I never expected to watch Sora no Woto. Not because I heard bad things about it, conversely because I had never heard anything about it. While it does seem ignorant to only watch anime that has gained renown, there’s dwindling time in my schedule. I can’t watch every episode of every airing anime. (Although, there was a time when I did. Bad call.) My “to watch list” is only growing by the day as new anime airs and old anime resurfaces as purported hidden gems. Only by sheer chance did I even see artwork for Sora no Woto, a random thumbnail from a YouTube suggestion. “Cute girls doing cute things with a military aesthetic. Yeah, I’m down.” I silently thought. If you think the same way, then I encourage you to watch it. It’ll definitely scratch the itch you’re looking for. If you need a bit more persuading, read on.
A basic summary: Sora no Woto features a band of five military girls. Stationed on the border of their nation, they post-up in a fortress overlooking an old town. While they are formally tasked with defending the border, their military might is close to null. The audience is witness to their coexistence with the town and what their role actually entails.
Let’s get the basic checklist out of the way. Is the animation good? Asking if something is “good” is of course subjective. Nevertheless, let me frame it in an objective way. First, let’s put this into perspective. Sora no Woto isn’t a recent anime; it aired in January of 2010. That means we’re nearing the tenth anniversary of the show. Despite that, I posit that the quality is similar to that of modern anime. Similar to KyoAni’s K-On!, there’s a sense of timelessness. The animation is smooth, characters appearing alive in a moving world, their hair flowing to and fro. If this aired today, minus a few characters in the background (and the use of CG, though not egregious), there would be no qualms about it.
Speaking of the world, instead of acting as a backdrop, it’s paid intricate attention to. That may be what differentiates it so much and why I’m writing this in the first place. Everywhere the audience is taken, we can feel the history intrinsic to the wider narrative. If it’s not reflecting history, it’s evoking a sense of normalcy: chairs rotated to be slightly askew or a table chipped to show its wear. The homes we’re given the privilege to see are truly theirs, a window into their lives. While doing this, it remains remarkably consistent in tone.
Though it may come as a spoiler, I believe it’s necessary to be said. Sora no Woto is not a pure “slice of life.” Scattered throughout are fragments that, when pieced together, reveal a bleak possibility for the future. It’s the personality of the characters when faced with that adversity, when realizing their significance, that makes such a warm show. On that note, let me touch upon the characters as a whole. Are they modeled on established archetypes? For the most part, yes. Does this negatively affect the story? Not at all. Instead, it once again adds to the sense of normalcy similar to the detail in wear. By following characters we can understand, we can not only predict some of their actions, but understand and empathize with the actions they take.
With the animation covered and the story related without any major spoilers, let’s close on the music. The English translation of Sora no Woto is Sound of the Sky. As the name suggests, music is integral to the entire show. It plays into the main theme as a recurring element by proxy of what it represents as a concept. If this is the case, it must be pleasant to the ear in order to fully express its message. In that respect, I completely understand that a small subsection of viewers may be disappointed at the chosen song repeatedly used. It exists in modern day and people in the US hear it often. Nevertheless, even if you are of that small percentage and have an aversion to it, I still believe you will be persuaded by the calming audial relaxant. To those outside of the US, I sincerely hope you’ll be touched. Outside of this, the tracks of the OST are universally enchanting with a folk tune.
There’s no doubt in my mind to recommend this. Is it an anime that you must watch under any circumstances? No. It’s not so avant garde as to claim that. Yet, its charm is evident to any viewer. Who should watch this then? Whoever feels like it. I’m sure you feel that such an answer is idiotic. I agree. Although, there’s no better way to say it. If you feel any attraction to the concept, you’ll simply enjoy it. Perhaps this stems from what I dub the “slice of life curve.” That though is something for another day. I have nothing more to say without spoiling the contents of Sora no Woto except this: If you do end up enjoying Sora no Woto, I’d be grateful if you took the time to send the creators and publishers a message saying so. However you interpret what I mean by “message” is up to you.
If you’ve already watched Sora no Woto and want to hear another small blurb about how I felt, it’s the mess below. Brace yourself. There’s no refinement here compared to the text above. It’s all stream of consciousness, immediately written with the only saving grace being correct grammar.
I’m frankly amazed. Kureha, Kanata, Noel, Rio, Felicia; they’re incredibly endearing. Even in the closing arc, with Kureha playing devil’s advocate as Rio was gone, I can still empathize with her. Maybe it’s because of my age. When I was younger, I would’ve registered the cast as friends. Now, I think of them more as children. Albeit, that does sound fairly creepy now that I’ve typed it out. It’s just that when the characters are emotionally in pain, you want them to feel that everything’s going to be alright. Besides those moments with Kureha, there was the exploration of Noel’s backstory. Her trauma about killing so many people as a result of her research and inventions was heartbreaking. That said, Aisha’s gradual acceptance of her tipped the scales back to heartwarming.
The thing is, I’ve seen everything presented in the show before. Even Noel’s entire arc is a bit of a cliche. I’m still singing my praises about the show anyway. Oh well, a review is ultimately subjective no matter how hard I tried to put an objective lens on it. Besides Sora no Woto, I loved Girls und Panzer and High School Fleet. That reminds me! The spider tanks were… interesting? I won’t lie. I would’ve preferred regular treads compared to the quadruped and spider leg style. That’s just a small critique though. And now, recognizing that technology, I’m brought back into the world of Sora no Woto. Think about it this way: How many shows could exist within the universe of Sora no Woto? How many genres? The answer is limitless. There could’ve been an entire show portraying the horrors of the war between the SDF and aliens. That’s the most intriguing part in the end. All that said, a small look into the production history of Sora no Woto reveals it was part of a handful of anime written to be anime originals. For that reason, I believe the plot that finally landed on was the correct one. Only through anime could the theme of music be capitalized on so well. Notable exceptions exist and… Well- I suppose those are a topic for another day as well. I hope you could get through this wall of text at the end. Thank you for reading and have a pleasant day.