Posted on 25 September 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



The first DVD episode was a pointless side-story. This one wasn’t, though, and it’s very relevant to the series. It’s a much better ending for this series than episode twelve, but still leaves me bloody hungry.

Most importantly, the most burning question here was answered: where the heck does this series take place in. And I have to admit, the creators were shrewd here. I always thought that we really were somewhere in Switzerland where the Japanese somehow settled again in the past, but it turns out to be much simpler: The entire world was nuked and somehow the only piece of land that was spared was Japan. The French and the Germans then invaded Japan and started living there. Really, I like that idea.

But at the same time, this really convinced me even more: this setting is too good for 14 episodes. You can really see that the creators realized this a little too late, resulting into that disastrous twelfth episode. I know that I’m talking down on this series a lot, but it for me it really has become a textbook example of how one episode can just completely kill my enthusiasm and destroy my suspense of disbelief on a series.

The thing is, that the creators didn’t seem to know what they wanted to do with this series: if they wanted to explore their unique setting, they should not have chosen Kanata as the lead character, for that they needed someone more central to the plot. If they wanted to show the adventures of a simple remote army base, then the creators shouldn’t have tried to make this series epic: the princess backstory, the way that the war miraculously concluded in the main characters’ back yard, they were all pointless. Instead, we are here with a combination of both that just doesn’t fit and come together. The subsequent installments of Anime no Chikara really improved on this: Senkou no Night Raid clearly chose to explore its setting, while Occult Academy clearly chose to focus more on its characters. And despite a few annoying flaws, that really worked in their advantage so far.

I was pretty happy with this episode, though. It dropped all of the epicness for what it was and just focused on the girls again. I liked how they made very natural conversations with the townsfolk (and how we learned a bit more about Naomi), and how this episode focused on the dreams that all of the characters have…

…that we’re unfortunately never going to see realized.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 24 June 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



Okay, so apparently an extra DVD episode was released for Sora no Oto. It’s numbered as 7,5, so I assume it takes place between episode 7 and 8. So, what did the creators decide to focus on? Was this episode meant to flesh out the setting a bit? Did a specific character get taken under the loop? Did it add some subtle details to the series as a whole? Ehm, no. It was just pointless.

I get the idea behind it, however. I really like that, because anime tends to be incredibly scared with alcohol. Especially when it comes to teenagers, while plenty of teenagers at the age of the lead characters are already drinking. I would really stand behind an episode that was dedicated to a drinking party between these characters. But the execution of this episode, and the context it took place in… they didn’t work at all for me.

So basically Kanata and Yumina find out about the distillery, so Felicia turns them drunk in order to make them forget what happened. It’s logical when it just remains to that, but the medieval paintball… what was the point of that? It could have been fun if the creators actually executed it well, but the way in which everyone started horribly overacting in a way that I don’t even think would be possible. Not to mention that it was incredibly annoying.

I actually don’t drink myself, so I can’t say this for sure, but is this really how teenagers behave after only a few glasses of liquor? To me, it feels like the creators were just looking for a cheap excuse to make the characters act really moe.

This episode wasn’t entertaining; it dragged on horribly at times, but I think that my biggest gripe would be that it didn’t really add anything aside from two lines of backstory from Yumina that didn’t really lead to anything. Everything that happened in this episode is just forgotten afterwards with alcohol as an excuse. And later, we found out that Kanata figured out about the distillery anyway, so there essentially was no point to this episode. I guess that you could say that this was the episode in which Kanata found out about the distillery because she simply did not forget what happened, but even then: out of all the things that the creators could have chosen, they choose to elaborate on something that didn’t really need any extra attention? There are a ton of stuff that the creators could have done here, to explain a bit more of that incredibly rushed ending, and in the end the creators pretty much waste it.

Overall, this pretty much reflects on my general opinion of Sora no Oto: it really has a number of terrific and excellent ideas that made me love how well they were making use of Anime no Chikara’s framework of coming with original premises. But some of the other decisions it made… were completely pointless.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 22 March 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



Sora no Oto is another one of those ‘don’t by fooled by its looks’-shows. Sure, it may have the same character-designer as K-On, but its content is completely different. Instead it takes place Switzerland, in some sort of mysterious post-apocalyptic world of a threatening war and child soldiers. It tells the story of a military outpost, which can sometimes be quiet and laid-back, but at others dark and powerful.

This series has really been one of the very few series that can boast an original storyline nowadays. In 12 episodes, it paints the picture of a mysterious setting in which a ton of stuff happened in the past, and it’s truly at its best when it can flesh out this setting. It’s amazing how well detailed it describes the village that everything in this series takes place in, and the story that lies behind it. It leaves a lot to your imagination: it doesn’t reveal everything, but instead relies on the viewers to piece together all of the clues.

The characters themselves also have imaginative backgrounds. Through the series I liked how they first start out as those seemingly annoying moe stereotypes, but ended up developing in sympathetic ones. My personal favourite was the Felicia episode, which was a true triumph in storytelling. The slice of life is also very imaginative and has an interesting presentation, rather than trying to rip off the ton of other slice of life series that exist out there.

With a series that’s completely original, you’d expect that the creators would have the perfect opportunity to create a story that fits that 12 episodes that it consists of perfectly. But, now. The creators took too much on their plate and tried to be way too epic for their own good. If the characters didn’t somehow end up standing at the centre of a huge war, then it would have been significantly better. Instead, this show is stuck with an utterly terrible ending that doesn’t just fail to answer some of the most important questions, it’s utterly cheesy, nonsensical and furthermore it destroys a ton of build-up that the previous episodes tried to create so pain-stakingly. It’s a huge step beyond a simple ‘disappointing ending’.

In the meantime however, A-1 are showing more and more what an excellent production company they can be. This series looks utterly gorgeous, and the animation is vivid and imaginative, with especially the backgrounds being really well drawn.

But yeah, in the end this remains a series that went too epic than what was good for it. It’s a shame, I really liked it in the beginning, but for me, it left a nasty bad taste behind in its final minutes. I’m still recommending this show for its first two thirds, but just be aware that this show can’t fulfill the things it promises.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Very solid writing in the first two thirds. Last third is too rushed. Bad ending.
Characters: 8/10 – Interesting development, but some get taken a bit too far.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Beautiful animation and background art; the best OP of the past season.
Setting: 8/10 – Incomplete, but fascinating and well detailed.
Posted on with categories: Sora no Oto



No. No, they didn’t. This didn’t just happen. It can’t be. This show was heading in such a good direction. It was so on its way to be amongst my favourite series of the Winter season. And then it pulls this. I was fearing for this show to end with a cliched route, and it actually pulls off something worse than I ever could have expected.

This is just… unbelievable. The ending went well enough, I guess. It was a bit melodramatic, but okay. Then the action starts, and the spider somehow is totally fixed again. Despite that, it’s not something that was too bad, and I had seen far worse endings at that point. However, then Kanata started playing the trumpet. And every single soldier stopped and listened. What a headdesk moment!

To think that out of all series, this show would end up pulling a “let my song stop all fighting”-ending. What a disappointment. The creators tried to save it by having Rio show up from absolutely nowhere just seconds after that, but the damage already was done for me. It’s one of the first endings I’ve seen this season, but I have no doubt that it’s going to end up as the single worst one. Yes, even Ookami Kakushi’s finale felt more satisfying than this thing.

I’m really thinking of how I’m going to end up judging this series. Before this episode, I had no doubt that my top 3 of the Winter Season would consist out of Durarara, Heartcatch Precure and Sora no Oto. After this episode, I might actually consider to put Gag Manga Biyori + in its place. This wasn’t just a bad episode, but for me it actually destroyed all of the credibility and realism that it built up in the previous things. War should have been a horrible inevitable thing. And here the characters come and solve it like it’s nothing, exactly at the most convenient time for the writers. Blegh.
Rating: —- (Abysmal)

Posted on 15 March 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s going as I hoped: this episode started the finale, which is both at the same time hard-hitting, yet stays true to the main cast. The drama in this episode was powerful, and instead of moving the main cast to the conflict, it moved the conflict to the main cast (makes sense, trying to hit an outpost rather than a well defended city). The war is about to begin, and yet this series did not forget that it’s also a slice of life series, and saved a good number of minutes, just for that purpose.

The only thing about this episode that was questionable… was Noel. I mean, it’s a bit late to suddenly reveal that she used to be a genius young scientist; my suspense of disbelief was about to break when that revelation suddenly came from out of nowhere. I mean, a princess is one thing, but a genius young girl who saves the war with her own inventions is on a whole new level.

Thankfully the rest of this episode was awesome enough to make this insignificant. There was plenty of character-development now that Rio is gone, the animation was as imaginative as always, and I loved how this episode showed that both Helvetians and Romans can be quite nice people when they’re not trying to kill each other.

And the creators actually thought of language boundaries. The Roman people actually spoke German. And it’s not like we heard one word or something, no. This woman uttered entire monologues in German; the creators cut no corners in making her ramblings believable. And I must say, Japanized German sounds surprisingly good. The European languages all sound very different when the Japanese try to speak them. Their Dutch is fairly good, mainly because a lot of our vowels sound similar (for an example of that I direct you to a certain episode of Samurai Champloo). German also survives fairly well, as this episode showed. English is a bit different, as it often gets raped by voice actors who have no idea about their pronunciation. By far the worst I’ve heard, however, is French. Seriously, whenever the Japanese try to say it, it’s not French anymore. Its just become gibberish.

In any case: that finale. Right now it’s very tempting for the creators to Deus ex Machina that enemy army away with that priestess legend from the first episode. With all of the build-up of this series, a lot depends on that final episode: bring those themes together! Get the best conclusion out of those characters! Do something unexpected that lifts this series to a higher level, yet doesn’t derail it!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 9 March 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



The main reason why I wasn’t too happy with Rio during the past number of episodes is the lack of attention she got. I mean, from out of nowhere she suddenly turned out to be a princess and started angsting. It sounded so cliched. However now that she got an episode properly dedicated to it, my opinion of her turned to the complete opposite. This was an excellent episode that did several things at once, and surprisingly succeeded in all of them.

With this episode I very much understood why Rio was feeling down for the past number of episodes, since she has basically been running away from her duties as royalty (taking that owl along with her, for some reason). My guess is that she didn’t want to be forced into everything, especially because of Iliya’s death.

I as also surprised at how such a major plot-related episode also stuffed in the story of that old woman in it, and made it surprisingly good as well. It wold also have been perfectly fine to include that story a bit earlier, but this way it had an interesting effect on Rio. With the small character-development from Rio and Kanata, it turned out quite heart-warming.

Now, with only three episodes left, the climax has finally begun, though not exactly in the way that I expected, now that Rio is gone. I really wonder whether the final three episodes are going to her, over Kanata who’s supposed to be the main character. To be honest, I’d much rather that the focus would stay on Kanata and the town that we’ve been in. It’s too late at this point to suddenly introduce politics.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 March 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



So, since Kureha was the only one who has yet to get an episode of her own, it’s good to see that this episode focused on her. It’s not as good as the Felicia-arc, but definitely adds to her character. The story between her and Claus, who she decided to admire after the loss of her father made this episode quite worthwhile.

Regarding the main story: I’m surprised that the princess is actually dead. There’s an interesting twist, and probably explains why Rio looked back to her with a sense of nostalgia.

In any case, four episodes left, and this episode just finished all of the preparations that this series needed to do. After this, it’s just a matter of this series closing off well, using the stuff that it’s built up for in the past nine episodes. My biggest fear here is Rio: in this episode she may have been a bit too angsty for her own good. If she was trying to make a difficult decision that we don’t know about, then okay, I can understand that. But please don’t tell me that she was angsting like a teenaged girl who hates her father and who is trying to make her do things she doesn’t want to.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 23 February 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



A calm before the storm episode… through a really weird one. I admit that I didn’t expect such an episode at this point of the series.

So yeah. The fluff in this episode was very unconventional. After the hard-hitting previous episode, you’d expect the fun and games to be over, but instead we get a really uneventful episode in which Kanata waits for a phone to ring. The part in which she was about to wet herself was rather uncomfortable to watch. It was well written however, there’s no doubt about that.

However, we finally know what the final arc of this series is going to be about: saving the country. This has been a very down to earth series, but it had it coming: there were a few very clear hints pointing to this. The first one was the legend of the five priestesses: very basic foreshadowing. And then there’s the matter of the princess of the country being mentioned a number of times. This episode also confirmed that Rio has a very high status, and basically came here, running away from that.

The final five episodes are basically going to take care of that, and I bet that they’re going to be completely different from what we’ve seen from this series so far. I really hope that the creators weren’t too ambitious with it, I’d much rather have seen a finale that would focus on the characters. For this final arc, the creators are really going to have to take care to not overdo it and suddenly have our five-some god-mode themselves through this war. That’s the thing I’m most afraid of.

Oh, and Kanata in this episode proved that airheads can use their brains as well, when she revealed that she knew about the secret practices of the platoon. God, more anime should realize this.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 15 February 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



Wow… just wow. To everyone who was expecting this to be a fluffy and light-hearted series: this episode is here to prove you wrong.

But yeah, that’s one of the things about anime: while it’s often relatively simple to tell whether a series is going to be good or bad, after blogging for more than four years I still can’t predict at all when a seemingly innocent series like this one is going to blow me away. This episode caught me utterly by surprise: what an execution!

While this show has its moments of innocence, it’s moments like this that remind us what would happen if war would break out again. And really, this episode revealed that it’s been lie, what? Five years since the last war? This episode didn’t just do a wonderful job in fleshing out Phylicia (it only took one episode for us to understand EXACTLY what kind of a character she is, without making her a stereotype), but it also showed how fragile the setting is.

This episode also gave a lot of more hints about what happened to the past. First of all, the Japanese somehow took over Europe. After that, or during that, there followed a technological boom, and what I expect is AI going out of control (humans in machines don’t control them like the way they moved in that flashback). In order to get rid of them, nuclear weapons were used. The Japanese died of the aftereffects of the fallout, and the French resettled the area. My guess is that we’re currently at one of the few areas that were unscathed. My guess is that the current generation of wars either is about a few survivors of that strange AI (that would explain why they called the attacker of Vingt the “Invisible Angel of Death”, rather than just another war, or it’s a power struggle between the survivors for the last remaining patches of fertile land.

I must say, I’m impressed by the director. His two previous works, Elfen Lied and Denpateki na Kanojo both had some very good direction, but both were held back by a certain degree of unbelievability: characters would do stuff, just to advance the plot. In this series, his focus is EXACTLY to fix this. And here this episode comes and shows that he can also hit really hard when he wants to. I really have to say that Elfen Lied would have been a truly amazing series if it had its characters as well written as in Sora no Oto.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 8 February 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



I do not know who animated this episode, but whoever they are, they surely rocked. Take a look at the huge frame-rate of some of the scenes in this episode. I never really considered A-1 Pictures as a top-notch animation studio, mostly because they produced a number of series that I really wanted to like… but couldn’t (Fiary Tail, Kannagi, Persona and Valkyria Chronicles… hmm, they should stay away from video game adaptations…). But really: after Birdy the Mighty and series like this, who am I kidding? These guys rock in terms of graphics and powerful animation.

This episode was very interesting. On the surface, it was perhaps a bit of a standard set of two adventures, but there were many subtle details thrown into it that made it into a very touching and enjoyable episode. Basically, Kanata spends time away from the other four main characters. In the first half, we follow these four. In the second half, we follow Kanata. Some events that happen in the first half can only be explained if you know what happened with Kanata. Nice touch.

regarding the setting: Vingt. This episode was all about showing that, while war might be bad, it’s not the only thing that is. That monster who killed a bunch of people in City number 20: who was it? Where did it come from? And where is it now? Also, the financial issues of the corps: to think that they were secretly and illegally distilling wine. That takes about care of their predictable and generic stereotypes, doesn’t it? It does make me wonder: can you really recognize whether a character is stereotypical or not, right from the first one or two episodes? I still believe that it’s possible. It’s series like this that remind me instead of trying to spot stereotypes in first episodes, you should try to spot what makes characters move away from these stereotypes. Even the slightest hints could promise something interesting for the future.

This episode was also a great tease. I mean, we all know from the director what he has done in the past. We know that he can write these disturbing scenes and he he has gone for something completely different with this series. Right at the point at which the series seems to take a darker twist, it all turns out to have been an act that fully makes sense within the setting of this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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