Toaru Hikuushi E No Koiuta

September 28, 2014

Long ago when I was young, I had this ambition to become a pilot. I don’t know if it was my earnest childhood dream or was it something imbued by my parents since I was the one among my cousins with the best eyesight. At least that was what we used to believe as the main requirement to become a pilot. Many years later, just like any other child with such big dreams, it all fizzles out to be just a distant memory thanks to reality and society. Yeah, just blaming on something, right? Although I never came close to being a pilot or even start taking the first step in chasing that dream, at least I can still watch some pilot themed anime, right? That’s like a consolation prize, right? No? Okay, whatever. Anyway having watched Toaru Hikuushi E No Koiuta (The Pilot’s Love Song) reminded me of this old dream. And no, it didn’t rekindle it either.

As I later found out, this is part of the Hikuushi (Pilot or more accurately, Airplane) light novel series by Koroku Inumura. There was a film called Toaru Hikuushi E No Tsuioku (The Princess And The Pilot) that came out in 2011 but I didn’t see it so I am not sure if this anime series has some sort of direct connection in the Hikuushi universe. I am sure in a way it does since how far do different worlds in an author’s work deviate? That’s just my hunch. As far as this fantasy and pilot themed anime is concerned, this story is about an ex-prince of a kingdom who leaves for a journey of no return. With only hatred and vengeance on his mind, the journey will have him meet several people and he will learn about love and friendship.

Episode 1
Kal-el and Ariel Albus are part of the many new trainee pilots embarking on a journey to find the End of the Sky. In a grand emotional farewell ceremony that sees families and parents parting from their beloved children, the pilots soon fly in formation accompanying the giant floating island of Isla. It is narrated about some old legend that some drop rained for 7 days and nights and spread across the flagstone. However it fell off the edge and into the abyss. The flagstone mourned and pleaded to God to save the rain. The rain again pooled upon the 2 flagstones and split once more. When it split a third time, it created the Holy Spring which shot water high into the sky. Part of the flagstone flew up with it and it became an island floating in the sky, Isla. To solve the mystery beginning the Creation Myth of Saint Aldista, thus a journey is set out for the End of the Sky which humanity has never seen before. Nina Viento gives the official signal to go forth. Kal-el is overcome with rage upon seeing her but Ariel’s distraction took all that anger away. Due to wind turbulence, Kal-el and Ariel had a bumpy landing on the pilot academy on Isla. Fellow pilot, Ignacio Axis had the same problem too but when Kal-el tries to cheer him up, Ignacio ignores him like he never existed. Such foul mood. Even among the trainees, nobles have better treatment than commoners in which Kal-el and Ariel belong to. Uh huh. They have to walk all the way to their dorm whom Shizuka Hazome is the manager. Kal-el and Ariel’s constant bickering feels like some sort of a running gag for the series because each is claiming the other as the little sibling. So who is really the younger one? Later that evening as Kal-el is in one of his frustration mode about this journey to the unknown, he meets this beautiful girl, Claire Cruz having trouble with her bicycle. At first she was afraid of him but he offers to fix it and accompany her back to her home at Van Whyl since she is under a curfew. He peddles her back as they admire the sunset scenery. Because Isla is flying among the clouds, it feels like as though they are flying through it. Felt good? Well, they can’t see where they’re going so they crash into the lake. Felt good? But you can tell that some sort of romance is blooming between them when they’re staring at each other’s eyes for too long. Once they reach the guard post, Claire has to go it alone as only nobles are allowed beyond this point. But it made Kal-el’s day. Happy to have met such a pretty lady. And then it suddenly turns to a big frown when he thinks about his late mother.

Episode 2
Nina is the provisional governor part of the Council of Four administrators overseeing the governing of Isla. They know this is going to be a one way trip. The trainee pilots assemble on their first day. Legendary pilot, Admiral Luis De Alarcon gives his speech that includes the 3 known continents occupied by the nations of Balsteros, Qi and Benares. The countries are separated by a great endless waterfall and the spring in the midst of the vast ocean is known as the Holy Spring. Luis is said to be the only pilot to have seen it. Legend says that sometimes flying rock islands appear from the Holy Spring and will cross the seas eventually reaching a place they know nothing of which they call End of the Sky. While Kal-el and Ariel are out in town, they make friends with childhood friends, Benjamin Sharif and Sharon Morcoz. Nearby, a commotion between a noble, Fausto Fidel Melze and commoners, Noriaki Kashiwabara and Nanako Hanasaki. Noriaki accidentally spilled his ice cream on Fausto’s shirt. Fausto wants to mete out discipline when big guy Wolfgang Baumann walks up to Fausto and wipes the ice cream off his shirt with his handkerchief. An untoward incident is averted. Back in the dorm, the boys and girls cook dinner and everyone is amazed at Ariel’s good cooking. Some introduce themselves and their reasons for joining this pilot academy. Juan Rodrigo Bandereas becomes their homeroom teacher and he makes them run to the hangar. Good workout? Kal-el is looking for Claire but she is nowhere to be seen. That’s because Countess Ulshyrra seems to be against her of going to school. But uncle Luis makes his decision that she will attend the aerial division of the school.

Bandereas and Sonia Palez explain to the trainees the basics of the plane they will be flying. Mitsuo Fukuhara is a plane enthusiast and eagerly shares his knowledge on it. However Benjamin questions Isla’s military might because of the heavy artillery and weapons on the island. What are they defending against? Well, he is told to shut up and focus on his training. Because the plane fits 2 pilots, it is essential for them to pair up with a partner they trust. So the pairings are predictably like this: Benjamin-Sharon, Mitsuo-Chiharu De Lucia (because chubby boy has a crush on this babe) and Wolfgang-Marco Santos (I can’t help think how gay this pairing is). Ariel is cock sure that Kal-el would end up pairing with her and is waiting for him to come ask her. When Claire finally arrives, Fausto thinks of asking her to be her partner but Kal-el beats him to it. Fausto tries to use his family’s connection and status to scare him but Kal-el hits back that the only reason his family is on Isla is because they are exiled. Fausto doesn’t think Kal-el knows about etiquette but on the contrary, he knows more about it than him. He gets down on his knees and takes Claire’s hand (like a proposal?) and requests her to be his partner in which she accepts. Shocking? In that case, who the hell will Ariel pair with? I guess she has no choice. Ignacio doesn’t have a partner too. The trainees take their planes to the sky as Kal-el remembers he told his mom he wanted to be a pilot and fly forever. Mom agreed to it and also doesn’t want anyone to tie him down. At the end of the flight, the commoners get to know Claire and some are surprised at her decision to pair with a commoner than a noble. But as Ignacio tells us, Kal-el is no commoner. He is watching Kal-el who was once the crown prince of the Balsteros Empire, Karl La Hire.

Episode 3
Claire is given a taste of Ariel’s curry. It’s good! So damn good that the rest of the guys start devouring it like as though there is some sort of drug in it. Really! Happy mood slightly ruined when Ignacio comes in and then leaves. Claire needs to go home since it’s almost her curfew. Kal-el wants to accompany her but Claire is fine of her own. The rest wonder if it’s a good idea. Shouldn’t he go after her? Next day in training, the reason why the plane carries 2 pilots is that one flies it and the other is a gunner. If you ask me, I thought it was pretty silly that the gunner had to carry a rifle. I thought there should be a gun stuck to the plane! How can you aim properly in such windy altitude? No wonder Kal-el is having a hard time till Claire tells him the best position to aim better. By that time, he is already out of bullets. Down on the grounds, Fausto tries to court Claire. It leads to a talk that a member of the Melze family, Leopold was a hero during the Wind Revolution. Nanako has heard a rumour that the ex-crown prince of Balsteros has snuck on this island seeking revenge against Nina. Of course everyone dismisses it since the crown prince died during the revolution. But Kal-el knows it better. 6 years ago when the rebels led by Frontier Duke Ameriano attacked the palace, with the help of Nina’s wind power, they brought down the royalty. The people were rejoiced when they were overthrown and no love lost. Karl was seething with anger especially with Nina who stood there staring at them with her cold stare. Karl’s father was beheaded and Balsteros became a republic. Karl and his mom were imprisoned. She wanted Karl to forgive because if he does so, the light will wipe away the darkness. Mother is taken away, paraded like a pig and that was the last Karl saw of her. Probably the prison security was lax (or the guard pitying the kid) so Karl broke out and tried to chase after her but to no avail. Because they cannot send a child to the guillotine, they had him rot in prison instead. Prison warden, Michael Albus decided to adopt Karl as his son while his colleague was to make the people convince that the former crown prince is dead. The trainees will be flying away from Isla for the first time. While flying in formation, Fausto and his lackeys decide to ‘bully’ Kal-el. They purposely try to ram him and although they miss, it sends Kal-el flying into the clouds. He starts to panic when he cannot see so Claire had to calm him down and guide him to read his instruments. They manage to get out of the cloud but are separated from everyone. They don’t know the way back to Isla so they land on sea to conserve fuel while sending SOS. However a big storm is approaching.

Episode 4
There is nothing much the rest can do but wait as the knights are out on a search. The surprising part is Ignacio trying to sneak back on a plane but was slapped by Bandereas to cool his head. Ariel takes this chance to tell the rest how Kal-el came to be part of her family shortly after the Wind Revolution. Her other sisters were thrilled to get a little brother but Ariel seems unable to accept him. Making it worse for her, they are of the same age but he is a day older than her. Because he is always gloomy and never said anything, Ariel told him off about his manners and that she should be the elder one. I guess this is why they always argue the other is the younger one. But Ariel understood his pain of not having a mom around. Hers died when she was born. But Ariel can’t tell the rest about his true identity. One day they were watching a play in the square about the Wind Revolution. A boy from the audience picked up a stone and threw at the ‘queen’. Karl became upset and wanted him to apologize to his mom. It was then Ariel knew he was the former crown prince. The storm has died down so Kal-el and Claire take this chance to dry their clothes and fish for food. No luck with that. Kal-el tells her how Michael took him for a test flight in his plane. He was amazed with the surroundings. He was shown the ocean. Nobody knows what lies beyond it and so Michael wanted him to go find the End of the Sky for him. On that day, he resolved to become a pilot. They talk about Ariel and despite they fight a lot and views cooking as her only good point, Claire believes she cares for him and is worried about him right now. Claire thinks about the rumours that the former crown prince is on board to kill Nina and how similar Kal-el’s circumstances are. She hopes it isn’t true. Next morning, the knights find them and fly them back to Isla. First thing, Ariel beats Kal-el up for worrying everybody. All he could do is apologize because there is nothing more you can do when you see your step sister cry and worry like that. Claire returns to her home and Ulshyrra isn’t pleased this incident happened, reminding her why she was so against about her going to flight school. She has her change into her attire… OMG! I wouldn’t have guessed it! After putting a wig, makeup and that familiar priestess outfit… She is Nina!!!!

Episode 5
It’s been 4 months since Isla left on a journey. The trainees are working hard in training. After that rigorous water training, they are left to their own device to relax. It would be a waste to go back so everyone follows Ariel lead to stay and play in the lake and even make camp. She even makes Ignacio join them. Kal-el and Claire are gathering firewood in the forest and suddenly realize they’re lost. This isn’t going to be something habitual, isn’t it? It’s getting dark. They run. They trip. Perfect setup for a romantic mood. Till it is ruined with Shizuka watching them with eyes so big. It’s her usual stroll. Don’t worry. She won’t tell. Claire leaves before her curfew and shortly Ignacio too. He tells Kal-el that he knows who he is and isn’t here to pretend to be people’s friend. This has Kal-el remember that last year the government approached him and knew the former crown prince was alive. Albeit only a handful knows about this. Even so, Kal-el refused to be their puppet. So the government told him about the Isla project that Nina will be on. Michael was against it since it is like exiling him but Kal-el was genuinely interested. Meanwhile the Council notes that they are fast approaching the Holy Spring. Even if they find it, they note themselves as outcasts from their home country and have no place to return. This makes Nina remember she too is an unwanted doll. As far as she can remember, she grew up in the outskirts of Balsteros and had this strange wind powers. However people accused her as a witch and her family was threatened with death. Before she was taken away, she killed all the villagers with her wind power. A cleric viewed her powers as the wind god Saint Aldista and hopes she can lend her powers. After the Wind Revolution when she saw Karl’s eye filled with angst, it was when she realized the sinner she was. A year before Isla project, Luis met her and showed her flying. Claire sees the similarity in Kal-el and Karl that she starts to fear him. Even in the mock dogfight class, the tension causes them to be not in coordination. So obvious that the rest can tell. Kal-el soothes her by saying he wants to be her partner and fly with her in the sky. Claire too wants these times to last forever. Now they’re back to normal and in sync, everyone is glad they’re flying well again. Suddenly airplanes believed to be guardians of the Holy Spring appear. The drill is put on hold and an order is issued to take every one of them down.

Episode 6
Isla has finally reached the Holy Spring. The Council which consists of Luis, foreign secretary Amelia, Leopold and finance secretary Marx discuss that the captured Sky Clan members revealed that they will attack those who enter Holy Spring. Although they are using obsolete planes, Leopold suggests using the trainees to fight them. Speaking of them, Ariel and co are serving special Ari-men noodles that have their customer falling in love with its delicious taste. With Claire accidentally hurting her finger over a broken bowl, Ariel takes her away to treat her. Funny, I thought Kal-el would want to do that but instead he stayed back to make Ari-men, thinking he has observed Ariel enough to make her special noodles. He flopped. Noriaki and Benjamin even tried but fail badly. Till Ignacio had his hands on them and they come out perfect. When Claire is able to serve again, she is surprised to see Luis among the customers. He is in disguised and is checking on her. He tells her he has spoken with Ulshyrra and shouldn’t have a thing to worry. She should continue to have fun. Bandereas and Sonia join Luis. The guys know each other since their naval trainee days. On to more important discussions, Bandereas isn’t happy Luis is going to use his students for the recon mission although Luis asserts it was Leopold’s idea. They hope it won’t turn into a war zone. Chiharu overheard this and feels sad. At the end of the day, Ari-men is a hit and they made a killing with the profits. Even so, Ariel probably is so fed up with it that she doesn’t want to make it anymore in her life. Otherwise she can’t be a pilot. This causes Chiharu to feel she isn’t good in anything and her misery compounded with Noriaki nonchalantly saying she might have got along with anybody who is good with anything. While everyone else frolics in the room, Chiharu and Mitsuo chat outside together. Although Mitsuo praises her improving piloting skills, she explains her mom used to tell her she is useless so the reason why she ended up here. It’s like she was running away. She is glad she came here and met him. They hold hands and hope they can fly these skies forever.

Episode 7
Sky Clan attacks Isla in little skirmishes so Leopold orders every available plan to attack and the trainees to do recon. Kal-el, Ariel, Claire, Ignacio, Marco and Wolfgang are to stay back and provide AA support. Shortly after the rest take off, Ulshyrra has Claire and Ignacio come back with them and the other quartet to remain on standby. As Claire is part of the government, she must keep in mind she is a figurehead and her presence is to inspire everyone from the centre. That’s why Ignacio was hired as her bodyguard since she lost her wind powers. Although Isla forces emerge victorious, Luis feels strange that the enemy sent a weak attack. Like as though something is waiting to ambush them ahead. Mitsuo and Chiharu fly higher ahead and spot a large fleet of enemy bombers and escort planes. Isla is running into an ambush alright. They relay the message back so Leopold orders all the planes to be equipped with bombs. Although the trainee pilots have returned and awaiting standby, Mitsuo and Chiharu continue to follow the enemy and keep tabs from a distance. When Isla forces arrive, the enemy shuts off their lights. Now they can’t see in the dark night and there is a chance they might collide. Mitsuo is in a dilemma to fire the flare for lighting. Doing so may risk them getting shot down but if they don’t, the mission will fail. Chiharu tells him to fire it since they want to protect Isla and are confident they will come back alive. Right after Mitsuo fires it, all the enemy planes start targeting them. The lighting isn’t enough so they pull off a daring move to fire it from the top centre to give Isla forces a better overall view. Isla forces attack but now enemy escort planes are hot on Mitsuo and Chiharu’s tail. Mitsuo gets hit by a bullet in the gut. He knows he won’t last long so he tells Chiharu to abandon ship and he will jump with her. But after he tells her never give up to be a pilot, he pushes her off and continues to pilot the plane. Then the enemies shoot and destroy the plane. Chiharu could have been shot too if not for Bandereas and Sonia arriving to dispose of them and pick her up. Chiharu breaks down now that Mitsuo is dead. Meanwhile Kal-el and the rest make a sortie as enemy planes are attacking defenceless Isla.

Episode 8
Isla is being invaded by Sky Clan’s fighter planes making progress inwards and destroying the town. Claire rushes off with Ignacio not far behind. Kal-el and the other pilots fend off the sky attackers but seriously, you think their rifle is going to stand a chance against those Zero planes with machine guns on board?! It’s no surprise they’re being taken down one by one. Even if they can fire accurately and take out some planes, how many can they shoot down? There’s like an entire battalion of reinforcements. The enemy is also dropping paratroopers to invade on land. Sharon almost had a close encounter with death when an enemy trooper advances but thanks to Ignacio’s sharp shooting from the woods, he takes out all the enemy and Isla ground forces regain control of the ground. Back to Kal-el, it took them long enough to realize that they’re sitting ducks and will be shot down at this rate. They try to head back to town but casualties are mounting when Fausto and Wolfgang are shot dead. When Ariel gets hit and lies unconscious, Kal-el becomes a mad and desperate guy. Heck, he is the only one left! He notices the silver fox emblem on the enemy’s plane. He probably never prayed so hard before and God might have answered his prayers when Ariel wakes up. But she can’t last long as she is losing blood fast. A single-seater plane with a seagull logo comes flying in fast and takes out all the enemies like how all heroes do it. When the main Isla air forces return, they wrest control back of their skies. Cleaning up is going to be messy in the aftermath. They have no way to receive new supplies either. All the more, the high casualty rate is the ultimate price they paid. Kal-el is blaming himself as he sits by Ariel’s bed. All that whining may have woken her up. They take a look at the reality at hand. It is sad some died but they fought to protect what they believe. Ariel teases him that he heard his prayer when he thought she was dead. He would become her little brother, would he? Can’t live without her too? But when she calls him her big brother, it’s like he is not used to it and wants to be called the little brother like always. So being the smaller one is better? Meanwhile Amelia deciphers a letter left by the lone fighter plane. It states that they are of the same blood and believe in the same Myth of Saint Aldista. They would like to work and solve the secrets of the world together. This is written by the Holy Levamme Empire’s High Consul, Fana Levamme.

Episode 9
In a sombre episode, an official funeral for the brave is held. Nina/Claire can only hold back her emotions each time a friend’s name is mentioned. Her heart is screaming and tearing to bits inside. The rest later pay their respects at the memorial. Chiharu blames herself for screwing up. Ariel calms her down but eventually it’s better to let all those tears flow. Nina has a meeting with the Council and currently as they are, they cannot defeat the Sky Clan without Levamme’s help. It is best they cooperate as they too are fighting against them. Kal-el cannot sleep since he is having nightmares for those deaths he saw with his own eyes. He runs to the memorial only to see Claire. She runs away but he catches her. He wants to see her and is glad she is okay. But it’s not the same for Claire. She thinks of quitting flight school and views herself a coward. She doesn’t want to see him again. Maybe it wasn’t the right time but then again, when would that be? Because they kiss and Kal-el confesses he loves her. But she still looks sad. She hints they have met before during the Wind Revolution and wants to confirm if he is Karl. Once she does, it is more the reason why they can’t see each other again. The enemy conducts a night bombing raid. The lighting and that expression of Claire’s face resembles very much like Nina. It was then Kal-el realizes. Can you imagine his feeling right now? It’s like God was trying to screw with his life. The woman he loves is also the one he hates and trying to kill. With every able body trying to rebuild the town, as suggested by Luis, Claire agrees to go down to the ground to talk to the people and boost their morale. She also decides to cast away this name and become Nina for good.

Now that she is close with the commoners, Ariel can tell she is Claire with all that fancy makeup and outfit. Know she understands why Kal-el locked himself in his room and has eyes that look like he hates everything in the world. She tries to approach her but Ignacio holds her back. However he has her push him so he could feign being pushed aside and give her time to talk to Nina. She wants her to come back but Nina can’t fly with everyone anymore and is sad that Kal-el will remember his past every time he looks at her. Ariel will handle Kal-el. So she goes talk to him outside his room and reveals her dad once had a son but died. Her mom died after she was born because they were too poor to go see a doctor. Poverty was the reason why the rebellion took place. By every right, Michael had the right to hate the royalty. But instead he took in their surviving son and raised him with love and care and even taught him to fly. To him, he will always be her dad’s son. If that didn’t convince him, Ariel mentions she has decided to quit flying school since her injury means she can’t handle the throttle like normal. She’ll be a mechanic. Kal-el covers his ears pretending not to hear. Ignacio can’t stand this and has heard it all. He wants Ariel or others not to interfere. He breaks down the door, punches him in the gut, then carries him out and throws him into the cold lake. You mad, bro?

Episode 10
Ignacio tells us he and his mom lived in a corner of the palace unnoticed because mother was part of the king’s concubine. Their peaceful life is shattered as the Wind Revolution neared and they got kicked out. Ignacio felt so pitiful for his mom who suffered so much so he wanted to kill the royal family and Karl and make them know what true suffering is all about. Back to those guys, Ignacio tells him off the girls have more guts than him because they’re doing their best unlike him he stays lock up and cry. He has him think back about what Ariel said about quitting flight school. Even Claire has made the same decision for knowing that it will only bring Kal-el pain now that he knows her true identity. Another alert for the enemy approaching is sounded. Ulshyrra lets Ignacio do what he wants for now and if he survives there will be another mission waiting for him. Because they do not have enough manpower and escort for the observation plane to gauge the enemy’s whereabouts, they have to use the trainees again. Sonia upon hearing this shuts the transmitter and tears off her badge. She quits the military and tells the trainees as an individual not to go on this mission. For they will be throwing away their lives just so they can judge the enemy’s distance. She will take responsibility on this and wants them to leave on a bus to a shelter. I’m sure those trainees value their lives and make haste. Except for Noriaki. He’s staying. Want to play hero? Don’t worry, Benjamin will come along with him. So he wants to play hero too, huh? Sharon disagrees but Benjamin wants to prove that he is stronger than before. He promises to come back alive. I hope that kiss wasn’t a goodbye kiss.

And latecomer Kal-el just came in late. Missed everything, huh? Oh, he too wants to be a hero and take to the skies. Uh huh. Using the excuse of not wanting to regret doing nothing. I guess once a guy makes up his mind, nothing can budge him. But who will be his partner? Ignacio! Oh yeah. This completes the line up of the guys playing heroes while the girls just sit back and play safe. Who are the smarter ones here? Hey, where’s Marco? I think he is too injured to even be part of the gang anymore. Besides, Wolfgang isn’t around so what’s the deal? Yeah, yeah. They’ll come back for sure. The enemy directly attacks Isla. Ignacio shows his superb skills as he guns down the enemy planes. He even teaches Kal-el to fly into the clouds to lure the enemies into a trap. While things are going well on their side, Noriaki is starting to panic. Not so good now, aren’t we? However he manages to dodge and escape and this impresses Benjamin. Because he is always good at running away, right? Sometimes your guts have the tendency to abandon you in the middle and that is what Noriaki is feeling about having the courage to do all this. He hears Mitsuo’s voice to believe in himself. That gave him enough courage to trudge on. Unfortunately the observation plane is shot down and the enemy soon releases smokescreen to hide themselves. They can see you but you can’t see them. So what will it be? They’ve already got one foot in the grave, right? They’re already up here so might as well. Let’s do it!

Episode 11
Nina tries to summon her wind power but there is no response. Benjamin relays the enemy’s position back to Luna Barco and they have a destroyer with equal firepower. But thanks to the smokescreen the enemy has the advantage. Leopold and his men wonder if they can trust information sent by those trainees so Nina tells them that they’re risking their lives to relay data. However their data is not accurate enough and they need to get closer. Kal-el and Ignacio will help take out the enemies so Benjamin and Noriaki can concentrate in collecting data. They get close enough to relay accurate data but the enemy gunners fire. Benjamin is in a daze. He realizes he lost his right hand. However, remembering Sharon made him get up as he has a promise to fulfil. Luna Barco fires directly and destroys the enemy destroyer. Unfortunately Noriaki and Benjamin’s plane has blown up. Thankfully they ejected. I suppose Kal-el wanted to pick them up but there is just no room. All he could do is just scream for them as they float down and disappear below. Kal-el becomes so mad that he turns into an ace pilot! Ignacio is disturbed that he got what it takes to be a great pilot. The enemy planes fire all they got at Luna Barco. Its main engines are hit and they cannot maintain altitude. Nina accepts her fate to die here when she sees Kal-el flying by. She goes out to the deck to speak to him (I wonder how they can hear each other at that altitude and speed). Casting away her disguise, she apologizes for the pain she caused to his family and doesn’t expect to be forgiven. However she has changed him and meeting him was the best thing that happened to her. Those are her treasured memories. So it’s I love you and goodbye. Kal-el finally understood his mom’s words of not letting hatred swallow him. His reply to Claire is to live. Just then, Claire could feel the wind power in her activating. Singing a love song, she unleashes a powerful wind to protect everyone and at the same time blow all the enemies away. Thanks to her wind power, Luna Barco is able to maintain altitude. I thought it was just too late because the Levamme Empire allies arrive to take out what is left of the enemy. Sure, wait till things get critical before coming in and steal the glory, won’t you? Some allies they are. The survivors make it back to Isla. Ignacio maintains his cockiness that it is his skills that had them survive. He won’t shake hands either. Now, before the girls could start crying that there more of their boys got killed, they receive a pleasant surprised when badly bruised Bandereas lands shortly and has retrieved Benjamin and Noriaki.

Episode 12
The Sky Clan was driven off after the battle. Nina and the Council welcome and meet Marcos Guerrero, a commander of the Levamme Empire. He explains this world there are some countries separated like isolated islands but all share the same roots and myths. The Sky Clan cannot be negotiated with as they have continued opposing anyone ever crossing the Holy Spring let alone to the End of the Sky. If they keep fighting, they will only exhaust their resources. An unidentified plane believed from the Sky Clan drops a message. They offer a truce but in exchange they want Nina. After witnessing her wind power, they believe she is some sort of messiah that will lead them to greater prosperity as told in their legends. They want her so much that they are willing to bend their policy of killing anyone who enters the Holy Spring. Luis is against Nina turning herself in but she has decided. She wants to do her duty. While the other girls find out Claire is Nina, Kal-el talks to Ariel and he hints that he still likes her very much. Since she makes him admit his love for her, she’ll think what she can do. Next day, they are outside Nina’s residence. The guards won’t let them in just because they are friends but thanks to Ignacio, they got in easily. Claire puts up a strong front but when Ariel hands her letters from everyone, she breaks down. Alone with Kal-el, he thinks they should just run away together. He realizes he is still in love with her and doesn’t want to part. What? You crazy? Where are you going to run away to? But Claire is going to do her job and not going to be just a sacrifice. She gives him her necklace as memento. They hope to see each other again. Before she boards the plane, Kal-el promises he will come back here to get her back no matter how long it takes. Ignacio says his goodbye too. He is part of the 20 guards who will accompany Claire there to protect her. He calls Kal-el his big brother. Is that some sign of approval? And so Kal-el leads his team to the End of the Sky. It is a light of rainbow. Everyone on Isla has been evacuated onto Levamme Empire. When Isla enters the End of the Sky, it starts disappearing. More like everything got vaporized. I don’t know. They say this is part of the legend how the floating island is supposed to return to the rainbow at the End of the Sky. This special moment is recorded on camera as they scatter sakura petals and celebrate with some aerial dance.

Episode 13
Back at Balsteros, there is a long line heading to the main square. Because tomorrow is the day where our heroes will return from their long journey. It must have been a long time since Kal-el and the rest have this matured and grown up look. We are told how this world looks. The world is flat! It sits on some huge floating rock and the ocean is like a staircase formation. The rainbow light blocks the water from falling off the edge. It gets temporarily destroyed before regenerating from the Holy Spring. Once the heroes return, Luis tells from A to Z what happened on their journey. He then introduces Kal-el who wastes no time in revealing himself as the former crown prince. He is here to request their help to save a person they love: Nina. He once hated her with all his might after the Wind Revolution. But after his journey on Isla, he learnt to forgive. This is the recipe they need to build a happy future. He announces he loves Nina and wants to take her back for she sacrificed herself so that their journey could be completed. Kal-el rallies the crowd to begin a second Isla plan. So now they love him? Oh yeah. To forgive. Shizuka takes a picture of the graduating class. Then she disappears. She meets up with suspicious people and wants them to contact their mother country. If there is a second Isla plan, they need to intervene. Kal-el and Ariel have an emotional reunion with their family. Kal-el will be leaving himself with the other military in their next journey. This time he is given a single seater plane used by the Aerial Knights. He is about to say his goodbye to Ariel but she punches him in the gut before he could say a word. She thought he would say something cheesy… So he takes off and they all wish he will come back and of course bring back Claire with him. Ariel sheds her last tears and wishes her prince goodbye. Not all love songs can be sung. In the aftermath, everyone returns to their ordinary lives. Chiharu visits Mitsuo’s parents to hand them his medal of honour. Isla and Levamme Empire cooperate to take out the enemy. Kal-el gets help from that seagull single seater plane again. He could hear Claire’s voice and remembers the sky on that day when they first met. So sit tight, he’s coming to get you.

Reach For The (End Of The) Sky
That feeling… It feels like a potential sequel is warranted for. But let’s not get too far ahead and focus on this season itself. Honestly, this little series itself is a pretty decent romance and adventure genre but there were a handful of things that I couldn’t really comprehend and connect the dots together and thus reducing my enjoyment level here. For example when Isla left on a journey to the End of the Sky, they were going on a journey with no return. To say that they are not expecting to come back alive? And all the families were happy enough to send their young children on their death voyage. Unless only those handful of people like those in the Council would know about this. They also did say that they are outcast and with nowhere to go. But Nina as the governor of Isla hated by others? I thought she was very much loved? And that mind boggling part at the end where everything decimates when they touch the rainbow. So people, remember you do not find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but total annihilation of your existence!

Seriously, why was the Sky Clan so vehement in preventing others from reaching the End of the Sky? What is it that they want to hide or don’t want others to know? I mean, if they wanted to destroy their enemies, just let them fly into it and get decimated lah! Why the need to go all out and lose your pilots and fighter planes in some meaningless aerial dogfights? They don’t know that the rainbow kills, right? And now that we know how the world looks like, shouldn’t those Isla people have gone to another direction where there is no Sky Clan? I mean, the entire world is surrounded by that rainbow, right? So why must it be that certain spot, right where Sky Clan is based? My guts tell me they don’t have the entire army guarding the entire perimeter of the rainbow. Another mind boggling factor is the fact that Balsteros sits in one corner of the world. Not to say close to the edge but at the opposite end of where Levamme Empire is. So doesn’t it make them close to that rainbow as well? Shouldn’t they have flown the other direction? And how did that flying island Isla came about? I don’t understand the legendary poetry so maybe I was already lost there. Besides, certain unexplained stuffs like the mysterious seagull airplane and why we have never seen the faces of a single Sky Clan enemy, I have a hunch this has something to do with the movie since I briefly read its synopsis that the setting is based in the Levamme Empire.

Aside all those stuffs and sometimes the general plot of the series having the Isla people trying to reach their goal but the enemy always blocks their path may seem thin, the focus is mostly on the characters but even that too I felt it was just pretty decent and bordering mediocre. The big bulk is of course Kal-el and Claire/Nina and to a certain Ariel. But not big enough that I feel that had to put in other supporting casts just to make up for the extra space. Those other characters I feel as though they are redundant and I had the feeling they would be killed off in the end. Yeah, everybody should have died. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad that some of them still lived. Because with Mitsuo, Wolfgang and Fausto biting the dust, taking out Noriaki and Benjamin would be just in bad taste because you don’t want to have the girls singing where have all the young men gone.

The most evident being Marco. He was Wolfgang’s partner and I don’t see how he actually survived even assuming if he manages to land the plane safely but during that chaotic battle, I was pretty sure the enemy was ruthless and not letting a single one of them get away. So when they show Marco alive but injured at Wolfgang’s memorial, that is the last you’ll see of him because after that, who knows where he’s been to. I hope he didn’t commit suicide. Because if his role is to be tossed into such obscurity, might as well kill him off in the first place and save us the trouble of us wondering about his whereabouts. Heck, he wasn’t even part of the group photo of the gang during the graduation part. So should he have been dead? Better that way, huh? Mind boggling note: Benjamin lost his right arm, right? It was clearly blown off. So how the heck did he get it back?! Mechanical arm? Super surgery to glue it back? Or just magic? At least they could do is explain this little bit or else people would start asking about his right arm. He is no Eren of Shingeki No Kyojin so I am sure he can’t grow it back.

Their development is shallow if you look at it and if they were cast as nameless extras, I think the storyline would still progress. They do have their little moments but like I said, it just fills like filling in the extra gaps. They can add another 100 more friends to the list and have them all killed in battle and in the end they wouldn’t matter anyway. So this journey did change all those on it. Especially Kal-el who turns his hate into love. How many would fall in love with the enemy who was responsible for killing your family? But Kal-el didn’t put up much of this hatred and vengeance expression on his initial arrival on Isla. Maybe he’s got a good poker face just so not to lose sight of his goal. Of course he met Claire and probably that feeling of love is much better than carrying on his life with hate. Until he finds out… But that is just something temporary. So remember people, the power of love and forgiveness. Not only popes and saints can do it but ordinary people like you and me too.

I don’t know about the naming sense of Kal-el or if it is just coincidence because many comic book fans would know that this name more popularly as Superboy’s birth name. Although I am not a fan of Superman comic books nor do I have extensive knowledge about him, I can’t see anything that makes them similar except that they are both young and they ‘fly’. Well, this Kal-el at least flies in an airplane, right? I don’t know how he came up with this moniker or more importantly how the author chose this but Kal-el isn’t just an ordinary name that you can just come up with by plucking out from the air. So is the author paying some sort of tribute to Superman or just some sort of fan?

Claire seems to have this guilty expression ever since the start of the series. Has she been reflecting her actions ever since she saw young Karl in the eye? Just like Kal-el too, she changes. She becomes the big ‘sacrifice’ in the end so that everyone could live. Yeah, it somewhat ruined the ending. A guy who doesn’t get his girl in the end? In the midst of going to get her doesn’t count. Because it still feels like unfinished business. If Claire isn’t around, Ariel feels like the person to fill that gap for Kal-el and someone who supports and guides him back to the right path. Ignacio is a tsundere. Not many guys have the honour of this tag. Seriously. He acts like as though he dislikes Kal-el and his gang but then eventually goes to help them out but with that moody face of his. Gradually, he seeks ways to help them in subtle ways and if not for this moody part of his, he could have been the best character of the series since he is quite resourceful and improvising. Most mysterious character goes to Shizuka. This dorm manager may look like your little sister but with her creepy ability to pop up just about anywhere unnoticed, you’d wonder who the heck she is. It becomes more interesting as it is revealed in the end that she is some sort of a spy. Maybe that is why the enemies know something about Isla… Her true goal is yet to be seen and definitely she is more than meets the eye instead of being some unimportant extra.

The romance part is also okay too but I don’t really quite feel it. Nothing spectacular. Yeah. The ending spoilt it all. There are a few scenes of Kal-el and Claire spending time together (some very close enticing moments too) but something tells us that this romance isn’t going to last especially once Claire’s true identity as Nina is revealed and you’d be wondering how Kal-el will be facing this. In the end, I thought it felt a bit rushed and cheesy for them to ultimately realize that they love each other more than they hated the other. There are hints that Ariel has feelings for Kal-el but I guess she hides it by being his sparring partner. Although they are not blood related, would it not be weird if you have your sister suddenly confessing she loves you? It could have been a love triangle but thankfully I don’t think this would have turned out well. The romance for the other supporting casts also feels fleeting. You can guess the pairing of Benjamin-Sharon, Noriaki-Nanako and Mitsuo-Chiharu. It’s just sad that Chiharu and Mitsuo couldn’t be together in the end. Will she move on? I wanted to think Wolfgang and Marco too but I am not keen on ‘new possibilities’.

I have mixed feelings for the aerial action. Certain scenes with the planes in dogfights are exhilarating and exciting but at other times it feels a little lame. Especially the odd part of the twin seater planes that the trainee use, I still cannot believe that the gunner used a manual rifle and have to take time manually reloading the bullets. Unless you’re as big as Wolfgang because he carried his big machine gun alone with him. But with most trainees the skinny kind, I don’t think so. I don’t know what kind of bullets they are using but a single one is able to take out a plane like as though it is equivalent to unloading an entire round of ammunition or using some thicker bullet.

On a trivial note, the next episode preview is the most amusing segment in the series. Narrated by Ignacio, it has that tsundere complaining and grumbling about that idiot Kal-el. It is like as though everything he does is just fail and he could have done it better. Maybe. But really, to put down Kal-el like that (although it is quite mild) makes it as though Ignacio is just one grumpy person who is never satisfied with what Kal-el does. The funniest part is how before he can finish his ranting or sentence, he is abruptly cut off with the next episode’s title. Hah! It’s like telling him to shut up and that we are not here to listen to his tirade. Doesn’t he get tired of complaining so much? We do. Kal-el may not be perfect like he is but cut him some slack, okay? Of course for the penultimate episode he manages to finish what he has to say before it all. Maybe he doesn’t have anything much to say and learnt his lesson to make it short. All those words and long sentences don’t mean anything after all and nobody is going to remember them.

The drawing and art for the sceneries may be okay and some are pleasing to the eye. However it is the character designs that I feel is a big time fail. They look so plain and odd at certain angles that I wonder if the producers did put enough effort in this department. In a way they look uninspiring and just boring too. Because I have seen too many animes, I believe I see shades of other anime characters here. The biggest one that struck my mind was how Ignacio looked so much like L-elf from Valvrave The Liberator! Heck, his personality is almost as similar! At first I thought what was this cool character doing in such an anime. Then there is Sonia. Doesn’t she look a bit like Annie from Shingeki No Kyojin? I was afraid she might turn into a Titan… And Noriaki, doesn’t he share some resemblance to Gon from Hunter x Hunter? Oh, Shizuka looks like Chibi Maruko-chan but with her eyes closed… What about Bandereas? Something tells me he was made in reference to that Spanish Hollywood actor, Antonio Banderas. See the near similarities? Leopold looks like a blonde version of Mario, doesn’t he? I might have seen the other characters from somewhere too but at this time my mind is just too cluttered to think about it. As for the plane designs, although I am not a plane enthusiast, they try to give different designs to different fighters and bombers. Some look okay and others looking mediocre.

At first I didn’t recognize Aoi Yuuki as the voice of Claire/Nina until much later because she wasn’t putting on her lively and spunky voice like Hibiki in Senki Zesshou Symphogear or Ichigo in Yumeiro Patissiere. She was very much toned down and soft spoken in this series. Ayana Taketatsu is recognizable as Ariel and sounds similar like Kirino in OreImo, Suguha in Sword Art Online and Sakura in Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai. Other casts include Natsuki Hanae as Kal-el/Carl (Asuta in Sekai Seifuku Bouryaku No Zvezda), Kaito Ishikawa as Ignacio (Mitsuo in Golden Time), Saori Hayami as Sharon (Azuki in Bakuman), Shinnosuke Tachibana as Benjamin (Tomoe in Kamisama Hajimemashita), Hiro Shimono as Noriaki (Keima in The World God Only Knows), Yoshino Nanjou as Nanako (Kokoro in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Asami Tano as Chiharu (Rin in Toriko), Shinya Hamazoe as Mitsuo (Kojima in Aku No Hana), Teruyuki Tanzawa as Wolfgang (Genzou in Tayutama), Souichirou Hoshi as Fausto (Gino in Code Geass R2), Juurouta Kosugi as Luis (Arlong in One Piece), Yumi Uchiyama as Sonia (Nagi in A Channel), Takaya Kuroda as Bandereas (Capricorn in Fairy Tail), Yusaku Yara as Leopold (Shiba in Coppelion) and Hana Satou making her debut as Shizuka. The opening theme is Azurite by Petit Milady. Sounds like a typical anime rock pop. The ending theme, Kaze Ga Shitteru by Akai Kouen may have this fantasy-like and enigmatic feel to it. However it feels like an opera soprano building up her voice till the final part of the song whereby she just let it go. Feels odd. Even odder is the ‘screaming’ electric guitar in certain parts.

Overall, this series might not be standing as high up as its other fantasy adventure aviation themed animes like Last Exile, the classic hit movie Porco Rosso or even Allison To Lillia (all of which I have not seen!). It still provides some decent entertainment if you are looking for some simple fantasy adventure and romance and nothing too deep. Of course if you love airplanes, that will be a plus point. So you see, people can reach their dreams and achieve the impossible just with this flying dream. Not to say that you should go fly to make them come true but this serves more of an inspiration and motivation. The feeling of awesomeness when you soar in the skies. Of course unless you have phobia of flying. Sitting in a plane and flying with your own body are 2 different things. So after all that dreaming and fantasizing, it is time to get back down to earth with our own 2 feet. I know reality sucks but there is a reason why we can’t fly because if God really wanted us to fly, he would have given us wings in the first place.