OP: 「ソラノネ」 (Soranone) by ZAQ
「さすらいの6人」 (Sasurai no 6-ri)
“The Wandering Six”
It’s interesting that Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai‘s curious mixture of 2D and 3D animation can reveal to us about the anime production process. Last week there were some comments asking about why some characters were 3D and some were 2D, why some were ostensibly more important than others. Here’s something I should have noted then: the captain guy was 2D, but sneakily, in the OP he was already 3D. Usually I would attribute this discrepancy to a matter of timing; 3D models take time to make, and perhaps they just didn’t have his finished yet. The OP/ED are usually one of the last things produced for any anime while the pilot is logically one of the earliest, and it’s entirely possible that the models for some of the supporting cast were given lower priority. The episode 00 of Seikai Suru Kado also had its protagonsit in 2D only to give him an extra dimension later so the practice is not unheard of. But here, in episode 02 of Kotobuki, we witness an interesting phenomenon: characters sliding back and forth between dimensions. That’s… peculiar, to say the least. Anime isn’t made entirely linearly so it’s possible that some of these scenes were produced much earlier than others. Or perhaps it wasn’t always intended that this show have 3D characters, so we have leftover scenes. Or perhaps Kotobuki is not entirely comfortable with its 3D technology and what it can do with it so falls back on 2D now and again. Were the crutches too difficult? Surely it wasn’t the high kick? Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. Whatever the case may be, it’s still a concern for me. An anime that changes its art style at the drop of a hat for no discernible artistic purpose would be thoroughly distracting, and what Kotobuki does it similarly so. I hope they don’t make a habit out of it.
But enough about the characters. While this week does feature an arc for two of them (one of which we’ve only just met and already annoys me), let’s not kid ourselves. They’re not really the stars of the show. Everyone’s here for the planes! And accordingly, this week we get a bit more fangirl action over the Hayabusas. Considering how fond the director was for the CV.33 back in Girls und Panzer I would assume he has a thing for neat but ultimately defunct war machines and he demonstrates it once again in Kotobuki. If you’ve watched The Wind Rises you’ll have heard all the talk about elegence in design before. But the Americans offered a strong refutation back in WWII: you don’t need elegance if you can just slap in a bigger engine. If I was a daredevil mercenary fighting sky pirates on a dangerous fronter I would probably want for something better than a Hayabusa, but I suppose you have to work with what you’ve got.
On that note, here’s another barrier Kotobuki raises, besides the aesthetic: aeroplane knowledge. I don’t boast extensive knowledge myself and only barely managed to follow along as characters rattled off models to each other, and I imagine the completely uninitiated would rightfully have no clue what a ‘Hien’ is and why it matters. Though I suppose it’s not a huge deal that we can’t; all we really need to take away is that the ‘pirates’ showed up with fancier gear than anticipated. But we shouldn’t forget that Kotobuki was obviously made with a very specific sort of nerd in mind, and they will be the ones to extract maximum entertainment from the show. For the rest of us, Kotobuki has plenty of old-fashioned storytelling in it as well, so no worries there. There’s some mention of fringe politics and economies on the frontier collapsing and tensions rising in general, and admittedly I don’t know what’s going on there either but I assume it’ll all be fleshed out when the plot is good and ready.
For now, let me know if Kotobuki is the kind of show you want to see continued coverage of. I’ll give it at least another episode but I sadly don’t have as much time for blogging as I’d like, so your input will be paramount in deciding what makes the cut.
ED: 「翼を持つ者たち」 (Tsubasa wo Motsu Mono-tachi) by The Kotobuki Squadron (the main cast girls)