Posted by SuperMario on 21 January 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai

Many of you might wonder why I decided to blog this show, despite the first episode spent two third of its time in one single aerial combat, which can be fascinating to watch but bring extremely little to talk about. While I agree that Kotobuki has its fair share of underwhelming aspects (which I will get to that later), it’s the presentation so far that makes it unlike any other show this season. First, it’s a new project from veteran director Tsutomu Mizushima, whose has directed a modern classic Shirobako, but perhaps is more well-known for his own take on genre-anime, to a varying degree of success, such as Girls und Panzers, Another, Mayoiga, Prison School and xxxholic.

Kotobuki’s premise reminds us strongly to Girls und Panzers especially, being another cut girls with military vehicle. So far it does well to differentiate itself from Panzers. The CG visual, for example, is a bold decision and so far it’s a hit-or-miss for me. Whenever it’s CG planes hitting each other it’s a delight to watch and hear. It’s also worth mentioning that Mizushima himself is in charge of the sound mixing, and sound in Kotobuki is anything less than spectacular. When the bullets the air jet, for instance, we can hear the metal sound clashing instead of explosions like other anime tend to do. The CG character designs, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. Generally they look okay, not in the same level of Sanizgen’s designs, but not awful either. But the moments their faces move or we have a close-up from lower angle, the CG is distracting and it looks jarring and unnatural.

Narrative-wise, it’s another bold decision of Kotobuki to throw the introduction / info dump parts down the sewer drain. As a result we pick up the information as they go along, usually with rapid-fire and heaps of talking. While normally I enjoy these kinds of narrative choice, it does it at the cost of the characters themselves given the fact that I can only remember 2 or 3 characters at best and the rest is just blurred somewhere in the background. It’s certainly the show that demands our attention through its natural and quick dialogues to pick up pieces of information or character’s traits through what they say and act. Finally, Kotobuki seems to make up its mind that their central of focus is the lengthy sequence of battles on the sky and in that respect the show fulfils its beautifully. The combats are well choreographed, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to follow but it’s always success of pulling you into the atmosphere.

In term of plot, so far we learn about this Kotobuki squad that consist of 6 female team members, which Kirie and Chika are the ones who tend to do things on their impulse. In this episode Kotobuki attempts to flesh out its world building by investigating the fact that the loss of its industrial cause many abandoned cities. There’s also something going on beyond our team’s knowledge given the squads they were up against are skilled and wasn’t on the mere amateurish level, which for me this win feels like one step forward before a big regression in the future. Kotobuki’s aesthetics might be a hit-and-miss so far, but it still remains a fun action show full of spectacular moments.

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