What they Say:
“Episode 7 – A Glorious Death”
The latest and greatest in the “Pilot” series! With today’s top staff and cast, it’s at last being animated! To find the end of the sky and sea, we went on a journey aboard the flying island Isla. A boy who lost everything in the revolution. The lonely girl who calls the wind, who became the revolution’s symbol. The young pilots set out aboard the flying island Isla to find the end of the sky. Friendship, love, adventure… and each of them have something they want to protect. An epic story of love and dogfights begins now.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
An air raid siren sounds across Isla: the enemy has been sighted, and all forces are ordered to help aid during the oncoming conflict in some way. The Knights will have their hands full defending the island using their weaponry, so half of the class is recruited for a recon mission, while Kal, Claire and several of their comrades stay behind to keep things secure back home. Before anything major happens, the Countess arrives to whisk away Claire and Ignacio (revealed to be her bodyguard) while the others are left to look on.
In the meantime, Isla’s forces deftly take out most of the weak, decrepit enemy fleet, though what they don’t seem to realize is that, hiding in the clouds above, are several large-scale bombers. Realizing that the initial round of planes were just a decoy, the Isla defensive force braces for a real dogfight where they might actually be outclassed.
With Chiharu and Mitty hot on the trail of the enemy fleet, they have a tough decision to make – will they stay hidden and watch their own forces fly straight into a trap, or will they fire their flares, revealing the enemy for what they are but revealing their own location in the process? They choose the latter, and Mitty ends up proving his own heroism in the most tragic way possible.
Even though the better part of what took place during this episode was broadcast loud and clear during the previous one, there’s something to be said for the fact that I actually shed a couple of tears over Mitty’s act of self-sacrifice. As underwhelming as some of the character development has been for the side characters, it turns out that the odd-couple relationship between this pair of pilots actually managed to burrow under my skin some time during the previous few episodes. I found their actions during this episode really poignant (rather than melodramatic, which it really could have been if mishandled), and for the first time in the entire series the consequences of what the leadership has been trying to accomplish really hit home.
Of course, just exactly what they’re trying to accomplish still isn’t all that clear. Everyone is ostensibly on board to pass the Holy Spring and make their way to the End of the Sky, but though this is a lofty-sounding goal its mythological impact has yet to be translated into a more tangible goal. Oftentimes grand quests seem to be undertaken “just because,” and in many cases the pure feat of accomplishment is purpose enough, but considering the relatively advanced technology the adversaries possess (not quite the “barbarians” they were accused of being in the previous episode when some of them were captured and questioned) I feel like there must be a larger story that hasn’t been told quite yet. We know all about the conflicts that our characters have undertaken, especially Kal and Claire, but the wars and revolutions taking place in their own county might amount to little in the face of whatever ideological schism pried apart the forces of Isla from those that are defending the Holy Spring.
On a personal note of enjoyment, I’m glad that we got even just some tiny bit of insight into Ignacio’s role as Claire’s bodyguard. There’s really no reason that it should have taken so long for that to come up during the course of the story (unless I’m just totally blanking on an earlier reveal, but I don’t think so). He’s a character who I felt probably had some larger purpose considering just how shady his motives have been so far and the few times he’s shown some misgivings about Kal and his identity. I’m curious to see whether that will be expanded upon further in the weeks to come.
Honestly, as someone who’s had primarily lukewarm feelings toward this series for many weeks I’m actually very pleased that this episode really seemed to pick up the pace and cash in on some of its emotional bank. The major events of this episode might have been a little bit predictable, but predictability isn’t necessarily inverse to enjoyment, at least as I see it. Now that the action has picked up, I’m interested to see how the world is expanded to an even greater extent (because the second half of the series can’t possibly be just limited to dogfights, right?). I know there must be another side to the conflict, a story that hasn’t been revealed yet. I hope that the weeks to come will have a lot to offer in this regard.
Episode Grade: B+
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Review Equipment: Acer P235H 1080p LCD Monitor connected via DVI input, Logitech S220 2.1 Speakers, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560