This 13-episode anime series had one good plot twist in episode 4 and then just fell flat with everything else. The main issue is that it feels very disjointed. The story spends the entire early portion building up the conflict between the priestess and Kal-El’s past, but swerves to focus upon the End of the Sky and aerospace military academy. I honestly felt the Mitsu subplot only served to ruin the focus on the more interesting main characters of Claire and Kal-El. The story seems to attempt to force the viewer to try to like the forgettable background cadets when the main focus should have been on Claire and Kal-El’s romance; the background characters having their own lives and personality are fine, but why is it cutting into the main plot? Not only is it held onto the backburner, but when Kal-El realizes Claire’s secret, he seems to realize it in the most random way possible with wind blowing on her hair instead of simply thinking about the times when Claire was absent. Even worse, after the reveal, the story does nothing – absolutely nothing – with Kal-El’s reaction since he’s holed up in his room and the most we get is his step-sister Ari recognizing the rage in his visage being similar to when she first met him. We get nothing about his thoughts, his inner turmoil, or any meaningful payoff to what the plot was supposedly leading up to. I understand finding the End of the Sky was important and I could forgive this if that had payoff, but even that was completely underwhelming and an utter disappointment. We never witness the Priestess as a figurehead apart from one speech and we never see her handle any governing or being used as a figurehead to symbolize governing apart from maybe near the end. The plot just focuses on the boring side characters who have one-sentence descriptions to their personality. Can anyone honestly tell me that Chizuru and Mitsu’s love dynamic wasn’t something they’d watched a million times, but better, in other anime and are we – the viewer – really going to care or remember either of them after just one episode of the most blandest interactions? I honestly felt more for the bully, Fausto, than I did those forgettable characters. Why on earth was so much focus on them?
When it does focus on the main plot, it delivers really well. Claire’s removal of her identity to explain to Kal-El how she really felt, her reactions when realizing who Kal-El was before telling him that she had to cut ties, and her feelings of being an overglorified doll were good, but they wasted time on absolute garbage characters like Chizuru and Mitsu instead of exploring this in more depth and fleshing out Claire’s character. The story fails to explain that what the four generals in charge are doing is analyzing how the world exists, it fails to explain why a Saint is not simply titled a God since he presumably made the world, and the background lore seems to just exist for melodramatic convenience near the end of the story since we never learn anything about the Sky Clan or their motives. Just some contrived story about a prophecy regarding Claire that we learn about in a few short sentences to explain why they want a ceasefire with no further clarification.
Honestly, I just feel this anime is an underwhelming disappointment. It had all the pieces for a great story, but it fell flat to make subplot upon subplots of the most boring, trite, and bland interactions and characters. The war theme and airplane fights mask the utter failings with intense action and believable threats to their mission and flying island home. Yet, by episode 13, the “discovery” just falls flat and the politics in the final episode doesn’t make much sense. A few lines imply a coup d’etat against the Republic after a speech by Kal-El, but that would make even less sense. Overall, I’m just disappointed, I actually liked Claire and Kal-El’s dynamic and backgrounds, but it completely fell flat and the anime just feels like it ends at a random point. I suppose they were waiting for a Season 2, but doesn’t seem like it’ll happen. It seems like they had all pieces for a great story, but had no idea how to execute them at all. I suspect some of the story was made randomly on a weekly basis as they went on. Why, for example, does Ignascio not warn his retainer, Claire, when he figures out who Kal-El is? Why are we shown a more technologically advanced civilization from the Sky Clan in the last few moments of the anime, yet they use wooden planes to fight near the beginning of the series?
Good set-ups, horrible payoff and a disjointed focus away from the important characters for boring subplot dramas that I honestly didn’t care for at all. They took away from the worldbuilding and from any deeper development of the two main characters.