There have been quite a few revelations in Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, but nothing I’d really call a surprise. All of the exposition has more or less followed the expected course so far, which can either be taken positively as a sign of writing that’s internally consistent or negatively as writing that telegraphs its punches (here, I think it’s more of the former). But it feels as it’s the easy pieces that are being fitted together so far, the low-hanging fruit being plucked – what’s left unexplained is a little harder to predict.
To me this series has quite an unusual narrative style. I won’t go so far as to call it backwards, but it feels as if the present and past perspectives are being used rather oddly. Perhaps the reason the big reveals have been less than shocking so far is because the show effectively filled in the details with Karl and Claire before drawing their outlines. There are positives to that, not least that it makes them easier to relate to once the truths of their past are finally laid out. With Karl it’s been pretty much clear all along he was a victim, but before this week we had to take that on faith with Claire.
I remain quite interested in both the overarching plot and the personal story, but we did see a bit more of the tendency to slip into cliche that reared its ugly head in last week’s episode (mostly through Ariel). Generally speaking I like the scenes between Karl and Claire, but their adventure in the woods was pretty trite – I mean really, we’ve seen that pratfall act far too many times for it to be charming. The entire opening sequence at the lake came off as pretty tired to me, to be honest, and I didn’t enjoy much of it. This may be a bit of a yellow flag to watch out for as we go forward.
Fortunately, the rest of the episode was much better – featuring both far more natural personal dynamics and some interesting plot twists. Claire’s flashback (as mentioned) was effectively 100% confirmation and 0% surprise – she was indeed a dupe, and is herself a victim – but that’s fine, because we needed to know that for sure. I suspect Karl will initially reject her mitigating circumstances but eventually come around – he is a 15 year-old boy in love, after all. In fact, the salient point here is that both of them are pretty much in the same boat – they seem to have been exiled for convenience’s sake. Karl is smart enough to understand that once his initial shock passes – the hard part, perhaps, will be finding something to replace the motivation his drive for revenge has been providing him. As for Claire, there’s one major difference in her case as opposed to Karl’s – she blames herself for what happened, and he doesn’t. And that’s a very significant gap between the two of them.
With everything about Claire and Karl neatly slotting into place, the focus can turn to less obvious mysteries – what exactly in the true goal of the Isla, and why was it deemed advantageous for certain parties (presumably the new government) to have Karl and Claire in the same place? Were they hoping he’d kill her in an act of revenge, and thus be rid of two headaches in one turn? Given that Claire has lost her wind-calling powers she’s obviously only useful to the government as a symbol – and a martyr, probably has even more value. But Luis de Alarcon has other ideas, clearly – my sense is that he expects her to regain her powers once the Waterfall at the End of the World has been reached, and likely needs that to happen to accomplish whatever it is he seeks to do there.
In any event, the story is certainly about to make a turn as the aforementioned goal is about to be reached. And as the Isla draws close the defenders of the waterfall, the “Sky Clan”, have emerged to try and protect it (presumably) from discovery. Melze dismisses them as savages, and their technology does seem to be behind what the Isla has on offer, but I’m guessing they have some sort of mystical powers as yet unrevealed. As well, we have the possibility that Ariel is starting to develop feelings for Ignacio (whose role here is certainly more opaque than Karl or Claire’s) though she clearly hasn’t given up on Karl, either.