Kazuhiro Uchida is transferred to a rescue centre located in a small town while training to become a fighter pilot. Initially, Kazuhiro thinks negatively about his new occupation, due to the difficult missions and the harsh discipline he receives from his seniors. However, over the course of his training, he begins to accept the job for what it is and becomes a true member of the rescue force.
This series is very unappreciated. So much so, that this is my first review, as I want people to know how great it is.
It focuses on a young man, Uchida Kazuhiro, who failed to become a fighter pilot, and is assigned to a rescue squadron to fly helicopters... which he strongly dislikes the idea of. Without spoiling it, it's pretty simple to say his character develops significantly over the course of the story. It's well paced, very realistic (set in modern, current day totally real world, no sci-fi elements) and some episodes are truly moving. Very well written dialogue and events. This is pretty much
a pure drama, and that may not appeal to everybody, but there is a degree of action, romance and even some comedy that may keep in some who usually avoid drama.
Art wise, it's also superb. Fitting character design, beautiful background art, and the flight scenes are excellent. Some CG is used, but it never feels out of place or inappropriate. It does a great job of capturing the action, and in some events (a rescue in a blizzard on a mountain, for example) shows how poor visibility can be in such situations. It really can make you feel like you're there in the action at times.
Sound, well the voices were all excellent, while Miyazaki Issei is pretty much an unknown name, he played Kazuhiro very well. The other major characters, and even the victims in rescue cases were all very well suited and nothing felt out of place. The music was subtle, and never overpowering unlike some series where it can 'get in the way' but it really did help with the impact of some scenes.
Character wise, I believe this is one of the best character development series of all time, especially so for being so short. From being a snotty little transfer not liking his assigned job, Kazuhiro grows significantly over the course of the story. If there were a down side to this story, though, it would be his sadly undeveloped relationship with his girlfriend Megumi, beautifully voiced by Noto Mamiko. She had her own problems over the course of the series, which was a whole sub-plot, and IMO could have used a bit more development, but it wasn't distracting enough to warrant a score less than 10 (maybe a 9.5 at worst).
Overall, it's an incredibly enjoyable series. It's very easy to sit and watch all in one go, being so short, you can easily burn through it all without noticing the time because of it being so well paced and enthralling. Also if you get the releases by Froth-Bite, they're chaptered, so you can effortlessly skip the OP/ED to burn through them all quickly. Though, the OP and ED are decent and may be worth listening to, if you're in to that... ^^;
Really though, give this series a shot. It's still unlicensed as of the writing of this review, so should be easy to find for download around the vastness of the internet. Do yourself a favour; it'll be the best two Gb you can spend on a single series.
Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings- is a true rarity in this medium, being one of the few entirely realistic human drama anime out there. In fact, the only reason I can see as to why this show wasn't planned out to be live-action in the first place is for budget reasons. Sadly, the dearth of popularity for this title can likely be attributed to its utter realism and the lack of escapist fantasy which pervades the vast majority of anime. However, viewers who like their anime more serious and avoidant of typical anime tropes and cliches should be grateful for a series like this, as Yomigaeru
Sora -Rescue Wings- would be a respectable drama in any medium and is a fairly fascinating look at the lives of rescue workers in the Japanese Self Defense Force.
The first episode alone sets up the majority of the conflicts. We see Kazuhiro's dissatisfaction with being assigned to a helicopter rescue squad in a tiny, unremarkable city instead of the jet fighter pilot force he dreamed of joining as a young boy. We see his somewhat strained, long distance relationship with his big city girlfriend, Megumi. We see his confrontation with the helicopter unit's Major Hongo, who notices his lack of commitment to the rescue squad at a glance and chews him out for it immediately. Along with his various personal issues and his rather apathetic personality at first glance, Kazuhiro doesn't come off as the most endearing character at first, but the show makes a point to show his personal growth as he deals with the daily catastrophes that come naturally to his job, and his newfound appreciation for human life. Thematically, it's not the most original work, but nevertheless, it's satisfying to see Kazuhiro's outlook on life change throughout the story. While the show's main focus is on Kazuhiro, it also does a good job of establishing a number of memorable side characters. Yomigaeru Sora manages to establish a cast of distinct personalities, all with their own internal conflicts. One of the best things about the series is the way it shows how the JSDF members' work affects their personal lives.
The show puts a majority of its focus on the rescue operations. The rescue operations are edge-of-your-seat tense and can take many a twist and turn without coming off as incidental or contrived; the show does an excellent job at conveying the unpredictability and of a natural disaster and the powerlessness humanity holds over such an impersonal, destructive entity.. The show works on a personal level by not only showing the struggles of the victims but also how the JSDF members must deal with unforeseen hardships, make necessary compromises and face the everpresent possibility of failure, which rears its ugly head in this series quite often. Much of the drama comes from the JSDF members' struggles in the face of life-of-death decisions and their struggle between idealism and pragmatism; save everyone, or save who you can. When the scale leans towards the latter, the repercussions are felt and the impact can be quite touching.
While the rescue missions may be Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings-'s centerpiece at a visceral level, the majority of the show is actually taken up by dialogue. Fortunately, Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings- has a smart and nuanced script, with lines that flow naturally and plenty of amusing banter between the cast that serve to make them more endearing and human. Still, viewers who prefer their anime more action-heavy might want to skip this one, as it's a show that moves at a rather luxurious pace and the rescue operations really only serve as vehicles for character growth.
When it comes to art and animation, the best thing I can say about Rescue Wings is that both are unobtrusive. While this may sound derisive, it is actually meant as a compliment. Any visual gimmicks would be distracting and unnecessary for a show like this, and as mentioned before, this show makes a point to avoid typical anime cliches, so don't expect any super deformed characters here or blue hair or any of that nature. The show does a good job of making the characters look realistically Asian while giving them distinguishing physical traits which make it easy to tell them apart, without having to resort to color coding or exaggerated features. The show also makes use of CG for the helicopters and airplanes, which are actually used quite well and are lovingly detailed and animated. In fact, I suspect military otaku would get a kick of this show just for the realistic depiction of modern Japanese aircraft. If there's one complaint I can launch at the overall presentation, it's the somewhat overly sentimental orchestral score, but that's a minor nitpick at most.
While lacking the originality to be a truly remarkable series, Rescue Wings is one of the better offerings in this medium for viewers who want a pure drama without the excessive melodrama or childish silliness that usually plagues this genre. If you do watch this show, expect to be both thrilled and touched.
Warning: there are some spoilers in the third paragraph after first sentence.
Rescue Wings delivers exactly what it promises and does it well. Most of the series is focused on showing and exploring various difficulties that arise when it comes to rescuing people in risky situations. That means techniques used by rescue force, training that operators undergo and mental challenges one must face when choosing a profession where there are lives on the line. Lives here are very much at stake by the way as Rescue Wings is fairly grounded and it also is not afraid of showing parts of rescue operations that are anything but
optimistic and glorious. On a less related note this show credits Japan Air Self-Defense Force as special thanks so I assume a lot of research went into trying to carefully depict the topic.
All this is seen from the eyes of the main character who undergoes a lot of pressure that forces him to change over the course of the show. In this lies one of the good and one of the bad parts of the show. Good one is that characters here are anything but blank slates or typical anime archetypes, not everyone gets a spotlight but generally even the less important characters have something to them that makes them believable which is an important feature of the show. The bad one is that by the end I feel like too much time was dedicated to main character in his girlfriend but despite that it doesn't really pay off in the end, the Megumi's subplot in final 3 episodes in particular is so useless I have no idea why they put it there, maybe the show got rushed? That's about all I have to say when it comes to story.
Music is just about average and most of the time sits in the background but I did notice two cases that stood out one bad and one very good. From here on out this paragraph is gonna be all spoilers for two of the more emotional events in the anime. The good case was during a scene where father came to see his son's dead body and there's no music, barely any sounds at all aside from rare dialogue and the very noticeable sound of the ticking watch that's still going after the owner is dead. The bad case was during a tense rescue missions where main character was stuck on a gondola lift, just when it came to actually rescuing people a cheesy ass rock song started playing, killing all tension. It was hardly necessary since song was interrupted not long after because threat level increased and old method of rescue became unreliable.
And that's it for the spoilers. Art was similarly average. Designs are very bland and even though I didn't have this problem it's not hard for faces to start blending together. Doesn't help that art itself is very inconsistent, at times it looks really good but other times it looks like one of the very early digital shows where animators didn't quite know how to handle the new technology. Shots that rely on good grasp of proportions and perspective tend to be particularly bad. Animation is not impressive either but what it lacks in sakuga the show compensates with good presentation and directing thank to which I stayed engrossed in the show as 20 something minute episodes flew by.
Overall despite all the flaws I think it's a very interesting show and if you're even remotely interested in the premise you should see it.
Please keep in mind that i am bias towards realism in anime and that this review is written in respect to its target audience. That being a male demographic of 18 - 30 that are interested in a realistic portrayal of events, characters and emotions.
Overall - 9/10
This anime is the first and only truely realistic anime i have come across among the thousands of animes i have read about or watched. There is absolutely nothing that occurs in the anime that you would not expect to see occur in the daily life of a rescue helicopter pilot. Out of all the drama and slice of
life anime i have seen to date i would have to say that this is in my opinion the best.
Story - 8/10
The reason i gave the story and 8 and not a 9 or 10 is because there lacked a general plot to the whole series and other than a few minor chronological differences, the anime was rather episodic in nature.I felt that the anime may not appeal to some of the audience because there is not connection between the 1-2 episode arcs. Although this is not a major issue and even adds to the realism of the anime because it is portrayal of daily life and the individual struggles the protagonis faces where there is no larger picture.
Art - 9/10
The art did not recieve a score of 10 because i found that some of the character designs did not have enough destinguishing features to tell them apart without sound and this sometimes led to confusion due my english speaking background and not being able to recognize voices 100% when listening to the japanese language. However otherwise the art excellently fit the realistic nature of the anime with a higher level of detail shown and consistency of the style and level throughout the whole animation.
Sound - 8/10
To be honest, i am not an good critic of sound and due to the amount of time since i watched the animation i can not say whether the sound was of excellent quality or not. As i recall, the voice acting was great and the voices matched the characters and correctly emphasised the emotions being shown. The background and effect noise was also fine and i did not take note of any major problems, however just to be safe from possible criticism to certain aspects of sound quality i may have missed, i gave the sound an 8/10.
Character - 10/10
The characters were absolutely superb. The actions and emotions portrayed by all the characters to given situations was varied and realistic, they were never over the top and their personalities came through as something that every viewer should be able to relate to. The characters also showed strong developement as they encountered new and different experiences, the animation made it very easy to step into the mindset of each character and see the events through their eyes.
Enjoyment - 9/10
The anime was very enjoyable with the exact right amounts of drama and suspense to hold the viewers interest. Although episodic with arcs spanning 1 - 3 episodes, the situations and emotions remained fresh and exciteing. There were no moments during the series that the thought of taking a break or skipping parts came across my mind, every piece of dialogue was important and kept my interest. In fact, the only reason this series did no revieve a 10 was because with only 13 episodes, i was left wanting to see more and unsatisfied. I must admit here however that some viewers may be dissappointed that their is no real overall concluding events to the series though from my perspective this just shows that every day brings new events and there really is no end to the struggles that poeple within that line of work will experience.