Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 04

Toaru Hikuushi - 04-5 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-17 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-25

Toaru Hikuushi is more tortoise than hare, but we all know who won that race.

After a Fall season that had a decidedly retro feel to it, we haven’t too much this season that evokes that old-school feel – it’s mostly been an unambitious sampler platter featuring the various flavors of the moment.  But Toaru Hikuushi is a definite trip in the wayback machine (a reference which is in itself a trip in the wayback machine).  I’ve mentioned the decidedly Gonzo feel already but it goes deeper than that – the best way I can put it is that the overall attitude of this show seems as if its from an earlier time.  And I quite like that.

We continue to zip back and forth through time, learning more about the background of the story in the last two episodes than we did in the first two.  Kal-el and Claire are still lost at sea, the search parties are out and about and the gang back at school is understandably worried.  The most interesting thing that happens here is that Ignacio tries to jump into a plane and search himself, and has to be physically restrained (and punched) by Banderas.  Just who was he so worried about that he was willing to fly into a storm in the darkness – Claire or Kal-el?

As far as Ariel is concerned, this turn in the story gives her a chance to share her memories of the time when Kal-el came to live with her family.  She was the youngest of three sisters, and while the two onee-sans were thrilled to have a cute younger brother, Ariel went into a jealous snit.  And we have our answer as to which one is older – it’s him, by a day, which no doubt fueled her impotent rage at his invasive presence even more.  Later, via Kal-el’s memories as recounted to Claire, we get a wonderful reminiscence of the first time his adoptive father Michael took him up to fly.  This might just have been my favorite moment in four episodes – and it could hardly have done a better job of re-creating that elemental thrill of flight that Last Exile communicated so brilliantly.

I won’t beat around the bush – I find Ariel tremendously annoying, and she’s the weak link in the series for me so far.  I know she warmed up to Kal-el when she came to understand his suffering, and I’m not saying she’s a bad person or anything – she just irritates the hell out of me.  Her tsundere step-sister persona (complete with the ridiculous crying/punching combo when Kal-el and Claire return home) really feels like the most cliche thing in the series for me.  I imagine this is only going to get worse when it inevitably comes out that she’s in love with Kal-el.  Michael, by contrast, has me hoping we see more of him somehow – he’s a great character, and so are the two older sisters (who crack me up).  It’s been a good stretch for anime Dads lately (there haven’t been many good stretches for them) and Michael is another to add to the list – quietly heroic and boundlessly kind.

It’s really only Ariel that isn’t working for me right now, fortunately.  The plot continues to gain traction and I still love the chemistry between Claire and Karl.  Their relationship is undeniably old-fashioned, innocently, even hokey – a red-faced anime first love that feels fresh out of the 90’s – but it’s totally working for me (excellent voice work from Hanae and Yuuki here too).  I won’t deny the cornball nature of their time stranded together, complete with falling into the water and having to strip to dry their clothes.  But it still plays as genuine, and the series is doing an admirable job of setting us up for the moment when the truth of who Claire is becomes known to Karl.

It seems as if that’s going to be a one-way street, shock-wise – she’s already just about figured out who he is, but Kal-el has no idea that Claire is really Nina Viento (which is now confirmed, though I really think the show itself has already made it pretty obvious).  Nina seems to have no grudge whatever against Karl or his family – she appears to have been strictly a tool for the revolution – but all of his rage is directed at Nina and what she represents.  It’s going to be ugly, no doubt – but I’m also looking forward to learning more of the truth of this Wind Revolution.  We’re seeing a Rashomon-style scenario where the memories don’t match up – either Karl’s parents were much more reprehensible heads-of-state than he remembers or the anger the people felt towards them was largely misdirected.  I suspect it’s going to be a bit of both, and I think a large part of the story is going to be Karl being forced to confront both his own anger and the reality that the truth is somewhat different than he remembers it.

Toaru Hikuushi - 04-8 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-9 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-10
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-11 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-12 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-13
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-14 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-15 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-16
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-18 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-19 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-20
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-21 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-22 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-23
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-24 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-26 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-27
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-28 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-29 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-30
Toaru Hikuushi - 04-31 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-32 Toaru Hikuushi - 04-33


  1. M

    Do you really think it matters to a 9yr old boy if his parents were despots? Do you think it changes the rage one would feel after having watched your parents hauled of and slaughtered? Probably not.

    Even with the full knowledge of what his parents might or might not have done, I don't thinks it changes the fact that, to him, his parents were murdered.

    But this is anime land so he probably will get over it and forgive everyone.

  2. No, I don't think it matters to the 9-year old. And I don't think I in any way suggested that it did, or should. The question of historical inconsistencies exists whether that matter to the victim or not, and the question of forgiveness is really pertinent mostly as it relates to Claire – who may or may not be relatively blameless in what happened.

  3. K

    To be honest, I think Claire might actually be on the "good" side. She doesn't strike me as someone who would relish in the suffering of others…

  4. m

    Claire seems more like the type to have been used as a tool, and to have accepted that role out of not knowing anything different. She doesn't seem like she enjoyed what happened to Kals parents, but she def wasn't brainwashed and has awareness of it. I'm wondering if she still has her powers or not.

    I also don't think Claire was directly involved in his parents execution. but more so the figurehead of, or the spark that led the revolution. I also don't know how much I could accept Kal just forgiving Claire and being with her. Unless theres some big secret that hasn't been revealed just her knowledge of what happened and her being at the head of it all, how much would you have to love someone to just forgive and forget? I can understand him not retaliating, but not really him being with her afterwards. It feels a little to much of the cliché of love conquering hate. At this point the revolution side seems to be more corrupt than the side that was overthrown. I know people were starving and poor, but I haven't noticed any mention of it being a direct fault of the King/Queen (unless I missed it). Maybe they were figureheads like Claire? Maybe people used Claire to rile up the poor to gain power for themselves making her situation potentially similar to Kal's parents? The latter at least would give some sort of logical reason that he could forgive her.

  5. N

    Up until this episode I'd actually been relatively okay with Ariel. Then the tsundere hitting came. I was hoping for a more heartfelt reunion sigh…Hopefully they tone down on that aspect of her character in future episodes since it's the only thing not working for me either.

    Apart from that I'm loving this series! It's the first aerial orientated series I've watched so I might have to check out Last Exile after this.

  6. S

    Since I already read somewhere that Nina and Claire shared the same VA, the twist wasn’t surprising to me.
    Right now I have the nagging feeling that the storyline will develop in a very predictable and conventional way i.e. Karl finds out, confronts her, forgives her, turns out she isn’t responsible since a sinister bad guy lurks in the shadows and eventually there will be a happy ending.
    I hope I’m wrong though. I like to see genuine hatred between the two sides based on the truth with one of them losing instead of reconciling.

  7. It could go that way, though I sense this author is not above surprises (as the movie showed). But the funny thing is, this story is old-fashioned and sincere enough that I'd actually be pretty OK with it.

  8. K

    Alternative take: Karl finds out, confronts her, physically abuse her, Nina died protecting him regarless, Karl shocked, angry, griefed, sorry, matures, moves on, remember the days he spend with her.

  9. t

    it's true the course is somewhat expected.
    but there are two courses here: first, the romance (in which he'll forgive and all is well. after all both will be happy to leave past aside and live as Kal-El and Claire Cruz and not as their "second identity").. second, the tragedy (in which somethings happens…whether he can't forgives..whether one dies. we have been told in ep #01 ending that they have yet to "learn how cruel the world can be…a journey which it would never return" and so).
    now both are kinda expected. maybe the romance is more likely to happen, but still I don't see definite reason to rule out the tragedy route 😛

    but the whole is executed so well. it's so natural and carefree. even if something is expected…it doesn't mean it can't be good.
    a lot of series/movies/books have somewhat expected ending and doesn't have to be bright, but they perform so well. so as Toaru Hikuushi

  10. m

    I completely agree that the show is old fashioned and sincere enough to pull off a cliché ending well, but I still don't think I could accept an ending where Karl forgives Claire. Unless she was completely out of the loop and manipulated to an extreme degree she has to accept her share of the blame. Which means unless his parents were awful awful Hitlers (which hasn't been shown yet) there's no getting over something like that in the short amount of time they will have known each other. Anyone who's ever been in any sort of a serious relationship knows how big a difference there is between that initial stage and truly knowing someone and the difference in those feelings. And no puppy love is going to make up for murdering someone's parents, or at least playing a large part in it.

  11. M

    I get the feeling that the Luis guy from the first 2 episodes will end up being the sinister figure in the shadows given how much power he seems to hold over Claire. Then again, since he's using that power to get her out of Nina Viento mode and to learn to fly, he might be good after all.

  12. f

    …Why is Ignatio Axis being turned into an episode preview gag? I've barely heard him speak in the actual episodes. -__-

  13. K

    …Because it's funny! A straight-laced guy talking like that… yeahhhhhh….

  14. w

    Hey now, at least he did something this episode that didn't involve leaning against a tree and scowling..

  15. e

    it seems we will have flashbacks of claire by the next episode preview which mean meybe there we will learn if she realy the one to blame or not

  16. r

    Both current romance and past history could get pushed aside if they instead develop the hints at impending conflict (with who?) danger at the End of the Sky (from what?) and Nina/Claire's mystical power over the wind. Another classic plot line would have her sacrifice herself by invoking her powers in defense of the rest of the expedition. That would leave Karl to reconcile his feelings for her roles in overthrowing the people he knew as a child and the people he knows now.Both current romance and past history could get pushed aside if they instead develop the hints at impending conflict (with who?) danger at the End of the Sky (from what?) and Nina/Claire's mystical power over the wind. Another classic plot line would have her sacrifice herself by invoking her powers in defense of the rest of the expedition. That would leave Karl to reconcile his feelings for her roles in overthrowing the people he knew as a child and the people he knows now.

  17. C

    Dat Rashoman reference. Although I'm almost 100% certain that it won't be a focus of the series, its probably something interesting to keep in mind. I feel that Taoru Hikuushi is more of a tale of reconciliation than anything else, but I hope I'm wrong.

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