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 3 and 4 were watched together.
This episode is where I originally put Sound of the Sky on hold, way back during the final stretch of my last semester in college. That decision really had nothing to do with the show itself. I was simply way too busy at the time to watch anything. It’s going to be nice to finally finish this show.
In this episode, Kanata spends an afternoon practicing the bugle with Rio; the rest of the squad head off to restock on supplies. Things go awry however when Kanata comes down with a case of malaria and Rio has to take care of her on her own.
Rio appears to be, for lack of a better word, triggered by this sudden turn of events. We see in a flashback sequence that it reminds Rio of a time where her mother fell ill. The similarity affects Rio to the point that she initially can’t think straight. Kanata makes a delusional plea to have some snow while she rests and it takes a while for Rio to realize that there is no snow to be found anywhere in the Clocktower Fortress. Rio also forgets for a bit that the 1121st platoon is out of supplies, including medicine. Even if Kanata’s case is just vaguely similar to that of Rio’s mother, it was enough to struck a serious chord in Rio.
As a last resort, Rio seeks the aid of a local priestess named Yumina (Misato Fukuen). Rio is begrudged and embarrassed to do so as she apparently views religion as nothing more than superstition and that view has led her to be rude towards Yumina in the past. A flashback shows a young Rio see a priest of some kind treat her mother’s illness. Curiously, we don’t really see how that treatment fully pans out. We later see the mother in good health in another flashback but that scene might not necessarily be taking place after the treatment. I’m guessing things didn’t turn out very well as that would explain why Rio isn’t very religious.
Fortunately, Yumina is able to help Kanata, providing both a diagnosis and a treatment. I kind of wonder if her being knowledgeable in medicine is to suggest that the priest in the flashback is a complete sham but until we learn more, this is purely speculation. Rio of course thanks Yumina for her aid though you can tell that she feels a bit awkward about it, considering how she apparently behaved in the past. Yumina doesn’t seem to hold a grudge however. True to her role as a priestess, she’s happy to help those in need.
As for why Kanata got sick, Yumina thinks it’s because she got too exhausted and burnt herself out even more trying to hide it. Once Kanata recovers, she admits to Rio that she feels useless and that she causing trouble for others. Both of these add up when you consider the lack of progress Kanata has made with her bugle training. She feels so fatigued and stressed to be on par with Rio that it’s no wonder that she got sick in the process. It reminds me of Kanata’s fear of loneliness in Episode 1. Poor girl has a lot more going on deep down than her cheery exterior lets on.
In an effort to cheer Kanata up, Rio takes her to the team’s tank, the Takemikazuchi, and uses it to play a fully orchestrated recording of “Amazing Grace”. In-universe, this song is from a bygone era. Both Kanata and Rio already recognize the song; in Kanata’s case, it’s the the song that the mysterious trumpeter played the one time they met. I’ll admit that I do find this scene a little silly, what with how Rio treats this high tech tank as a makeshift MP3 player. I give the scene a pass however as I do really like the message it conveys. Much like an orchestra, the 1121st platoon are a team and they need to work together in order to work in harmony. Kanata is a member of that team and rather than doubt herself or face her problems alone, she has teammates such as Rio to lend a hand.
As Rio gives Kanata some encouraging advice, we get a flashback where we see her receive lessons on how to play a brass instrument, showing that she was in the same hurdle that Kanata is going through right now. Thematically, that’s the main takeaway but your attention will most likely veer towards the big revelation that Rio’s instructor was the mysterious trumpeter, the same one Kanata met in the past. The show acts nonchalant about it but that’s pretty big bombshell to drop on the plot. The twist makes sense though. With how Rio’s bell necklace looks the same as the one worn by the trumpeter and the fact that both Rio and Kanata know of “Amazing Grace”, the two characters being connected by the mysterious trumpeter is to be expected.
That said, we don’t necessarily know the exact relationship between Rio and the trumpeter. Two share the same bell necklace though apparently Rio got it from her father. Does Rio’s father and the trumpeter know each other. Does that mean the trumpeter is a family friend? Come to think of it, there’s an earlier scene where Filicia comments on Rio’s lack of manners, something that the latter’s father would apparently frown upon. Is Rio actually someone of higher status? In the flashback, the trumpeter is shown wearing a dress, as opposed to the military uniform she wears when she meets Kanata. Maybe this is before she joined the army. Maybe she’s just off duty. Regardless, the change in attire feels intentional to me. We also just don’t what this mystery lady’s name is. Who on Earth is this person and why is she is so important to the show’s story?
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