「ラハマの長い日」 (Rahama no Nagai Hi)
“Rahama’s Longest Day”
Here’s another thing 2D still does better than 3D: changing costumes. For your basic 3D models the clothes are simply part of the model, so in order to get your character to change clothes you almost have to create an entire new model. So if you want your girls to prance around in their lingerie, go back to 2D! Fanservice: 1, innovation: 0.
Still, if we need to go back to 2D every time the captain guy takes off his hat I wonder if 3D is truly worth it. But no matter.
For the rest of the episode the Kotobuki stayed 3D, though, which means business. Once again we take to the skies and once again we have an episode full of dogfights we all came here for. I’m pleased to see that Kotobuki has managed to sustain this level of action, and if we needed to go 3D for it then regardless of costume shenanigans it was a worthy sacrifice. If we were to compared to three ‘cute-girls-doing-WWII-hardware-things’ anime — Girls und Panzer, Hai-Furi, and Kotobuki — Kotobuki distinguishes itself as having the least fluff. It still has fluff, of course (pancakes, anyone?) and I’m not saying that fluff is inherently bad. Rather, I want to highlight how much they’re packing into each episode of an anime about old aeroplanes shooting at each other. The action I expect, but in this episode we also got a bunch of world building about the communities living on this frontier (and what would the Wild West be without snake-oil salesmen?), some rumination into the nature of leadership and incidental character development for leader girl by contrasting her with the vacillating mayor, some character development for blonde girl (names are hard) by implying a painful past with pirates, and everything else that came with the general plot of the episode. That’s a lot done in an episode where a large portion was just indulgent gun noises. It goes to show what a good screenwriter can do for you; a tight script lets an anime get more done with less.
As an aside, for those of you who have been wondering what happens to pilots who get shot down, you may be pleased to know that they don’t all die after all. This is the first time we’ve seen the deployment of a parachute so we know they’ve got those, and we also saw a Hayabusa manage a crash landing so there’s no reason to think that there aren’t other survivors.
Back to the plot: this will be the first multi-episode arc of Kotobuki and while it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to keep blogging this show (we’ll have to see) I’m still curious as to what comes next and will definitely be watching. Of course, this pirate corporation (as if pirates aren’t reviled enough) are unlikely to be major antagonists — they’re 2D, which means they’re minor — but perhaps the raid to take back the Raiden will lead to something larger. We’ve already had hints that there’s a larger underlying narrative to Kotobuki and even if we don’t leap into that just yet there’s also an entire fantasy world to build. There’s ambition in this show, and I’m eagre to see where that ambition takes us.