Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 11

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As confessions go, that was certainly emphatic.

I think I’ve figured out why Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta often seems to work better as a series than it “deserves” to – why all the exasperating logic holes and sexism and overzealous foreshadowing can’t quite sink the dreadnought.  Inside this deeply flawed and modestly budgeted show beats the heart of a sprawling, operatic and grandiose beast.  The realities of the adaptation can’t bring it out most of the time, but it means that at its most outlandish moments the show is being most true to itself.  The whole somehow always manages to be more than the sum of the parts (except for the inane ramen episode).

If there was ever an episode where Toaru Hikuushi e no Hikuushi showed its bloodlines, it was this one.  More than ever it was easy to see the connection between it and Toaru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku – not just the narrative links made so obvious at the end, but the temperamental similarities too.  That, of course, was a big-screen movie made by a great studio, and as a result it was able to let the aspirations of the author shine through a good chunk of the time.  But in its humbler way, an episode like this reminds us that the same hand wrote this story as that one.

Admiral Melze continues to annoy the hell out of me, even as he finally shows a sliver of worth this week.  As Benji and Noriaki are risking their lives to carry on the observation mission, Melze actually has the gall the hesitate and waste precious seconds while deciding whether the observations of mere students can be trusted.  Seriously?  How dare he – those kids are out there dying because of his incompetent command.  I think it would be fairer for Noripii and Benji to question whether Melze and his lackeys can be trusted to actually do something useful with the information they’re providing.

Fortunately (with Claire’s sales pitch ringing in his ears) Melze finally does something useful with Benji’s reports and manages to sink the Sky Clan battleship, though not before taking serious damage.  Meanwhile Karl and Iggy are trying (unsuccessfully) to help Nori and Benji and sinking whatever enemy fighters they can – which is rather too many to be believed, as Ignacio is a superhuman marksman.  But the Sky Clan fighter-bombers land another volley on the flagship, fatal this time, and it begins its final descent.

Here’s the headline piece of the episode, and maybe the series so far.  Claire is resigned to die (the scene between she and de Alarcon has a rather nice dignity to it) but wants to express her regrets to Karl first.  It’s an utterly preposterous scene – Claire standing on deck as the flagship sinks, professing her love, Karl swooping by in his student fighter – but it totally works dramatically (that’s Toaru Hikuushi in a nutshell).  And Karl’t forgiveness (which he somehow communicates to Claire) seems to unblock her “Priestess of the Wind” powers, and she manages to call up a cyclone which destroys the enemy fleet and deposits both the flagship and Karl and Iggy’s plane safely and gently on solid ground (or water, in the flagship’s case).

The message here is at least consistent – Karl’s mother has been telling him all along that forgiveness was vital to his future, so it’s fitting that forgiving Claire should save the day.  Ignacio isn’t quite ready to forgive yet – pretty douche-y move not to shake Karl’s hand after they faced death together – but he may yet come around.  Benji and Noripii are saved by Banderas, though Benji may need to find work as a slot machine since his flying days are likely over.  And then there’s the arrival of the mysterious El Bastel – the flagship of Fana Lavamme, which one suspects was waiting for Nina Viento to show her powers before intervening in the battle.  They take care of the rest of the enemy and all seems well, but Karl tells us that “one more sacrifice” is going to be needed.  Since his narrator status implies it won’t be him, that leaves Claire as seemingly the most likely candidate – and so far at least, this series has tended to follow the most obvious course where foreshadowing is involved.

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  1. R

    okay, i guess this is a lot better than the previous episodes.

    still i can't help but be disappointed at the missteps that this series took, which really hampered its ability to deliver the grand narrative that its material has.

    a big one for me here is the lack of further exploration of claire's character, despite her being the heroine of the story/ we barely know her (we don't even know why she lost her powers in the first place). all we can do is infer, and with the series giving close to nothing to work on, we don't even know if our assumptions are correct.

    really, they could have at least invested an episode with her as the main focus, which could have created that emotional connect that would make that grand scene of her confessing to Kal and asking for forgiveness (and her finally regaining her wind powers) all the more effective. without that, the scene just feels too pretentious at times.

  2. m

    Yeah I think instead of the Ari-men episode they should've made an episode dedicated to further exploring Claire and her history. Instead we got an episode designed to make us care more when side characters, who hardly said anything before that episode, died.
    The sexism was a bit much as well. Bordering on so bad that it makes you laugh. In that "can someone really write this and think this way in this day and age without it being satire or social commentary?" Not to mention the slew of other problems that one could list about this show. And yet, with all that was wrong with it, (and the times where it really annoyed me) I still watch it each week and have enjoyed it too. Not in the exact same so over the top that it's good way that I enjoyed Valvrave, but similar in that I liked in even though I could point out so much wrong with it.

  3. R

    in my case, the enjoyment tremendously waned with each succeeding episode that hammers in how grossly mishandled this series was. i am now just watching it to see how it ends and will promptly delete all episodes from my computer afterwards.

    unlike valvrave (and the currently airing buddy complex), which i can enjoy for the sheer stupidity alone, this one actually has that grand narrative that is worth watching. but those horrendous directions the writers went with, simply took away all the power that the story has.

  4. K

    The anime had such potential and they wasted it…

  5. G

    Well, that was as subtle as punching your boss in the face. I wasn't feeling the confession at all. Dramatic only works when there are enough nuances underpinning it (in the case of its film predecessor). This series started out strong but is about to end it with a whimper, at least emotionally. Some of the moments would have made more impact if I knew what da hell they were dying for. Right now, the only thing I'm looking forward to is Fana and Charles, if they do make an appearance, though I really doubt it.

  6. M

    I definitely feel the same and that's generally a thing with romance anime for me:

    – I love them when they're subtle & mainly character driven
    – I don't when they're loud and plot-driven,not leaving the characters time to really think about their decisions

    However,while I would've certainly preferred to see Kal-el & Claire confront each other under different circumstances,I don't know if that's something we could really complain about since they are in middle of a battle after all.

  7. H

    I can't remember the last time a show teased "oh they died there! JUST KIDDING" as many times in a single episode, I thought the other two students were goners at least three times, and then seeing that one was seemingly fine except for completely losing his lower arm just made it feel even weirder, like did he duck and just forget to move his arm as well?!

  8. K

    A wind goddess! Now no one can beat them – and they were wrong…

  9. w

    "Inside this deeply flawed and modestly budgeted show beats the heart of a sprawling, operatic and grandiose beast."

    Nailed it. It's hard not to root for this show when it has so much ambition that it tries so hard to realise. I'm sure you've said it yourself somewhere, but an ambitious show that aims for the (end of the) skies but doesn't quite get there is always better than one which never tries to, regardless of execution. And I think this was probably overall the best episode yet.

    Also, slot machine? Cruel, Enzo.. I mean I did laugh but still cruel.

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