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 12 & 13 were watched together (though Episode 13 was optional).
There’s one more episode after this one and, spoiler alert, it does take place after this one as well (that much is indicated in the numbering). I am however labeling this episode as the “Series Finale” as this is where Sound of the Sky concluded when it first aired and the story does wrap up here. The next episode is essentially an epilogue.
Being the series finale, this episode concludes the conflict surrounding Aisha, the Roman army, and Hopkins’s forces. Turns out, Hopkins wants to restart the war between Helvetia and Rome and sees his opportunity in the Roman Army’s decision to pre-emptively advance to Seize. Having caught wind of a Roman scout taking refuge in the town, he hopes to use Aisha as a catalyst for his plan. Though Aisha gets injured, the 1121st platoon manage to keep her safe from Hopkins and hold him hostage. The colonel later escapes to continue with his plan (why he doesn’t try to capture Aisha again or even bothered to try in the first place is beyond me). Kanata hears a faint ceasefire signal (I’m guessing it’s from Rio), prompting her team to use a completed Takemikazuchi to deliver the message and stop the standoff between the two armies.
A major issue I have with this final stretch is that Hopkins is frankly a lousy villain. I was actually afraid of that being the case in the last episode but if I didn’t think that at the time, I definitely would feel that way after watching this episode. There just isn’t any interesting about the guy. He’s constantly grinning when things are going his way. His motive boils down to him thinking war is a good thing and that the Romans should all die. Noel mentions that he even revels in the deaths of his enemies. I get that he’s meant to be a war criminal but he comes across more cartoonish than genuinely appalling. About the only thing I like about this character is how hilariously he gets written off. The guy tries to stop the 1121st and the Takemikazuchi buries his tank in the snow. We don’t see him after that so we’re left to assume that he got left to die. The 1121st might actually have a kill count!
I’m a little mixed on how Noel is handled here. Her interaction with Aisha? That’s fine. Aisha spent a whole episode with Noel so even though she recognizes the latter as the “Witch”, she also figures out that Noel is a pawn and a very remorseful one at that. Her forgiving Noel for her contribution to the war is therefore earned. I also like that the gang uses a complete Takemikazuchi for the climax. Admittedly, there’s no other logical solution at the girls’ disposal and the show had to show the tank in action at some point. Still, I think it goes well with Noel’s desire to use her abilities for good and overcome her guilt.
What bothers me is how little you see Noel and Hopkins interact. The latter confirms that Noel was under his wing, the girl having developed a biological weapon that he used during the war. Aside from the acknowledgment however, there isn’t anything new to make of the two’s relationship. You don’t even see Noel comment about him after the fight is over. I thought the show would maybe have Hopkins use the weapon he had Noel develop during the episode’s climatic showdown and Noel would use a countermeasure against it, giving her some redemption for her past. I’m surprised that didn’t happen but I suppose Noel having a countermeasure at the ready would be contrived.
As it turns out, Aisha heard a different version of the Flame Maidens legend. While angel was still sent to wreak havoc, the Maidens actually befriended him, treating wounds he had gained and choosing to go down with him when the village tries to kill him. The angel’s brethren arrived to seek revenge but left after one of the Maidens sounded a golden horn gifted to them by the angel. This new version reframes the Maidens are more empathetic, valuing all life around them. They aided the Angel despite him being their enemy and they save the village despite the latter betraying them. It mirrors the 1121st’s actions in these past two episodes, how they’re putting themselves as risk to save lives on both sides of the conflict. The ending with the golden horn also foreshadows how the present day conflict is resolved.
It wouldn’t be Sound of the Sky without someone playing “Amazing Grace” on the trumpet. I’ll admit that I do find the show’s frequent use of the song a little funny, though that’s only because the song has been used so much in media. Giggles aside, I like that Kanata chooses to play “Amazing Grace” once the ceasefire signal fails. While it’s possible that the song really is that evocative to the soldier, I like to think that given the song’s affiliation with Iliya, many if not all of the soldiers have heard the song before and maybe recognize it as a sign of peace. To hear it again after the princess’s passing ought to make them pause. This scene is also Kanata carrying on Iliya’s legacy. She isn’t of the same blood and social status as is the case for Rio but Kanata inherited Iliya’s desire for peace and her ability to inspire others. Also, give the show credit in that it doesn’t have “Amazing Grace” doesn’t completely save the day. It just stalls the soldiers long enough for Rio to intervene, revealing that she’s now engaged to the Roman Emperor and that the war is over.
The very last scene is a little surprising for me. I don’t know how realistic it is for Rio to transfer back to Seize after the peace talks, with her fiancé’s permission no less. It’s very safe to assume that she still has work to do. If the Emperor is cool with it, he must really be as nice as Rio purports him to be. I don’t want to complain too much as it would be a bummer if the last time everyone saw Rio was when she declared the war to be over, only to then leave to continue her duties. Having her back at the Clocktower Fortress with the rest of the gang like the “good old days” puts a nice ribbon on the show’s story.
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