From the top-left, clockwise: Rio, Filicia, NoŽl, Kanata and Kureha
"This sound strikes a chord. Whether in Rome or Helvetia, it is the same."
So Ra No Wo To is an anime that aired in the winter of 2010 and was directed by Mamoru Kanbe. Produced by Aniplex as a part of TV Tokyo's Anime no Chikara project, it is an Anime First, and centres around a young girl named Kanata Sorami, who joins the 1121st platoon of the Helvetican Army in the town of Seize. So Ra No Wo To was streamed on Crunchyroll(except episode 7.5). In 2011, Nozomi Entertainmentreleased it on DVD as Sound of the Sky, the English translation of the series title.At a young age, Kanata was inspired by a trumpeter's rendition of "Amazing Grace", and thereafter, decided to become a bugler. While on her way to the Clocktower Fortress, Kanata loses her way and stumbles into a festival dedicated to the Fire Maidens, who saved the town from a fire-breathing demon in a legend from a forgotten age. As the other platoon members train her to be a bugler, Kanata's own cheerfulness and innocence drives the other members to find their own happiness in a world devastated by conflicts.Over the next year, Kanata adjusts to life at the Clocktower Fortress, learning more about music and the events that shaped the world around her, all the while brightening up her brigade's day. Even as the calm in Seize gives way to the threat of war, Kanata's optimism brings the legend of the Fire Maidens to life once more...
So Ra No Wo To provides examples of:
After the End: A major war that occurred roughly three hundred years earlier reduced the world's population and regressed technology to early twentieth-century standards.
Amazing Freaking Grace: The central musical theme, which drives Kanata's desire to play the trumpet and ultimately embodies forgiveness when Kanata plays the song during the confrontation between the Helvetian and Roman forces.
Apocalypse How: The world is initially presented as having undergone a Class I. Relics from the past civilization remain, but much of the world is uninhabitable save small regions. However, the consequences of the war might lead to a Class IV; with the ocean receding and the surface succumbing to desertification, despite said war having ended centuries ago.
Black Box: The technology that remains from the previous age has become inoperable by humanity, including a Ragnarok-proofed system located near Helvetia's border with No-Man's Land that serves an unknown purpose.
Blatant Lies: When Kureha points out that Yumina shouldn't be in a mock battle with them.
Kureha: "This is not a game!"
Yumina: "I swear to the eight million spirits I'm not doing this just to try on the uniform." *giggles*
Bonus Episode: There are two bonus DVD-only episodes: one of them surrounds the misadventures the Clocktower Maidens have after a drinking spree, and the other serves as an epilogue to the series.
Book Ends: Episode 1 took place during the Maiden of Fire festival (with Rio as the maiden) with the girls standing at the fort entrance waiting for Kanata to report for duty. The last scene in the TV broadcast ends with them at the same spot waiting for Rio's replacement. The bonus thirteenth episode, which marks the final episode of the entire series, take place exactly one year later during another Maidens of Flame festival, this time with Kanata as the maiden.
Bottle Episode: The events of episode eight occur within the confines of the Clocktower's dining room and a few nearby corridors.
Break the Cutie: Virtually all of the female soldiers except Kanata. Noel in particular suffers greatly near the end of the series due to having helped create a weapon system that wiped out several towns and killed lots of people, which Colonel Hopkins is only more than happy to point out repeatedly to her.
Call to Agriculture: Klaus has expressed interest towards moving into an agricultural occupation.
Child Soldiers: Most of the main cast are in their teens yet are enlisted servicewomen. Kanata and Kureha in particular are 15 and 14, respectively, while NoŽl is 15 but has been participating in military activities ever since she was deceived into developing biological weapons as a little girl. Rio is 17, and Filicia is 18, being only slightly older than the other members of the 1121st.
Coming of Age Story: Entering the army thinking she'll get to play music as a bugler, Kanata's experiences with the 1121st give her greater perspective on music and the true significance of being a bugler.
Command Roster: The 1121st Squad is at the minimum size for a tank platoon in the Helvetian army.
Creator Provincialism: A rather unusual subversion is present; initially, the setting is an Expy of Switzerland, with European architecture and minor elements derived from Japanese culture present to give the impression that Japanese customs are more universal. Similarly, some Japanese nuances make their way into the anime, such as the KŁbelwagen's steering columns being on the left side (they are on the right side in reality).
Cryptic Background Reference: A large number of references are made to background details about the setting; while there's no attempt to explain them, this arises because no one alive knows what happened anymore.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Helvetian Orthodox Church integrates elements from Liturgical Christianity and Shinto. Elements of this fusion is seen when the church hands out Shinto/Buddhist-style charms written in kanji.
Cue the Sun: The sun appears at the right moment every time Kanata needs a striking background for her trumpet performances.
Helvetia is French-speaking, celebrates Chinese and Japanese festivals, its military dresses like WWII Germany, and its rulers hold Eastern European titles.
The country named Rome is populated by Middle Eastern people who speak German.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Takemikazuchi disables several tanks from the 9th division and applies the "stomping" element in a literal sense during the finale. When humanity squared off against "Them", Spider Tanks were on the receiving end.
Danger Room Cold Open: Episode five opens with the 1121st platoon engaging in combat with an unseen enemy. When their rounds hit, Rio leaves the cabin of the Takemikazuchi to signal for an advance, but it turns out that they are inside the hangar and participating in a combat exercise.
Dysfunction Junction: The girls are afflicted with anything from minor confidence issues (Kanata) to more significant issues, such as Filicia's post-traumatic stress disorder and NoŽl's guilt over her part in the Invisible Reaper plague.
Earth All Along: In episode thirteen, Rio receives a map of the world and points out to Kanata that Helvetia is not in Europe but in Japan all along.
Everybody's Dead, Dave: In the episode seven flashback, the entirity of Filica's squadmates are killed after their tank is hit. Being the sole survivor, she considers suicide out of grief.
Expy: The crew is often compared to K-On!'s cast, despite the lack of similarities in some of the characters (such as Ritsu and NoŽl). In episode two, Kanata imagines the 1121st in a normal high school music club.
Fake Ultimate Hero: Klaus is not really the Desert Wolf, just a really good lookalike. However, this doesn't stop him from becoming a real hero and saving Kureha in the middle of a typhoon.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Seize is an animated replica of Cuenca, Spain, and is set in the country of Helvetia, a Switzerland stand-in where Helvetian (French) is the main language. Elements of several other cultures are present, especially those of Japan. Furthermore, in Rome, people are Ambiguously Brown and speak German.
Festival Episode: The festival in the first episode has many distinctly Asian traits despite being set in an Ersatz Switzerland. Episode seven also features Toro Nagashi/Fiesta des Lumiťres.
First Name Basis: Filicia, the leader of the 1121st, prefers that everyone call each other by name instead of rank to promote friendship.
In the third episode Filicia comments on Rio's lack of manners with: "What would your father say if he could see you?"
A more subtle example is seen in episode four, when NoŽl asks Kanata if she is frightened by a machine thatís killed many people. After the revelation that NoŽl is the Witch of Helvetia, she was asking the question with respect to herself as well, rather than the Takemikazuchi alone.
NoŽl has one near the end of Episode eleven and throughout episode twelve, the latter being induced by a Hannibal Lecture delivered by Hopkins
Filicia in the Episode 7 flashbacks. She loses her faith in a fair world after her ordeal and recovers by following the example of the person who rescued her, Iliya.
General Ripper: Colonel Hopkins will do whatever he can to have a war with Rome.
Gilligan Cut: In the second episode Kanata and Noel think that they saw a ghost in the barracks of their base. Kureha disagrees, suggesting that they're seeing things. Rio agrees with Kureha, but the scene cuts to Kureha and Kanata standing at the entrance to the barracks, with Rio ordering them to investigate before turning around and leaving (all the while shouting those orders from a safe distance, no less).
The Glomp: Kanata and Kureha are particularly fond of this maneuver, doing it to Rio in the finale. Kanata also glomps Kureha in Episodes two and five, and Kureha does it to Rio in the ED.
Goal in Life: In the second OVA, Kanata discusses with various characters what their life-long dreams are.
Gratuitous English: The ending theme throws in English lines, and the Takemikazuchi's OS uses rather weird English in its displays, such as "NOMARL".
Gratuitous French/Gratuitous Japanese: Helvetians write and presumably speak French but many names are in Japanese, despite no-one other than priests being able to read and write the language in any fashion (children are named by the priests and their parents are presented with their name in kanji, or "ideomoji", in order to create their Personal Seals, in Seize at least). Any ancient text they discover is in Kanji, and thus illegible to them.
Gratuitous German: The Roman soldier, Aisha, can speak German reasonably well (albeit with a heavy accent) and has a Middle Eastern name.
Great Off Screen War: The War with "Them" is only mentioned in the passing, but otherwise not discussed in any detail.
Group Hug: All the girls but Rio in episode seven.
Heartwarming Orphan: Sister Yumina cares for several orphans, including Seiya and Mishio, both of whom become closer to Kanata.
Hollywood Tactics: While the infantry and armour columns were organized in a seemingly poor manner in the modern era during episode twelve, this is averted because technology has regressed; just as the technology has reached the levels humans had at the start 20th century, the deployment tactics of ground forces is similar to early tank tactics used in World War One.
Homage: The opening sequence puts the main characters within the works of painter Gustav Klimt.
How We Got Here: Episode eight begins with Kanata in a tacky dress sitting, looking quite distressed, and then flashes back to a few hours before.
Humans Are Flawed: The series comes close to upholding Rousseau Was Right, but not quite. Colonel Hopkins finds war the motor of civilization, and someone in Seize ratted out on Aisha's being sheltered in the castle.
Image Song: There are five so far, each featuring various combinations of the cast.
Imagine Spot: In the second episode, Kanata imagines what the world might've looked like if not for the war, with the girls all practicing music while wearing school uniforms.
Improbably Female Cast: The 1121st Platoon and Filicia's old squad consist entirely of females, but the rest of the army appears to be entirely male.
Last Fertile Region: While much of the world does not have arable land, a handful of regions, such as Helvetia, Rome and some of their neighbouring countries, remain fertile.
Locked Out of the Loop: Something is being kept from Kanata by the rest of the platoon, and Naomi is in on it too; episode six reveals it to be the fact that the 1121st illegally distills and sells calvados to the mob to make up for lack of payment from HQ and has been since before our girls were stationed there. Following an epic drunken mock battle (with a low tech version of paint ball as discipline), Kanata finds out about it in the first OVA.
The Mafia: The 1121st deal in bootleg liquor, alongside various other goods.
Episode eleven ends with the cliffhanger with a gunshot being fired and it's unknown if it's the Roman soldier Aisha or NoŽl who's been hit. The scene fades to black, and the viewer is treated to more 'AIJOU YUUJOU!!
Mundane Made Awesome: The battle with water guns is regarded as a military exercise, but everyone except Kureha behaved quite over the top, with Heroic Sacrifices and dramatic last words, a consequence of being drunk at the time.
No Sense of Direction: Kanata does have a tendency to get lost easily, although she enjoys it. This is averted in NoŽl's case, who manages to find the observation stations despite having lost their compass, although it does take them a little longer than they would otherwise have.
Not So Stoic: This is humorously done with NoŽl in the first OVA, where the garrison (plus Sister Yumina) plays a war game and she goes on a rampage with her modified water Gatling gun. While this might have been a consequence of Filicia spiking everyone's tea with Calvados, it further reinforces the fact that NoŽl isn't a Reiclone.
Paintball Episode: The first of the DVD-exclusive episodes centers around the 1121st and Yumina partaking in a mock battle with dye guns.
Personal Seals: Kanata uses her stamp to sign the transfer order in the first episode. It's implied that everyone gets these soon after they are born, with the "ideograms" (Japanese kanji) for their names carved into them.
Posthumous Character: Princess Iliya is only seen in a few flashbacks, the first one opening the series. She died two years prior to the time the series takes place, having drowned trying to save a child in a river.
Reckless Gun Usage: In the finale, the soldiers toss helmets into the air upon learning that they didnít have to fight. The celebration seems well, or at least until loaded rifles begin appearing up in the air with those helmets.
Retro Universe: Helvetia models their military uniforms and gear after World War II Wermacht, and everything looks like early 20th Century.
Royal Mess: the Republic of Helvetia is apparently ruled by a Duke whose daughter is a Princess.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Iliya was evidently an extremely competent tank commander and even went on a tour of the country to raise morale. She even died trying to save a child from drowning. Rio becomes one at the end, averting a war by riding on top of a tank between the two armies and announcing the peace treaty.
Sacred Language: Japanese has apparently become this in French-speaking Helvetia.
Scenery Gorn: No Man's Land, a vast desert from which ruined skyscrappers jut out..
Scenery Porn: The regions untouched by the war are beautiful landscapes with lush vegetation and blue skies.
Scavenger World: Some of the ancient technologies can be operated, while others (such as the facilities in episode five) serve unknown functions.
Schizo Tech: The 1121st are equipped with World War II era equipment but happen to have an inoperational computerized high-tech Spider Tank in the garage. This is clear in episode four: glass-blowers replicating a machine-made laser-sensor lens using traditional manual techniques find that the task is challenging.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Filicia does this when they bring a wounded Aisha, a Roman soldier, to their fortress. Kureha suggests they report having captured a spy, but Filicia won't allow it, at least not right away, since it would mean Aisha taken to the capital and likely tortured for information. She even goes so far as to hold a superior officer hostage to prevent them from taking Aisha away later.
Sempai Kohai: Filicia and Rio are seniors to the other three, but it's most notable in how Kanata and Kureha look up to Rio.
Shout-Out: Kanata mentions swearing the Oath of Parador when joining the army in Episode four - the series 'creator' is named as "Paradores". In Spain, a parador is one of a chain of luxury resorts located in a picturesque location, often a historical building. The Clocktower Fortress just happens to be modeled mostly upon Cuenca's parador, which was originally a convent.
Sick Episode: Kanata goes down with malaria in episode three, and Rio is the only one home to take care of her.
Simultaneous Arcs: Episode six, with the same events seen from the team's and Kanata's perspective respectively.
Snow Means Death: The coming of the winter to the series (episode 10) means things get serious, starting with Madam Jacquotte's death.
Takemikazuchi, rather than Takemicaduchi, Take-Mikazuchi, Takemikaduchi or any other variant
Iliya, rather than Iria.
Olga, rather than Origa.
Spider Tank: The design allows them to scale buildings, wreckage and sheer cliff walls, which is highly useful given the geography of Helvetia
Square/Cube Law: Subverted, since the Takemikazuchi has a system that allows gravity exerted on it to be reduced fivefold, allowing it to become insanely agile for its size. This is played straight for the modern knock-offs: lacking this device, they can only move in slow, lumbering strides.
Staged Shooting: NŲel and Kureha unload their machine guns at two men, causing two members of the mafia to flee in terror. It turns out the guns were loaded with blank rounds, and the two men fired at regularly do business with the Clocktower Maidens.
Kanata on phone duty: ďI haven't been sleeping! A-Absolutely have not been sleeping!Ē
Seiya's description of Kanata reads as follows: "She's easily amused, she forgets everything, she's just like a little kid, and she's not sexy at all!"
On the first drama CD, Kureha explains how she's never heard strange noises, felt like someone's watching her, or generally felt the presence of a ghost in any way. Ever!
Synthetic Plague: The Invisible Reaper (In "Roman", it's called "Unsichtbarer Teufel", which means "Invisible Devil").
Take a Third Option: Peace talks between Helvetia and Rome seems to be breaking down, and war likely to break out again. So the girls do something rather drastic which halts the fighting long enough for an actual peace treaty to be worked out, by going between both armies and playing Amazing Grace, which both sides are familiar with.
Thanks For The Mammaries: Noel does this to the female Roman soldier Aisha in episode eleven after the latter wakes up and attempts to overpower her. Aisha's scream is enough to cause Kanata and Kureha to come to the medical room.
Team Pet: Shuko, the owl from the first episode was also the mascot of Iliya's platoon.
Title Drop: In the first episode, and several times later, usually referring to Amazing Grace.
Title-Only Opening: The final episode begins with the resolution of the previous episode's cliffhanger ending, without the opening theme. There's also no closing theme, with an epilogue taking place as the end credits roll, and the eyecatches are gone.
Translation Convention: Based on the written texts that appear, Helvetian is French. Some text appears to be Japanese kanji, which only the priesthood seem able to read. Strangely, one of the lanterns in episode seven has English writing on it and some signs in Seize are written in Spanish.
Sweets and a cup of something hot are the ideal thing to have after committing treason and before a war.
For a less literal example, Rio laments in episode thirteen that the nations of the world are wasting their time with wars while the Earth slowly dies, and mentions Holy Rome turning into a desert as an example.