Ph33r T3h 1n+@rw3bz!

November 24, 2010

“St-Stop! If you fire the Soul Shouts here… Dead Leaves and the rest of them are going to kill me!”

Brain Colony Leopard, The Girl Who Leapt Through Space

OMG Bakemonogatari is all sorts of mad awesome. Best thing I’ve watched this year since the 00 Movie; my only complaint is that we never see Koyomi’s story arc, nor his vampire power manifest when we really want to see it. But perhaps, this, and the way the story unfolds, is what makes the show shine.

Anyways, I thought I’d get away from my usual giant robots, death, violence and overly dramatic scenarios leading to people overly musing about deaths with the end of MS: Gundam and go back to watching what I usually watch when I have enough of philosophical and political: moe fanservice anime.

Though I can’t speak for Bakemonogatari… well, Sora Kake Girl is still moe anime, I can’t deny that, but this is a special case. Not only do they STILL have giant robots (more like Knightmare Frames in the far-flung future with the likeness of valkyries and Amazon women, and the blatant Lelouch-in-a-box isn’t helping), but they have (space) colony musume, or musuko if we’re being specific about the majority of colonies here. Talking, habitable space colonies with Gryps Laser/chainsaw/chain whip/freezing aura. Zeon only wishes they could get their mitts on them.

Just let me ramble on the plot. In the far-flung future, mankind lives amongst the solar system and its various planets. Moon colonies, space colonies, yadda yadda. You get the point. Then we have Shishidou Akiha from the Kirkwood Colony Cluster (somewhere between Luna and Mars, I suppose), 17-year old daughter of the uber-rich Shishidou family. Actually how the story advances has nothing to do with how the show introduces us to her (via running away fom home and a forced marriage), but while she’s floating in a emergency capsule with her personal A.I. avatar Imoko to another corner of the Kirkwood colony, something big appears. Like, really really BIG.

This is where we see the space colony Leopard. Akiha and Imoko land in the colony purely by chance, and they find Leopard the A.I. unit, who’s basically Lelouch vi Britannia without social tact. As the Kirkwood Cluster  sends out people to investigate, Leopard decides they’re all a nuisance and blows them away with his cannon; or at least, he tries to, until the cannon spectacularly blows a smoke ring Gandalf would be proud off, and does nothing else.

Extremely shamed about his apparent impotence, if you’ll excuse my use of that word, Leopard does a hyperspace jump to Earth’s area (taking quite a few people with him, including his comrade Kawai Honoka and on-scene space policewoman Kannagi Itsuki) and attempts to drop himself onto the surface in glorious fiery suicide, until Akiha, who’s been pulled along all this while with Leopard, decides to talk sense into him. Leopard manages to snap out of it, and after assistance from the three girls onboard in their QT-Arms (mecha by any other name),  they manage to escape fiery death.

Akiha only wishes that this is the end of all that madness; fortunately for us, at least, where would the show be if it ends there? Our protagonist gets a front-row seat to the true web of power that is the far-flung future, as Leopard’s former comrades (in other words, other blabbing colonies like him) do battle against him, while very nicely knocking the rest of the Kirkwood Cluster forces out of the fight. Alliances shift and whomever may be comrades in one episode might end up trying to kill each other in the next, as corpses shift and offer room for more, humanity is assimilated into the network of the future, and people die by the thousands!

Ok, maybe not.

anyways, the show throws alot of loose ends at you early on. Expect developments, revelations and fairly important plot points to be remembered later on to come fast and furious after the first few episodes; apparently the Brain Colonies go back a long way, but not everything is given in a single seating so you’ll just have to sit and wait. To add to that, Leopard’s comrades have their own agenda and their ringleader has a past stretching back to the dark ages of humanity involving a terrible war (or as “dark age” as you can get when you let SkyNet try its hand at artificial habitat remodelling. We let it use Earth as practice as look how well that turned out…)

Things don’t clear up fast enough. It’s pretty hectic when they throw three Brain Colonies at you and we aren’t even done with the main characters, and then they introduce Akiha’s entire immediate family (which BTW conveniently seems to consist of sisters only)! Though not really headache-inducing, in my opinion it takes a while to get their plot roles up to speed, and then one of them gets to be the target of what I’ll consider a Missed Awesome Character; though it’s purely up to interpretation, I was hoping for at least one competent hand-to-hand badass on the good side of things.

Sora Kake Girl has the good luck to have quite the interesting backstory plot; unfortunately, you’ll have to sit through the episodes themselves to realize this as the plot continues, and we end up with even more questions and not enough answers. Particular mention goes to Honoka as Leopard and friends run around the solar system, meeting comrades and memories. It’s almost like a grand gathering of former allies and comrades, except that this isn’t a sequel and there weren’t any series before to back up Sora Kake Girl’s path that isn’t revealed through flashbacks.

However, my biggest question-mark is the somewhat disconnected-ness of certain things. One is Sora Kake Girl’s heavy reliance on “Once upon a time there was a big war…” kind of plot-driver. The last time anyone did this, it was in Melody of Oblivion; Sora Kake Girl saved itself from great Narm because it’s fairly action-packed and they don’t build their entire plot premise on that one factor alone. Little tidbits of information are leaked to the viewer through meeting up with old resistance members, looking for Leopard’s spares, and when people meet behind the scene.

Another are the false interpretation of several characters. The Kirkwood Student Council’s power is hinted at but never given the recognition you’d think it might get; I can’t decide whether they left that out on purpose or they just forgot about it. Nerval, Leopard’s former Big Boss and current head of the Brain Colonies is another example. He comes off as an evil megalomaniac when you see him the first time. Later on during the assimilation of Kirkwood however, his personality is very much different from what everyone makes him out to be. In fact, he’s pretty charismatic and honorable in comparison to the majority of his comrades, who are just quirky-vain or quirky-psycho. Unlike the total-assimilation policy the good guys are convinced he’s carrying out, Nerval instead seeks understanding with humans; he’s still rounding people up for the gulag, but he’s not gloating that it’s for the best of humanity (his comrades, on the other hand…) He even gets to be the hero when forces outside launch weapons of mass-destruction at the Kirkwood Cluster, earning him about an episode’s worth of redemption.

Another point which in this case I consider a pet peeve of mine; there’s not enough back story expounded on the Sora Kake Girl universe. It is never explicitly stated, but humanity has expanded far amongst its own solar system; it is assumed that Jupiter provides the final frontier, but by the time the story starts it has been long abandoned. Then there are the different factions. The Kirkwood Cluster and Lunar Colonies are two, and another shows up in the form of assassin robots out to terminate Nerval, and later in an envoy to the Lunar Colonies after they decided to attack Kirkwood. There’s a dash of some greater political intrigue, but it is never given any details and they vanish off the radar as soon as Nerval in righteous fury outputs several thousand times more ice than winter at the Arctic and freezes the one-shot cheap villains like popsicles, nevermind how space physics actually work. Then again perhaps they should just leave it as it is, I wouldn’t want political intrigue to spill over like boiling soup in a small pot.

The last point I consider to be quite the epic Rick-Roll. Watch the series, and you’ll naturally understand what I mean.

Though having said all of the above, Sora Kake Girl is quite the worthy watch. It’s not overly talkative, the plot doesn’t withhold information from the viewer (at least, whatever you might need to keep in touch with what’s happening in the show) and surprises and storyline twists are aplenty; they don’t scrimp on the action either, in fact the show knows exactly how the action should go. The characters are lively and you’ll find a diverse set of character personalities to attach to throughout the course of the show; this goes for both sides. As well, the show seems to make interpersonal relations its moral point; there’s quite a bit dedicated to characters from both sides interacting with each other and that really fleshes out the people who matter, as well as the characters who don’t interact with others. My only lasting complaint is that they really should have dedicated an episode or two to explaining the past and/or cleaning up the loose bits, because to me, the show seems to have ended in a great hurry, and with a number of questions unanswered.

And of course, seeing as the show has been waving promises of fanservice throughout its opening sequence… actually, it’s just the moe kind of fanservice. Honoka fans raise your hands please~!


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