Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Ep. 10: Manly sacrifices… in the sky!

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Well, we learn a bit more about Ignacio, but hardly enough before the faceless enemy attacks once again.

Episode summary: Ignacio beats some sense into Kal, but Isla’s under attack again. Like before, Leopold wants to send the students out on a dangerous mission, but Sonia quits the military and takes most of the children with her. Kal, Noriaki, and Benjamin, however, volunteer to fight much to the girls’ dismay. Ignacio returns to be Kal’s partner, and the episode ends in the middle of a major battle.

Notes:

• In a flashback, Ignacio tells us how he and his mother were kicked out of the palace as the Wind Revolution drew near. You could say it was a blessing in disguise though. Who knows how the revolutionaries would’ve felt toward the king’s concubine and his illegitimate son. They might have gotten some flack, i.e. guilty by association. After all, a lot of people apparently wanted Kal murdered too, but our deposed prince only made it out alive thanks to one man’s mercy. Ignacio might not have fared as well. No, I’m not saying Ignacio should thank his lucky stars that his own father abandoned him and his mother. His early life definitely sucked. But all things considered, it could’ve been a lot worse. He could be dead. Yeah, his mom died shortly after their exile from the palace, but I doubt she would’ve survived the storming of the palace anyway.

• Ignacio: “Whenever we ran out of food, my mother would leave, late at night, returning with food in the morning.” Hint: prostitution. I mean, she’s even half-undressed and bathing in the river. The implication is that she had just committed a dirty deed. Still, I like the restraint here from the writer(s). The anime’s not completely spelling it out for us, and not only that, the animators didn’t feel compelled to show her completely naked. We’re not skeeving on some destitute woman just because anime fans need something to fap to. Had she been a young shoujo though, all bets are off.

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• Sharon says, “But you know, guys sometimes do things that don’t make any sense.” Thanks for the casual sexism, lady. She then adds, “I’m sure that there are times when they have to do that.” Do what? Hit each other? Over a girl? I’ve never hit anyone in my life.

• As he’s knocking Kal around, Ignacio taunts, “Ariel and Nina have far more guts than you. They’re doing their jobs, as best as they can.” I know this is supposed to be straight out of the school of hard knocks or something, but puh-lease. There’s nothing gutsy about what Nina has been doing, i.e. following orders that have already been laid out for her. Nina didn’t even once question whether or not she should give a bullshit speech to her people. After all, Isla’s leaders don’t even know if the End of the Sky even exists. It’s just a supposition based on the fact that the Holy Spring exists. Meanwhile, Nina’s people are suffering because of this pilgrimage. Her classmates continue to go on dangerous missions because Leopold is unwilling to risk the lives of his own men. Yet despite all of this, Nina didn’t once consider whether or not Isla should turn itself around and head home. She just did whatever Luis de Alarcon asked her to do. Yes, I understand that she’s depressed right now. I understand that she’s distraught over the loss of her classmates as well as her relationship with Kal. But we’re talking about guts. And while I pity the girl for her circumstances, there is nothing gutsy about what she did in last week’s episode. She was merely being someone else’s pawn.

• Ignacio then accuses Kal of “stealing Claire’s dreams of flying from her.” Talk about dramatic. I think considering everything that we’ve just seen, merely saying the following would’ve been more than enough: “It’s because of you that she will never realize her dreams of flying!” Instead, the dialogue goes for too much, which ends up taking me as a viewer out of the moment because I can’t help but laugh at how overly dramatic Ignacio’s being. Kal stole it from her? Stole? C’mon, dude.

• In what universe does a nation’s leadership continually task its children with the most dangerous of missions? Even the most evil regimes in history have always valued the lives of their own children. I just can’t wrap my mind around how Isla’s leadership can be so blase about sending a bunch of trainees to their almost certain deaths. Looks like we’re going to need a new revolution, fellas.

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• Sonia quits the military, and that’s great, but what someone really needs to do is to get this information out to the people. It’s the people who need to know what’s going on. They need to see how their children are being used as nothing more than fodder. Enough bullshit speeches from the puppet governor. Where are Isla’s journalists?

• I imagine Noriaki’s unwilling to desert the military because he has survivor’s guilt. Remember, he was the pilot for Wolfgang when the latter got gunned down a couple of episodes ago. As a result, Noriaki probably feels as though it would be unfair for him to run away now when Wolfgang was never given the chance to do so.

• So Benjamin volunteers to stay with Noriaki and be the kid’s partner. The two of them might die as a result, and if this turns out to be the case, those two will just add onto the list of male deaths in the anime. I find this a little odd. Yeah, Chiharu got to go on a dangerous mission, but only to see her true love die before her very eyes. Ari also nearly died, but the important fact is that she didn’t. In fact, none of the girls have died. It just seems strange to me how the story is so willing to send the boys off to their deaths and so unwilling to do the same with the girls. On the one hand, it’s a bit chauvinist that only the boys can sacrifice their lives for love and country. On the other hand, there is historical basis in the fact that women have not been put into combat until very recently.

But if we’re so concerned about historical accuracy all of a sudden, then why did the story even bother making the flight school unisex? Why go to such lengths if you’re not going to let the female characters participate as equally? Just to have the boys and the girls fall in love with each other? Nah, that’s not a good enough reason. If the girls had been residents of a nearby village, the boys could’ve still fallen in love with them whenever they had time off from the school. Cynically, I think the flight school is only unisex so that we can have generic high school tropes. Y’know, the obligatory beach episode and the incredibly mundane “Ari-men” episode? But when shit really hits the fan, the story condescendingly coddles the girls.

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• Man, imagine if that “Ari-men” episode had been used to flesh out more of these side characters’ love stories. I just think how much more emotionally invested I’d be if that had been the case. But I guess The Pilot’s Love Song would much rather wait until the characters are about to die before telling their stories to the audience.

• Chiharu goes, “Ari, let’s go. Let’s believe in [Kal]. You can’t change a boy’s mind once he’s decided.” Well shit, I’m just like a runaway train then! Oh wait, a runaway plane, a ha!

• I just tune out during the battle scenes. Well, I pay attention if the main characters are involved, but I could not care less about all those moments where a bunch of generic nobodies are shouting back and forth on the bridge. It’s all just generic war shit that I’ve seen in countless other shows. These scenes are rarely done in a way that’s actually new and refreshing.

• Nina looks all shocked to hear that some of the students have arrived to the battle, and this makes me roll my eyes a bit. Hey, she could’ve turned this island around. Well, probably not; I doubt the other four leaders of Isla would’ve just capitulated to a puppet governor, but nevertheless, she could’ve exerted her influence in helping to turn this island around. After all, this island needs a new revolution, but instead, Nina opted to give a bullshit speech without even questioning it.

• Uh…

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Wow, talk about corny. Anyway, the rest of the episode isn’t worth talking about, so I’m going to end the post here.

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12 thoughts on “Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Ep. 10: Manly sacrifices… in the sky!

  1. Naota

    Not to nitpick an obviously fantastical world, but doesn’t the fact that the king had a concubine seem a tad out of place? Ignacio’s backstory is clearly heavily inspired by the traditional Chinese (possibly just Asian/Japanese – I’m a little less clear on the history there) monarchic system. Tales of royal consorts in similar situations to Ignacio’s mother abound.

    Isla’s culture on the other hand seems distinctly 1900’s European, and for a society just coming out of the Victorian era the idea of a king having a concubine in any official capacity is ludicrous. I know it’s not a real place and doesn’t share this world’s history, but it borrows so heavily from WW1-era history and tells us so little about why and how the system (or the rebellion which brought it down) works that this sort of anachronism feels very jarring.

    Also, the gender politics in this episode were just a little suspect. “I’m taller than you now. And stronger, too. I’ll prove that I’m stronger than you. I can protect you now.” These are planes, guys. There’s no reason Sharon couldn’t have come with them – she doesn’t even have Nanako’s excuse of being weak-willed and too scared to fight. If Benjamin gets to risk his life for his friends it’s only fair.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, it’s not like the word ‘concubine’ can only be applied to East Asian cultures. Plus, I think you’re focusing more on the historical context of the word when perhaps the story just really wants to convey the idea that he’s an illegitimate son of the king and thus Kal’s half brother.

      I don’t disagree with you on the anime’s chauvinism. I continue to find it odd that it’s mostly the boys who are consistently given chances to be heroic. Ignacio can insist all he wants that Nina and Ari have more guts than Kal, but I don’t buy it.

      Reply
      1. Naota

        Well, it’s not like the word ‘concubine’ can only be applied to East Asian cultures. Plus, I think you’re focusing more on the historical context of the word when perhaps the story just really wants to convey the idea that he’s an illegitimate son of the king and thus Kal’s half brother.

        I suppose that’s true, though I wouldn’t have to guess at these sorts of things if the anime would maybe take some time out of its obviously busy schedule of swimming trips and ramen to let us in on what actually caused the rebellion which forms the cornerstone of this series’ events and character development. Currently we don’t even know Kal’s parents as people, let alone historical figures. They could be nice gentle folks, they could be horrible and tyrannical – they could be both in different contexts.

        All of those help build up the setting and deepen our understanding of these characters’ and factions’ motivations. The only way to lose this game is to not play, which is exactly what A Pilot’s Love Song has been doing. Frustrating to say the least.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          what actually caused the rebellion which forms the cornerstone of this series’ events and character development

          After hearing the story’s of Ari’s late mother, I lean toward the idea that the monarchy was — if not outright unjust — likely uncaring of its people’s plights. Of course, we don’t know how much of that we can blame solely upon Kal’s parents, but a change needed to happen regardless of who was ultimately responsible for the mess. I’m more curious if the people who’ve replaced them are any better. If Isla’s leadership is any indication, the answer is probably no. But if that’s truly the case, then we have a rather cynical story on our hands. The monarchy was shit, and it seems like the Republic is shit as well. Leaders are not to be trusted as they do nothing but exploit others to achieve their own ends. Even Nina doesn’t get off scotch free.

    1. Naota

      I’d imagine using her vast socio-political influence would be a start.

      Sure, a degree of her authority is given to her by the island’s higher-ups themselves, but with the way people adore and deify Nina Viento she could probably lead her own revolution against them if absolutely necessary. For a less radical measure she could just use the threat of this as a bargaining tool to force Leopold to stop using her friends as disposable fodder, which seems a reasonable enough request.

      Reply
  2. flamerounin

    Heh, claire is supposed to be the heroine of the story, yet she only gets three scenes. and she is pretty underexplored at that. we never get to see her thoughts or feelings at this point (which could have given ignacio’s remark about her having more guts than kal a lot more weight). instead they wasted half the episode on side characters that are purely there for the melodrama. and this is the THIRD TO THE LAST EPISODE/

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      They probably think it’s better to focus each episode on a handful of characters instead of spreading the love around. But I’ve spent most of the show following Kal and Claire, so I really don’t give a shit about Noriaki and Benjamin at all.

      Reply
  3. Ryan R

    I think you’re being a bit too hard on Nina, and on her speech.

    Keep in mind that we don’t know to what degree (if any) Nina believes in the Saint Aldista religion of this show. If she doesn’t believe it at all, then you’re right, she’s cynically choosing to be a pawn, against what she truly believes. But perhaps her speech was sincere, and she more or less believes what she said. At the very least, maybe she is hoping that she’s right in what she said in her speech.

    If so, then her speech is a sincere choice, reflecting her own hopes and/or beliefs. It would be an act of personal agency, done out of her own desire to do what good she can. You could argue that said hopes/beliefs may well be stupid – Ok, fine – But stupidity alone does not indicate a lack of guts.

    In any event, she didn’t just lock herself away in a room somewhere and stop caring about the outside world. She had just as much reason to do so as Karl did, as this situation is likely no less heartwrenching for her than it is for him. I don’t think Ignacio is wrong for considering her handling of thinks more gutsy that Karl’s. Complete withdrawal is about as cowardly as you can get, and Nina/Claire didn’t go *that* far.

    But even if you do think that Ignacio is giving Nina too much credit, I think it makes sense for *him* to do so. Keep in mind what the flashback reveals – Ignacio HATED the royals with a passion. So just as Nina is a villain to Karl for what she did, she’s likely a *hero* in Ignacio’s eyes for what she did. He’s probably predisposed to thinking highly of her (although it almost certainly pisses him off that she’s fallen in love with Karl La Hire of all people).

    However, I agree with you in not liking how it was only guys getting to sortie in this episode. 4 guys, no girls, are willing to fight. It’s kind of hard to not see the implications there…

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Keep in mind that we don’t know to what degree (if any) Nina believes in the Saint Aldista religion of this show.

      As another commenter has said above, that’s the show’s fault, isn’t it? Maybe you’re right. Maybe she does believe in, as I see it, the bullshit that she’s peddling. But since her character has been so underdeveloped in recent episodes, it’s rather open to interpretation what she really thinks. And since I see her as being rather depressed and catatonic lately, I’m more inclined to think she’s just going through the motions. But hey, you’re free to be charitable in interpreting her actions. I guess I’m taking a cynical approach because I don’t respect the show as much as you do.

      Reply
    2. flamerounin

      that’s the whole problem. Claire is given so little screen time in this episode (and probably the series as a whole) that we know very little about her views and feelings. this episode could have (and should have) focused more on her and how she feels after revealing her identity as Nina to Kal, which could have also shown better light on that speech of hers. but like I said, they wasted half of this episode building up Benji’s and Noriaki’s “heroics” which i don’t care about since they are not interesting side characters.

      Reply

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