In a barren frontier where people trade goods with each other in order to help each other survive. The Kotobuki Squadron are bodyguards for hire, led by a strict but beautiful squadron leader, an unreliable commanding officer, and a true artisan of a crew chief. Alongside pilots who don't lack for personality, they take to the air in dogfights, letting the engine noise of their Hayabusa fighters ring out in the skies.
I think the vast majority who knows this show by heart now are those who really like or love the ol' classic air pirates and dogfights, and the group of people staying true to their cause, going around spreading their name etc etc, which is just literally Crimson Skies the anime.
From the studio that brought you the god-awful CGI remake that is Berserk, The Magnificent Kotobuki takes us viewers back to the old times where air pirates were a thing, with so many individuals and groups who were just trying to get along in that time and age where raids and dogfights were the norm,
and for this case, we have the 6-man (erm, girlie) crew that is the Kotobuki Squadron, who are trying to help mercenaries do their jobs that involve the use of airplanes that are small and dogfight-certified.
So, for GEMBA to combine the use of 2D and 3DCGI (which is used for the Kotobuki team characters) is really weird, not something which we have seen back then but it's of relevance now that CGI is getting popular (see Houseki no Kuni, Revisions), but alas it's still quite a fair bit of distraction that you'll see 2D characters interacting with 3D characters and such. Often at the start this is a nitpick, but it's easy to get used to it.
The main crux of the series is always the dogfights, and thankfully that covers just about four-fifths of the episodes, which are darn entertaining to watch. Compare this to the subpar Girly Air Force (which also premieres this season), and I can pick this anyday with the nonsense story plots that leads to something better.
For now, I can only say if you hate 3D or CGI, this show will turn you off, but give it a second chance and you might like it.
TL;DR - It's probably enjoyable if you make it past the first episode.
Disclaimer: As someone who dropped the series after the first episode, I'm probably not a reliable source for any plot content, and therefore I cannot spoil anything. However, I will do my best to evaluate this series based on what I have watched, so feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
I really didn't like the story.
Our anime starts out at some kind of cafe of sorts, where a group of men are sitting and exhibiting what the directors seem to think is "manly behavior."
I'm pretty sure that, in real life,
we call it "being a dickhead."
An annoying guy comes up and tries to hit on some of the girls sitting in the corner, because they look hot, and he brags about having almost a dozen stars. It's implied that stars correlate to experience and skill.
But every single one of the girls sitting there is actually an extremely accomplished pilot, having earned 200 stars all together. The main character herself has earned 40 on her own. Another failed plot twist attempt just thrown in your face.
In the evening, everyone suits up for an aerial battle because of plot. There is a bit of attempted humor by the captain of the giant airship that they are supposed to protect, but the battle starts pretty much rightaway.
The men get creamed, because they're complete garbage. The anime uses the excuse that "the enemies aren't normal enemies!" Like we haven't heard that one before.
The main character spend a full minute preparing, which is pretty realistic and deserves bonus points.
Then, the girls launch into the air and completely cream most of the enemies, except for one. Our MC decides to pursue and almost dies, but she's spared at the last moment and returns in defeat.
Firstly, a lot of people seem to like the realistic fights that go on in the air. There aren't giant pauses for talking, and there is no Talk no Jutsu bullshit.
At the same time, the skill of the pilots is rather unreal, as they do ridiculous flips at high speeds, and the main character is pretty reckless, considering the fact that she earned a fifth of all the stars collected by her team.
A teaser at the end of the first episode for the second one gave me the feeling that this would be some kind of shounen geared for a shoujo audience, and that didn't really sit well with me, so I quit.
The animation is some kind of weird 3D style, but the problem is that some things are in three dimensions and others are in two, and that becomes a bit of a strange sight. But the actions scenes are nice and smooth, so it's a thumbs up from me.
I like the sound. It's pretty realistic. The OST isn't half bad, but the key part is listening to each individual sound effect for all the parts of the plane. It's like watching a great racing movie, but in the air instead of with cars.
We really haven't seen much of the characters, but it seems that each one will get a backstory and development in future episodes. Hopefully it goes well, but as of now, we haven't learnt much about the pilots.
I didn't like this anime.
Its portrayal of men was literally from the standpoint of an aggressive feminist, and basically establishing the fact that males will not have a prominent role at all in this entire anime. And looking at the teaser for the next episode, it looks like all accomplished fighters in the entire show are women.
But at the same time, it isn't role reversal, because the men retain their cockiness and their quick attitudes, as compared to anime with established matriarchal societies. The girls are equally aloof and the conversations between all the characters are stagnant and blatantly obvious.
In addition, the anime seems to be trying to make up its mind as to whether it is a shounen or a shoujo. The battle scenes make it obvious that it will be full of fights, but the anti-men campaign means it will not appeal to a male audience. At the same time, if it turns itself around and develops a romance between an actually decent male human being and one or more of the female characters, it will become a shoujo primarily composed of action, which also isn't what most audiences want.
I'm not saying that shounen can't have romance, or that shoujo can't have action. But I also don't see the anime going in a generally good direction.