「回想のロンド」 (Kaisou no Rondo)
“Rondo of Reminiscence”
Given the controversy over Japanese textbooks and how they distort history, I’m curious as to how this original series will approach matters involving Manchuria, the Mukden Incident, and the Nanking Massacre, but it hasn’t touched upon any of them yet. I’m no history expert by any means, but I would’ve had to live under a rock to not have heard about the war crimes Japan supposedly committed during the time period and locale that Senkou no Night Raid takes place in.
It’s a dicey matter indeed and while I’m sure a lot of people would love to see Japan take responsibility like the Germans did for the Holocaust, I question whether a Japanese animation studio dares to tread in such rocky waters. Anime no Chikara has shown that they will look into history details for inspiration, but So-Ra-No-Wo-To is far from being any realistic interpretation, making that “This work is a piece of fiction” warning at the end of each episode warranted, much like it is here. That said, this episode did introduce the matter revolving around Manchuria as Japan taking an interest in seizing the vast northeastern region of China, but I don’t think the controversial history books even dare to deny that. It’s the justification behind the land of the rising sun’s actions that are heavily debated, and it looks like this series will sidestep that land mine for now.
I didn’t mention this in my first post, but the fictional secret intelligence agency Sakurai Kikan, comprised of our four superhuman protagonists and their supervisor/commander Sakurai Shinichirou (Oobayashi Ryuusuke), works under the imperial Japanese Kwantung Army, a.k.a. the Kantougun (in Japanese) / Guandong Army (in Chinese), that was stationed in China during the early 20th century. Since things seem to be focused entirely on them and their espionage missions with any resemblances of reality going right out the window, this series could very well portray the Kwantung Army in a negative light, though it’s highly unlikely it will do so. This episode for instance focuses on a Jewish Russian violinist named Sergei Krainev, who the Kwantung Army suspects is a foreign spy that has been leaking out classified military information to an unknown benefactor. So um… they’re already blaming the Jewish foreigners.
In any case, this was another self-contained episodic-like showing, that covered everything it introduced from the onset and depicted more of how the characters make use of their abilities. There was an unexpected twist involving how Krainev was leaking the information he obtained (via his music over radio airwaves), but the real focus was on the various characters’ subplots as the episode title indicates. In particular, they showed how Aoi once knew a female violinist and seemed to love her, how Kazura (real name Takuma) was brought up with honor and righteousness in mind (which sort of explains why he doesn’t like to use his ability unless he has to), how Yukina has an older brother named Takachiho Isao who suddenly went missing and is apparently a spy for the Kwantung Army now, and how Natsume (real name Kichizou) is Yukina’s close family friend/bodyguard of sorts. Not much was explained in their various flashbacks however, so all of this simply serves as foreshadowing of things to come.
Overall, this was an eye-opening episode on where the story may be going from a character development standpoint. There wasn’t a whole lot of action though, so I’m starting to think this is more of a seinen series for older viewers. Personally, I like how it doesn’t fall victim to having to rely on shounen fan-service, but I imagine it will come off as a slow-paced series to others for that very reason. Other than that, the actual opening and ending sequences were included this time around, with MUCC’s “Yakusoku” used as the opening theme as originally planned and HIMEKA’s new “To The Future…” ballad as the ending theme. You can never go wrong with HIMEKA’s music, so be sure to check it out below.