If there’s an upside to the fact that Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta is dealing with a ridiculous amount of plot in 12 episodes, it’s that by necessity if nothing else it doesn’t dilly-dally much. The process isn’t always smooth but the direction is unilaterally forward, and we don’t see cliffhangers annoyingly milked week upon week. There’s a cost to be paid in terms of subtlety and character development, but it does keep things from getting stale. Last week was the battle – this week is the aftermath. Check.
War is hell, and its victims have every cause to feel grief at the tragedies at brings. But unless it’s exceptionally well-written, watching people grieve isn’s especially enjoyable either. I’m on record that the execution of the last couple of episodes was good enough to make me feel something as they were unfolding despite the sometimes cavernous holes in the logic behind the events transpiring. Still, there are limits – and stuff like the cliche nature of Mitty’s demise and the headdesk nature of last week’s battle logistics undercuts my patience for watching everyone be depressed about them. This is one of those cases where I’m glad things moved quickly – even as is, I think those scenes went on a little too long. I was hoping we’d see some accountability applied to Isla’s leadership based on how badly they screwed up and the cost paid as a result, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
If you were hoping for a deepening of the connection between this series and The Princess and the Pilot, that didn’t happen either – at least for one more week. We have a passing mention of the letter the mysterious pilot left behind and the dilemma it presents, but that’s all for now. Instead the focus is on the aforementioned grieving for the fallen, and even more on a far more personal kind of grief for Karl. He and Claire/Nina certainly have an active week in anime relationship terms. First, they meet late at night by the memorial to their dead classmates and exchange their first (presumably) kiss – not a bad one by anime standards. Then Nina drops a bomb on him that hits even closer to home than the ones the Sky Clan dropped a few days earlier.
It seems that Karl hadn’t even considered the possibility that Claire was Nina Viento, and interestingly, Nina had only a suspicion that Kal-el was Karl La Hire. Should he have known? It’s easy to say he was hit by the idiot main character stick, but I don’t really see any reason why he should necessarily have connected the two girls. Though she seems to be almost entirely blameless for what happened five years earlier, it’s clear Claire feels this presents an insurmountable barrier between she and Karl, and makes that clear in no uncertain terms – right after returning his declaration of love. It’s a pretty classic star-crossed love story (this novelist seems to be specialize in those).
Karl reacts about like you’d expect – he retreats into his room and refuses to work or eat. I don’t really blame him – having the girl who took your first kiss tell you she’s your hated enemy that you’ve sworn to kill right after you confess your love is a traumatic moment. Again, though, watching him sulk – even if justifiably – gets old pretty quickly. Not even Ariel , newly out of the hospital can shake him loose – not even with the news that she (like Claire) says she’s never going to fly again. In her case it appears to be a result of the injuries she suffered, which in a way gladdens me because after having been shot by a heavy machine gun that’s the very least that should happen.
It’s Ignacio who does break the logjam – forcefully, by punching Karl in the belly and bodily carrying him outside with a “Pardon me while I borrow this idiot.” Ignacio finally enters the plot meaningfully – it took a while, but he’s making it count. Clearly he’s doing this for Nina, seeing how much Karl means to her. It seems the two young men, now without their partners, are destined to become a piloting team (that was probably inevitable). And it seems that Isla is, by necessity, going to take the pragmatic step of forming a marriage of convenience with Lavamme in order to take on the Sky Clan. They may be outclassed both technologically and strategically in this war, but at least they seem willing to admit it.