Sora no Woto Episodes 1-4

At the height of the moe boom in the mid-to-late 2000s, innovation was typically far from the mind of moe anime producers. Only as the peak of the moe frenzy started to fade in 2009 did some true innovation begin to happen. Kyoto Animation started a little down that path with K-ON! And A-1 Pictures now takes it a big step further with the title whose pretentiously-written Japanese title literally translates as Sounds of the Skies. Yes, the designs and personality distribution amongst the five young ladies may be representative of almost any moe title, but the setting and theme of the show are not, and that is what may make this series watchable even by those who normally despise moe styling.

The biggest and most striking difference is the tone of the series. This is not some mix of comedy, light romance, and school drama with a hint of the supernatural, nor is it some tragedy-laced tale of cute, defective girls in desperate need of attention. It is, instead, a more soulful and contemplative story about a group of young women coming together on the edge of a civilization which has decayed so far that even commonplace literacy has become a casualty. The setting of Trois (most of the towns and regions are apparently named after French numbers - the region's name, Seize, is French for 16, for instance) and the Clocktower Fortress seems pleasant enough in a rundown way, but underlying the setting is a vague but pervasive sense of loss that more purely post-apocalyptic stories often aim for but rarely achieve as well as this series has so far. Occasional hints dropped about some upcoming event that people don't feel a need to tell newcomer Kanata about yet, with the implication of it dimming her bold spirit, only further this impression.

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