OP: 「azurite」 by petit milady
「旅立ちの島 」 (Tabidachi no Shima)
“Island of New Journeys”
Let me get this out of the way first. When it comes to series revolving around aircraft, there’s probably a higher chance of bias on my part than with any other genre (except maybe cyberpunk). I grew up wanting to be an aircraft engineer after all, and there’s just something amazing about being able to soar through the sky at a few thousand miles an hour. Sadly, things didn’t quite work out as I anticipated—I get motion sickness easily for one—but let’s just say that hasn’t taken out my love for all things flight, so it’s highly possible that I’ll probably like this series more than others.
That said, Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta’s first episode ends up quite intriguing overall. I wouldn’t say it hit all the right marks off the bat, but there’s definitely a lot of potential here. As with any other series, it remains to be seen whether or not this potential ever gets off the ground, but it definitely gets a head start considering there ain’t much ground to start with here. The cast is literally living (and training) on a floating island, and it’s not a stretch to say that it’s a unique locale from which to start a series from. The focus on aircraft and aerial combat adds further to this uniquity—it’s just not something we see often these days—and it’s something that ends up reminding me quite a bit of Last Exile in this regard. We’re not talking about vanships here, but the sense of adventure the series gives off, the two pilot dynamic between our two mains in Kal-el (Hanae Natsuki) and Ariel (Taketatsu Ayana), and the goal of reaching a place known as the “End of the Sky” are all reminiscent of the atmosphere in Last Exile, the two pilot dynamic between Lavie and Claus, and their desire to cross the Grand Stream.
This bodes well considering how well Last Exile was received, even if this wasn’t quite a Cloud Age Symphony (yet, anyway). Kal-el in particular ends up being an interesting main, especially considering the rapid emotional shift he seems to go through depending on the circumstance. We’re not given much of these circumstances off the bat here—though we can assume based on the premise summary—but let’s just say that Kal-el doesn’t seem to be a guy who wants to be where he is, doing what he is right now. At the same time, he seems to understand the situation he’s been put in, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it’s a realization that’s forced, rather than preferred on his part. Ariel being present seems to help keep his emotions in check as well, but the general feeling is that he’s an atypical character who could go off at any moment, which could form the foundations for some interesting developments in the short term. At the same time, seeing how he matures overtime is also something that could prove to be a great story—it was a drawing point in the premise for me—and it definitely seems like Claire Cruz’ll be the one who kick starts this process.
Generally, it’s a solid, light-hearted introductory episode to start things off here with Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta. We get a nice introduction to the main cast, a brief description of what their purpose is, and we get some vital explanation/demonstrations of how technology works here. The latter aspect ends up interesting in and of itself, especially the tilt rotor aircraft they use in this series, and the “hydrogen battery stacks” that power the bigger ships. Both the use of tilt rotor aircraft and hydrogen powered aircraft are concepts that have some grounding in real life, but they’re both things that never ended up quite prevalent in general. We didn’t even prove the concept till around the 1960’s ourselves, and we don’t have much in the way of hydrogen powered aircraft either. In this sense, it’s intriguing how Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta seems to be in an age where combat is reminiscent stylistically of the 1940’s in real life, yet utilize concepts and technology that are much more advanced.
It all works well in the end though, because this style of fighting allows the series to maintain a focus on individual pilots (each one can make a big difference in any combat scenario), while keeping it interesting because the aircraft used aren’t things we have much real life mass equivalents of. All of these are things that contribute to the potential of this series, and there’s just a lot here to work with—even if it may only be one cour. Let’s see how this works out.
ED: 「(風が知ってる」 (Kaze ga Shitteru) by 赤い公園 (Akai Kouen)