War and moe do not mix. War is hellish, dark, and gritty. Moe is cute, adorable, and soothing. How these two could possibly strike a balance without one genre overshadowing the other would be near-impossible. But Sora no Woto does it anyway. It starts off rather slowly: first sweet and innocent, then it begins to drag with a fourth and fifth episode of slice-of-life in a row, but by the time the sixth rolls around, the story kicks into overdrive, and no longer is the military theme simply a backdrop for silly antics, as the genre makes a successful switch from cheerful comedy to a heartwrenching, horrifying, and brutal drama. By the time people are getting shot on screen, child soldiers are left to die in the trenches, and hostages are held as bargaining chips, the seemingly one-dimensional characters have gone through hell and back. While our main heroines were giggling and frolicking in a field of flowers, another was battling with post traumatic stress disorder. While kind-hearted Kanata admired dolphin figures, an old woman waited in the mountains, slowly dying while waiting for her estranged loved ones to return. Thankfully, the episodes are split fifty-fifty between sweetness and darkness, creating a carefully paced, well-rounded story, with definitely more substance than fluff. Of course, it does have its flaws. I wish A'isha had been introduced earlier, and that her romance/close friendship with NoŽl had been expanded upon. I wish NoŽl's backstory had been given deeper explanation, addressing how she began working for Hopkins and how she broke away from him. It also was rather disappointing for the whole smuggling subplot to be addressed in a mere two episodes; Kanata's discovery could've had huge dramatic impact, yet instead it was written off with her automatic acceptance. But overall, Sora no Woto weaves a wondrous harmony of many different elements, making it a masterpiece not to be soon forgotten. It is not merely cute; it proves just how strong the bonds of friendship can be in times of desperation and hardship. It is not just sad; it inspires genuine emotion, realistically portraying each monumental obstacle with tragic impact. In my humble opinion, it is not simply good, but rather, excellent.
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