(Originally written 30 Jan 2015)
So, this is a show about a bunch of characters that live in a post-apocalyptic(or maybe not that bad, but mid-war post-some destruction at the very least) world, and they’re all part of the army of the country they live in. There are biblical references, mechs, and even some fantasy elements.
So why is it a show about cute girls doing cute things? That’s the one question that still remains unanswered for me. I loved the setting and the premise. The alternate military history was something that I could’ve listened to for probably two seasons worth of episodes, and the faux-European town was refreshing to see, because it’s still not that common in anime. The feeling that the town and the “military base” evoked reminded me of Haibane Renmei in the best of ways. To some extent, even the characters remind me of Haibane Renmei(Rio and Filicia are basically Reki and Nemu, respectively), but that’s more of a side note than something I’d call a strong or weak point for the series. And why is that? Because the show is mostly about cute girls doing cute things, so the philosophies of the characters are not fundamentally important for the majority of the episodes.
That’s not to say that characters in moe shows don’t develop, though, because they often do have character arcs, as is the case in Sora no Woto. And the character arcs are generally pretty good and satisfying(except for one, which desperately requires elaboration). The character arcs are also very short, which prevents them from dragging on or altering the atmosphere of the show, which I consider a plus. So while it may sound like I think the fact that it’s mostly a moe show is a bad thing, it does have its perks. Moe is usually safe, and Sora no Woto doesn’t make many missteps in that regard.
The biggest single misstep I can think of is one particular scene that ends in a manner that felt overly creepy to me(in a fetish/humiliation kind of way). Other than that, the character Kureha also annoyed me quite a bit by being, well, too tsun, too dere, too melodramatic. The other characters are also pretty tropey for the most part, but she was the only character that I found unpleasant to watch.
None of this explains why the show is about cute girls doing cute things. However, in hindsight, the first episode and the final episode build this kind of abstract story, more fundamental than the one built by the setting and premise, that I actually think benefits from the slice of life on a philosophical level. Hell, it’s possible that the show is neither about the war nor the slice of life, it could be about a particular side element that keeps popping up every now and then.
It’s also possible that the OVAs retcon or ignore everything I just said in such a way that nothing makes sense anymore. I wouldn’t know, as I haven’t seen them yet. But in conclusion, what I can say is that if the show does do anything right in the end, it’s through the fact that it ties up nearly all of its loose ends. Maybe I wanted more out of the setting and the premise, but at least the show didn’t end on a cliffhanger or with unfinished business(except for that one character arc, unless it was left unfinished for some philosophical reason).