The students are asked to step up once again for a military that asks too much of them.
What they Say:
“Episode 10 – Sky of Courage”
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).
Ignacio was the child of a royal concubine who grew up within the palace. When the Wind Revolution was about to take hold, they were thrust out into the world with nothing, forced to do unspeakable things just to eat. Since then, Ignacio’s hatred for Karl la Hire has only had time to grow.
As Kal suffers with the knowledge that Claire and Nina Viento are one and the same, Ignacio attempts to beat some sense into him, to get him to stop approaching life so selfishly. As Kal sits along the water’s edge and mopes, the air-raid sirens begin to blare and the enemy war ship, really another floating island like Isla, is spotted. The students are called upon once again to don their pilot uniforms and fly as escort for the recon plane, but some dissention from higher up the food chain leaves them to either escape to shelter or to take on the task alone. Each person makes his or her own choice, heavy with the knowledge that this may be their final goodbye should the worst case scenario come to pass. Kal, having gained a new sense of purpose, decides to fly, but without his normal co-pilot, it falls on Ignacio’s shoulders to accompany him.
With the memory of those who recently passed, the pilots head out and take flight. Ignacio immediately begins to bark orders to Kal, who can only obey. Ignacio turns out to be an incredibly accurate shot and his flight advice saves their life more than once, as risky as it might seem at the time. In the meantime, Noriaki tries to face his own fears as he narrowly escapes being shot down. When the observation plane is destroyed, he’s the only one left who can get solid information on the enemy. Against his better judgment, he rushes into the fray with Kal and Ignacio looking on in disbelief.
We’re ten episodes in at this point, and I think I’ve finally kind of figured out this series’ method of characterization. The writers appear to be very fond of characterizing individuals almost after-the-fact, having them grow and reveal themselves in the heat of battle before they undergo some sort of personal transformation. This could be physical injury, major revelation or change in worldview, or even their death as has been the case for several characters. The very important characters are lucky enough to receive expository flashbacks, but for most of the others they seem to gain immortality through very brief, very intense emotional situations that occur shortly before some tragic event. I’m trying to decide whether this is a wholly cheap tactic, or whether it’s as effective as it needs to be for a series with a large cast and not enough time to properly devote to them. Either way I can personally say that I’ve kind of given in to it at this point and allowed some of the more melodramatic elements to get to me even if I like to think I recognize them for what they are.
I also got my wish this week, in that Ignacio finally gets his due (as well as a little bit of explanation and background). It’s getting interesting in that this world in its war-torn state has been presented from several angles, that of the disgraced leadership, the uprisen peasant, and now the servant whose family lost its place in the rebellion. If there’s been one thing that I’ve liked almost without question, it’s been the atmosphere and the building up of the world that’s taken place, and to see it through the eyes of the characters who have received the most attention helps add another dimension to everything. I’m happy that Ignacio has been revealed as more than just a mysterious white-haired bishounen of dubious origins, someone with a greater investment in what’s going on than just some peripheral plot point. I’m also hoping that being in a life-or-death situation with Kal will help them to work out their differences to some extent.
As for Kal, after his fitful discovery last week, I’m kind of waiting for him to pull it together and “grow up,” at least as far as acknowledging that war and conflict cause people to do and say things that might not necessarily represent their true selves or feelings. Nina Viento is a role that Claire was forced to play for whatever greater good was sought at the time. It’s a mask that exists out of necessity, just as he was forced to go underground or face death as a member of a family fallen out of favor with society. I’m sure this realization will happen right at the end of the story, but I’m very ready for it to happen sooner than that.
As strange as it may sound, I was very keyed-in to the feeling of desperation and hopelessness that accompanied this episode’s call to arms. There’s something very dramatic about the stripping away of war “glory” in the face of being completely outmatched in technology and resources, and forcing the characters and the viewer to face the reality of the situation. It’s definitely not a happy revelation, but it can certainly be compelling in its own way. With our main characters having presented their backstories and another major conflict set up, I’m looking forward to seeing how everything begins to wrap up.
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