This is one of those ‘future retro’ shows, in that it occurs at a time, in an alternate universe, using a different calendar and choosing its era so it is reflective of nothing, but understands everything. That’s a problem with an omnibus approach: you have it all but execute it none.
“The Pilot’s Love Song” (Toaru Hikūshi e no Koiuta, “Love Song for a Certain Pilot“) reminded me a great deal of “The Last Exile” in that there was a 1930s feel to it, when aviation was something daring and dramatic and there was an art deco approach to design so things looked cool, even when they were standing still, but we instill this show with our modern sensibilities.
In this world, we live on a great floating island or rock or land mass called Isla. Ten years earlier, there was the Wind Revolution, which overthrew the ruler, and killed the entire family, a la the Romanovs.
OK, this is a plot give-away, but it’s not that big of a plot give-away. The young son was taken in by a kind man who took pity on him. I mean, what crimes could a six-year-old boy do against a nation? Whiz off the balcony? His new father, Michael Albus, changed his name, but did let him know of his past. He was Prince Karl La Hire; now he is Kal-el Albus (the guy at the left). However, he does have one goal, to kill Nina Viento, the young girl who led the revolution that deposed them all and lead to so many deaths.
However, Isla has a more important goal, to go to the edge of the world, to see what is there. To this end, many of the nation’s youth are pressed into the aviation service, including our ex-prince and his sister Ariel (the last Ariel I knew had red hair. Did we follow suit? Is there someone up there with red hair?). There is also a strange girl, Claire Cruz (our middle maiden), as there is someone hovering over her and protecting her, making sure that she meets her curfew and doesn’t deal with ‘commoners’. What is her secret (Can’t tell you; plot device). But she wants to fly as well.
Well, Karl and Claire end up as pilot and gunnery mate, but they had best learn to work together well fast, as a giant floating rock is going to cause consternation and attacks from your neighbors, which happen. The series covers the journey of this rock to the Edge of the World and the relationships and friendships that are borne of combat.
Don’t get too attached to the support folks, OK? The producers are not afraid to off any of them. This is a nice change of pace, as, in the real world, this stuff occurs. When you do battle, you run a strong risk of someone else taking your bunk later than evening. One thing that confused me was the weaponry. The planes do not have machine guns; your gunner basically hefts an Enfield or an M-14, but is somehow able to down planes with a well-placed shot. Super bullets? Cheap gas tanks? Ammo fairies? It just didn’t seem to ring true. I could basically heave bricks at them for the same kind of destruction. And do you know how hard it is to hit an airplane from 200 feet away going about 100 miles an hour?
When you learn the Big Secret around Episode 5 (something that I had my suspicions about earlier than that), it kind of removes a layer of discovery from you. You are now just waiting for the penny to drop on all of this. Then, when you learn how ultimately futile this whole escapade turned out to be, you are left with a bunch of questions that will get no answer. Perhaps that was a grand point they were making, eh?
Overall, it is an acceptable series, but some of the characters are not likeable (but they survive) and the ones you do like are cut from the roster too soon. And the ending for me seems really slapped together, done more to ensure a second season than to close it out better. Well, the purpose of any show is to get renewed for a second season, right?
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Weird just to be weird)
Plot 6 (It just got in the way)
Pacing 6 (The fights slow it all down)
Effectiveness 6 (Lost because of the extended fights)
Conclusion 2 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but doesn’t hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 6 (Fell apart at the end)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I’ve had my fill.