Yeah, this ain’t it, chief. Let’s just go through a quick laundry list of impressions:
— Last season, I had two shows to watch on Sundays: the fun but poorly-executed Double Decker and the oh-so-trashy Ulysses. If all I have now is Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai, I think I may as well take Sundays off from blogging until the spring season rolls around.
— This is one of those 3-D shows that have been cropping more often these days, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just usually a bad thing. But jokes aside, the animation here isn’t horrendous. My biggest quibble is simply that the characters’ faces feel really stiff and unnatural. But the confusing part is that it’s not even fully 3-D.
— At the moment, this also appears to be one of those shows where the men look like men, but the women look like preteens. Even the women who are old enough to drink barely look a day over 16. It’s off-putting. I know anime is all about cute girls doing stuff, but c’mon. Throw me a bone here.
— So what’s the setting? I dunno, not much detail has been given. We’ve simply been told that there was some sort of cataclysmic event. Most of the world is now mostly empty and barren, but there are still patches of civilization here and there. Tiny oases floating in an ocean of desert, apparently.
— So what do our girls do? They protect cargo-transporting airships from sky pirates. That sounds cool on paper, but the execution leaves me wanting.
— One of the men get uppity when the girls don’t pay him a lick of attention. He then assumes that the girls can’t fly their fighters properly. So right before the battle even begins, you can already predict what’s going to happen next.
— Kyrie is super energetic probably due to all the pancakes she stuffs down her gullet. As a result, I have to assume that she’s the main character. There are four other girls, but this episode barely devotes any time to character-building. After a very short introduction, we’re thrust into our very first skirmish against sky pirates.
— Our heroine gets into her Hayabusa around the eight minute mark. It would take her two more minutes just to take off. Maybe plane otakus would geek out at the sight of Kyrie going through the process of getting her fighter started, but the sequence bored the hell out of me. God, I sincerely hope the show won’t make us watch that every time the girls take flight.
— Right off the bat, the battle goes poorly. The men are being taken down one by one. Like I said, you could kinda see this coming from a mile away. I just wish the show had bothered to give this tragedy a little more weight and respect. Like sure, they were cocky bastards. But at the end of the day, the show reminds us that they had families. Some unlucky kid might have just lost their dad. That’s why I wasn’t keen on their portrayal. Not only that, the impact of their deaths only gets like a brief, passing mention.
— I’m also not keen about the sky pirates. We simply know nothing about them. We don’t even get to know what they look like. Plus, their motivations are threadbare right now. I assume they want the precious cargo because it’s precious, but beyond that, the enemy is a complete mystery to me. Faceless enemies are no fun.
— So once the men go down, the girls take over and start turning things around. And of course, not a single of of them loses her life.
— After they’ve successfully protected the airship, everyone is ordered to return to “nest.” But when Kyrie spots a lone enemy fighter still lurking about, she recklessly chases after it. You can expect her to do similarly reckless things in the future.
— It’s now Kyrie’s turn to get too cocky, I guess, because the sky pirate manages to turn the tables on her. But just when it looks as though she might meet her end — which can’t happen, ’cause she’s the lead character — the bad guy decides to fly off. Did they run out of bullets? Are they low on fuel? Or is this just mercy on their part?
— The main problem with Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai is that it doesn’t have a hook. It doesn’t even attempt to tease and titillate us about potential developments that we may see down the line. It’s fine to introduce the characters, and it’s equally fine to have the first battle be nothing more than a small skirmish. But no hints at a larger, overarching plot? No mysterious artifact to retrieve or protect? No ancient civilization to uncover? No anything? It doesn’t have to be any of the things that I’ve suggested. I’m just throwing random ideas out there.
— A show doesn’t necessarily need a hook, but if you’re just going to fly by the seat of your pants, I’m going to need stronger character interactions than what I’ve been given so far. Kyrie likes pancakes. Another girl likes to drink. There’s a responsible one. There’s a quiet one. C’mon.
— My biggest fear is that Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai will amount to nothing more than a pointless slice-of-life about pilots. If this ends up being the case, then I’ll have to relegate the show to the “Everything Else” pile and find something else to do on Sundays. I guess I could talk about my slow and steady revisit of Tales of Vesperia…