Ongoing Investigations: Case #156

When I watched the first episode of Sound of the Sky a while back, I thought it seemed interesting enough to continue a few more episodes in. I don’t know what happened, but re-watching the first episode I couldn’t believe my former self. It was slow and meandering. Perhaps I was mesmerized by the music, which is worth being mesmerized over, but not worth sitting through the rest of the show for. The setting is also interesting, taking place in a post-apocalyptic future with divides and wars, but the town in which everyone is stationed is relatively peaceful. Normally, that would all change when our main character arrives . . . but no, it is still basically peaceful. So it ends up being a show about this somewhat rag-tag team of girls in the military hanging out, meeting townspeople, and occasionally learning music. The main girl is predictably naive and in the last episode I watched pushed that to the limit by overlooking the fact that the military kills people as do guns and tanks. There are traces of underlying story, especially with the extended cast that has been working for a while, but nothing gripping. I am sure this show is doing exactly what it means to do, but that still doesn’t mean I want to watch it.

Sound of the Sky is sort of like dating a shallow supermodel. You meet her and she looks gorgeous and sounds wonderful. Everything about her superficially is impeccable. But after a few deep conversations you realize there is not as much going on inside as you might have first hoped. There is quite a bit to like about this anime. The production values cannot be questioned. The animation is often amazingly fluid, the backgrounds are often breathtaking, and the sound design is outstanding. If you want lesson on how to make an anime that draws you in with the power of animation this is a good example. The problem is the story itself swallowed a bottle of Valium. To say that the show is just post-apocalyptic K-On! is selling it a bit short but it is also sums up all the major problems with the series. It just seems like the slice of life tale of 5 girls not really doing much of anything in a small town while they fix a tank and play instruments. The formula could be good. There is nothing inherently wrong with slowly building this world and getting us involved with the characters before turning on the main plot. The problem is that it is like telling someone to watch 10 episodes of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to get to the three exciting episodes at the end. The post-apocalyptic setting is unusual and well realized. The cast lives a very provincial lifestyle despite the fact that they are surrounded by the remains of a once great civilization. But the stories they tell are rather sleepy despite the promise of grander tales that could be told in this setting. I am not sure if anyone who is not a fan of slice of life shows could casually make that commitment for the reward at the end. The characters are fine. They are a bit stock and Kureha Suminoya can be grating but they did not annoy me as much as the K-On! cast. There is also a pretty distinct yuri vibe going on. Nothing overt but it is omnipresent and rather unmistakable. I will probably continue to watch just to see the last few episodes. Apparently they start to live up to the promise of the prophecy in the beginning. I will power through the middle episodes to see if the pay off at the end is worth it just in case our readers were curious.

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