Note: This review was written for #Anitwitwatches, a weekly community event primarily held on Twitter and led by Jon Spencer at Jon Spencer Reviews, in which participants watch and discuss the featured anime. Per the event’s schedule, Episodes 1 and 2 were watched together.
I randomly tried the first three episodes or so of Sound of the Sky during my senior year of college. I really enjoyed what I saw and I’ve been meaning to finish the show ever since. Since it’s in the backlog, I gave it some candidacy in my review polls though it lost the two times it was included. Recently however, the show was one of four candidates of Jon Spencer’s 19th season of #Anitwitwatches. I voted for it and lo and behold, it won. Rather than do the traditional Twitter thread, I decided I would write episode reviews for Sound of the Sky as this is actually the last show from my first review poll that I have not covered. I’ve covered the other three shows (School-Live!, Yuki Yuna is a Hero Season 1, and Flip Flappers) for one reason or another so while I’m making it harder for me to participate in #Anitwitwatches, I figured it’d be fun to complete this quartet of mine. So here we are.
Sound of the Sky appears to revolve around Kanata Sorami (Hisako Kanemoto), a young girl who has joined the army as a bugler, inspired by a chance encounter she had with an army trumpeter when she was little. Traveling by train to the town of Seize, Kanata is tasked with meeting and joining the 1121st platoon. One of the 1121st’s officers, Rio Kazumiya (Yu Kobayashi), will be serving as Kanata’s bugling instructor (because Lord knows Kanata needs the tutelage). Oddly enough, despite the simplicity of her task, it takes the full first episode for Kanata to reach the 1121st’s base, the so-called “Clocktower Fortress”. Upon arriving in Seize, she gets sidetracked exploring the town and participating in a festival that it’s holding in honor of a local legend (more on that in a bit). Rio pulls her out but Kanata gets sidetracked again after a bell necklace belonging to Rio gets stolen by an owl and she decides to go searching for it.
What stands out to me the most about this first episode is its tone. The opening flashback involving Kanata and the mysterious trumpeter sets a somber tone, especially with its use of color of lack thereof. Flash forward to the present however and Kanata’s tour around Seize proves to be rather lighthearted. She has fun exploring and participating in one of the festivities, all while Rio finds her and berates her for getting sidetracked. It’s all pretty charming. Gradually the show shifts back into a more serious atmosphere. We learned that the festival has a rather dark origin story (iagain, more on that in a bit). Despite the silly setup involving an owl, Kanata’s adventure in retrieving Rio’s bell proves to be very dangerous, resulting in the girl falling into a lake, finding herself stranded, and calling for help with her bugle. The plot calms down once again once Rio rescues her and takes her “home” and the episode ends on a humorous note (pun not intended) by revealing that Kanata sucks at playing her bugle (and that’s in spite of the fact that she has perfect pitch).
The varying tone even feels reflected in the characters introduced so far. Kanata largely comes across as a cheery and curious girl and yet, it also appears that deep down, she’s afraid of being alone. She explicitly states that when she finds herself stranded after finding Rio’s bell and she becomes quite flustered to get someone to help her. The flashback scene shows Kanata alone in what appears to be ruins. We’re not entirely sure what happened to her family but it’s safe to assume that Kanata either got separated from them or she’s the only surviving member. It’s also implied that Kanata plays the bugle as a means of reaching out to someone, something which was imparted to her by the mysterious trumpeter.
Meanwhile, you have Rio who may have a troubled past. Her bell necklace is revealed to be something she received from her father and her feelings towards the item appear to be complicated. She’s thankful that Kanata managed to retrieve it but in an earlier scene, she says she’d be okay if she never saw it again. Curiously, the mysterious trumpeter wears a similar bell around her neck. Are her and Rio somehow connected? And no, I don’t recall that being addressed by Episode 3.
A big piece of lore appears to be the legend that the town festival apparently revolves around. According to Rio, there was a group of young women who resisted and defeated a winged demon that threatened their home. After its death, the demon’s head continued to spew fire, forcing the maidens to take turns embracing it in order to contain the fire. The townsfolk, in turn, threw water at the maidens to quell the flame (this is honored in present day by a festivity in which people throw water at each other). For their actions, the women became known as the “Flame Maidens”. Curiously, the legend is re-enacted during the festival by Rio playing the role of one of the maidens. Art depicting the legend also features the entire main cast in the same role. When Kanata falls into the lake, she encounters the submerged skeleton of a winged creature, which suspiciously matches the demon’s description. I’m not really sure what to make of all this but it’s clear that this legend is going to play a big role in the story.
Sound of the Sky’s first episode is exactly how I remembered it. Its varying tone and its fair share of mysteries creates an engaging experience that leaves me intrigued to find out more, all while still having its moments of charm. Call me selfish but I’m very glad that this became the featured show for #Anitwitwatches Season 19. I’ve been meaning to finish the show for years and now seems like a good excuse to finally see how it all unfolds.
Thanks for reading!