Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Ep. 9: Locking lips… in the sky!

the pilot's love song 0902

Boy, will Kal’s face be red when he realizes he just kissed the person he finds responsible for his parents’ deaths!

Episode summary: Kal confesses his love to Claire, and they briefly share a kiss, but the girl pushes him away. He suddenly realizes that she’s been Nina Viento all along, and locks himself away in his room. When Nina Viento claims that she’s abandoned her identity as Claire to Luis, Ignacio goes on a rampage for Kal. Meanwhile, the leaders of Isla decide to continue on with their journey to the End of the Sky despite the apprehension from the rest of Isla’s populace. As a result, Luis depends on Nina to deliver a “rousing” speech to win the people back to their cause.

Notes:

• By itself, this week’s cold opening is not terribly executed, but part of its success hinges greatly upon the anime’s past success or lack thereof. Essentially, the scene is supposed to build upon the tragedy of the previous couple of episodes. Since I didn’t particularly care for the events of the last two weeks, however, the cold opening does nothing for me. Your mileage may vary.

• It’s peculiar how only the male characters have died, isn’t it? Oh, you see a girl’s name on one of the coffins, but it’s nobody we personally know.

• You can extend what I just said in my first bullet point to this scene with all the tombstones. It just does nothing for me. I don’t feel anything, ’cause I never felt anything for those characters to begin with.

• Though I will say that this was a rather insensitive thing to say to Chiharu: “If you think that way, it’ll make everyone sad.” Yeah, stop confessing your honest feelings to us! You’re bring us all down! I know what her classmate is trying to do; she wants to cheer Chiharu up. But it’s just one of those situations where the only way to win is to not play.

the pilot's love song 0909

• According to Ignacio, he couldn’t leave Claire’s flowers at the monument for the dead students because “[t]he flight school students were there, so I couldn’t leave it.” I’m sure he could’ve, though. He could’ve walked up, left the flowers there, walked away, and this would have been entirely consistent with his characterization thus far. Everyone would’ve just been like, “Oh, it’s just Ignacio being Ignacio! But at least he cares…” Or, Ignacio could’ve just kept waiting in the forest until his classmates did leave. So y’know, I don’t buy his excuse. I just think he was afraid to potentially have to talk to his classmates for some reason or other.

• I’m sort of surprised, however, that Kal has yet to check up on Claire’s status, i.e. wondering to himself, “I wonder if Claire’s okay” and “I wonder how she’s coping.” I know his sister got injured, and of course, the deaths of his classmates are weighing on his mind, but still… Maybe it’s just me but I’d be greatly concerned about my girlfriend’s well-being after what Isla had just gone through.

• I have no idea why I never the made the connection till now that Fausto was Leopold’s son. They don’t look anything alike, but it’s mostly because I would’ve expected Leopold to keep his son safe considering his position within Isla’s government. I guess from a certain perspective, letting his son fight for home and country was honorable? But eh, we hardly know anything about either Leopold or Fausto so it’s hard to judge either way.

• It sounds like a bad idea to me to become an ally of this Holy Levamme Empire, but it’s not like Isla has any other choice but to return home. I’m sure the empire isn’t clueless. It has to realize that Isla’s on the ropes. As a result, the empire also has to realize that it holds all the leverage. Naturally, I’m not this cynical when it comes to individuals, but c’mon, can you really expect any alliance with an empire to be both benevolent and symbiotic when one side is so disproportionately weak compared to the other? Amelia says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend. A trite phrase, but valid enough for a short-term relationship,” but good luck keeping it a “short-term relationship.” It’s just naivete to think an empire would just allow a tiny floating island of people — I mean, Isla’s not even a full-fledged nation — to just come and go as it pleases. This alliance has disaster written all over it.

• But yeah, the other option is to head back home. Even if they do discover the End of the Sky, what then? What’s so special about this place that they’d sacrifice not just home and country for it, but their children too? Unfortunately, this isn’t a question that Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta wants to answer yet. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta doesn’t even want to hint at the answer. I just know the impetus for the journey is vaguely religious at best, but it’s not like it would’ve been hard to make some sort of allusion to Mecca or whatever. We’re just supposed to sit tight until the end of the series, and hope that the conclusion will be satisfactory. But until then, this question as well as other similarly puzzling issues regarding the characters’ motivations are steadily taking me out of the story as the weeks go by.

• Regarding that romantic scene between Kal and Claire, most straight couples in anime can’t even hold hands without blushing like idiots, let alone kiss each other. Of course, I’m being facetious, but there’s nevertheless a grain of truth in what I’m saying. No, I’m not criticizing Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta for this scene or anything. In fact, bring on more kisses between anime couples. Kissing is an awesome activity to share with your lover, and it’s totally not embarrassing at all! I’m just saying that for a long time, anime’s approach to romance has been so weird that I’ve long come to expect this sort of scene to never occur in anything that I watch. Even that penultimate scene in Haruhi was like, “Ugh, I’m only kissing her because I have to!” So y’know, this anime’s got that going for it… which is nice.

the pilot's love song 0903

• But does Kal really love her at this very moment though? Claire doesn’t know it, but we just saw him running through the night screaming and crying after having a PTSD-induced episode. Don’t get me wrong, I find this perfectly understandable. I’m not quibbling about his PTSD whatsoever. As much as I don’t feel anything for his dead classmates, I can still recognize that it must’ve been traumatic for Kal to witness their deaths firsthand. In fact, I’m not really quibbling about anything. I’m just honestly wondering if his feelings for Claire are completely honest at this very moment. Basically, our hero’s in an extremely fragile emotional state, and it probably didn’t help that his girlfriend started off their latest encounter by declaring that she wants to break up with him. I’m not saying that Kal’s deliberately trying to lie or mislead her. I’m just wondering if he’s suddenly confessing his love for her out of desperation. This isn’t even a criticism. If anything, this adds depth to their love story. I’m sure we can agree that war does crazy things to people. Therefore, the potential ambiguity to Kal’s confession is what makes the scene interesting in my eyes.

• And now it’s her turn to confess…

• Whoops, false alarm. She doesn’t have the guts to confess, but as it turns out, she won’t need to. Somehow, our hero now manages to draw the conclusion that Claire’s alter ego is Nina Viento. Why now? Why not before?

• Hm, when Kal says, “You’re… Nina Viento!” you can hear the hurt and anguish in his voice, but we don’t get to see his face until after Claire departs from the scene. I really wish we could’ve, however, and I don’t know why we didn’t. It’s such a pivotal scene too. Did the animators feel as though they couldn’t do his anger and confusion justice?

• Luis: “Many of the people are scared. Many of them say it would be better to turn back than go forward.” It’s a reasonable suggestion though. Why continue? Are there riches to be had or something? We just don’t know.

• Luis says, “But the enemy is to our backs, as well. We have to continue our journey.” I wonder how truthful he’s being. But since Claire is not in the right mental state at the moment, she simply acquiesces to her guardian’s request.

• Maybe the animators were right when they opted not to animate Kal’s face in that pivotal scene I just talked about above. Here, we’re supposed to see the effects of guy who’s been wallowing in his deep despair:

the pilot's love song 0904

But it just looks like he’s got a puffy face or something. According to Ari, however, that’s what his face looks like when “he hates everything in the world.” Welp.

• “Look at her golden crown!” one of the townspeople exclaims when they see Nina Viento. That’s a weird attitude to have at this very moment, isn’t it? Boy, my town is in ruins, and I fear my safety since my government refuses to return home, but golly, Nina Viento’s crown is just too pretty! Why did they overthrow Kal’s parents again? Probably because they didn’t have a pretty crown.

• Wait, what? Now Ari makes the connection between Claire and Nina Viento too? Why not before? What has changed since they were frolicking in that beach episode?

• According to Nina Viento, they will find “the blessings of Aldista” at the End of the Sky. Eh, if it was me standing there, I’d say something like how these vague “blessings” aren’t going to bring back the dead, but I guess the people of Isla are easily swayed. After a rather short and, well, not very convincing speech from Nina, everyone claps and cheers for her as if the reality of their situation has all but disappeared completely from their minds.

• I’m not sure why Ignacio’s helping Ari. I suppose of all his classmates, Ari’s the closest to him, but it still doesn’t feel like their relationship is well-developed enough for him to pull such a stunt in front of all those people.

• I guess Kal’s never confided in his imouto how much he despises Nina Viento, ’cause if Ari had really known how he felt about the priestess, I doubt she’d be this friendly with the girl:

the pilot's love song 0905

Seriously, if I were in her shoes, I’d feel a tad awkward about it: “Oh hey, you’re the girl that my adopted brother blames for the deaths of his parents… how’s it been hanging? You, uh, doing good? Yeah, these days, my brother is kinda full of self-loathing for loving you… man, you should’ve seen his face the other day!”

• Claire: “If [Kal] sees me, he’ll surely suffer.” Girl, I think he already is suffering. You don’t have to worry about that. But she continues, “He’ll remember the past.” Again, I’m pretty sure he’s just reliving it over and over the longer he stays cooped up in his room. If she really doesn’t want him to suffer, the obvious solution is to talk to the guy and hash out their differences. If anything, it would provide closure, but yeah… that’s not going to happen this episode.

• Ari: “I’ll handle Kal.” Handle what exactly? “I know you think she is responsible for your parents’ deaths but…” I can’t even think of what Ari could possibly say.

• Ari: “I know something really bad happened to you before.” Well, that’s putting it mildly.

• I know what Ari’s trying to do, but her analogy falls apart when you break it down. Basically, her father had every reason to hate the imperial family, a.k.a. Kal’s parents, but the guy nevertheless took Kal in and raised the kid as though Kal was one of his own. So I guess the logic here is that Kal should be more like his foster dad and stop hating on Claire, a.k.a. Nina Viento. But that’s just the thing… our hero literally saw Nina Viento bring about the death of his parents as well as the destruction of their empire. Yes, it’s more than likely that someone was pulling the strings from behind the scenes, but you get my point. As for Ari’s dad, the death of his wife sucks and all, but obviously, you can’t blame a kid for the death of your wife. Even if you can blame Kal’s parents for the abject poverty during the reign of the Balsteros Empire — and we don’t really know for sure if Kal’s parents were truly culpable since we’re missing a ton of information about that particular time in the story — Kal’s just a kid. He had no role in any of it. It’d be like blaming Hitler’s kid (if he truly had one) for the Holocaust. As for Nina Viento, it’s different. She might not have been the mastermind behind the rebellion, but she played a part in it. A very major part, in fact. Kal’s hate for her is thus understandable to a degree, and on a whole different level from Ari’s analogy.

• Referring to that speech that Nina just gave to the townspeople, Luis says, “That was a wonderful speech. Now everyone is united again, and we can continue to the End of the Sky.” Well, that was quick and convenient.

• Ari can no longer handle a plane’s throttle because of her injury? Okay…

• Wow, Ignacio manages to remove a door off its hinges with a single kick:

the pilot's love song 0907

I don’t even know what to say to that.

• Here comes the “tough love,” but there’s only one small problem:

the pilot's love song 0908

Ignacio now looks as though he’s twice Kal’s size. Oh TMS Entertainment…

• I know the guy told Ari not to interfere, but she literally just saw him sock her brother in the stomach, then carry him off to God knows where in the middle of the night. Remember, none of them really know Ignacio all that well since he’s pretty much ignored his classmates for about 99% of the story. Naturally, someone with a modicum of sense asks, “Are you sure we shouldn’t stop him?” And this is all Ari can say, “I don’t really know, but I think we can leave it to him.” I know Kal’s moping in his room all day, but Ignacio just assaulted your brother. That doesn’t seem like the proper reaction to have.

• Next week, we get to see Kal and Ignacio team up for a mission. Oh boy!

Advertisements

One thought on “Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Ep. 9: Locking lips… in the sky!

  1. Ryan R

    The show does admittedly stretch some things (many of which you detailed well in this review), but I’m willing to let it slide because this is an excellent romance story premise, but a difficult one to tell. I honestly can’t recall reading/watching many stories about a guy falling in love with a girl who is secretly the person he hates more than any other in the entire world. I just love this whole dynamic – This whole watching a guy’s Love for Persona A war it out with his Hate for Persona B, when both personas belonging to the same person. It’s a tricky thing to write well, because it can be hard to do justice to both the Love and the Hate. And perhaps the Hate side was a bit underemphasized here. But still, at least it isn’t getting handwaved away. It has negatively affected Karl quite severely, and I think that his overall response to finding out the truth about Claire was handled well (aside from how it would have been good to see his angry/anguished face, yet).

    As for Karl and Ari only now figuring things out…

    1) I think that Claire tipped Karl off by asking “Did we meet before? During the Wind Revolution?” and then asking “Are you Karl La Hire?” That gets the gears going in his head, and so facial similarities that he never noticed before (facial similarities between Claire and Nina) are now standing out to him as he’s trying to figure out why Claire is asking him this and taking the conversation in this direction. If Claire never “went there” perhaps Karl would not have figured it out.

    2) Ari has had very minimal contact with “Nina Viento”. This is true both before and during her friendship with Claire. Ari’s had little reason to pay much attention to the exact facial features of Nina Viento, but her heavy interaction with Claire means that Claire’s face is now very familiar to her. It makes sense to me that the first time Ari sees “Nina Viento” after becoming close friends with Claire is when it would ‘click’ for her.

    Keep in mind that Nina Viento represents a much better disguise than, say, Superman. This is a lot more than just wearing glasses or not wearing glasses. This is a golden crown, a long-flowing white hair wig (obscuring your real hair/hair color), and clearly heavy make-up. Then there’s the way that Nina carries herself – As a person of cool grace, and decisive authority. Who would suspect that warm, friendly, slightly shy, soft-spoken, dark-haired Claire Cruz is actually the imposing Nina Viento? You really would have to get to know the face of one or the other very well (and then see the other one after) to notice that they’re one and the same. Either that, or be tipped off to it in the way that Karl was.

    As for Ari’s overall attitude… The girl is clearly a huge optimist. She consistently hopes for the best and pushes for the best no matter the circumstances. That’s why she says what she does to all the other characters in this episode. She wants people to look at the brightest side possible, and so she herself does so as well by giving Ignacio a HUGE benefit of the doubt, and Nina Viento a bit of one as well. Ari grew very fond of Claire, and she knows that her brother loves Claire, and so she’s hoping that this Nina Viento curveball can be worked around and hit out of the ballpark. Certainly a bit idealistic and breathlessly hopeful, but hey, we are talking about teenagers here.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s