Oh the controversy.
[In English: Recollections of a Certain Pilot]
Breaking this review into two sections. First section is the generic crap that nobody really cares about, the block review without spoilers. Second half has the actual content, and the analysis on the most crucial part of the movie.
Block Review: No spoilers
Let’s start with the storyline. The storyline isn’t exactly the most creative, it’s pretty linear; you could essentially predict the entire story with accuracy from the synopsis and the first twenty minutes alone. It’s not the driving force of the anime, but it isn’t “bad”, just generic. [It revolves around a pilot escorting a princess-to-be through enemy territory.] See, you essentially know everything that’s going to happen.
The art in this anime was surprisingly good. Madhouse delivered in this area, the dogfights in the air, and just flight in general was pure eye-candy. The characters too, they were drawn surprisingly well.
Let’s break the sound into two categories: OST and voice acting. The OST was done really well, it wasn’t that expansive, but it really complimented the mood. Rather than an assorted variety of songs, it’s relatively limited, but the songs that do play are “good” rather than just “filler music”.
The voice acting on the other hand, was mediocre. Both of the main characters talk apathetically at times, it’s humorous. The child actors were even worse, the beginning scene consisted of an out-of-breath child, running. in blunt honesty, it sounded more like
manual stimulation forced grunting.
The characters were not very creative, they could fit into a given archetype. We have the generic “good” guy, and the generic “princess-like” character, who’s getting married not by choice, but by obligation. So we basically expect the guy to be respectful at all times, and the female to be rebellious at times. Those two predictions reign true, they don’t really do anything surprising. It didn’t kill the enjoyment, the movie wasn’t centered around character interactions, nor was it centered around the storyline; it’s more mediocre than anything.
Enjoyability would be extremely subjective, I’ll get into that during the actual review, not this generic filler, Q/A format with blocked sections.
Actual Review: Plenty of spoilers
Now let’s get onto the enjoyability. This movie basically revolved around a dude, escorting a princess-like character to safety. Now, this introduces the inevitable romance, which ensues.
Romance is often an “easy” genre to commit half-assedly to, but a “hard” one to master. In this case, Toaru tried to create a “casual, fateful” romance in a way. They used the haphazard mechanic of being childhood friends, which is usually synonymous with a “happy ending”. However, Toaru took the route of making the ending embody sacrifice, rather than the “happy ending” that it was building throughout the entire series. It’s best compared to a feel-good movie, ending with the bad guys winning, it doesn’t fit the genre.
The ending basically involved her, giving up her love, to ultimately become Queen to change the world for the better. Now, I could get the logic in that, sacrificing yourself for the greater good, but that’s just so ridiculously trite and sporadic in this case.
There was no build up to her altruistic views, sure she showed some signs of regret when she shot somebody down, but that’s hardly correlated with wanting to sacrifice your own happiness for the good of others. It’s basic empathy.
The characters never broke down into a philosophical debate on how the world should function, it just happened. She was painted to be the exact opposite ironically, she was naive, and she didn’t really exhibit any signs that insinuated that she cared about everybody. It was just a random ending, that sounded “noble”, but it was executed without merit or foreshadowing.
We could compare it to another anime with a similar, infamous ending: 5 Centimeters per Second. Now, 5CMPS had a very similar ending, however, the ending was “justified” in this case; it wasn’t exactly avoidable given the circumstances. It was a story about the cruelty of how life sometimes works; the characters tried desperately to reconcile their love, however, after numerous years, they gave up. It’s a tragedy in other words.
Toaru cannot be compared the same way. They had every chance at having happiness, they just chose to go for the “unhappy” ending, for none other than a sporadic impulse of altruism from the female lead.
For example, the ending scene. She runs outside onto the deck of the ship, waiting to exchange farewells with her hero. Now, the guy does the most cheesy, and somewhat romantic thing. He disposes of the bag of money that he was given, creating a cloud of gold, and luster, eye candy for her, but most importantly, it symbolized that he wasn’t driven by avarice towards her, he did it for her, not the money. Now, that’s cheesy, but it’s passable and god damn romantic in most cases.
However, most cases generally involve the guy, getting the girl. In this case, he disposed of all the money he was given, then waves farewell, and she does too. Then it shifts to the credits informing the audience about her altruistic deeds after the events.
Let’s analyze that ending using the logic given. The guy’s records were basically erased by the military, because you can’t exactly attribute him, a mercenary, with the rescue of the soon to be Queen. It wouldn’t be that bad if the guy kept the money, he could support himself. But in his case, his records were erased, and you can’t exactly be in the military without records. Let’s also take into account that his reason for living was flight, a passion he acquired at a young age after being beat up numerous types for being of the inferior race. Given his inferior race, it wouldn’t be simple to find a job, given that the military is already a last resort for most people. So basically, the guy gets the “fuck you” end of the stick, he disappears, and most likely, dies alone and does not prosper.
Let’s analyze the Queen’s role. After being escorted to safety, and leaving the guy, she spends the rest of her life essentially “bettering” the world. That’s great, but to better the world, you need power. What does power entail? Well, for starters, it involves leaving behind your true love, that’s a pretty harsh penalty, but since sporadic altruism is just rampant nowadays, let’s go with it. What else does it entail? Well, you kind of need power. How do you get power? You get power by marrying the asshole King of course.
Now, the King was introduced at the beginning of the story, at the ball. He was painted to be, bluntly, a superficial asshole. He immediately announced his love for her, at the sight of her, all physical. To make matters worse, the only reason that they had a difficult time navigating around was due to his, naive, asinine, message, which tipped off the secret mission. So you’re essentially settling the lust of an asinine and asshole King.
Let’s move on to the third bullet of “changing the world.” How do you change it after you relinquish your happiness, and acquire power? You change it. But who exactly listens to the female Queen, while the superficial King holds power? It doesn’t logically flow, she’s more of a trophy to him than anything else, the credits signify that she devoted her life to building peace, but it never exactly confirmed that she succeeded in doing so. If this was a Disney movie, then she did it through the power of love. If this was a logical movie, then she didn’t do anything worthwhile.
All in all, irritating, illogical ending. Not an illogical ending because of its “type”, but because of how it was ultimately executed
Objective Score: 5/10
Subjective Score: 5/10
The ending could be argued for, albeit a weak one.
TLDR; Shit romantic ending, rage rage rage rage rage
Edit: Arguably the most irritating ending of all time.
Edit: Edit: Shit ending still.