|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
(All episodes watched):|
Should I keep watching this show or not? That was a question which was on my mind during most of Toaru. I was annoyed by the take-it-or-leave-it fanciful alternate reality, and the confused storytelling, but found enough good bits within the show to watch it in it's entirety.
Here's a show which is an odd mix of WWII era aircraft, nonsensical folk tales, altered laws of physics, and teen romance. For all the fancy touches in this first episode (like the odd VSTOL flying boat airplanes), it didn't seem to reveal much. A guy goes to a flight school with his sister; he meets a girlfriend; a guy irks him. But what's the deal with weird concepts like 'the end of the sky'? Or a flying island--on 'a journey from which it would never return'? Airplanes are a way of defeating gravity, but gravity doesn't seem to apply here anyway. I wound up still with little idea what was going on or what to expect, just that a war would break out sooner or later. Episode two does a better job of setting things in order. While things like 'The Holy Spring' make no sense whatsoever, I can concentrate on the characters learning to fly and making friends and enemies, while not worrying too much why this is all happening on a flying island (right?), or why that is needed in this plot.
In episode four what is probably the central conflict of the plot is finally revealed to us; Kal-el's girlfriend Claire has a shocking secret that threatens to derail their romance. It's such a shocking revelation that it feels like something out of a famous novel rather than a minor anime. It almost goes too far, and makes me laugh, but it stays within bounds and promises to juice things up from here on. A romantic triangle between Kal-el, Claire, and his (adopted) sister seems likely to form, and it does. I had been getting a little bored with the story up to this point, and had been tempted to quit, but this event perked up my interest again.
I hoped the remainder of the story would move more swiftly along than had been the case up until now. But no such luck. For God's sake, why do the teens start a ramen restaurant in episode six when major s--- like a flying island and a flying battleship have yet to be explained? Since neither the humor nor the drama is really good enough to carry this show ahead, it needs to make a little sense and be interesting. I was right on the edge of giving up on this show (again), but a war is clearly about to break out, so things might just get exciting after all. Indeed, in episode seven we are thrust into the midst of a full scale war--of which we have absolutely no idea how it came about. Who are these people? What is the grievance with them? Nevermind, let's just kill and be killed. The animated dogfighting was fairly cool, but not particularly realistic (Kal-el's sister brings down half a dozen fighter planes with a bolt action rifle?). But the careless manner in which this story is being told is exceedingly frustrating. The secret Claire is keeping from Kal-el has been shunted aside to make room for the fighting, but that just adds yet another unresolved question, and makes me wonder if any answers at all are forthcoming. The tragedy in this episode seemed forced and uninspiring. I wonder if the makers of this show had any plan for how an entertaining story would be completed.
Final episode thirteen is sort of a post-climax wrap-up, which was kind of odd since the story clearly isn't over. I couldn't help feeling that it would have to end with the announcement of a second season, since an important character is missing, but it didn't. I can only guess that this series was based on an incomplete manga. For a romance theme, it's odd that it ends with the biggest battle yet. So... no real conclusion. At least I did get a sense of teens maturing, and some closure for the secondary characters at least. I guess the likeable characters played an important part in my sticking with the show to the end. In the end Toaru squeaked by as an acceptably entertaining but by no means memorable tale. If a second season were produced, I suppose I would at least give it a chance and watch episode one.
Last updated Wednesday, March 31 2021. Created Friday, January 10 2014.