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  • Sora no Woto (Anime) Review

    Sora no Woto (Anime) Review

    Written by ononoki

    As I’m writing this review, I’m listening to the soundtrack for Sora no Woto. It’s been sitting in my music library since it came out, and not once have I grown tired of it. The same goes for the full show as well. I watched it shortly after it aired, realised it was a treasure, kept it and have since rewatched it many times. The often overlooked and sometimes underrated anime that is Sora no Woto, aired in 2010 and was the debut project of Anime no Chikara, a joint venture between Aniplex and TV Tokyo. Anime no Chikara’s purpose was to produce original anime (without any source material), which is really quite a difficult thing to pull off, and not done very often in the anime production world. Well, they pulled it off, with an excellent mix of writing, animation, music and an overall experience that will leave you like most of the cult following it’s attracted, wanting much more.

    Plot of Sora no Woto

    Sora no Woto follows the story of Kanata Sorami, a new bugler recruit in the army, who is stationed in a remote outpost town in the post-apocalyptic borderlands of Helvetia. She lives in a decaying world, where war has regressed humanity back to early 20th century standards, and has resulted in nations fighting for control as an inhospitable desert wasteland approaches. But for the majority of the show, the war takes a backseat, as we follow the everyday life of Kanata and her squad mates in the idyllic border town of Seize.

    Much of the show is a military SoL, that shows the girls interacting with each other, the locals, exploring the town and surrounding mountains, and generally has a light hearted mood about it. However, we are constantly surrounded by mystery and intrigue. What has happened to reduce the world to this decayed state? What is with the strange mix of languages, cultures and technology? What is the truth behind local stories of monsters and heroines, and where do the girls tie in to this? Some of the questions raised in the first episode remain unanswered, although there are plenty of hints and different points of views to consider. This is one of the things that gave the show so much replay value, the fact that you can go back and pick up on little things you’ve missed, and let the mystery either clear up, or get bigger.

    But not all of Sora no Woto is cheery SoL and charming mystery. At times we are reminded of the brutal reality of this world. Military duties, war orphans, PTSD and tragic pasts serve to take the shows calm demeanor, and turn it into one of deadly seriousness and depression. It is a show that gets you when your guard’s down, and personally, that made it so much more fulfilling and enjoyable for me. Those who go into this show expecting “cute girls doing cute things” or “k-on with guns” (which is probably the fault of the character designs) will be very surprised.

    Plot Rating : 9/10

    Characters of Sora no Woto

    I found the characters of Sora no Woto to be very charming. At first they seemed to be fairly plain, but as the series progressed they open up to us a lot, revealing unique and interesting stories and personalities, that may even bring us something new if we rewatch it. I watched a few minutes of it a second ago, and noticed something new about a character I had never noticed before. Sora no Woto keeps you interested in, and learning about, characters, and this is an important thing for any anime.

    I already discussed our main character Kanata in the Plot section above, so I’ll dive straight into the rest of the squad.

    M/Sgt. Rio Kazumiya:

    The second in command of the group, who teaches Kanata to play the bugle. Her no-nonsense, strict attitude most likely comes from her upbringing, which is the subject of some mystery at the start of the show. She is later revealed to play an extremely important role in the world.

    2nd Lt. Filicia Heideman:

    The leader of the group. A fairly relaxed and laid back member of the squad, despite her important position. Filicia is very kind and caring to the other girls, and almost assumes a motherly figure to them. However, she is haunted by the demons of her military past, which made for a very interesting side to the story.

    Pvt. Kureha Suminoya:

    The youngest member of the group, but probably also the one looking to prove herself the most (besides Kanata perhaps). She is a war orphan, whose father was once a well-known tank commander. She, like Rio, has a strict nature, but her childishness often comes out on top of that. She serves as a good reminder that despite the harsh reality of the world around them, these girls are simply that, just young girls trying to live normal day to day lives.

    Cpl. Noël Kannagi:

    One of the stranger members of the group. White haired, fragile looking, unsociable and seemingly emotionless, I wrote her off as “rei-clone” (Ayanami Rei from Evangelion) to begin with, but I was very wrong to do so. She eventually grows out of her quietness, thanks to Kanata. She, like Filicia, has a very dark past, one that prompts her emotions to come welling back later on in the series.

    There are many other minor characters in the show, most of whom serve to build the culture and lore of the world, but all are pieces of a puzzle that make up a great cast.

    Characters: 8/10

    Animation and Artwork of Sora no Woto

    The creators of Sora no Woto must have felt ambitious when designing it, and so they should since it was the first project of that studio. Not only is the plot and characterisation good, the artwork to go with it is good too. There are many scenes in the show I felt were “wallpaper worthy”, so I screenshotted them and displayed them on my desktop screen for weeks. Whether it be the country side, the old Spanish style town of Seize, dreary ruins of war and ages past, or even the characters themselves, in curious WW2 era military gear and clothing, Sora no Woto always provides something detailed and interesting to look at. The artwork depicting Seize, which was based on Cuenca (an ancient town in modern Spain), was especially worthy of mention.

    The animation quality itself was fairly good. The show is full of fluid movement and was pretty constant in its delivery. Unfortunately, the show only had a few moments that required the studio to really flex its animating muscles, but they performed well in those places, and I can’t think of any moments where the animation disappointed me either.

    One possible downside I must mention though, is the “tanks” used in the army. They are seen a few times throughout the show, and one is stationed at the girls outpost (the girls pilot it). I’m fairly sure these were the only use of CGI in the show, and generally I’m not a big fan of CGI in anime at all. However, Sora no Woto’s use of CGI was acceptable to me. The tanks generally looked pretty good, and moved well on screen. I would’ve preferred regular animation, but I don’t think the CGI ruined the show at all

    Animation and Artwork Rating: 7.5/10

    Sounds and Music of Sora no Woto:

    The very experienced Michiru Oshima was the composer for Sora no Woto, and he did an amazing job in my opinion. As I mentioned before, I very much enjoyed the soundtrack for this show. By itself, the mostly classical music is nice to listen to, but in the show it adds another level of mood and feeling. From its playful tunes, to its haunting and tense orchestral pieces, I find it hard to find an OST that matches the way this one adds to the experience.

    The super catchy, although not at all similar, OP and ED of the show were also something that I would look forward to whenever playing an episode, and would often find myself repeating them.

    The voice acting was fine, although not exactly stand out, and honestly I grew tired of some of the squeaky voices of the younger characters. But, it is a regular thing in the industry, and it suited the characters pretty well, so I found it forgivable.

    Sound and Music Rating: 8/10

    Conclusion:

    Sora no Woto is one of my favourites. It’s a favourite for many others too, and garnered a strong following for a while. Story, mood, music and good production value all came together to make a very enjoyable show, one that stays with you for a long time. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see the answers for many of the shows mysteries, but at least we get the awesome replay value that the show provides. It is one of a few anime that I have no problem rewatching over and over, and I would urge everyone to give it a shot too

    Overall Rating: 8/10