all the minor details I would have picked at are well done. Though there are occasional slip ups, but that's because there so much detail. The atmosphere traps me further in enjoyment the farther it goes but better still, there is a moral here if you looked for it. Not that I'm one for such things but as always, I'd rather have you, the reader, find out for yourself. This is something I recommend strongly as a must watch of the season.
Mar 22, 2010
Okay so the story and the characters, even if they're pretty cliche, are actually quite good in their own right. The pacing is pretty good, characters are well developed and believable enough to not be Mary Sues. The voices also fit each and every character very well.
Art and Sound is amazing in their own right. The artstyle of the characters are very similar to K-ON's, but the backgrounds and backdrops are radically different. It's jaw-dropping. (Okay, not for me, but it's still very different.) It even gives 5 Centimeters per Second a rival.
The soundtrack is different than K-ON's, too. Rather the songs are moreso comparible to the Team ICO video game series. (There's ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian.) Basically, it has very well composed songs for the orchestra to play and it sometimes focuses on a single particular instrument throughout the anime. (It would be the trumpet in this show). So really, it's always a crowning music of awesome.
Overall, I enjoyed this anime a lot. It was well rounded and gave enough awesome moments to make up for the less than creative story and characters. Therefore, I give this rating a "Kick-Ass" for it's awesomeness.
So, you might still think that this relates to K-ON, (you know just like Skip Beat or White Album), and you are completely wrong. Only the artstyle and sharing of the music genre are the only things that are similar about it. The character animations are basically the same, but there's enough contrasts in The Sound of the Skies that make it immensly better anyways.
I'll concede that both of the animes use music as a part of their themes. But K-ON's is more like "Using music to save our club" than The Sound of the Skies "Using music to understand more about ourselves and the world". So if anybody still tells you that the both of the animes are the same, then please don't believe them and let them know that they're jerkasses that only watch the first ten minutes of a show and make judgement upon them.
Also if you're wondering what the soundtrack's going to sound like then here (By the way, it's not from The Sound of the Skies but from ICO. This is just to get you prepared for what it's going to be similar to.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DipbshLI8PA
P.S. I hate my life read more
Jan 29, 2012
The story is wonderful; it starts off slice-of-lifey and really slow and painful, especially for the people who want a grandiose story and perfect mood/tone. However, stick through the first half a dozen episodes, and you slowly fall in love with the characters. Throughout the beginning, there is an undertone of dread and mixed optimism, a bittersweet tang in the back of your mouth so to speak. The little hints and clues slowly build a bigger picture that encompasses the main story, eventually interfering with their perfect lives. I don't want to spoil anything because trust me, it gets pretty intense and riveting. I become to sympathise with the characters, their plight, their endless struggle against an unkind and unloving world. And throughout it all, there was the ominous, foreboding military. The overall theme is magnificent - it portrays a common struggle humanity constantly is at war with: aggression and ultimately, love.
The artwork is dazzling and spectacular. There's this cheery sort colors that blend with the moods of the characters. During the happy parts, the colors appeared lush and bright. The depressing or gloomy or grim moods brought storms, dark clouds, and other drab colors. There were vast mountain vistas and grand scenes of nature and of a quaint town. The setting depicted 18th century Europe accurately, with a technological quirk here and there. Everything was drawn to exact detail; the cobblestone streets, the distant snow on the mountains, the old vehicles - I almost felt like I was there.
Besides the fact that Amazing Grace is one of my favorite songs, the sound continually surprised me. The trumpet sound was clean and pristine, reflecting the beautiful sceneries. The panoramic views and sound melded together perfectly. The OP was a foreshadowing of an important event; the ED was happy and go-lucky, as if to say, "Phew, it's over." I listened to both, and ended up loving both.
The characters were your typical cast of a slice-of-life - the tsundere, the carefree one, the authoritative one. In the general slice-of-life, there isn't a character arc; however, here there were major changes in personalities and attitudes. Dark secrets were revealed, and pasts were uncovered beneath once impenetrable outer masks. The characters themselves were standard only for the first couple episodes; once they dug deep, truths were uncovered that changed their perceptions about each other for a long time.
Overall, I enjoyed it thoroughly, much more than I originally thought. I loved the story progression and epic conclusion and little things both big and small. Though it may seem too happy-go-lucky for the first episodes, the dark nature and underlying tone eventually force their way to the surface, and prepare for a bumpy ride. Through music, a simple song can calm all. read more
Mar 9, 2010
The first two episodes were a little shaky for me, but once they got the stuff like Kureha's Obligatory Tsundere Moment out of the way, each episode just got better than the last. The slice of life tradition of finding something extraordinary in the everyday is made especially poignant by the post-apocalyptic backdrop. You watch all these little revelations and miniature adventures and you laugh and smile and then remember that this is a world where dolphins no longer exist, where nobody knows how to work a radio, where there are not enough children left in town to fill the old school building.
And Sora no Woto does not spare the viewer from the harsh realities of its universe. Yes, most of the episodes are lighthearted, but the show never shies away from mentioning the darker facts, including plenty of dead parents, the completely desolate no-man's land, and some particularly chilling war flashbacks. And again, it's the dark that makes the light glow all the brighter.
One final general thing I think is worth mentioning is that I love the storytelling style. This anime never assumes the viewer is stupid when revealing plot points. It's all a matter of giving just enough hints that it's obvious, but never wasting time by saying, "Yes, here's what actually happened." This applied in particular to episode 10, which has in my opinion been the best episode so far (like I said, they get better, though 7 and 10 are definitely peaks), where the plot reveals were simply a matter of confirming previous hints, and instead the impact of the episode was devoted to character interactions and development.
MAL has given me categories to assign numbers to but I'm not huge on number ratings so I'll just write a quick sentence or two about each:
Story: mostly slice-of-life episodic, but with a gradually building backstory that's currently coming to its climax. The episodic plots are quite enjoyable as well, if you're into the slice-of-life stuff.
Art: people always say the characters look like K-On!. Fair enough. Don't expect the anime to be like K-On! however. Background art is beautiful in that tragic way post-apocalyptic scenery is.
Sound: I'm sure everyone and their mother has said this, but the music is great. The ending theme can cause some major emotional dissonance for the more serious episodes, however.
Character: as much as I've grown to love them I have to admit they're a bit cookie-cutter. There's plenty of development and backstory reveals throughout the series.
Enjoyment: hopefully from the review it was obvious that I'm loving this. Your mileage may vary, but I'm really feeling the emotional connection here. read more
Nov 6, 2010
Mar 23, 2010
Basically we have a moe slice of life show applied on a military skin with a musical influence with the brass being the focus (mainly trumpet, but also bugle). The Yui-look-a-like Kanata comes in with a similar musical knack about her, though not of natural musical skill, but instead regarding her uncanny perfect pitch in how she can identify notes in just about everything around her. With regards to the level of moe, it's nowhere near as extreme as something like K-ON is, but is rather a more natural fit to the setting and the characters in comparison. There aren’t any moments where it goes into chibi-mode with silly music and colorful bubbly backgrounds. It maintains the same art style with your standard portrayal of the emotional palate.
As for the setting, most of the story takes place in the town and the fortress. From the first episode onward, they do a good job portraying the livelihood and the colorful traditions of the townsfolk. They do give tastes of the post-war world when they show various crumbling structures, ruins, the vast barrens of Nomansland, and through character flashbacks. The various themes that this show has provide an interesting angle. There’s a bit of a supernatural theme as we get tastes of ghosts, spirits, and legends of angels and demons and whatnot. There’s even a bit of mafia-like action, surprisingly. As for the military aspect, and in particular with events towards the end of the show, we get to see a much more serious side of things with the drama between Rome and Helvetia as well as with the characters themselves. When you step back and take a look at all these parts, it is quite a strange mixture of elements. Some aspects of this concoction work while others, not quite so much.
The core to this anime I feel ultimately revolves around the relationships between the characters. Between the townspeople, the church (if you want to call it that), and the military, they do a good job to show the varying interactions they have, such as some townspeople’s dealings with the military, the role of the military in the town, and the hardships of post-war orphans and their caretakers to name some examples. Most importantly is the relationship that the five girls share with each other and how their personalities sometimes clash but ultimately mesh together.
Story – 7: I’d have to say the backdrop of the story is quite interesting and that the ultimate direction, though it takes long to develop into anything, is decent. My main complaint was that it seemed to take a long time for stuff to happen, with a lot of episodes spent on character development and slice of life moments. The main plot elements only showed their face in the last few eps.
Art – 8: Sure it’s hard not to associate the character art-style with K-ON, but they are drawn well, animations are fluid, and the backgrounds and settings are well done, such as the landscape, the rolling clouds in the skies, the rain, and the snowfall. Oh, and the Takemicaduchi is pretty sweet.
Sound – 10: The seiyuus fit the roles well with regards to the personalities of the characters, but where it shines is the soundtrack. The music goes great with the mood and setting, and the OP and ED I think both show what the show is about with the ED showing the lighter side and the OP showing the more deep side (thumbs up for Kalafina). The use of French in some of the background songs and the style of music really gave me the feeling of the small remote town of Seize.
Character – 7: I think that the characters were developed decently and they gave enough time showing the background information on each one of the major players, though not so much with Kureha. The mains may have fit certain standard archetypes, such as clumsy, tsundere, and so forth, but I think their personalities are interesting enough, especially Rio, maybe Felicia a little, and Noel as well. They did well in showing the bond that the girls share with each other as well.
Enjoyment – 7: Like I said, main downside for me was the pace, but it wasn’t like it was difficult to sit through or anything. There were some fairly emotional moments and such, but then again I’ll admit that I’m easily moved in that sense.
Overall – 8 (7.8): It surpassed my initial expectations which weren’t that high to begin with and was a decent watch. Not bad by any means, but not superb either. I think your view will really depend on how you approach it. It touched on several things, but I don’t think it was trying to really excel at anything in particular. I think it’s a story of friendship, hope, and humanity, with the military aspect simply being part of the setting.
(I’m curious to see how the next Anime no Chikara project will turn out, as that looks to be a bit more interesting and deeper in terms of the story.) read more
Dec 25, 2011
This can be an enjoyable to some, but towards a limit, others it can be bore or an anime that's trying too hard.
The main aspect that I like about this show. The bond between these characters is cute and complex. Each of them hold dark pasts that effect them allot.
The head of the command is Filicia, who seems to be a strong, wise leader, and a little pervy as well x-). Although she seems light hearted, her past effects her greatly.
Noel is a very smart and interesting character, and one of my favorites in this series. Often falling asleep and rarely saying much.
What seems to be the second in command of this fleet is Rio, an understandable, kind but also terror person.
Compared to the all the characters Kureha doesn't seem to have any background, and I tout she would have an interesting one. She seems jealous of Kanata, but this aspect of her seems to be forgotten as the series go on, not resolved, but forgotten (...well I thought so anyway).
Sort of amusing the way she takes the whole army fleet seriously, as she seems to be the only character in the group that does, which I like.
Last is the out sweet cute main character: Kanata. As I said before she's very cute, and has a natural gift of music. Where ever she came from, her home seemed to be detached from the rest of the world.
The other minor characters in this series, including the main ones, seem to have a powerful bond and are all easy to like and admire.
Certainly a strong factor in this series.
The city is beautiful, and I'll love to visit it if it ever existed. A sort of remote Italien look, with its tanned red, old buildings. With the impressive art, you'll never admire such a city.
The characters also seem to move freely and look believable, compared to other anime's.
Sadly, a slow, ineffective plot. That doesn't seem to get the 'wow' factor, although you can see it tried.
However, the music Kanata makes at the end does send a shivers down your spine in a good way.
It also seemed very far fetched, the machines and the unexpected and fast pace ending climax seem to come out of no where!?! and strangely enough it runs away again before you sort of notice they've happend. If you get what I mean:-)
I say some people may like the plot, but I didn't really. I personally thought it was weak, and didn't seem to climax when it obviously tried.
A good anime with its characters and Art work, but sadly the most important factor: the story, seem to be weak.
However the other two factors bring my view up to a 6/10
But give it a go for fun!:-)
Jan 16, 2010
Jan 20, 2011
Story: Fair 6.
Ok, so the genre of this anime are the following: Military, Shonen, Sci-fi, Musical, Action (appred only in the last 2 episodes) and Comedy (just a little bit). However amongst the genre only the musical part is most prevelent pertaining to Kanata's bugel calls, everything else are trivial and a mediocre of "Make love not war" kind of thing.
Art: Poor poor 3.
Question: what the heck was the artist thinking when he or she got inspiration to don the Helvetia soldiers (feamle charcters inculded) in a Nazi style uniform, which by the way inculdes the utility vehicles and the guns that they use except the tanks, also the Roman soldiers were donned with a wrong kind of uniform, in reality, during WW2 the Italian (Roman) army donned an Olive Gray uniform and not the typical WW2 Soviet Style uniform, frankly everythings that were drawn were composed bits and pieces of something during WW2 that the artist of this anime seem to based it from ..
Sound: Dreadful 2.
If you're talking about the opening theme, I hate it.
If you're talking about the various bugel calls inculding the "Amazing Grace," I say it's a bit of a Sacrilege (pataining to the "Amazing Grace") to even make it part of the anime. The said bugel call is reserve only to a solidier, fireman or any member of the law enforcement unit who died in the line of duty. There is a diffrent bugel call which is used to call for a truce, and I'm surprise that the author of this anime doesn't know it.
Character: Mediocre 5.
It is not unusual for a female soildier to be regulated for guard duty or any non-combat duty. So, if the setting is in some European country then all charcters should sport european names, particulary in German, unfortunatly most of the charcters still have Japanese names like: Kanata Sorami, Rio Kazumiya, Kureha Suminoya and Noel Kannagi. On the other hand, the supporting character Aisha Aldola is not a typical roman name, The character's name is more like a combination of French with a touch of Spanish, also she should be speaking Italian or latin instead of German.
Enjoyment and Overall: Fair 6
As in fair enough to be watch by all ages.
Trivia: During WW2 the Soviet Red Army utilizes women for sniper duties.
Jul 20, 2010
Apr 9, 2010
Let's start with the plot:
It all begins when teenage soldier Sorami Kanata joins her latest company to learn to play the trumpet and ends up with a small group of teenage girls on the outskirts of some mythical country after WWIII and on the brink of another major war (at least that's what I presume). From there, there's no other plot development besides this myth about these "fire maidens" and how this group of five girls protect the city just like these maidens did in legend.
Now the actual review:
In my opinion, for the series's genre, it was a well composed anime with no details left out. Kanata's interactions with her fellow soldiers and superiors display the thin set emotions of those on the brink of war. It a sense it's almost like a rendition of a Vietnam vet's recollection of the war. Everyone has some war related history that dramatically effects the way they think and operate, plus they really tug at your heart strings. The way plot twists were set up were also timely and didn't leave that "really did that just happen" taste.
However there are always things to pick on and I can certainly dissect this one. For starters (this really isn't a serious point but w.e.) this plot description could haveve totally been an ecchi. Second, all the war action only appeared at the end of the series, which would have been nice to see through out the whole thing. Lastly, this series seemed like it could have easily been a legitimate full length series, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
Overall 8/10, it fit neatly into its genre description, but wasn't ground breaking (mostly because it was a slice of life). Personally I would recommend this to those out there who are bored and just want to kill time while waiting for a different anime to add a new episode or something. read more
Jan 19, 2010
Art-wise, it looks very good. The general style is soft, pasty, and the landscapes are vivid and beautiful. (NOTE) While many - or most, for that matter - would immediately connect this anime to K-ON, I have to point out that A-1 pictures had already worked on a similar "moe" art style in Kannagi, prior to this. Thus it would be unfair to accuse them of "copying" K-ON!, per se.
The characters so far haven't exactly impressed me. Their leader seems pretty archetypal. Strict at times, and harsh, but warm and understanding at others. The main character of course is childish, clueless, naive, and acts cute 100% of the time.
Perhaps the only one that caught my eye was the sleepy tank mechanic, something of a cross between Sanya from Strike Witches and Isara from Valkyria Chronicles.
Story wise, it has been alright so far. The overall backdrop has thus been pretty thin - we don't know much about the world they live in, the war they're fighting, and so on. However, the main character's past and why she sought the path she is on was a touching bit, and the history of the town deity added some much needed substance to an episode tending otherwise to the dry end of things.
Overall, 7.5/10, or 7 as it may be since MAL.net doesn't seem to like decimal denominations.
Not much has been seen so far, but the art, sound, and story have potential to go places. It would be very interesting to see exactly where that place is.
- Osi read more