OP Sequence

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 Sequence

ED: 「(風が知ってる」 (Kaze ga Shitteru) by 赤い公園 (Akai Kouen)



    1. Either the writer is a fan of Superman or the guy’s gonna be donning a blue spandex and red cape instead of flying a plane soon XD

      Though it would be perhaps slightly more amusing if they had his plane’s colours be that instead 😛

    2. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son…oh wait.

  1. The anime is based on the LN series of the same name by Koroku Inumura, and set in the same universe as his earlier LN, The Princess and the Pilot/Recollections for a Certain Pilot.

    1. Damn, I wish I had read your comment beforehand. I did a quick Google search to confirm if this was an original series or if it’s based on a light novel or manga. I heavily regret it, since I ran into what seems like a really big spoiler (or at least, something I hadn’t noticed) just by looking at the character names (and corresponding seiyuu).

      1. Don’t worry too much about that spoiler.
        Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Yes, they do look beautiful together but that´s what´s worrying me. I might be a little paranoic here but the first scene has Kal-El saying he´s not going to let anyone else die, the last scene says the island will never comeback and to top it off we hace Kal riding the bike alone at the end of ending, so it´s anyone else alredy worried about Claire´s future? Because I´m seeing death flags right from the start.

  2. For the sake of our protagonists lets hope this universe is a bit more like the one from “Last Exile” and not the one from “The Sky Crawlers”. This show appears to have the potential for greatness, we’ll just have to wait and see. I thought intro was rather generic though, it almost lost me right off the bat.

  3. I always like shows like this or steampunk where the technology is not overly advanced. It maintains that sort of adventure feel. Like this eps they are adventuring in the same world to places unknown I always like that kinda world adventure. Partially why I love some oldschool JRPGs (or new) that have airships and all that jazz.

    A strong start for me and hopefully it will continue to maintain my interest.

    The only negative thing is probably the jarring difference in animation and CGI characters, reminds me of the terrible last exile sequel (sends shivers down my spine just thinking of that monstrosity) that used similar techniques for their vanships.

    1. I don’t think they are. I believe they’re more close friends and the former was adopted into the family at some point. So they’re kinda family, kinda not. At least, that’s what the premise seems to have hinted at.

    2. I hadn’t considered that he might be adopted, though it would make sense given the hair colors. I had thought “twins” because they seem about same age, and acted like they’ve been classmates throughout their childhood.

      1. Also, during the goodbye scene, Kal-el blushed when one of the onee-sans hugged him and shoved his face on her chest. If she was his blood-related sister, I don’t think he would have blushed in such a way 😉

      2. The summary blurb on various sites, including this one, mentions him being a prince driven by revenge I believe. Combine that with his actions and flashbacks here and my guess is he’s a prince whose family was murdered, maybe by that woman that he had the sudden psychotic episode towards, and then was taken in by his current family.

        Just my theory, though the OP seems to imply that he and the silver-haired lady met as children, so what she did to incur his murderous wrath is something I’m very curious about.

  4. Easily the best premiere so far for me. Compelling premise, intriguing setting, amazing aerial combat, and above everything else interesting characters. On the animation side, was left speechless at how well they integrate CG airplanes with hand-drawn background so as to not came across as jarring, and the imagery of floating island accompanied by a huge mothership and many airplanes was easily the best mix of fantasy&sci-fi aspect i’ve seen so far in the season (Even more so than Nobunaga the Fool). On the story side, it hasn’t blown my mind yet, and honestly many things still confuse me like, as if i just watched a story that skips its prologue and roll straight into the main story, which isn’t a huge problem so long as they give proper explanation on future ep. Another thing which made this eps a win for me is the interactions between Kal-el and Claire (whom i suppose is the main heroine of the series). When they’re awkwardly introducing each other, when they’re riding a bike together (with Claire making Titanic-like pose), and one particular scene at the lake when they’re hugging each other felt, for the lack of better word, romantic and melancholic without feeling excessive.

    Will definitely watch this show till the end

  5. In the beginning I wonder who dies because he says, “I’ll will never forgive you… I won’t let anyone else die!” I’m thinking it be Claire? Love ones always have death flags.

  6. Maybe this show will pull off what Ars Nova did, just become the biggest surprise of the year. We already got romance in the air, that was so dang fast haha. Claire is so pretty and the overall look of the show is too. Can’t wait to see the next episode 🙂

    Jason Isenberg
  7. Great premiere, but I feel that an important character will bite the dust in the end. Hopefully it won’t be Claire, since I like her. The characters are good, with the exception of Ariel. Somehow I think that she’s annoying.

  8. okaay! so after living underwater for so long, Hikari Sakishima is now flying a plane? interesting 🙂

    i must admit that i am also a big sucker when it comes to planes, so i am definitely going to include this in my weekly downloads.

    1. If you like planes, you need to watch the prequel of this. The To Aru Hikushi e no Tsuioku movie have some of the best aerobatics scene in anime that would put aerobatics in the Macross series to shame. Lets hope this sequel could come close.

      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. just to make it clear – the famous movie by madhouse&TMS which called Toaru Hikūshi e no Tsuioku (also known as the princess and pilot) is not a prequel.

        the connection is that both set up in the same world setting. no real relation in terms of characters or chronological order as far as I am concerned.
        speaking of which, the princess and pilot was fine and good movie. but I wanted something a bit more than that. how do I say it…in some part of the film it felt more like in Hollywood style than anime.
        and for now, Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta definitely make up for it.

        as for something similar you have the movie “the sky crawlers” which is full of beautiful aerial visuals.
        I didn’t see “Area 88” yet, but although it’s quite old (80s I think) it also provides aircraft and aerial combat, it’s waiting in my special directory 😛
        there is also Yukikaze which recommended to me in IRC (I think by Ghost Zephyr). I am certainly gonna watch it soon when I;ll have some time this month.

      2. You are mostly correct about the lack of connection, but …

        Major spoiler, don’t read unless you finished the LN.
        Show Spoiler ▼

        so there is a link both chronologically and in character. LN2 is a very loose sequel of LN1, not a totally independent spin off.

        btw, Aera 88 movie and OVA were made in the 80’s, but there is also an anime series made in 2004. Definitely worth a watch

  9. Had a great time watching this episode and will definitely be following this show, I really love this type of anime mixing fantasy, adventure, romance, sci-fi…the best!~

    Was a bit bit taken back for a sec at how fast Kal and Claire’s relationship advanced for a first meeting, but I most definitely…APPROVE!!! *thumbs up!* The hug blew me away.
    That said…the fact he is riding the bicycle alone at the end of the ED credits is pretty worrisome to say the least D:

    Also, it seems like Kal might not be ‘human’? (red eyes?) Will we learn further in the series that there are different species in this world?

    1. This is a sequel to To Aru Hikūshi e no Tsuioku (1st LN). The anime is adapting the second.
      Set in the same world, but in another part of the ‘planet’. Some movie’s characters will play a minor part later in the story.

  10. This first episode felt really bad to me for several reasons.

    Nothing really seems to have happened story-wise, except for them setting out to find the end of the sky. Some other things were hinted at, but they didn’t went through with these things far enough to really add to the story with yet. Though maybe they will use these set ups in the next few episodes, so I don’t see this too negatively.

    The characters feel extremely shallow at this point. Especially the main character feels like a total prick, getting unreasonably angry just when the white haired guy didn’t talk to him and looked at him annoyed. Maybe the other guy just has bad mood (I know that’s probably not it, but the main character should not be able to know this. He could just try to talk with him again later.

    The romantic development with the black haired girl felt increadibly forced to me. The girl went from being to shy to talk to him to standing behind him (technically a total stranger) on his bike as if they had been friends forever in a matter of minutes and when they fell into water, they also fell in love. This doesn’t feel believable to me, no matter how romantic the thought of “love at first sight” is.

    And then they end the episode with an depressive narrative. They probably wanted to use it as foreshadowing, but good foreshadowing needs to be done more subtle. This was just hitting people in the face with a pole on which they write “People are going to suffer and die!”

    To top it all off the episode also had animation problems in several scenes, ranging from acceptable (eg. The faces in this picture and this picture and the slightly off perspective here) to complete animation failure (Try to imagine how Kal-el would need to stand for this perspective… and then he suddenly disappears.)

    Sorry for this lengthy negative comment, but there was just too much that bugged me.

  11. well, this is one of my high expectations for winter and it started good, a solid start.
    the intro tried to move us with aerial combat which was nice and all (even reminded me some scenes of sky crawlers). but it was for the sake of show off. whatever.. because ever since the planes really took off it was very beautiful and hook me up. lovely visuals were revealed and I really liked the detailed aerial scenes. I really love anime that involve planes and aerial stuff.

    we didn’t get enough info with the story except for the general explanation of the purpose of this journey. which was stated at the end of the ep as “journey we could never return…we hadn’t learned how cruel the world could be”. so obviously tough things are in front of us. maybe painful drama too. but at least we’ll have “epic air-combat piew piew” (:
    how is that connected to Kal-el past?who is the mysterious stalker (snape..snape..sevrus snape?)?what’s wrapping all of it? not so much of info, but for now it’s a very very brief one story of journey, I guess we’ll be detailed later on. but it can be developed quite well I think.

    I loved the clicked chemistry between Claire Cruz (such a fluent name HaHa) and Kal-el(not so fluent anymore..what is that a bird?a plane?no..superman in a plane :P) and I guess we’ll have some complex in that matter (by that I mean with his allegedly “sister”). I do must say that the VA are doing great work and it was combined well in that part – romance, atmosphere, VA, animation and all.

    I am really looking forward to continue with Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta.

  12. Definitely has potential. As a big fan of Last Exile, I have high hopes for any series that has airplanes and drama.

    What really interests me is Kal-El (superman?) hatred to that hot priestess.

  13. The initial air combat was awesome, the 3D floating battleships glorious, and the entire floating island magnificent. Introduction of characters seems OK. Sister is your usual tsun-tsun type. Claire looks like the incarnated trope of the “first girl wins”, though the blue-haired princess/priestess is possibly a future contender for romantic interest. The angsty pilot who landed even worse than Kal-El seems somehow connected to Claire…

    1. A V-22 Osprey is a “tiltrotor,” meaning that its wings are fixed. The aircraft design in the anime is a “tiltwing,” meaning the wings move during hovering. This type of design is well-known to be susceptible to cross winds. Hence the cadets had a hard time landing.

  14. This one promises. Finally some aerial combat to see (it’s not Ace Combat, but I’ll take it) and having in mind that is the same universe as Remembrances for a Certain Pilot, I expect a bittersweet story.

  15. @Zephyr
    “while keeping it interesting because the aircraft used aren’t things we have much real life mass equivalents of”

    But aren’t the enemy planes that are shown in the prologue basically real life Spitfires?

    1. The key lies in the fact that real-life spitfires aren’t tilt-rotors. We don’t and have never used tilt-rotors en mass, and we only currently deploy few tilt-rotor aircraft ourselves. Even then, they’re usually for very specific purposes and missions.

      1. But what I meant was that the enemy planes weren’t tilt rotors in the prologue battle scene. They were single propellor normal planes.

        By the way, what is your thought on Crunchyroll’s synopsis which basically lists the synopsis for Toaru Hikūshi e no Tsuioku instead of the actual synopsis?

      2. Ah that’s what you meant. I was just referring to the planes our MC’s are using since they’re going to be the side we see the most of eh.

        As for Crunchyroll… I actually didn’t look at their summary before you mentioned it. Now that I see it though… I don’t know what to say. That’s extremely odd. I don’t know if it was just a mistranslated from the source they’re referring to, or if the person they’re referencing didn’t have it right to begin with. Seems like either way, somewhere along the line they kinda mixed the shows together or something. Really misleading. :/

    2. @WellBattle6 “But aren’t the enemy planes that are shown in the prologue basically real life Spitfires?”

      FYI, the anime’s single-engine monoplane fighter is not an “RL” Spitfire. Not nearly as graceful in design. First, wings are not elliptical which was the famous trademark of the Spitfire design. Nose/engine cowling is much different as well. Not nearly as streamlined/aerodynamic. Tail assembly is 50/50 – rudder is similar to a Spitfire, but elevator is much different (anime is rectangular with some sort of lower edge).

      As far as I can tell, the single-engine monoplane fighter aircraft in the opening scene is essentially an anime only mutt. It takes cues from various WWII fighters. Overall, it’s a pretty good mock up IMO EXCEPT for the the front/engine cowling which makes zero sense – especially if the engine is a water-cooled inline as it appears to be. Bad aerodynamics/much too blocky. The nose/engine cowling vaguely (key) remind me of an Messerschmitt Bf 109e. Tail assembly is fairly similar as well although the anime fighter’s elevator is placed lower on the rudder/tail compared to an ME 109e. If the anime’s monoplane fighter is based off of a RL fighter, someone please post that model. I’d like to know.


      @Zephry: We don’t and have never used tilt-rotors en mass, and we only currently deploy few tilt-rotor aircraft ourselves. Even then, they’re usually for very specific purposes and missions.

      There are reasons for that. Tilt-rotor aircraft have advantages over helicopters (primarily speed and range), but have other significant limitations. Tilt-rotor aircraft are just not as good as a standard mono-wing design for use as a fighter/interceptor.

      It’s entertaining to watch the anime’s planes zoom around, but realistically, there a lot of “artistic license” taken in the opening aerial combat sequence requiring significant suspension of disbelief. Tilt-rotor aircraft can’t change direction instantly like that at speed simply by rotating the props. Furthermore, the design of the two-seater tilt-rotors have very poor aerodynamics. In RL, they would be much slower than those monoplane fighters barring some massive disparity in engine technology.

  16. I… I don’t if I’m getting old or anything… So “too shounen” anime doesn’t suit my taste anymore…

    But this anime…
    – first minutes: OOOH! PLANES! *sit tight* Hm, hm, nice design, good CG, and great aerial battle.
    – seconds after the MC start talking: … Fu… Emo Shounen MC.
    – 15 minutes later: … bad execution, lame-unfunny-jokes, timing-failed dialogue/scene/character/etc/whatever…

    As an avid fan of Ace Combat Series & Aviation in general… I’m dissapointed.

  17. The only complaint I have for this is that comparing to the movie…. The characters didn’t suffer from the moe blob syndrome

    Though the scene with Kal and Claire wasutterly beautiful and that close up…… definitely lovely

  18. oh god I hope I’m wrong about the Claire death flag with the ED. at the same time though im glad im not imagining things. this show is going to hurt my heart though. I can tell already.

  19. real talk, i nearly vomited watching the opening scene. those aerial battle scenes really do a number on my motion sickness. good ol’ shakycam.

    totally worth it tho. can’t wait to watch more, i just need to get a hold of some medicine for it…


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