Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Ep. 12: Painful farewells… in the sky!

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Guess who’s gone!

Episode summary: The Sky Clan is willing to call for a truce if Isla gives up Nina Viento. Despite Kal’s protestations, however, Claire agrees to sacrifice herself for Isla’s sake. Six months later, Isla reaches the End of the Sky. Everyone evacuates themselves from the island, then proceeds to watch it ram itself into the strange phenomenon, thereby disintegrating into nothing.

Notes:

• So even though a lot of these students deserted the military in last week’s episode, they’re… back? I thought all of the girls joined Sonia in their walk-out. I mean, couldn’t the anime have gone over their return a tiny bit? For example, is Sonia still a teacher or is she done with the military for good? And if it’s the latter, how does she feel about her former students going back to the same military that was all too willing to sacrifice their young lives?

• Hm, the way Kal speaks of Claire towards the end of the cold opening kinda implies that she’s going to die.

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Or at the very least, disappear from the story. That’s not good.

• I wish we had a little more information about either the Sky Clan or the Holy Levamme Empire.

• Apparently, the empress of the Holy Levamme Empire is also a young girl. Despite her age, she’s referred to as “the Holy Mother of the Western Seas.” The commander even emphasizes the fact she and Nina Viento give off similar auras. I wonder if she’s a puppet leader too.

• So the Sky Clan is willing to call for a truce with Isla… in exchange for Nina Viento. Supposedly, their prophecies have foretold the arrival of a messiah who can command the wind. When Kal hears this bit of news, he’s standing on a rooftop as white sheets are rustling in the foreground. This is a common motif in anime. White sheets on a rooftop almost always signify death. Off of the top of my head, you can see the same motif in Mawaru Penguindrum and Kids on the Slope. I guess that’s why Kal refers to Claire as if she’s already gone in the cold opening.

• So even though Claire had just reconciled with her lover Kal in last week’s episode, she’s going to give herself up to the Sky Clan. Anime female protagonists are just too submissive.

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They’re always duty-bound, and there’s never a selfish bone in their bodies. It’s infuriating. Yes, Isla is doomed if it continues to battle the Sky Clan, but the island can also just turn around and head back home. I can’t imagine that the End of the Sky is worth all of this. Young lives have been sacrificed for this journey. I’m sure the bombings from the Sky Clan have also taken civilian lives as well. And now, Claire will give up her autonomy (well, whatever tiny bit of it that she has left). C’mon, where do you draw the line? Nothing short of pure enlightenment is worth all of this.

Look, I totally realize that this sort of self-sacrifice morality is pretty much standard for Asian cultures in general. Being an Asian, I’ve lived it, and that’s why I vehemently reject it. And while self-sacrifice for one’s country will typically work out neatly in our stories, we know that a lot of people don’t always have the best intentions in real life, especially if they want you to do all the sacrificing. As a result, I can’t see the good side in Claire’s actions. I just can’t. I think it’s blind devotion, and The Pilot’s Love Song sends a dangerous message. Despite the fact that so many young lives have been lost, there hasn’t been any shred of anger directed towards the leaders of Isla. That’s a little sickening.

• Dude, c’mon:

Ari: “You like Claire? As a girl?”
Kal: “Wh-What are you saying all [of] the sudden?”

If you’re willing to hop into a plane and kill people, you can admit that you’re in love. It’s not like you’re even talking to a stranger. It’s your sister, and you’re a little schoolboy anymore. Quit being a dork.

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• I’m just going to ignore any potential implications in Ari’s sudden outburst of “Baka!”

• Give it up, Kal. Claire won’t change her mind. She’s an idealized Japanese maiden in a Japanese fiction. As such, it’s her duty to reinforced the message that one must always be ready to drop trou for one’s nation. So c’mon girls, become mothers and pump out those babies for Japan!

• Kal promises that he’ll reach the End of the Sky, then come back for Claire. What is he going to do? Infiltrate the Sky Clan by himself and extract Claire from whatever stronghold she’s locked in? And he’ll do this all by his lonesome? Yeah, yeah, the power of love will triumph over all. Kal will come back for Claire, and he’ll probably even succeed in saving her. The two of them will thus live happily ever after, blah blah blah. The anime wants to be hopeful — that in self-sacrifice, everything will work itself out in the end — but this doesn’t make Claire’s sacrifice any less naive in my mind.

• Oh, Ignacio’s going with Claire so it’s going to be okay, guys!

• Ignacio’s beef with Kal resolves itself a little too neatly in my opinion. All this buildup about how he hates the royal family, i.e. decades of pent-up anger and resentment, and it’s just gone in an instant because the anime wants to put a pretty, little bow on everything.

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• So… this is the End of the Sky. Now what? What have we gained from this trip? Have we attained forbidden knowledge? Immeasurable wealth? Pure enlightenment? Instead…

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…Isla crashes itself into the End of the Sky and crumbles into dust (maybe not even dust). Don’t worry, everyone’s been evacuated to a Holy Levamme ship, but holy shit, none of this helps to dispel the idea that this pilgrimage has been completely fucking pointless.

• In any case, the previews for the finale episode has Ignacio telling us that Kal will live up to his promise to Claire. Meh.

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14 thoughts on “Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Ep. 12: Painful farewells… in the sky!”

  1. How is it “submissive” when it’s her choice against the wishes of de Alarcon, one of her handlers? I could see the “submissive” criticism if her handlers guilt-tripped her into doing this when she didn’t want to, but clearly her own personal desire to help her people is motivating her here. Also, like you hinted at yourself, it’s not like Nina Viento isn’t already under strict adult control to begin with. How much worse can it be in the Sky Clan? Heck, if anything, she may enjoy *more* freedom there, and that could in fact be part of what’s motivating her here – Getting away from her strict Isla handlers and going to a people that will likely treat her like a REAL leader and not just a puppet one.

    And turning back now would mean that all the sacrifices to date were completely in vain, and I can see that also factoring in to Nina’s decision.

    Their goal was to determine if the End of the Sky actually exists or not. There are various reasons for why this is important – One clear-cut one is that it is a crucial piece of knowledge for them understanding their world. Nina is making a sacrifice for the sake of her people and, essentially, scientific inquiry. In my view, there’s some very obvious “good sides” here.

    Also, those who went on this journey knew quite well how dangerous it could be, which is why the Episode 1 farewell scene was such a tearful one. It’s also why Isla’s leadership isn’t getting criticized much, since people were prepared for the worst. Those who went on this journey want to see the End of the Sky, and they want to see what if anything lies beyond it (which is why Isla was rammed into it – that proves that it’s essentially a disintegration field). It is a big deal to them. You can think of them as being like the early European explorers/settlers in America, who braved far worse conditions than what they could find in their home towns and cities back in their home countries. They did this because there was a whole unmapped world out there, that they wanted to discover and experience for themselves, even if the cost of that was very high. And the people in this anime similarly want to make and experience big discoveries – discoveries pertaining to the very nature of their world.

    1. How is it “submissive” when it’s her choice against the wishes of de Alarcon, one of her handlers?

      You’re focused on a single character when I’m really looking at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is that we get yet another pure maiden sacrificing her personal life, goals, and ambitions for her country, which is a pretty common submissive theme in most Asian stories. De Alarcon objecting to her actions once is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

      She was submissive to the Wind Revolution. She was submissive to her countess. She was submissive to de Alarcon up until this point. Now she’s submissive to her country. Nothing has changed. Sacrifice is built into her character. She is defined by her submissiveness. And I’m going to call it out because I deplore this personality trait.

      Heck, if anything, she may enjoy *more* freedom there, and that could in fact be part of what’s motivating her here

      All speculation. Nothing in the story suggests that this is part of Nina’s personality whatsoever. She’s way too placid.

      And turning back now would mean that all the sacrifices to date were completely in vain,

      Sunk cost fallacy.

      Nina is making a sacrifice for the sake of her people

      Empty gesture at this point in time. If she cared so much about her people, she could have done a whole lot more to prevent the death of her friends.

      essentially, scientific inquiry. In my view, there’s some very obvious “good sides” here.

      Scientific inquiry doesn’t involve the sacrifice of innocent lives, especially children.

      Also, those who went on this journey knew quite well how dangerous it could be,

      They knew they’d be attacked by some Sky Clan, a nation with an even bigger military than theirs? They knew they’d be wandering into a war? They knew children would be sacrificed by the military? They knew their homes would be bombed? In fact, Leopold specifically did not send out his own men in one of the recon missions because he was afraid it would frighten the people of Isla, ergo the people of Isla might disapprove of what came to be, i.e. full blown conflict with the Sky Clan. If everyone was so damn prepared for this journey, why would Leopold need to hide anything?

      The exploration angle would be justifiable if these were just adults doing the exploration. It all falls apart when you factor in the fact that entire families are brought along on this trip. If the story had been better developed — if these people left on a pilgrimage because they faced religious persecution at home or something like that — I could understand this trip. But if your theory is to believed, it’s just a bunch of leaders dragging an entire community of people through war for a “scientific inquiry.” That’s pretty nonsensical if you ask me. Magellan didn’t bring a small nation with him. Columbus didn’t bring a small nation with him.

      Those who went on this journey want to see the End of the Sky, and they want to see what if anything lies beyond it (which is why Isla was rammed into it

      ‘Cause testing this out with a small plane wouldn’t have sufficed. Scientific!

      1. No, you’re not really looking at the bigger picture. You’re just looking at the Asian picture. In the wider world of entertainment and fiction, Nina is no more commonplace a character type than a much more self-centered type of character. In fact, Nina is refreshingly different to my anglaphone Canadian eyes. It’s nice to see a character that cares about other people, and who cares about things beyond just his/her own personal well-being and selfish desires.

        And there’s plenty in the story to support my speculation. Consider the episode where Ignacio concedes to Nina’s desire to run off and see to her friends as Claire – And this is something that Claire did against the wishes of her handlers. And the very fact she went to school while hiding her Nina Viento identity is a pretty strong indication of a girl who desires at lease some more freedom in her life.

        There’s no fallacy in what I wrote here – “And turning back now would mean that all the sacrifices to date were completely in vain,” What I wrote there is perfectly accurate.

        Scientific inquiry often involves the sacrifice of lives. Just look at NASA rocket launches that go badly. Astronauts died there, and they died knowing that such an explosive instant-death failed launch is very possible.

        Entire families went to settle in America after Columbus discovered it. That, and kids were born there. They were born in what was frequently far harsher conditions than back in Europe. So I don’t see any problem with my analogy here.

        Your final point is actually a good one. Yes, they should have tested it out with a small plane, if possible.

        1. No, you’re not really looking at the bigger picture. You’re just looking at the Asian picture.

          It’s an Asian story. How else would I look at it? Am I going to ignore the context from which the story originates?

          It’s nice to see a character that cares about other people, and who cares about things beyond just his/her own personal well-being and selfish desires.

          That’s great from your point of view. And I’m interpreting it from my point of view where I notice a distinct pattern in Asian cultures to promote self-sacrifice above all. As any student of history knows, this sort of mentality has led to some terrible consequences. Plus, like I’ve said, I’m Asian and I’ve lived it. My reaction to Nina’s actions are thus negative, and I wrote the post to explain why this is so.

          Consider the episode where Ignacio concedes to Nina’s desire to run off and see to her friends as Claire – And this is something that Claire did against the wishes of her handlers.

          Sneaking out to see your friends is a far cry from joining an unknown nation to become its ruler in an attempt to consolidate power. C’mon. This is not Game of Thrones. We’re talking about a girl who could barely say hi to Kal at the start of the series.

          And the very fact she went to school while hiding her Nina Viento identity is a pretty strong indication of a girl who desires at lease some more freedom in her life.

          Again, nowhere close to “I’ll willingly give myself up in order to rule a nation!”

          “And turning back now would mean that all the sacrifices to date were completely in vain,”

          “I may as well keep doing this stupid thing because I’ve already wasted so much time, money and resources (read: lives) on it.”

          Scientific inquiry often involves the sacrifice of lives.

          The sacrifice of children? Eh? The sacrifice of children and civilians?

          Entire families went to settle in America after Columbus discovered it.

          Yes, AFTER numerous people, i.e experienced sailors and explorers, discovered the new world, European families decided to colonize it. After people knew that something actually existed on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, entire families left their homes because they faced religious persecution. On the other hand, entire families don’t leave on a whim because “Gosh, maybe the End of the Sky exists and well even though I don’t know what it is, our whole family can be explorers! We may as well bring our kids too, and they may die because we have no goddamn clue where we’re going or what we hope to find, but it’s okay! We’ll be explorers!”

  2. I’m not saying that a central goal of her’s was ruling a nation. I was just saying that possibly *gaining* more freedom may well have been on the back of her mind.

    Claire’s own words to Kal are suggestive here.

    “But I’m not going just to be a sacrifice. I’m going so I can fight my battle. Like Ari and everyone… Like you taught me, Kal.”

    This has a ring of ambition and independence to it. Far from this supposed submissiveness that you want to frame it has.

    Your implied “stupid thing” counter-argument is dependent on believing that said “stupid thing” is entirely without value. And I disagree. There is at least some value in learning more about your world. If sacrifices eventually lead to such knowledge, then they were not entirely in vain. But if people quit after those sacrifices have already been made, then they were entirely in vain. You incur great cost with absolutely no benefit. Whereas there is benefit in learning more about your world. This is why your fallacy-based counter-argument isn’t justified in this circumstance.

    You’re a generally good reviewer, but you have a real tendency towards heavy-handed political soap-boxing that sometimes distorts how you present and interpret characters.

    1. Claire’s own words to Kal are suggestive here.

      And what battle would that be? What is she suddenly going to do as a part of the Sky Clan? Since her character is so woefully underdeveloped in the last few episodes, we can’t even begin to speculate on what on earth the girl is talking about. As such, I can only judge Claire by what I know. And what I know is a character that has repeatedly been submissive all throughout the story. And I’m supposed to just believe that she’ll suddenly become independent after a single line that was mostly likely uttered to placate her lover? Nah, that’s not convincing to me.

      There is at least some value in learning more about your world.

      At the cost of children and civilians? That is messed up. Again, we’re not talking about a team of experienced explorers. We’re talking about entire families and their children sacrificed for the sake of exploration.

      But if people quit after those sacrifices have already been made, then they were entirely in vain. You incur great cost with absolutely no benefit. Whereas there is benefit in learning more about your world. This is why your fallacy-based counter-argument isn’t justified in this circumstance.

      You only think a great benefit awaits them because this is what you immediately see in the episode’s ending. You’re not reading the situation from the point of view of Claire making her decision in the heat of the moment. She had no idea that the Sky Clan was telling the truth. They could very well have wiped out Isla after she was under their thumb. She had no idea that something possibly even more dangerous wasn’t just waiting for them once they got past the Sky Clan. Maybe there’s an even bigger and badder Sky Clan, and Isla would’ve been woefully equipped to handle them because it has suffered so much already. And yet, she agreed to allow Isla to press on despite all the casualties they’ve incurred and despite Isla’s complete lack of knowledge of what lied ahead. It just so happened that everything was smooth sailing afterwards. More like convenient storytelling. In any case, when you have no idea if your plan will work, but you nevertheless continue to press on with your plan anyway because you don’t want your sacrifices to be in vain, your justification is nothing but a sunk cost fallacy. Just because everything worked out for our heroes doesn’t mean they didn’t use a fallacy to justify their actions.

      You’re a generally good reviewer,

      I’m not a reviewer. But look, I’ve always preached that we are free to interpret other people’s works in any way that we want regardless of their intentions (so long as we can back it up). So if you want to call me a reviewer, that’s your prerogative. But in my eyes, I’m not a reviewer, and these posts are not reviews.

      you have a real tendency towards heavy-handed political soap-boxing that sometimes distorts how you present and interpret characters.

      So what? Am I supposed to take that as an insult? I have my beliefs, and I am willing to take a stand for them. I’m not going to waffle in some middle ground out of a pretense for false objectivity. Art interpretation is inherently subjective, and I’m not afraid to let my subjective views color my writing. If I’m wrong about anything I write, so be it. But at least I’m willing to have a discussion about it instead of typing out some mundane bullshit that takes no real particular stand on anything because I’m afraid others will disagree with me. Hell, I even knew this post would get a comment from you.

      1. No, Claire has not been repeatedly submissive throughout the story. I even listed examples of her not being submissive. You have just chosen to ignore them, because they’re inconvenient to your political soap-boxing (i.e. if you concede that Nina/Claire is not as submissive as you make her out to be, then you have less basis for using this anime to rail against what you consider to be wrong in Asian culture).

        My comment on your political soap-boxing is meant as a criticism. In trying to interpret characters and narratives in ways that are convenient to your politics and philosophies, your interpretive accuracy is undermined. Which lowers the value of… whatever you want to call what you do here, since you don’t want to call it “reviews”.

        “At the cost of children and civilians? That is messed up.”

        What about Star Trek then? There are children aboard Picard’s Enterprise, and other such Starfleet vessels. These vessels are journeying into the vast unknown of space, on an explicit mission of exploration. They know for a fact that there are dangerous and violent alien species out there, and they don’t know what other dangers they may encounter, but they still bring children along for the journey. Many of these dangers do prove to be lethal, costing lives.

        Are you prepared to criticize Starfleet and Jean-Luc Picard as harshly as you do Isla’s government and Nina Viento? If not, what makes the difference in your mind? I’m a big Star Trek fan, so I know for a fact that many episodes feature young children living aboard these vessels of exploration.

        “You’re not reading the situation from the point of view of Claire making her decision in the heat of the moment. She had no idea that the Sky Clan was telling the truth.”

        Why would they be lying? They want Nina Viento to be their messiah. So the first thing they do upon her joining them is that they kill all of her old friends and loved ones? Yeah, that’ll go a long way to ensuring that she does her best to be a good messiah for them…

        Look, there are gambles in life. There are risks. Exploration is inherently risky. Diplomatic solutions are inherently risky, depending upon at least some level of mutual trust. That doesn’t mean you’re engaging in a “sunk cost fallacy” just because you decide to press ahead with an exploration/journey/diplomatic agreement were considerable difficulties and sacrifices have already been met. Your “sunk cost fallacy” argument was a bad and invalid argument. It doesn’t apply here.

        1. Which lowers the value of… whatever you want to call what you do here, since you don’t want to call it “reviews”.

          Then you can stop reading my posts.

          (i.e. if you concede that Nina/Claire is not as submissive as you make her out to be, then you have less basis for using this anime to rail against what you consider to be wrong in Asian culture)

          Haha, okay. Your examples were horrible. Oh man, she wants to go to school against her caretaker’s wish. Let’s conveniently forget that this is what de Alarcon also wanted. So defiant. Oh man, she visited her friends’ grave. Yep, what a rebel. This is after she willingly allowed herself to be dragged away from her friends when the war broke out, this is after she gave a bullshit speech to her people without questioning it, this is after she continued to stand idly by as Leopold repeatedly used her friends in dangerous missions. But yes, all these tiny examples of her breaking minor infractions are enough to override every major submissive thing about her! I’m just the asshole making up shit so that I can rant about Asian culture, because hey, what do I know about Asian culture despite being 100% Asian myself, right? And I couldn’t possibly recognize a negative trend in Asian storytelling, huh? Well, thank god you’re here to tell me how wrong I am!

          Are you prepared to criticize Starfleet and Jean-Luc Picard as harshly as you do Isla’s government and Nina Viento?

          I don’t give a shit if it’s the President of the United States. If you bring tiny children on a dangerous mission when it’s completely unnecessary to do so, you’re fucking retarded. Look at all the tiny children here:

          Are you prepared to defend Isla for dragging tiny children into the unknown? Are you prepared to defend Isla for pressing on with the journey even though tiny children got their asses bombed to hell and back by the Sky Clan? You are, aren’t you? Because Jean-Luc Picard did it in Star Trek! Welp, you got me there. A fictional captain of a cheesy ass TV show once did a thing, so I can’t question it!

          Why would they be lying? They want Nina Viento to be their messiah.

          Christ, does it occur to you that they could also lie about that? So they could remove a crucial member from the enemy? Oh please Miss Scary Wind Commanding Priestess, we want you to be our messiah! Won’t you join us? We promise we’ll let your friends go! Oh, you actually came! Wow!

          I’m not saying that the Sky Clan had actually lied. Obviously, they are not lying because this is a simplistic, poorly thought-out anime with no depth to it whatsoever. Nevertheless, all I’m saying is that it was possible they could’ve been lying. As a result, it was completely stupid for Claire to just give herself up like that without knowing what she was getting herself into. For all she knew, she could’ve just left Isla completely undefended! But yes, mate, I just have an axe to grind. I can’t possibly be making any sense!

          Your “sunk cost fallacy” argument was a bad and invalid argument. It doesn’t apply here.

          And you’ll just keep insisting that flying into the unknown complete with children and going to war is a good idea because ~EXPLORATION~ and welp we already lost so many children, we may as well keep going. Even though we don’t know where we’re going, we wouldn’t want those children to have died in vain! No fallacy here! We totally knew there’d be risks!

          I used to respect your dissenting opinions, but these days, you’re such a hardcore asskisser for this show that your responses are now just ridiculous. You’ve said your piece. I’ve said my piece. And yes, I don’t want to hear it anymore. See ya.

  3. really, this could have worked if they actually told us what the Saint Aldista myth was all about. that could have answered a lot, from why the hell are they they are actually on this trip to why claire is even in her position now.

    both Nagi no Asukara and Noragami (no matter how sucky its ending was) worked well because they were clear about their mythologies and thus provided a background for their stories. as such, for the love of me, i can’t understand why this series had the characters kept on mumbling the Saint Aldista myth without even bothering to give actual details about it.

  4. For all counter-arguments offered about scientific discovery, I have to ask: what was actually learned about the world by watching Isla disappear on contact with a giant forcefield? Where were the scientists? What were they studying? What did they hope to learn from this and how did they plan to apply it? For a scientific mission of exploration, there’s a profound absence of both science and discovery at the end of the journey.

    By every indication a single pilot in a plane with a lot of fuel could have flown out in this direction, thrown a rock at the thing, and had a scientist in the back take pictures and write down “It was very purple. Now the rock is gone.” Not exactly a mind-blowing revelation, especially when nobody bothered to examine the cause, effect, or anything about the phenomena besides “So pretty…”

    Why does nobody in the cast doubt that seeing this happen was absolutely not worth the lives of their friends and family? That whatever intangible benefit was gained was only of paltry significance next to the deaths of people close to them?

    1. We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face, but simple answer is that the anime just isn’t very well thought out.

    2. They’re mapping their world. They’re meeting other people that they’ve never met before. These are obviously very important discoveries.

  5. What was the point of the six-months timeskip, when the students’ comments on “this is for you, red t-shirts” while watching Island commit insurance fraud would be more appropiate without said timeskip? It’s been six months already, and they barely got to knew each other anyway.

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