「エリート砦」 (Eriito Toride)
“Elite Fortress”

Anime is weird.

I thought Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai would be a show all about World War II aircraft, that it’d spend its time showing off the technical details of its planes, throwing together all sorts of unlikely matchups in action-heavy set pieces. I thought episode 04 would be the most dramatic yet as the Kotobuki sally forth to redeem their honour, storming the enemy fortress, their single squadron against dozens of pirate fighters. I thought that lanes will darken the sky! It will have to be the Kotobuki’s finest hour! Instead, this is the episode where Zara is grounded, goes full Mata Hari, infiltrates the pirate base, and persuades the pirate leader to just give her back the plane through mutual appreciation of fine art. Oh, and said leader is actually a little girl, because of course she is.

How am I supposed to explain this to my grandchildren?

To be fair, it’s important for any anime to offer variety. There’s only so much you can ramp up the spectacle before an audience grows numb to it. Which is why even ‘dark’ and ‘serious’ shows will have bouts of comic relief or random fanservice, because they need to mix things up and break up the pacing. Otherwise, their only way to maintain viewer interest is to continue escalating, which will eventually reach a point that is completely unfeasible and/or ridiculous. Of course, most plots eventually become ridiculous anyway if they drag on long enough (never-ending shounen shows come to mind; how high were their power levels supposed to be again?) but the aim is to avoid hitting peak absurdity too quickly. So actually having a bit of minor silliness here and there on the side actually helps keep the main plot sane.

And it’s not like this week’s Kotobuki had no planes in it, and you’ll notice even that had a different flavour this episode, with more air-to-ground combat and our girls less interested in shooting pirates to give the pirates a chance to shoot each other. It’s just that Kotobuki was evidently focused on… other things. By which I, of course, mean character development for Zara, who apparently had a very busy past where she gained experience in basically everything. If there’s one thing I keep praising Kotobuki (and there’s more than one) it’s that it always manages to pack a lot of content into each episode. It also means, though, that each episode is very busy and in trying to do everything at once perhaps we don’t have enough time to do anything thoroughly. It shows in this episode, in particular, where there are plenty of loose ends I wish were explored with a bit more depth, especially in regards to sudden character introductions. Why, in the middle of nowhere on the frontier, is there a girl who does nothing but paint? Why does the Elite CEO revere her so? And are we just going to forgive their piracy just because she’s cute? Doesn’t blondie hate pirates? Are we just going to let it all go?

It could be that loose ends or implied backstory will come up again later in the series. Certainly, I’m at least pretty sure that the pirates who got away will be recurring villains in the future; they seemed to be more important and be part of a larger organisation than throwaway characters would warrant, and we already know there’s some overarching plot building in the background of Kotobuki so they may be useful there. Next episode politics lady is showing up again, and if we’re getting more plot she’ll be the one delivering it.




  1. it is the other way around, these Pirates that betrayed their Boss, already “joined” someone other. They just wanted to take the Raiden as Cake for them. The line when they “They goes everything, i get an handful but so be it!”

    Perhaps they want to join the other Pirates that attacked this Airfield

    Also, when the other plane landed it nearly “cut” his left wing with the parking Plane…

    3D Animators.. take care of this collisions.. Out of the blue.. how fill fix that?

  2. https://randomc.net/image/Kouya%20no%20Kotobuki%20Hikoutai/Kouya%20no%20Kotobuki%20Hikoutai%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2002.jpg
    “♫ I have so far to go~ ♫”

    At first, I thought that the dance troupe’s plane was a Showa/Nakajima L2D–Imperial Japan’s license-built version of the classic Douglas DC-3 transport aircraft. However, the cockpit windows look nothing like the L2D, so I did a bit of digging on Wikipedia and found that it’s actually a Mitsubishi Ki-57.

    – Poor Emma. The call of nature gives no f**ks about one’s composure.
    – Aircraft-carrying zeppelins, propeller-driven planes from the 1940s and automated vending machines from the present day? (And high-rise buildings in the preview?) Textbook “anachronism stew.”
    – Also noticed the old man (voiced by Tomomichi Nishimura?) with a Winchester lever-action rifle and an Elite Industries sentry with what appears to be a PPSh-41 submachine gun.
    – That foreshadowing about another sky pirate group that’s worse than Elite Industries… Perhaps the same bunch that the Kotobuki Squadron fought against in episode 1 and probably the same bunch that the Elite Industries’ “HR” and “Sales” departments defected to?
    – Ah, canyon runs… Classic staple of the Ace Combat franchise (along with taking down big, f**koff superweapons and flying through long tunnels). Fortunately, the Hayabusas are more on the maneuverable side.
    – Did anyone get the name of the artist girl? As soon as I saw that she was the artist behind those Ukiyo-e paintings, I was immediately reminded of Katsushika Hokusai (or rather, his daughter Katsushika Ou’i) from F/GO.
    – In the previous episode, I thought the Elite Industries boss was a sleazy, slimy bastard, but that changed after finding out that he was taking care of (and protecting) the artist girl and wants the world to see her works. I somewhat felt bad seeing him get betrayed.
    – Never mind that I’m not good with drinking contests, but I definitely do not want to get on Zara’s bad side. Still…a vodka drinker, eh? I’ve only ever drank Russian Standard (and only on rare occasions), but that’s pretty strong stuff.
    – Was amused seeing the Raiden flying alongside the Hayabusas in the ending credits.

    1. I also thought it was a Daokta. From the looks of it, the bulk of the planes in this show would be from the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service. So I think we can start out searches from there though the HR unit’s plane seems more like a Yokosuka D4Y1 Judy.


      Oh and I forgot to mention the JV-44 inspired underbelly paint!

      Henrietta Brix
  3. https://randomc.net/image/Kouya%20no%20Kotobuki%20Hikoutai/Kouya%20no%20Kotobuki%20Hikoutai%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2019.jpg

    Ah yes… Appreciation of the arts indeed. The smooth curve lines and the soft colours of the painting. Gives a soft gentle appearance and the beauty of the subject.


    The contrast of red on the fair skin hides the strength of the subject and brings out the beauty of the subject as well.

    Henrietta Brix
  4. color me surprised by Kotobuki going Rogue squadron like undercover + fighter ops combined…
    color me even more surprised by the person behind the pirate “company”
    color me completely unsurprised by pirates infighting
    “no honor among theives”
    and finally color me well satisfied by “defeat means friendship” trope being invoked in classic form


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