Reviews: Sora No Woto
So Ra No Wo To
There is only one thing 99,99% of the reviews and opinions on this series have in common: that this show's original score is Crowning Music Of Awesome and that their approach to the Post-Apocalytic genre is unique and it works. I assume that to be agreed upon. Everything else is anyone's two cents, and here are mine. You can have a summary of the premise of the show on the page proper. The story then develops in a big, slow-paced arc and a small Grand Finale arc where a couple of plot threads come together with the previous arc. All the beginning story arc does is to set up the girls and their personality to justify the dangerous decision they take later. The show is all about its theme, the theme being "What does it take to keep on living on a Crapsack World?". The answer being, faith and family. Faith as the belief you can make a better world; family as your Nakama if it has been taken away from you, living for the sake of the people under you wing, and transmitting these values to them. Although religious faith is depicted a well-meaning, it is also presented as divisive: paraboles may become something to fight over, not enlightening teachings. Hope on the goodness of human nature is symbolized by Music, the Sound of the Sky, something that everyone can understand when words are an obstacle. This is the meat of the series, told over 10 episodes of Japanese girls in a Spanish town under Swiss rule doing the laundry, cooking, repairing an spider-tank, and fawning over glass dolphins. If you're expecting a masterpiece, nope, not here. Animation is uneven, character design is derivative, drama and humour have the subtlety of an sledgehammer. But if you're expecting Military K-On!, you'll be out of the K-On! part pretty soon. If this show was an RPG character, it would be a Glass Cannon: it hits hard, but can't take much abuse. However, it mostly knows its limitations and avoids them really well. A cheap slideshow is turned into a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming by skillful use of music, Scenery Porn and dialogue; a really awful animation of a Freak Out is followed by an awesome Mama Bear moment from my personal Ensemble Dark Horse of the series, Filicia. At the very least, this is an unusual war tale that is not afraid to go sappy and narmy when it feels like going there. Hey, sue me, I love Macross too.
Sound of forgiveness
As with all media, anime is not immune to becoming derivatives of other works. However, every so often, we have something that takes existing concepts, returns them to their foundations and then builds something new with it. Sora no Woto is one such anime: integrating moe elements with those found in a war film, the central plot is a curious integration of conflict with Kanata's desire to gain insights into the music and her world; this particular aspect means that the series will feel similar to a slice-of-life anime, and indeed, we find that each of the characters bear a degree of resemblance to those found in slice-of-life anime. However, the similarities end with their outward appearance and personalities, as the characters themselves are defined by their setting, and evolve fluidly in response to events in their world. Warfare is something that is always subtlety present in the series, and astutely tied with Kanata's desire to express her thoughts through music. Inspired by a trumpeter's rendition of Amazing Grace, she is driven forward to learn more about how humans can communicate through music that they might not normally otherwise be able to. This desire to understand and forgive through communication forms the central theme in Sora no Woto. We have already seen the importance of understanding one another, but Sora no Woto presents things from a different viewpoint: forgiveness and redemption. It is implied that the state of the world is an attribute of human nature, as humanity has been unable to let go of past events. Simply put, Sora no Woto is the story of five soldiers coming to terms with their past and seeking to pass on a new peace, with these intangible thoughts being expressed as a simple, yet powerful song that transcends linguistic boundaries. Sora no Woto is a short series, spanning only 12 episodes; assuming that we accept that brevity is the wit of the soul, the spectacular animation and touching friendships the characters share make Sora no Woto a worthwhile series to watch.
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.