“People say keeping it real is a hard thing to do. Keeping it real is easy. Being fake and being soft is hard to do.” —Maurice Young
In the aftermath of the telephone call, Rio’s behaviour takes an inexplicable shift. Klaus delivers a package for Rio, and the others fill Kanata in on Princess Iliya. However, a typhoon has arrived, bringing heavy wind and rain with it. Yumina arrives with news that Seiya has gone missing, and after a search of Seize turns up nothing, they find him down near the river, protecting eggplants. Kureha and Klaus manage to rescue him, but become stranded by a rock slide in the process. While Kureha admires him for being the legendary Desert Wolf and places her trust in him to extricate them from the situation, it turns out that Klaus merely resembles the Desert Wolf in name and physical appearance. He is reluctant to tell Kureha for fear of shattering her dreams, and the others manage to send over a wire to rescue the two using the Takemikazuchi. Assisted by the wire, Klaus carries Kureha to safety, and later, despite learning that Klaus is not the original Desert Wolf, she nonetheless views him as a hero for having saved her.
Despite the seemingly idyllic life in Seize, the arrival of a major brings with it an unmistakable change in the mood in the skies around seize. Far from the deep blue skies and gentle rains the region is used to, the typhoon’s heavy rain is accompanied by fierce winds, creating plenty of opportunity for tumultuous events to occur. Naturally, Seiya encounters trouble amidst this storm, prompting the others to try and save him. Details conveyed in the environments, whether it be the wind or water, serve to emphasise that the storm’s ferocity — typhoons are predominantly a tropical and subtropical phenomenon, their naming in Seize suggests that the city is located in a geographical region where typhoons may occur. The weather can offer insights into the nature of a setting, and one of the greatest long-standing mysteries of Sora no Woto is where the events are set. This adds to the intrigue of the story in Sora no Woto that contributed to the intensity of discussion surrounding Seize’s location.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Late is the hour that news comes from the top, and ill news is an ill guest even in in Sora no Woto: Rio’s doubts come into full force and she abstains from the activities the remainder of the 1121st partake in. With this in mind, the weather seemingly is portrayed as being unreflective of her feelings. The skies are clear in Seize, and it’s looking to be a beautiful day. The scenery in Sora no Woto never fails to disappoint, and even seven years following its initial airing, it remains comparable to the landscapes seen in some of the better-animated shows of the present.
- Maintaining a good garden takes a considerable amount of effort, and typically is done as a hobby, but for the 1121st, their garden also allows them to cultivate fresh vegetables and potatoes. Noël is shown to be making a small hill with the garden soil, suggesting that for her stoic demeanour, she can express a certain playfulness on some occasions that do much to show another side to her character.
- Altocumulus clouds are mid-level clouds with a height of two to six kilometers and take the form of globular masses or rolls in layers or patches, usually forming as a result of convection forces that signal the arrival of a warm or cold front. The latter forms ahead of extratropical cyclones that can bring with them severe weather with heavy wind and rainfall. Their presence before the major storm led me to wonder whether or not the typhoon was indeed a typhoon, and it’s been some time since I’ve taken a look through meteorological resources.
- As evening sets in, the first drops of rain begin falling. The girls begin considering Rio’s unusual actions, ranging from her eating of green peppers without complaint to being more silent and grim than before. Here, the reminisce about their own dinner, where they had made tempura with fresh vegetables harvested from their garden. Vegetable tempura is quite good, and I recall enjoying a Taiwanese variation while I was there back in 2014 December, but I’m a much bigger fan of shrimp tempura.
- Ever-ready to fall asleep, Noël nods off and takes to sucking Kanata’s fingers. Armed with a bit of background in evolutionary biology, I note that sucking of fingers is an intrinsic behaviour in all infants and small children, stemming from the reflex required to obtain sustenance when their teeth haven’t developed sufficiently for consuming solid food. It’s a habit children fall back on owing to offering a calming effect, but in Sora no Woto, I’ll let the biological origins of this reflex to give readers “ideas” given that Noël is with Kanata here.
- I typically do not like having a large number of darker screenshots in reviews — the built-in displays on Apple computers (on both the MacBook Pro line and the Cinema HD displays) tend to exaggerate the darkness to a great extent and make the image quite difficult to discern compared to other monitors, even if they make other colours appear much richer by comparison.
- Admittedly, going through Sora no Woto discussions anew is akin to walking through a tomb: this set of posts was primarily intended to be added to the blog for completeness’ sake and also offer my reflections on a particularly well-done anime some five years after I originally saw it, so I’m not particularly surprised that amongst the reader base, there’s not much to really add in the way of discussion.
- In the dark of night, Klaus arrives to deliver a message for Rio, whose been quite glum ever since she hung up during her phone call. Filicia remarks that Rio’s sufficiently distracted by earlier events that her performance as a member of the 1121st is slipping, and while she’s quite understanding of the situation, knowing the importance of morale around the Clocktower Fortress, reminds Rio that her main responsibility is to remain strong for the others’ sake.
- Tempting it may be to try and estimate the wind speed based on the angle at which the rain is falling using Newtonian physics, the complex fluid mechanics that drive wind, coupled with the interactions of the airflow with the landscape, means that it is remarkably difficult to estimate just how strong the wind in this here storm is. With this in mind, the storm’s danger does not appear to lie with the wind itself, but rather, the water volume.
- Anime has always had an exceptional talent for rendering food, and I’m reminded of several things from this screenshot: during the summer of 2011, towards the end of June, I had successfully implemented my model of fluid flow in the nephron using an agent-based approach. For most of that week, I was testing the fluid flow behaviours in a simple environment, and when the time came to try out the same algorithm in a convoluted vessel, I was very happy to see that the system worked as expected. That Friday in late June also marked the first time I stopped by the Korean BBQ place on campus: their BBQ chicken and shrimp skewers made them one of the best places to eat lunch on campus, and I would buy lunch there every month or so until the food trucks began appearing in late 2013.
- Perhaps unable to sleep as a result of the storm, Kureha, Kanata and even Noël find themselves awake after Klaus arrives and sits down to dinner on Filicia’s invitation. Klaus remarks that Kureha will be a good wife some day, but conversation soon turns to how the peace talks continue to be fraught with difficulties. As their world hurtles closer to war, one of the elements in Sora no Woto that were successfully conveyed is how war can seem so foreign a concept even when nations are at the brink of one.
- Rio is pensive to open the letter she’s received, but before she can, she’s called to return to the main area. The grim lighting at this point in the episode serves to reinforce the inner conflict that Rio’s experiencing: this is a common motif in Sora no Woto, and while going unnoticed in many discussions about the anime, the lighting and hues in each scene play a substantial role in determining the emotional tenour for each scene.
- As it turns out, Yumina’s in a bit of a situation, since one of the children in her care has gone missing, and she turns to the 1121st for assistance. Under the storm conditions, things look quite challenging even for the 1121st, but they nonetheless agree to help out, stepping out of the warm and dry interior of the Clocktower Fortress into the wet and wild night in order to help Yumina find the missing child, who turns out to be Seiya.
- This post comes out a mere two days after the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands Open Beta concludes, and I spent much of the weekend playing through it. A review will be coming out at some point in the near future, and for now, we return to Sora no Woto, where I note that some of the prevailing opinions about children are a particularly immature way of reacting to Seiya’s actions: any reasonable adult will try to understand Seiya’s thought process before deciding on what the next best course of action is. The originator of these thoughts, none other than Random Curiosity’s Omni, was not ready for the responsibility of looking after children at the time of writing, but it’s likely that their thoughts may have changed in the past seven years.
- The missing child turns out to be Seiya, who had taken off to cover some eggplants in a garden nearby when he’d caught wind of the storm. Although foolish, his actions are a gesture of love for Yumina; it’s noted that eggplants are one of Yumina’s favourite foods. He’s unsuccessful in covering them, but before any harm can come to him, Kureha and Klaus manage to locate him. He’s successfully rescued, but a rockslide cuts off Kureha and Klaus from the others. Later, the eggplant patch is washed away by the raging river.
- Despite their situation, Kureha is confident that Klaus will figure something out. Klaus finds it increasingly difficult to tell Kureha the truth, that he is not the Desert Wolf that she imagines him to be. She views him as a father figure, and later, when the front of the building they’re resting in begins crumbling, Kureha gazes upon his bare chest to find there’s no tattoo there. However, Klaus resolves to protect Kureha in her father’s place.
- Meanwhile, the townspeople have all gathered to help with rescuing Kureha and Klaus: they haul the Takemikazuchi onto the compound overlooking the river, giving Noël a clear shot to fire an anchor that will allow for Kureha and Klaus’ extraction. The targeting computer on board the Takemikazuchi is a highly sophisticated system, and Noël uses it to fire the anchor with unerring accuracy. The head grazes Klaus’ face, and he immediately moves to secure it.
- Reaching out to grasp Kureha’s hand, Klaus manages to save her just as the entire section crumbles and is washed away into the stormy river. Putting his own life on the line to save Kureha, this tangible action means that for Kureha, this Klaus is just as much of a hero for her as was the original Desert Wolf. Ultimately, it’s one’s actions, rather than their reputation alone, that determines the hero. I note that some source spell Klaus’ name as “Claus”, while others give the spelling as “Klause”. The variant spelt with “kilo” is more common compared to “charlie”, and for internal consistency, I originally chose “Klaus” because a direct translation of his Katakana name, クラウス, gives “Klaus”.
- One of the strongest elements in Sora no Woto is how fluidly the storyline for an individual episode is integrated with the overarching narrative throughout the entire series, as well as how the characters interact in this myriad of overlapping events. These elements come together to give the characters a sense of depth and realism that makes them come to life and stand far apart from the K-On! characters folks dismissed them to be when Sora no Woto first aired.
- With the storm over, the hot, clear skies over Seize make a return. Kureha is asleep, exhausted from the events of the previous evening, Here, he explains that his actions as they appear to the others and how he feels internally may be different: it’s another subtle hint at the events occurring in the future episodes, and there is truth in this. John Wayne said that courage was the ability to saddle up even when in fear: the 1121st must gear up and do their duty as things continue deteriorating in the upcoming episodes.
Kureha is the youngest of the 1121st Platoon, but despite this (or perhaps because of) status, Kureha is perhaps the most serious and dedicated towards her position as a member of the 1121st, following military protocol devoutly. Sora no Woto has not given her character much exploration beyond this in earlier episodes, but the ninth episode rectifies this, presenting Kureha as someone who does have a much more human aspect to her character. Her admiration for Klaus, and subsequent acceptance of him in spite of the truth is an indicator that Kureha has her own stories to tell, giving her more exposition that finally gives an episode into depicting her character beyond the scope of her interactions with Kanata. Kureha can be quite accepting and understanding, contrary to her usual self, explaining her beliefs about self-reliance to Seiya as stemming from her own background as an orphan, illustrating just how extensive the wars have been, to impact lives to this extent. This becomes important: Sora no Woto is about human nature and how people might be reasonably expected to act when placed into a post-apocalyptic environment, and consequently, it becomes important to delve into each of the protagonists’ backgrounds to make them individuals that audiences can relate to. By episode nine, all of the characters have been adequately presented, save Rio, and the tenth episode will deal primarily with Rio as she comes to terms with her background and its attendant obligations.