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So-Ra-No-Wo-To 11

March 18, 2010

Patrolling the border to nomansland, Kureha and Kanata fight the cold as they drag themselves through the snow. Observing their surroundings, Kanata spots what looks like a person in the snow and the girls rush in to discover an unconscious Roman soldier.

Having apparently fallen from a cliff, the Roman girl’s clothes are frozen over and she is in dire need of medical attention, so Kureha and Kanata carry her back to the 1121st platoon base.

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Lost in though while looking at the now completed Takemikazuchi, Noel reminisces back on her youth, when she helped the Helvetian army restore operations to a chemical laboratory from the past age.

Although she was heralded as a child genius, Noel feels the oppressive weight of the guilt for having played an instrumental part in their army using chemical attacks that indiscriminately took countless lives.

Pulled out of her reverie by Felicia who calls on her to help care for the injured Roman soldier, Noel looks sheer terrified upon seeing the girl’s face since it eerily looks like that of another Roman girl that perished at the hands of the chemical weapons she helped recreate. That soldier’s dying words cursing her as the Helvetian witch still ring in her ears to this day.

As if atoning for the sins she feels having committed, Noel earnestly cares for the injured soldier, splinting the girl’s broken leg and saving the near frostbite afflicted fingers.

Inspecting the Roman soldier’s pack, the girls discover a bugle and Kanata soon reveals she was surprised to see the soldier was a normal girl like them, for she always imagined Romans looking somewhat like demons since she had never seen one before.

Unbeknown to the 1121st platoon, an entire Roman armored tank battalion is making its way across nomansland to Seize under the cover of darkness.

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With Kanata off to play the evening call from the tower, Kureha sternly reminds Felicia they are still soldiers with a duty to perform when the captain suggests she won’t report their discovery of a Roman soldier to headquarters just yet. Able to hold Kureha off by asking for some time, Felicia soon laments Rio’s departure, pondering what she would have done in this situation.

Early that next morning, the Roman soldier awakens, confused at her whereabouts until she notices Noel fast asleep near the foot of the bed. Fearing she’s a prisoner of the Helvetian army, the girl reaches for the scissors in Noel’s hand and swiftly pushes Noel to the ground when the 1121st platoon mechanic opens her eyes.

Smashing a thermometer, the girl holds the razor-sharp glass against Noel’s throat but soon lets out a loud shriek when stoic Noel calmly grabs hold of the Roman girl’s exposed breast.
Rushing to the scene, Kureha and Kanata see the Roman girl in her sickbed, cheeks beet red, while Noel calmly reveals she woke up, concluding with an uncharacteristic warm smile.

Continuously repeating her id number, rank and unit, the Roman soldier named Aisha seems to have no intent on cooperating, much to Kureha’s frustration when she reports to Felicia the girl doesn’t understand any Helvetian.
Putting this to the test, Felicia calmly utters very explicit indecent proposals to Aisha who remains unfazed, leaving the captain to conclude she indeed does not master any Helvetian. The other girls however blush beet red at Felicia’s daring words.

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Their captain deciding to keep Aisha at the 1121st platoon until they can find an interpreter to help interrogate her, Kanata enthusiastically welcomes the Roman girl to the time telling fortress, the name which their base is known as and surprisingly solicits a reaction from Aisha who falls into tears, calling upon her departed grandmother.

Offering Aisha a meal, Kanata and Noel try to feed the Roman girl who initially refuses to eat but soon succumbs to Noel charmingly cute persistence. Pondering at Noel’s uncharacteristic behaviour, Kureha is unsure what t think when Felicia retorts the girl must be acting as such out of atonement.

Walking through Seize, Yumina and Naomi hear a rumor about the 1121st having captured a Roman soldier from one of the other townspeople, prompting the women to head to the base.

Taking Aisha out to the courtyard, Kanata plays a melody on her trumpet and soon presents the instrument to the Roman girl. When Aisha plays Amazing Grace, Kanata is ecstatic, exclaiming the music has traveled across the borders and echoed in both Helvetian and Roman people’s hearts.
Unable to understand Kanata’s words, a puzzled Aisha soon sneezes from the cold air but earnestly laughs when Noel sneezes after having presented the Roman girl with her own scarf.

Arriving at the 1121st platoon base, Yumina and Naomi see Aisha, confirming the rumors about the Roman soldier that spread to the townspeople is true. Revealing she heard that the Helvetian army is heading towards Seize, Naomi fears the girls have brought trouble upon the town by holding the Roman soldier there. Asking Naomi if she knows anyone who could interpret, Felicia is surprised when Yumina turns out to speak Roman.

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Asking Aisha why she has come to the town, Yumina is shocked when the Roman girl exclaims she wanted to see the skeleton of the angel. Explaining her grandmother was a Helvetian soldier stationed at the fortress before she was captured during the war, Aisha says the old woman often spoke about the angel’s remains so she wanted to see them for herself.

Hearing a bugle call in the distance, the girls realize that the Helvetian army battalion led by the infamous colonel Hopkins has arrived in Seize and Noel soon lapses into shock, remembering the trauma of having worked under the colonel to manufacture chemical weapons.

Taking a stand, Felicia has Noel, Aisha, Yumin and Naomi hide in the derelict parts of the base’s former school building while she, Kureha and Kanata keep up appearances before Hopkins when the colonel barges in with his men. Alas for the girls, the psychotic Hopkins is out for blood and soon has his men search the base.

Seeing Noel shivering in fear, Aisha worryingly asks Yumina the girls name, intent on comforting her but when she hears Noel’s name revealed, her eyes go wide and she asks why they shelter the invisible devil there.
Hearing Yumina repeat those words in Helvetian, Noel screams out in terror from remembering the atrocities committed in her youth and runs out into the corridor.

Soon discovered by Helvetian soldiers, Noel and Aisha look on in terror as a shot resounds.

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Yet again an amazing episode, “So-Ra-No-Wo-To” has impressed me from the start but has now really grown into what could be a stellar series of which there are but a select few each year.

Really hope the final episode brings everything to a perfect close as am personally expecting a lot from that finale, think it will be a dramatic, action-packed climax. But how could we not expect a lot since so far “So-Ra-No-Wo-To” has truly excelled and proven itself to be one of the best written and spun out series of these past seasons.

Notice some casual viewers still do not see past the slice-of-life parts or ridiculous comparison to “K-ON!”, they sadly miss all those additional underlying layers filled with perfectly placed character and plot development.
For an original anime, seldom does one see such great plot execution and every scene holds explicit or implicit key elements that either build background for a character or provide a key element for one of the plots.

While this particular episode covered a lot, it never felt rushed and that too is a feat. Some episodes of “So-Ra-No-Wo-To” cram in so much details yet never feel rushed that one would loose sight of things. Even the smallest of phrases or images can come back later on as a cornerstone for an important event.

A prime example is the scene in the opening episode where Kanata sees that skeleton underwater, now it returns in Asiha’s quest with great significance since Yumina offhandedly reveals that when she and Aisha talked about the Fire Maiden legend, their versions of it differ.
Have no doubt this will all tie in to the ending revelation what happened during the apocalypse that befell earth and also what role the tanks like Takemikazuchi played in it.

All those great details cover so much, if not for the main plot they add to smaller plots or help make their world a more realistic, whole one.

Even though this episode was packed with not only military style action but also the drama involving the war and how everyone has suffered from it, it still made time for some necessary comic relief with Noel grabbing Aisha’s bosom and Felicia’s quite daring desires. Yuri fans will rejoice!

Can’t wait to see the climax!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2010 10:53 pm

    This show reminds me of Haibane Renmei which is a favorite of mine. Good soundtrack, good plot, fabulous backgrounds, a setting in what looks like some kind of alternative past in an European country, giving off a nice scent of nostalgia… The only bad thing about it is that moe character-design. Sure it is nice and cute (kureha), but it somehow feels out of place and it keeps bugging me at each episodes.

  2. March 18, 2010 10:58 pm

    @Fettgans
    Really? Always find it odd to see people bothered by that, it has never fazed me in any way.

  3. Sergio permalink
    March 18, 2010 11:26 pm

    In fact now that probably some (more) drama is coming, I find that the characters’ design and the first slice-of-life episodes will probably reinforce a lot the drama, since the contrast between the happy, carefree life they led at first with basically a war plus other terrible things like Noel’s past, will be really stark.

    Now, however, I’m wondering if there will be a second season. With only one episode left, it feels like the plot can’t be brought to a clausure in just 20 minutes, with so many things to know about what’s going on, with so much information that we still don’t know about the characters or about the situation itself.

  4. lymiour permalink
    March 18, 2010 11:55 pm

    Hello. First comment for me.
    Like I tweeted I think this is not what Mr. Kanbe and Yoshino thought at first, but right decision.

    This is a quote from official website.
    Plot of #12.
    “Kanata and members of 1121 platoon are thought to be guilty because they hid the soldier of the enemy country.

    Members of 1121 platoon, however, are going to do what they believe is right.

    Near the border, opposing each other, the forces of two countries are standing under tension because the war is about to break out.

    What members of the platoon do to prevent the war from breaking out is…?”

    Reading this, I can easily guess they will succeed and it will end peacefully.

    But many of factors may be left unexplained, especially what happened in the past, and where it is.

    I want the history of each characters in detail, but it seems to be just my dream.

    We can’t expect 2nd season because this is the anime made in the project named “Anime-no-Chikara” and this is directed by Kanbe Mamoru.

    For the first reason, a project like this tend to make various kinds of anime, rather than make the second season of what they made in the past.

    And Kanbe did never make the second seasons of anime he directed apart from the popularity of them, and demand for them. For example, Elfen Lied.

  5. March 19, 2010 10:20 pm

    @Sergio
    That’s an excellent point, the drama will weigh through more and impact the viewer because before everything seemed more innocent and cutesome.
    Well so far “So-Ra-No-Wo-To” has been able to pull off cramming a lot efficiently into one episode, so who knows, they might just make it in a single climactic episode.
    @lymiour
    Sounds like it may be a good or dramatic end either way, but one with a definite impact and ‘lesson to be learned’ at the end. Personally I think it’ll be one where music and understanding will prevail.
    A second season might be possible to explore more of the past… maybe an OVA?
    Yet if they don’t plan on one, having mysteries remain about the past and the apocalypse that occurred has its charm too.

  6. lymiour permalink
    March 20, 2010 1:24 am

    Not an OVA, but two original episodes are to be included in BD or DVD #4 and #7.

    But there’re no information how they’ll be.

  7. March 20, 2010 7:36 am

    Exactly, Sora no Oto can do so well if it tries. I’d completely forgotten about the underwater ‘angel’ Kanata chanced across in the first episode – Aisha’s intents in this episode tied it full circle, and I was very impressed.
    This is precisely why I think many of the series’ episodes so far have been in poor pace – why beat around the bush so much? The writers have demonstrated their knack at storytelling, so why have so many mundane episodes interspersed here and there? In my humblest of opinions, if they maintained this level of drama throughout the series, Sora no Oto could’ve been one of the best. Now, I fear the ending will seem rushed and wallow in mediocrity because they barely had any time to set it up.

    I’m still really bitter about the piss holding episode. We already knew Kanata was a clumsy ditz that tried her best. That just didn’t contribute to plot or character.
    Really looking forward to next week though. The Take-Mikazuchi needs to see some action.

  8. March 20, 2010 9:31 am

    @lymiour
    Interesting, thanks for the info. If there’s an extra episode with BD/DVD volume 7, it could be an epilogue of sorts, no?
    @Ningyo
    You really think so? Personally I feel their pacing was excellent, since they didn’t want to bring a full drama series but rather a mix, showing us how such war related dramatic events can influence society and people, how they still form happy daily lives and how that life is once again threatened by the onset of war, all spiced with the uncertainties of the raison d’être of a post-apocalyptic world.
    Even small episodes like the one you mention held plenty of small hints and implicit scenes that added to the main plot which is a refreshing method, instead of just giving all the info straight away the series puts hints and small clues in otherwise mundane events or character actions.

  9. March 20, 2010 6:05 pm

    For me Im about to start watching So-Ra-No-Wo-To but at first look, reminds me about K-On! ;)

  10. March 21, 2010 8:59 pm

    Too bad that all the good thing starts to the end.
    About the girl who speaks only “German” (I lol’d when I heard her xD), and what Noel did.

    But I hope like you, it will have an end. I don’t like such open ends anymore.

    Can’t wait about Rio-senmpai too. Maybe she will bring peace?
    Or do we will see Noel tank in action?

    I can’t wait to see the next episode.

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