Having joined the military because she thinks that it will teach her music, Sorami Kanata arrives at the town of Seize, where she’s been assigned, just in time for a festival. She ends up wandering around town and gets caught up in the festivities, in the process getting her uniform soaked. Fortunately, she’s found by a fellow soldier Kazumiya Rio and given a place to bathe, during which Rio tells her about the legend behind the festival that involves flame maidens protecting the city from a demon. Afterward, Kanata hears and identifies the sound of a bell necklace that Rio has, but while she’s holding it, an owl takes it and flies away with it.
Rio doesn’t mind too much and goes off to tend to her festival responsibilities, but Kanata decides to find the necklace and follows its sound. She finds it hanging from a broken cliff pathway, and although she succeeds in getting it, she ends up falling into the water below. After seeing a giant skeleton underwater, Kanata swims back up but realizes that she’s lost again. Not knowing what else to do, she blows her horn and, up on the cliff, Rio hears and responds with her own trumpet. Kanata eventually loses consciousness, and when she wakes up again, she finds herself in the fortress with Rio. Having gotten back her bell necklace, Rio takes Kanata outside and plays a tune with her trumpet to mark the sunrise. Rio promises to guide Kanata as a trumpeter, and it turns out that Kanata isn’t very good at it yet.
One of the things that caught my eye about this show from all the promotional material for the show was the music, and that included the opening song here. It’s quite pleasant and captures a certain rustic feel that the series has. The ending song by Tomatsu Haruka, in contrast, is much more energetic, and while I thought the transition into it for this particular episode was a little sudden, the song itself was quite catchy, particularly with the way it starts.
Well that was an impressive show of production quality and storytelling, almost movie-like. It really started to shine in the second half with the combination of Rio was telling the legend to Kanata, the French insert song, and the visuals. All of that made for a wonderful scene that really drew me into the story and showed that it might be deeper than expected, so kudos to the A-1 Pictures team (if only they could do the same for FAIRY TAIL). It made me wonder if the girls are going to have to relive the legend eventually, especially since their faces are prominently featured on all the artwork related to it. That in turn makes me question what kind of series So-Ra-No-Wo-To is going to be since, based on just this first episode, it could focus on music or the girls in pseudo-military life or it could take a mythical/supernatural turn – or all of the above. The trumpet aspect is actually the least interesting to me, but if it serves as a vehicle for character development, then I’m all for it.
In any case, I thought this first episode was a great start and was much more promising than the gimmicky character designs made it seem at first. I will admit though that I found myself trying to see if each girl’s personalities matched their K-On! counterparts (they kind of do). I’m looking forward to seeing where all of this is going, and with more episodes like this, it could be a worthwhile show to follow.