In the latter half of the 21st century earth is threatened by creatures called WORMS, which are huge artificial life forms resembling the first thing they see—usually sea organisms. After a devastating war they seem to have been defeated, only to suddenly appear again.To fight them, a special unit of Mini Mecha has been devised: the Sonic Divers. Curiously, these can only be piloted by young females. The first unit consists of three teenaged girls, one of which is Otoha Sakurano, an avid kendo practicioner. The story focuses primarily on her plight, although the other girls get plenty of attention as well. In the TV series, the team gets expanded by one more girl of German origin.The series started out with a Fanservice-laden episode, produced by Konami and released as an OVA. It later got adapted into a two-season series in which the service got somewhat toned down, although the girls still have to wear extremely skin-tight uniforms to make them "communicate" with their mecha. Despite the obvious appeal to adolescent males, the series still manages to have an engaging plot and a fair amount of character development.For a show with a similar concept that began with an OVA and was later turned into an anime, see Strike Witches. Both shows share the same character designer, Humikane Shimada, which may further explain their similarities. See the entry below on Character Development.This page is for the TV series only
This series contains examples of:
Ace Pilot: Eika. She soundly defeated TWO Vic Vipers using an old model aircraft. The reason? "You two relied on it too much and let your skills down." Keep in mind that the people she fought weren't random strangers, but members of a friendly rival squad. Elite rival squad.
After the End: The backstory has it that most of humanity has barely survived a war with a colony of rogue nanomachines called WORMs, which required the united earth forces to Nuke 'Em. This caused the sea levels to rise and most settlements are trying to rebuild.
Artistic License - Geography: Look closely at the maps shown with the adjusted coastlines. Somehow the sea level rose in such a way that it submerged the Andes while sparing most of the Amazon Basin, and flooded most of the central United States while leaving all of Florida above water. Check out this page for a couple of neat applets showing what the map would really look like.
Barely-There Swimwear: From Otoha's clothing of choice in the mentioned OVA to the pilot suits to... just about anything else the girls wear on and off duty. Karen is visibly distressed about the revealing clothes.
Not a bland name product per se but apparently in the future Apple and Microsoft are working together. A blink and miss computer screen has Mac toolbars and Windows folder designs. So it's "Maplesoft"?
Boobs of Steel: Eika, befitting her "best pilot" status, has the largest bust of all the Sky Girls team, much to Otoha's displeasure. Eika herself doesn't actually like it since "it gets in the way". Subverted when taken outside the team, as Nanae has the largest bust of all female characters, and she's part Mission Control, part Team Mom.
But Not Too Foreign: Elise. Also later Aisha, although this troper does not know any Indian girl named Aisha who wears a Cheongsam...
She's probably Indian Muslim (not all Indian Muslims migrated to Pakistan), and it's traditional Punjabi clothing she's wearing, not a cheongsam.
Characterization Marches On: Due to the obvious fact that on OVA has only 30 minutes, the Power Trio is depicted in a very stereotypical way, sometimes at odds with how the series portrayed them. While Otoha's character largely stays the same, Karen's trait as a Teen Genius is more accentuated by her spouting off exact minutes and percentages, while Eika comes off as a little narcissist by taking sunbathing seriously. Other subtler traits however, are used as basis to build their characters in the series, such as Karen's shyness with boys, Eika's seriousness as the only military girl, Otoha's chemistry with Ryohei, Ryohei's love of motorbikes (alluded in the ending theme), Takumi as the Team Chef, etc.
Chekhov's Gunman: That little ghost-boy on the hilltop in the first episode, and in the Oppama base, seems to look a lot like a certain someone's missing brother...
Chekhov's Skill: Otoha is a great fisher(wo)man. This enables her to solve the hunger woes of the crew of Kouryuu. Also, she is apparently a survivalist; when the team gets stranded in an island, Otoha knows exactly which fruits are edible and the not-so-edible ones.
Eika: What about this fruit...? Otoha: If you serve that, you'll send us all straight to heaven... in a bad way. Eika: *pales*
Child Soldiers: Justified by 90% of the male population between 20 and 30 being dead due to the first war and ensuing holocaust.
Deconstruction: In a series like this, it should be unlikely. From the girls being Older Than They Look (low ressources society means stunted growth) to Otoha's reaction of finding out about the fate of her brother to Karen's reaction to the clothes they wear on duty, this story has some fairly realistic and dark tones.
Expy: Possible instance. The bratty German girl who joins partway into the series is a teen genius, an arrogant and hot-headed person on proving her skill, and has a rather traumatic past. Combined with the synch ratios, hairclips, inhuman enemy monsters with unknown motives, and post-apocalyptic setting, some fans see Evangelion in the series and Asuka in Elise. Thankfully, though, Elise learns to lose the arrogance before anything too bad happens to her, and this series is not the Dysfunction Junction that Evangelion is.
Fanservice: More so in the OVA than the TV series version, though the Motion Slits don't leave a whole lot to the imagination.
Hair Antennae: Elise, though she has three rather than the more common two.
Hair Decorations: Somehow, the Motion Slit technology requires the pilots to wear some sort of a hair dec. Most of them look vaguely resembling a mechanical version of a droopy dog ears, while Elise's stand upright like rabbit ears. See petting zoo people below.
Luminescent Blush: Virtually the entire cast exhibits this given the proper situation.
Meaningful Name: The "Rei" in Reijin means "Zero", which is why Otoha called it that. Also an allusion to the famous WWII Zero fighter.
Chief mechanic Oto Seibi is this. "Seibi" is the homophone to a Japanese word meaning "maintenance".
Mini Mecha: The Sonic Divers kinda straddle the line between Power Armor and Mini Mecha. They're not much bigger than the girls, and the limbs respond as extensions of the pilots' limbs. But it's hard to call it armor, since the pilots are completely exposed at the front in the interest of Fanservice.
Incidentally, the in-universe documents refer to it as "Powered Exoskeleton". Talk about classification hell.
Mundane Utility: Combined with a bit of Chekhov's Skill. When the ship's supply warehouse is damaged, forcing the crew to starve, Otoha uses her genius fishing skills to turn the Sonic Divers into fishing machines. No, they don't fish using a rod, they use nets attached to torpedos.
Mood Whiplash: As a general rule, expect a dark reveal of some sort to any "light" episodes. For example, the same episode that has Otoha running around the base to find the owner of a large bra is also the episode where Elise is introduced by having her hastily evacuated from the destroyed West Europe base. Also, the real reason why Sky Girls are formed, during an Onsen Episode.
Mr. Fixit: Tachibana Ryohei. He becomes very passionate about maintaining Otoha's Sonic Diver, which she affectionately call "Zero". His reason? He wants to make sure Otoha can fly, at any costs. Mildly hinted to be Otoha's Love Interest. Also Oto Seibi, maintenance chief who is a Cool Old Guy.
Justified in that, were it not for the Plot Armor, she could very easily have been killed.
Petting Zoo People: Strangely enough, the Motion Slits include hair decorations that vaguely resemble animal ears and has a cable extension connecting their spine to the Sonic Divers resembling tails. This become even more pronounced at the second generation Rescue Sky Girls, whose hair decs are even more varying. Seems Fumikane decided to cut the middleman and made everyone in Strike Witches magically sprout animal ears and tails without any other explanation other than their magic powers did it...
Phenotype Stereotype: Elise, being German, has blond hair and blue eyes. Aisha, being Indian, is dark-skinned and has a mark that resembles a Tilak.
Schizo Tech: it seems there are technologies still reliant on oil.
Sixth Ranger: Fourth for Elise, fifth for Aisha (even if she doesn't technically fight).
Stripperiffic: The normally shy Karen cannot bear to go outside the changing room with her Motion Slit on, to which Eika flatly told her that she can wear something else over it (which became the norm; when the pilots are on standby, they wear a jacket over their Motion Slits).
Super Prototype: Subverted: Although Reijin, Fuujin, and Raijin are prototypes, the mass-produced Bachstelze performs just as well. The catch? The production plant got bombed to kingdom come just after one model is built
The Brigadier: Rear Admiral Shima. He can never be relaxed around the antics of "those annoying kids". It is revealed later that he is anxious because he had seen so many of his men die during the first WORM War.
The Reveal: The origin of the WORMS. Also why Otoha's brother went missing: He has been "synchronized" with the WORMS, giving them a close equivalent of a leader.
The Squad: The entire anime revolves around how a Squad is formed, how it fights, and how it finally ends.