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So-Ra-No-Wo-To 3

January 20, 2010

While her fellow soldiers are still asleep, Kanata heads up in the tower to play the morning call on her bugle as the sun rises over the distant mountains. Regardless of the enthusiasm she puts into her music, her performance is still poor.

Luckily the 1121st platoon’s latest recruit is able to charm everyone better with her cooking skills, especially with the miso soup made using some stock she brought along from miso soup prepared by her mother.

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As Felicia plans going to Treize later that day, Rio decides she will use the opportunity to train Kanata into mastering her bugle. Hearing this, an enthusiastic Kanata puts all her energy into quickly handling the various chores.

Having lunch with Felicia in the captain’s office, Rio declines eating one of the fortune cookies the platoon received from the town’s church. Observing Rio apparently hasn’t let go of her hatred for the church, Felicia hears her second in command affirm she indeed still thinks ill of the church.

With Felicia, Noel and Kureha gone to Treize, Rio shows Kanata how to properly control tones but even when practicing on the mouthpiece alone, Kanata makes a mess.

Taking a break, Rio asks Kanata why she joined the military but as the trumpet player observes their motives seem to have been similar, Kanata suddenly collapses. Just the sight of the young girl fainting reminds Rio all too vividly of the day her own mother similarly collapsed due to illness, a memory that scarred her.

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Carrying Kanata inside, Rio struggles to put the feverish girl to bed as the ill girl calls out for her mother in delirium.
Panicked, Rio ransacks their pantry and infirmary looking for medicine. Finding only an empty bottle, Rio smashes it to pieces in frustration for she feels as powerless now as she did back in her childhood.

Realizing she has no other option left but to call upon the church she so despises, Rio steels her resolve and speeds off into town on the platoon’s motorcycle.

Wondering who might be banging on the church door like a maniac, Yumina is surprised to see Rio from the 1121st platoon there, apologizing for the earlier troubles and desperately begging for help.

After giving Kanata some medicine to get the fever down, Yumina reassures Rio that it doesn’t seem to be anything serious but rather tertian malaria which the young girl should quickly recuperate from.

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Giving Rio some more medicine just in case, Yumina tells the relieved soldier she was glad to assist for she believes in her solemn duty to care for the town’s people.

Dreaming of the trumpeter she met as a child, Kanata recalls how the wonderful notes played under the rainy skies seemed to call forth the sun.

Waking up, she sees Rio sitting next to the bed, humming the same song that blonde trumpeter played so many years ago and Kanata reaches out to her. Unfortunately this startles Rio, who cuts herself on the knife she was peeling an apple with.

Apologizing for all the trouble she caused, Kanata explains she always used to get sick when eating certain foods, but she wanted to try and pull through this time to prove she wouldn’t be a bother to everyone.

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Hearing Kanata mention the song she had been humming, Rio is surprised when the girl can not only hum it back perfectly but reveals she heard it years before.

Taking Kanata to the hangar where the squadron’s tank resides, Rio starts up the computer inside and has it play that very same melody.
Listening to Rio’s inspiring words, Kanata looks in awe at the trumpeter who explains the music is much like the bond between a tank crew, and how those with experience are there to care for those who still have much to learn.

Another great episode, must say that “So-Ra-No-Wo-To” is really becoming a very intriguing series!

While much like last week, this episode’s main course was seemingly to introduce Rio and create more background and depth for her character, it quickly transcended any regular heartwarming slice-of-life series.

They not only made Rio a very realistic, three-dimensional character by infusing her with a believable past, they also grafted on the trauma surrounding her mother’s illness and how Rio experienced the church’s involvement, which shaped her current dislike for the church.

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Most intriguing though is that this slice-of-life layer not only hides such gripping drama potential but also some great fantasy or sci-fi element as we saw this week that the tank Noel is working on is actually technologically decades ahead of anything else their era’s arsenal seems to be capable of.

In fact, what we have seen so far and was confirmed this week with the Kübelwagen type vehicle Felicia and the girls drove off in seems to suggest a society that achieved at most World War II era technology.
Yet there is that ‘nomansland’ on their map, the highly advanced tank, the dilapidated school with Japanese books, a language that seems lost to their world.

Also, the blond trumpet player with the signature bell that Kanata remembers from her childhood seems to also have been an important person in Rio’s life, will be interesting to see how that all fits together and how ‘Amazing Grace’ is links the three girls to the mysterious tank.

Quite curious to see how this will play out! “So-Ra-No-Wo-To” might very well become a successfully mix of elements from series like “Last Exile”, “Ergo Proxy” and “Aria”, merging fantasy, drama with slice-of-life in a refreshing way.

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