I confess I thought going in that this was the final episode of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, so it was rather a surprise to discover it was coming back next week. That certainly helps, given that this is a series that’s tried to cram way too much into one cour to begin with, but I’m still of a mind that we’re not going to see anything close to closure here given how many loose ends are still dangling. Frankly, there’s an awful lot that hasn’t even been explained yet.
It seems rather fitting that Toaru Hikuushi should work in a time skip here at the end, because sometimes I feel there have been time skips when there actually haven’t. The continuity in this series is quite odd to say the least, and while I suspect the biggest reason is that a lot of stuff that would have filled in a lot of blanks has been excised from the source material, it also plays like a show that expects you to have read that source material if you’re watching it.
Still, for all that and perhaps to an unlikely degree, I continue to find this series pretty entertaining and I continue to care about what happens to the major characters and with the overall plot. The latter is especially surprising given how little background we’ve been given as to why any of this is happening, but maybe it’s the Last Exile fan in me that sees pathos in this old-school anime plotline. Still caring about Karl and Claire is easier to explain – they’re good characters, plain and simple, and their straightforward process of falling in love in circumstances anything but straightforward has always been winning.
In that vein, I found this to be another very good episode as long as you don’t ask too many questions. We see quickly what the “sacrifice” Karl referred to last week is – Nina Viento is being handed over to the Sky Clan. At least she’s not dying, though it does feel as if Isla acceded to the Sky Clan’s truce offer pretty quickly. The Lavmme admiral fills us in that all the nations of the world share creation myths, even if the nations themselves are unconnected, and that the “Girl Who Calls the Wind” is an important part of Sky Clan mythology. Her coming has been foretold in their legend, as has Isla’s – and they want her so badly that they’re willing to bend their rules about letting outsiders into the Holy Spring in exchange for having their new messiah handed over.
Maybe I’m just thick as a brick, but I feel as if we haven’t been told nearly enough about the Holy Spring, or the End of the Sky, or why it’s so important for Isla to get there – and it’s interesting enough to make me wish I knew more. But there’s no need for explanations when it comes to the personal impact here – Karl has forgiven Claire and admitted he loves her, and now she’s being taken away from him. There’s a brief scene where Ari lets on that she has more than fraternal feelings for Karl after all – though she knows she’s beaten – then she drags him off for a goodbye scene with Claire. And Ignacio, too – he’s going with Claire, and calls Karl “Aniki” at their parting. This isn’t a surprise to us, of course, though Karl seems genuinely to have had no idea.
Cut to six months later (where the episode began, in fact) and the Waterfall at the End of the Sky has been reached. Part of the deal is apparently that Isla – as part of the “Flagstone” from the creation of the world – must be sacrificed to the End of the Sky as part of the prophecy. All of the sky kiddos (including Benji) fly one last mission for Isla to document the end, and that’s it. We’re left to wonder why it is that reaching this place was so important and what’s supposed to happen now. It’s certainly easy to make educated guesses – such as that what we’ve been watching is a bunch of political exiles and inconvenient people sent off on a (hopefully fatal) wild good chase to prove a myth the people who sent them assumed was a lie. But I’d still like to see that confirmed, at least, and some meaning given to the entire affair. It seems likely that the ending will focus primarily on Karl and Claire’s inevitable reunion, and that’s fine – I want to see that, too – but I’m still left with the overwhelming sense of untapped potential in this series. This is a bigger story than it’s being allowed to be given it’s schedule and budget, no question – but in spite of that, still managed to give us enough of a taste of what it might have been to be palatable in its own right.