krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
While I have managed this year to get started on watching a pretty fair number of anime series "weekly," more or less as they air over in Japan, I suppose I'm still just as likely to not quite pick up on the "preview charts" and other early discussion and instead come to a slow awareness of a series as I overhear other people discussing it. This was a case with a short series from last year I first heard called by its Japanese name, "Sora no Woto" (although there were different ways of Romanising the hiragana characters in the title); for some reason, I was amused by the impression I was forming and summing up as "cute girl soldiers stationed at the edge of nowhere after a war in another time and place, and they look like the K-ON! characters." (I suppose I hadn't seen K-ON! either at that time, although I knew that series about "high school girls forming a rock band" was becoming very popular.) However, while the show was being officially streamed, I just couldn't seem to get around to fitting it into my viewing pattern and starting to watch it. Things just might have stayed like that had the series not been licensed for DVD release by Nozomi Entertainment, the boutique label of the online anime store Right Stuf; respecting the work they do (including releasing the Aria anime), I put in an order for what was now being sold by the translated title "Sound of the Sky," waited for it to ship, and then needed a while to get around to opening it.

While waiting to get around to that last necessary step, I admit I amused myself by looking at the group shot of the five main characters on the box and drawing a direct resemblance between each one of them and the five people in the rock band at the end of K-ON! As I got into the series, though, the resemblances began to crumble, first of all when I decided that the pale-haired and laconic Noel Kannagi didn't have any character traits in common with the brash drummer Ritsu Tainaka of K-ON! (although she did have character traits in common with the pale-haired and laconic Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Yuki Nagato of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). By that point, too, I was already becoming interested in the eclectic and charming look of the town at the edge of nowhere (the producers went to Spain to do location research), but also intrigued by references not just to a recent war all but over but to a far larger catastrophe some time in the past too. A disassembled "walking tank" in the tumbledown "Clocktower Fortress" army base pointed to that "lost past," and also made me think a bit of the war-ravaged future of "Battletech," although the charm of the series was more appealing to me than Battletech's perpetual war. While there was a definite awareness of irretrievable loss, there also seemed the possibility of and efforts towards regeneration.

Something about the fortress even made me think of the series Haibane Renmei... the only problem with that might be that comparison setting a very high standard for Sound of the Sky to have to live up to. As I got past the midpoint of the series, with fewer references to the past seeming to show up, I did worry a bit about whether I was losing interest and even thought of a pernicious criticism I had seen before, of the certainty of some that the series had been "moe-ed up" to try and get it to sell... however, as the plot picked up several threads and built towards a conclusion, my interest returned. Sound of the Sky did involve "music" (even if not in the same casual way as K-ON!), and stretching a point there might even have been a resonance for me to Macross. As with the setting, the series was an eclectic collection of moods and things that seemed in the end to work together.

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