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[R2 DVD art (Japanese)]
AKA: Sora no Woto, Sound from the sky, ソ・ラ・ノ・ヲ・ト (Japanese)
Genre: Millitary/wartime drama/comedy
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Licensed by Right Stuf International
Content Rating: 13+ (Mature situations, some wartime situations and consequences, up to and including death.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Aria, Haibane Renmei
Notes: The debut title of Anime no Chikara, a series of anime written exclusively for television. A manga based on the anime, written by Paradores and illustrated by Yagi Shinba, is currently running in Dengeki Daioh.

Though Rightstuf has picked up the license for this show, it's still available on crunchyroll even internationally.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars

Sound of the Sky

Synopsis

Kanata Sorami is stationed at an old fort in the countryside, near the village of Seize, where she is assigned as the Bugler of the 1121st platoon in the Helvetian army. The fort she is assigned to is a fairly quiet place, but it carries with it historical importance from when a legendary winged being brought an end to the war.


Review

Stig: To this day, I'm not entirely sure what brought me around to check Sound of the Sky out, but the fact that this show is available even internationally is what helped me make the decision to finally give it a chance. I had once, earlier, read a chapter of the manga, and liked what I read, so that probably played a large part in why I went for it.

Tim: Back in late 2009, when I looked at the line-up of anime coming out in winter 2010, there were exactly two shows that caught my interest. Of the two, I initially checked out Sound of the Sky. I was hesitant at first, though, because its character designs reminded me a lot of K-On!, an anime neither me or Stig liked all that much. Some blogs initially were dubbing it "K-On! in the Army!", myself included. Little did I not know that that moniker that couldn't be any further from the truth.



In short, Sound of the Sky represents something both of us has come to appreciate these latest years; the quiet, slice-of-life kind. Like a good deal of its kind, the lead in this show is the somewhat airheaded, energetic "do-your-best" kind of a girl. She is quickly supported by a mostly female cast, and the story -- as it is -- plays out like a generally day-to-day military log of a platoon without a whole lot to do. Rounding off the rest of the platoon, we have Suminoya Kureha, the hot-tempered gunner of the group. She has a rather obvious crush on an older man named Klaus. There's also the deadpan Kannagi Noel, who spends most of her waking hours working on the tank, which results in her spending most of her off-duty hours asleep. Heideman Filicia serves as the commander in charge of the 1121st platoon, her command generally being fairly laid-back, though she can and will turn dead serious if the situation calls for it. And rounding off the brigade is Kazumiya Rio, Kanata's superior and officer in charge of her Bugler training. She plays the role of Akira from Aria so well that it's downright surprising the two don't share the same voice actor. Filling out the roles of the side cast is Klaus, a 51 year old soldier and target of Kureha's crush. There's Yumina, a nun at the local church, which also houses all the orphans in town, two of which are Mishio and Seiya. Both of them eventually becomes friends with Kanata, though Seiya has a little harder time of it, seeing as how he hates the military because of how his parents were killed in the war.

Being a debut project for TV Tokyo and Aniplex, the show definitely carries the feeling of being fresh or wanting to please the audience with more than just general baiting, though the fact that the cast is almost predominantly female might also have something to say about that. We wouldn't put it past the creators to pick inspirations from shows like Aria, or even K-On! when it comes to character behavior.

If anything, Sound of the Sky is definitely able to stand up against animation powerhouses like Kyoto Animation. The town of Seize and the surrounding landscapes are beautiful to behold, and the characters are designed and animated quite well. Some of the vehicles, the battletanks in particular, are quite obviously made with the aid of CG, but they also blend surprisingly well with the more traditional style of animation. Sound of the Sky, simply speaking, has no visual flaws that immediately come to mind.


Also, Sound of the Sky has a pretty nice soundtrack to its name, with some sweeping orchestral melodies framing the lovely artwork of the world in which this show is taking place, and it's doing the same kind of audible wonders for Sound of the Sky as Haibane Renmei's, Aria's and Umi Monogatari's soundtracks did for their respective shows.

As far as directional abilities go, that's also mostly true, at least for the first half. Much like the aforementioned Aria, Sound of the Sky doesn't necessarily try to be funny, but some of the situations presented within the show itself still makes them so. Kanata's lack of talents in playing the bugle, for instance, makes the town of Seize crack jokes about earplugs and whatnot, and there's a situation about gangsters trying to muscle in on some illegal alcohol trading that ends with boulders crashing down on their escape car (an event which is explained later in the episode). It's these kinds of offhand events that earns the show the chuckles it manages to elicit. Which is good, because when the show actually TRIES to be funny later in episode 8, by putting Kanata in a godawful dress and having her exercise her bladder control for half an episode, it falls flat on its face.

Lack of subtlety also seems to be a large failing for the writers of the show, though this is more apparent in the last third, where things heat up considerably and the war takes center stage. Sound of the Sky writer Hiroyuki Yoshino (whose earlier works include My-HiME and the horrid alternate reality story My-Otome) and his tales about the Helvetians (of which our main cast are all countrymen of) and the Romans (who all speak German) are as subtle as a gunshot to the head, as are the scenes when they finally meet face to face. It would also explain the sudden change of the series' lighthearted tone to drama and angst in the final third, including war.

And yes, Sound of the Sky does have a villain. A sneering, cackling madman who, of course, operates purely by his own desires, regardless of what anyone else would want. There is thankfully a limit to his villainy, so the show doesn't go too much over the top when it does go over the top. But to even get through this part, you're going to have to enjoy your narm generously served.

Sound of the Sky remains a fun, little diversion in the end, and we guess that's what should matter. If you're looking for perfection -- well, at least more than visual perfection -- you'd probably be better off looking somewhere else. But for pure values of entertainment, it's still fairly easy to digest. It's got a nice group of characters that's easy to love (and a villain it's easy to hate), so if all you're looking for is some time well spent, Sound of the Sky can do that.

It's a relatively weak four star, but sometimes, a little heart can go a long way.Stig Høgset and Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: The first two thirds are generally kept lighthearted, though some time of the show is spent going around topics like illegal trading and mafia/gangster shenanigans. The last third of the show, however, starts going heavily into the war itself, including weapons of mass destruction and the general treatment of POW's during wartime. Onscreen material is generally limited to fairly mild scenes of consequenses of fighting in a war. If planning to take this show in as a whole, the first half can be somewhat deceptive.



Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Sound of the Sky © 2010 Paradores / Aniplex / 1121
 
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