Title: The Pilot’s Love Song (Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta)
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Summary: This is a tale of a prince who lost everything leaves for a journey with no guarantee of returning to his hometown safely. With hatred and revenge in his mind, he met several people that taught him about friendship…and love.
Review: There is a time when a brilliant romance comes out and shakes the ages; an inspiring peace that captivates the hearts of its audience and brings true inspiration for others to do better. The Pilot’s Love Song missed that by a mile. I was severely disappointed by how the anime turned out, because I was looking forward to it at the start. It had the formula to be a great anime, theming the tragedy of war, human curiosity, and the fanaticism of religion. Those three elements alone should have made this anime one of the best of Winter 2014. Unfortunately the thing that brought the series to its knees were the characters.
The artwork for The Pilot’s Love Song wasn’t the best, but it served its purpose. The unique characters and beautiful dog fights made the actions scenes some of the best I’ve seen. I enjoyed watching the new recruits soar through the clouds, feeling like I was sitting in the cockpit with them. I felt the intensity of war as I watched buildings catch on fire; explosions devastating the land. Overall I was impressed with the environment and scenery the series created. The grassy plains, expanding blue sky, and extravagant buildings were all impressive. The only real problem was you never really got to see more than a few select places. Other than the generic city scape that shows up for a brief moment to introduce new characters, you were almost always stuck at the barracks. I understand that the characters spent most of their time in one area, but the series could have easily given us more and helped us immerse ourselves in their world. Just another reason The Pilot’s Love Song didn’t live up to its potential.
I’ll start out with what the series did right, and what COULD have been. The very beginning of the series throws you into a scene of war and chaos, a young boys heart filled with rage at the sight of the sky queen. Chills ran down my spine when Kal-el yelled her name, “Nina Viento!”; his eyes turning red, the world around him drowned out by his anger. The minute I saw this scene I my heart was pounding in fear. I wanted to see a story of revenge, turmoil, and regret. Call me a sadist, but watching the character suffer from internal struggles was what got me excited. I was expecting something new and refreshing; an story of war that only a beaten soldier could tell. The Pilot’s Love Song created a mysterious atmosphere that got the audience genuinely curious about the “Edge of the Sky”. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was, and looked forward to their journey in discovering it. Mixed with the new found hope of revolutionists and manipulation of a religious belief I thought the government would play a much bigger role. With an unstable and new found rule many behind the scene endeavors could have taken place; again adding to the atmosphere and immersing the viewers. A few episodes later and I began to see the problems slowly paving their way into the story. I started to lose hope, but held on in case there was a dramatic twist. Unfortunately for me, that twist never came. As I mentioned earlier the biggest issue I had with the series was the characters. They were two-dimensional (no pun intended), forgettable, and more importantly annoying. The series tried too hard to bring out strong emotions from the viewers without ever establishing the characters. Other than knowing where everyone was from and their names (which I promptly forgot) I knew nothing about them. Even Kal-el who had the most fleshed out backstory became an emotional wreck and seemed to change moods at the drop of a hat. On top of the first tier support characters there was yet another group introduced and then promptly forgotten, like a side story that fizzled away in the wind. The group of “rich snobs” did nothing more than add a couple lines here and there to waste what little time the series had. What finally hit the last nail in the coffin was the romance. It had no build up making it feel like some middle school puppy love. Yet the series tried to make it seem like it was the strongest bond between two people, that all past crimes should just be thrown out the window. The core story that The Pilot’s Love Song introduced in the first ten minutes was completely left out because a couple played in the water a little and exchanged pleasantries. It wasn’t just the main characters’ romance that bothered me either. The support characters also seemed to escalate their bonds at a rapid pace with seemingly little to no interaction. This was one of the few series that I disliked so much yet think it would have done better given a full 24 episodes. If I had felt closer to the characters the horror of war would have felt more real; I would have felt sorrow when a character was hurt or killed. In the case of The Pilot’s Love Song I was actually cheering for the enemy to start picking off the platoon one by one.
The soundboard for the series was actually quite good and probably the best thing about it. The sound of the engines, distant explosions, and bullets whizzing past the pilots made the action scenes thrilling. The opening tried to emphasize the importance of relationships even though the series didn’t really follow through. I also liked a lot of the background music, orchestrated with violins and piano during select scenes. It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t able to get my hands on the full OST to for a closer listen.
Final statements: The Pilot’s Love Song is filled with terrible characters, dropped side stories, and an underwhelming conclusion. The only way I could see someone enjoying this is if they liked childish romances, and the whole “love at first sight” bit, and I mean really like it because EVERY character suffers from it. For everyone else, this is an avoid watch.