「夕陽のコトブキ飛行隊」 (Yuuhi no Kotobuki hikou-tai)
“Kotobuki of the Setting Sun”

Everything goes roughly the way you’d expect it to. Our heroes ride off into the sunset, the day is saved, and the Kotobuki girls are closer than ever, possibly even planning to continue flying together until they’re old and gray. It’s a happy ending, to be sure, but after spending a good chunk of the series threatening the viewer with radical change and moral quandaries, it seems almost anti-climatic for the show to end so neatly. For some time now, Kirie’s been searching for a purpose. Why does she fly? Who does she fly for? And by the end, it seems that she’s exactly where she started – Kirie flies because she wants to. She doesn’t need a reason beyond that. And while it’s true that taking part in activities solely because we like doing them isn’t a bad thing, it’s strange that the series would linger on her conflict for so long if it weren’t ultimately going to affect the narrative in a significant way.

As for the other girls, their focus was greatly diminished over the course of the series, resulting in many of them lacking proper character arcs. Reona, for example, starts out as a responsible girl who takes care of the children in the orphanage with her wages. None of that has changed. Although Zara tempts her with the thought of abandoning the war against Ikesuka and living out a life for herself, she remains steadfast and dutiful. Then there’s Kate. At the end of the previous episode, I admitted to looking forward to seeing Kate’s battle with Isao, since who doesn’t like a good revenge tale, eh? Shortly after the start of the final episode, however, it became clear that Isao was going to be benched for the majority of the final battle. Not only that, but Kate never confronts him directly again. It seems she was satisfied with merely shooting him down, which brings me to another point-

Where is the tension? From what I could tell, with the exception of possibly Isao, none of the fighters are aiming to kill. Once a fighter pilot is shot down or ejected from their craft, they’re out of danger, and since there are no casualties or even serious injuries among the cast, it’s difficult to grasp the stakes. Between Kouya’s fast-paced and fluid animation, plus a nailbiting musical score, the dogfights had a tendency to feel exceedingly cinematic, yet without a sense of danger or urgency to warrant the production value, it came across as a little underwhelming.

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai accomplished exactly what it set out to do. It wanted to be a female-led air combat show with crisp animation, excellent voice acting, and a musical score that really gets your adrenaline pumping. However, it tried to be a character-driven mystery and/or exploration of ethics on the nature of engagement versus passive neutrality, and in that, it missed the mark. The answers to the questions of Ol’ Sab’s whereabouts, Isao’s motivations, and the resolution of Kirie’s internal dilemma are all, for lack of a better word, disappointing. Instead of attempting any complexity with Isao, he became an irredeemable antagonist the Kotobuki could fight without thinking too hard about their reasons why. Too soon they dropped their doubts regarding their motivations for attacking Ikesuka on Madame Loulou’s orders.

Still, at the end of the day, this was an energetic, exquisitely detailed, and well-researched show that exceeded my initial expectations by a mile. The Kotobuki girls got along naturally, making their friendships feel genuine, and though not every man needs to be immature, greedy, or incompetent in a show led by women, it was certainly satisfying to see ladies kicking butt at the forefront of the narrative.


ED 1.5 Sequence

Final Impressions

Instead of cute girls doing cute things (in airplanes!), Kouya sported a cast of characters who took their jobs seriously and each possessed the skills that working from the pilot seat would demand. The elements of post-isekai, though intriguing, were ultimately not the main focus, as stopping the portals from opening took priority over exploring them. It looks like those hoping to know more about the Yufang and the consequences of their visit(s) will have to keep their fingers crossed for a second season.

Until then, keep flying high, Kotobuki Flight Corps!


  1. C’mon Stars, why no screenshots of the ridiculous maneuvers, like Emma’s airwater-brake, the butler’s crane swing straight out of Aldnoah;Zero, then Leona’s midair kamikaze attack?

    Too soon they dropped their doubts regarding their motivations for attacking Ikesuka on Madame Loulou’s orders.

    I disagree. Leona doubted Isao’s evil intentions until he shot her down after reneging on his promise.

    The elements of post-isekai, though intriguing, were ultimately not the main focus, as stopping the portals from opening took priority over exploring them.

    I fear that the result will be similar to Gate, but with the protagonists on the losing side. 🙁

    All in all, Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai is an exciting, enjoyable show that shouldn’t be taken too seriously–after all, who’d hire a flying dodo as airship captain, anyway? 😀

    Magnus Tancred
    1. For the most part, the lack of screenshots for the ridiculous maneuvers has to do with them not being quite as impressive in a single frame, but I’ll see if I can go back and redo some of them later on.

      As for your second point, it wasn’t their doubts about Isao so much as their doubts about how the Kotobuki were being utilized as makeshift aerial combatants. The only reason these girls are fighting a ‘war’ as far as I know, is because there’s no traditional military or air force thanks to the technology needed for such a thing being only a couple years old, so civilians have to take up arms against threats. The Kotobuki was never meant to be used in the way that it was, and with the exception of Kate and later Kirie, they didn’t have any personal reasons to fight. Zara even says in this episode that they have no obligations. They could leave and no one could blame them. It just seemed like Isao was made to be a black-and-white bad guy with shallow motivations “IT’S MINE! MINE TO MANAGE! MINE TO CONTROL!” so none of them would have to consider the ethics of their actions, though that ended up being a moot point when Isao’s right-hand man evacuated the city..

      Some worlds are probably better left to themselves. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the last time the portals opened, their planet’s ecosystem was completely wrecked.

      Agreed. However, I would definitely hire that bird as my airship captain 😉

      1. It was important for the creditable of this Show to use Japan Air Force only Planes. Even if this “look alike B-52” Bombers where there (it was Bombers that never left the Papers)…

        Imagine if they used the real US Bombers from WW2 and such.. you would not sell this anime good at home

  2. Won’t talk about the ending because…huh…umm…never mind.

    Anyway got to say thanks to Passerby & Stars for covering this show, since I actually dropped it pretty early. Always read the review from you guys before watching. It turned out to be quite an enjoyable show. The highlights are obviously the dog fights. While I can’t say anything great about the characters, some are amusing and none of them are unlikeable in a way that can be remembered.

    Of course my biggest gripe with this show is the character animation. Can’t say the use of 3D was a good one. Some characters just look totally weird at certain angles. Zara’s mission in episode four really drove a wedge into that divide since I think they should’ve stuck using classical animation methods. Just to be clear, I have nothing against 3D, since one my reasons for watching Bang Dream 2nd season was the animation. That show is 90% 3D animated.

    Someone mentioned this show reminded them of Crimson Skies. I agree with that sentiment and think this show was inspired by that game. It certainly got the aspects that made it fun right. WWII fighters, airships and crazy missions.

    1. I’ve noticed that 3D anime looks great when it’s used sparingly. For instance, the dogfights in this series always looked fast-paced and dynamic, but when it came to character design, often it felt like the characters were fighting against the medium to emote. Kirie managed to do well enough since so many of her expressions are heavily exaggerated, but those who were less energetic verged on the uncanny valley. A really good example of a show with 3D was Tiger & Bunny. That was maybe… 35-45% CGI.

      It hasn’t reached the point where it can flawlessly substitute for 2D, but for what it’s worth, those dogfights really were a spectacle to watch.

      Thank you so much for reading our reviews! Even though Passerby left some giant shoes to fill, you guys were patient and had so many awesome insights to add. Hope to see you around XD

  3. In the end our Main Villain here reminds me now of “Handsome Jack” from Borderlands 2. Because right now Borderlands 3 Hype warmed up my memory.. Also the German voice overs was really hilarious funny and right on point

  4. I can’t wait for the blu rays to see if the artstyle will stay the same or not. Im hoping the 3D character models are temporary as the 2D characters are well drawn.

    One main complaint i have of the show is the dialogue seems to go very fast.

  5. Something I’ve always kinda wondered (for most of the shows, really), but are the screencaps done by a program at regular/random intervals or something?

    It’s just that some of the choices are kinda weird- like 3 of Kylie in row, but none with the conversation between Leona and Zara. Or nothing with Ol’ Sab, either?

    They just don’t seem like conscientious choices, taking relevancy nor importance into account.

  6. So it’s finish huh?…this show has a lot of question and mysteries to unravel, Like that “hole” or the mystery of ol’sab or should i say…

    Show Spoiler ▼

    But i fear that they going to seal this permanently!!

    I guess Anime franchises are all but tough luck if they don’t keep it alive or in their mind that…they never keep it for too long even if it get popular! sigh!


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