Mysterious flying creatures known as Zai suddenly appear, and in order to fight the creatures, mankind creates fighter aircraft called "Daughters," as well as the automatic fighting mechanism "Anima," which are shaped like human girls. The story centers on a young man named Kei Narutani, who yearns to fly in the sky, and an Anima considered to be humanity's trump card, a girl name Gripen.
From my first viewing of Girly Air Force, it felt like I’ve seen this somewhere before. And no, before anyone mentions “Arpeggio of Blue Steel”, it’s actually not that. What I mean is that I’ve seen similar anime like this before with the ideas of objects translated into cute girls. Kantai Collection, Frame Arms Girl, and Strike Witches are a few that comes to mind. Yet, a voice is telling me that Girly Air Force really felt lacking in terms of execution. And with regret, I didn’t really get this show.
To be fair, the light novels aren’t very popular. Before this got announced as an
anime adaptation, I had no idea it even existed. But since it’s been publishing for more than 4 years since September 2014, there’s bound to be enough to make this into a fluid story right? As an anime only viewer, watching Girly Air Force felt like a challenge because of its themes. The concept of an alien invasion (entities known as “Zai” in this show) attacking a country is a copy-paste formula I’ve seen in many sci-fi shows before. Girly Air Force doesn’t exactly think outside the box with this formula as we are shown that humanity have their own weapons of defense. The advanced aircraft fighters known as “Daughters” are employed in this show. The pilots consists of the main characters known as “Anima” that resembles young women.
First impressions are important and unfortunately, Girly Air Force takes several strikes from the start. We meet protagonist Kei who encounters a mysterious girl. Oh and did I forget to mention that they kiss already? It doesn’t take long for this mysterious girl named Gripen to build a relationship with Kei. Throughout the story, they come to understand each other but it’s clear there’s a lack of chemistry between the two. Between the awkward humor, cheap dialogues, and weak emotional connection, there’s little reason to actually care about them. When I mentioned that I didn’t get this show, this was part of the reason. Why should I care about Kei and Gripen’s relationship when there’s little character development between either one of them? To make matters worse, Kei has the personality of a potato while Gripen exhibits borderline android-like behavior. The show also think it’s clever to pull out “cute” moments for Gripen to make her look more human. But honestly, it’s embarrassing to watch. How many times are going to get to see Gripen eat like a little kid at the candy store before it gets old?
Upon joining Japanese military, Kei also meets other Anima such as Eagle and Phantom. While they show more personality than our android girl Gripen, neither of them are developed enough. Eagle has a child-like personality who adores her “papa” while also being overly friendly. Yet, she can also show an irregular way of expressing herself when irritated. On the other hand, Phantom displays a superiority complex while not getting along with nearly anyone. While this show is not a harem, it has tendency to make characters be more dependent on others than they should. Gripen is a clear example of this as she begins to show way too much attachment to Kei. Eagle also trusts Kei because her papa has faith in him. Oh and of course, we can’t have a show without a childhood crush so Song Minghua is there for that role. It’s too bad Kei is laughably dense about her feelings which result in many awkward moments. Someone with a face like Kei drags down this show even more with its already degenerate cast.
When I first decided to actually watch Girly Air Force, my hopes were that somewhere along the way, the storytelling would be able to at least draw enough interest. What kind of story did we get instead? It’s a poorly made one with tongue-tied sci-fi ideas. In fact, many of the episodes hardly connects the show together such as kidnapping angle, washed down invasion plot, or even some of its slice of life content. That’s right, this anime at times feels unintentionally like a slice of life with the character interactions. Between the three main Anima, there’s also a rivalry developed between them but should we even bother to care? The main premise of the show is for humanity to survive and explore ways for them to defeat the Zai, right? Perhaps, there’s something more that I’m not seeing here. Maybe it’s a show that tries to get viewers to experience the behavior of these abnormal girls. Nonetheless, I really don’t get this show.
Who would have guessed that Satelight would be animating this? They’ve been known to be attached to projects with sci-fi themes such as Macross, Aquarion Evol, Muv-Luv Alternative, Symphogear, etc. Their experiments have shown plenty of flaws over the years and Girly Air Force is another to add to the list. In essence, the visual quality of the show only stands out the most when it gets to the action. I will admit that the aerial combat is top-tier when the momentum gets going. But when the characters aren’t in the sky, everything feels radically plain. This isn’t much of a criticism but more as the truth. Characters look too light novel fashioned with little distinction. The show also seems to love making Gripen and Eagle as cute as possible whenever they are with Kei. It doesn’t also help that Kei falls for certain suggestive scenes and dialogues like a typical anime healthy boy would. Abandon hope for a likable protagonist because Kei is at the bottom of the barrel.
After 12 weeks of mindless Girly Air Force adventure, this felt like a book that needed to be put down. Maybe I’ll give the light novel a chance in the future but for the anime adaptation, this was nothing short than a thumbs down. I was bored for the plot, felt almost no emotional attachment to the characters, and nearly zero connection to the show’s ideas. Trusting in this show makes me wonder if we even need more anime about cute girls doing…sci-fi things?
This review will be super biased because Im writing this as a military stuff, jet fighter fan (I have an F18 keyring lol). I think you need to be a fan of these stuff to really enjoy this one. Apart from the ending which gets kinda interesting and some other interesting concepts too is a pretty avarage good-bad guys history, but I really enjoyed it! The art is kinda flashy with all those colors, I wished the "daughters" had more realistic colours and also the enemy designs felt kinda poor, they also felt like if they were just there to fit in the battle escenes,
but it kinda makes sense after you get to the end. The dogfights were entertaining but also felt like they lack something else and the interactions with the other military stuff like the fleets and normal jet fighters I think they could've been developed further. But like I said I super enjoyed it and never got bored! I hope it gets a 2nd season.
I am astounded and stunned to fathom what's so good about this show, except that it is built on cliches and tropes, one after another. That's what is obvious from the get-go, and unless you're a fan of these irregularities, it doesn't help that this show gives off bad vibes from the start.
The story (and worldbuilding) is that mankind/humanity is under attack from extraterrestrial entities only known as Xi, large colourful bird-ish planes who have surpassed human technology and are considered unstoppable. One fateful day, the dull MC, Narutani Kei, stumbles among one of the Xi's many attacks, and is caught in the crossfire between
the Zai and the JASDF's way of quantitative and qualitive control: Colourful fighter planes known as "Daughters", powered by autonomous units called "Anima", android-like human girls made from scrap Xi parts, and engineered to only serve one purpose: to repel the Xi in whatever shape and way possible technologically, that mission failures are not tolerated. And then...the storytelling collapses on its feet, HARD, as plot is basically non-existent and non-progressive.
And here...is the first problem: Inserting cliches and tropes where it doesn't really make total sense to the current (and future) situation(s). While Kei notices the first of the "Daughter" planes, which houses Gripen (the dull, naive pink-haired girl), he attempts to save her like any other righteous human would...and *kisses* him for absolutely NO reason. (Shit, that weird scene still irks so much in my mind.) Naturally, with the big effect of the Xi's attack for killing his mother, and wanting to know more about the power of the Daughters, he joins the JASDF and joins the staff responsible for the exclusive program in hopes of getting his sweet, sweet (and naive teenage) revenge against the Xi. And then, as luck would have it, Yashirodoori, the scientist behind the reverse-engineering of the Xi's weaponry and developer of the Anima system, notices Gripen's *strange* emotional dependency on Kei, and decides to "pair" them up together (ooh that "pairing romance" troupe).
The second problem is with the characters, both mains and sides. Gripen, as blank as she looks, is actually for a reason. Suffering from an inherent emotional defect which leaves her scatterbrained and lacking a sense of purpose, that's the answer to her fragile affinity with Kei (like seriously, can you believe this???). Eagle, the blonde-haired loud-talking girl, she's at best a talking parrot based on her perky and capricious personality, aside from being talented (which naturally is the case). What irks me is that on their first impressions, Eagle takes interest in Kei, but never crosses that line, as saying that the writers initally wanted a harem of sorts. (Oh God, please kill me now.) And last but not least (of the Daughters), Phantom, the green-haired original JASDF Anima that is first to be developed and built, takes a drastic step on her prideful superiority both on ground and in the skies, manipulating information as and when she likes it to gain any tactical advantage firsthand, causing frictions within the team (and I kinda hated her at first but understood her intentions well soon after).
Even more patronizing, are both Kei and his childhood friend Song Minghua. Watching Kei stumble and grow is as worrying as his character development built in the process as not only Gripen's "beck and call" backup (his MC appeal), but also the "instant training" troupe that's the cause of his revenge, that beckons to always question his purpose in helping the Daughters fend off the Xi, being 1 step forward and 10 steps back. Even worse, is his childhood friend-cum-"random sibling romance" Minghua. Strapped within the same devastating situation as Kei, she "swore" to protect him...like a girlfriend would (but really never displays "subtle" affections), with Kei sister-zoning her. Wow this is getting great...or so it hoped.
I'm not at all surpised when Satelight is involved in anything that is mech-related, as the studio's past experiences have all held up in bits and pieces, whether good or bad, and Girly Air Force is no different. The art styles have all held up decently well, and along with the frantic animation which is both clean and stylish. And of course, the Xi and planes have that artifical CGI feel to them, and is honestly not that bad and is not repulsive either.
For a show all about planes and sci-fi action, you would expect a good OST to follow-up on this piece, but what came out of it are all generic tunes, both OP/ED and the BGM. Not impressive, but decently held up.
If I can fall flat on this show, it means that this show has failed. Not in terms of expectation, but pure enjoyment. Sure, I'd like some things to at least spice up the action, but episode after episode, even the enjoyment wanes substantially to the point where I can wave my byes away in the moonlight. If you like this show, good for you, but it just isn't for me.
Girly Air Force was not a "must watch" anime but a decent one for those who like air fights, jets and colorful haired girls.
At first, let's cover the negative points that contributed to GAF's low popularity. Hum, the thema itself was quite basic, with aliens named Zai coming on Earth with their very high technology which totally outmatched humanity's current one. Forced to fight, every national armies & research (at least Japanese, American & Russian as we know) managed to create their own weapons, based on alien's jets they somehow destroyed.
These researches lead to the creation of Animas, aka girls with very colorful & non-conventional
hairs (a shiny blue, pink, a shiny green, purple and a shiny yellow : you could not miss them in the street). They actually are the only ones able to pilot "Daughters", aka modern fight jets which are efficient against Zai. However, one Anima is unable to pilot alone, until she discovers a human named Kei with whom she suddenly became able to. Yes, the plot totally looks like Darling in the Franxx, before you ask.
However, contrary to DitF, GAF had in my opinion a huge lack of background, everything seemed blank or empty behind the main characters and the airport. You could think that they gave every part of their budget in huge and spectacular air battles but... not really. In fact, there were not many battles, I think 3 that were decently noticeable. Quite sad for an anime that has no real or strong plot and a small number of characters (count ... 9 characters who are named in the show, plus other unnamed extras).
I think this point was the one which displeased most viewers. Indeed, if you don't really like planes in anime or if you don't really feel attracted by these colorful girls, then you couldn't appreciate Girly Air Force.
To be honest, I appreciated these girls who all aren't humans and have a different vision of humanity. They are fighters in their "blood" (or should I say in their components ?) with a programmed personality. The whole anime is basically telling the story of Gripen, a curious, childly, naive and cute Anima who discovers human nature and human mores with Kei. Ah talking about this guy... saying he is a bit dumb and quite irritating sometimes seems right.
Instead of presenting a Michael Bay's vision of aliens vs cute girls piloting jets, Girly Air Force showed a semi-romance semi-drama anime with a pinch of battle, a bunch of attractive girls you'd desire to meet (not gonna say why you'd desire such thing) and a fund of technology. It wasn't very popular this season and probably won't become later. It's either you appreciate it or either you hate it, since the background / plot is very weak and most battles aren't memorable.
The worst point of this anime was enlightened by Kei himself during last episode. Who are Zai & why do you they fight ? I hereby present you the main question that remains unsolved yet. During 12 episodes we learned how Zai was powerful and it conquered many parts of the world : appearently it was THE enemy for humanity. But as we noticed, this enemy, despite its destructive technology, wasn't such a threat since it left national armies finding a way to counter its plans (if it ever had some). Kei himself wonders why it fought for all this time.