Amongst anime fans, there is the often referred to ‘three episode rule’. It states that any new show (either in the new, current season or a show a person first experiences) is given three episodes before a person has either had enough and drops it, or likes it and continues on.
Now, no other show this season caught my eye, so I didn’t really immediately blog this one, but so far, my interest on the series grew and I think this will become yet another regular.
So far, the main allure this series has is the setting. It has a blend of early aviation with a mix of smoothed, or rather ‘clean’ steampunk about it. The main battleship and the floating island reminds me of some of the steampunk roleplays I’ve done, while the nice, boat-like lines of the VSTOL aircraft harken back to an earlier age where water was the best runway. The floating island, Isla is more like a moving fortress, as stated by one of the characters, due to its impressive defensive net and the fact there is a military flight school on a supposedly exploratory colony.
Old is new again, the best mode of transportation is in an olden-style bus, bicycle, or just by walking. Technology is seemingly mixed between olden Victorian-era modes of transport and 1920s-1930s. The planes are no different either, judging from the OP sequence and the in media res opening scene from episode one, the protagonist forces uses a twin-engined flying boat design (although it is a working VSTOL) while the antagonist forces seems to have taken their lines from the Messerschmitt Bf-109. So indeed it’s calling to my sense of adventurism and wonderment of the era.
As for the protagonists, it’s heavily hinted until it was more or less confirmed in episode 2 that the main male lead, Kal-el Albus, was the crown prince of the disposed royalty. His sister, or rather, adopted sister, Ariel Albus has been keeping up the front that they are merely brother and sister. Clair Cruz is the typical fenced in princess type, although there are hints of something more. And finally, Ignacio Axis is the loner-type who doesn’t wanna get along. The one with the brooding grudge or something, considering he was seen when Kal-el’s family was disposed, cheering in the sidelines.
Apart from the four main characters, there seems to be three distinct camps so far. There is Class 1 filled with haughty nobles, Class 2 filled with more diverse commoners, and the faculty, which seem to be military big shots from the revolution with the charismatic profiles of pilots and generals of past years.
There is no lie in that this is a love story between Kal-el and Claire. I like romances, more so when it involves aerial combat. It was a love that was brought about from Macross and the setting is icing on the cake. Now others may say there are better romances this season, but I’m sticking with THenK because it has action rather than just pure slice of life other series might be giving out. That said, the setting is intriguing. The Balsteros Empire turned into the Balsteros Republic, but from the attitudes of the people, seem to be a sham republic. A congress of sorts filled by the leaders of the revolution, in reality disgraced nobles or turn-coat noble families that supported and encouraged a burgeoning revolutionary spirit to keep their old positions in line.
This nobility became the new political class if one was to delve deeper into imagination. I have no access to the source and no doubt the Republic’s government will be further refined in future flashbacks. I’m already knowing, among many other viewers with some leaning interest in political punditry, that the only reason the soft rule or class distinction between the supposedly equal commoners and ‘former’ nobles is that the nobles, having kept the old money and commanded the big guns, have kept their status.
And the installation with no true electoral process (thus far seen), of these heroes and nobles and of the priestess, as head government. It may be a republic in that commoners are given representatives, but the true power, at least on Isla, lies on the exiled nobility. Maybe that’s why they are there? Maybe the Balsteros Republic is a true republic in the sense that those nobles that cannot handle the equality, as Kal-el implied about the Melze family, are given the one way trip to nowhere while the Republic continues to grow.
Episode 1: Island of Journeys
The episode starts off in the middle of a dogfight between the protagonists and an unnamed adversary. Cutting into the meat of the episode, a combined group of people from the three neighboring continents sent off the floating island, Isla, with its own self-sustaining colony into the unknown reaches to search for the legendary Holy Spring. Part of these people are Karl-el Albus, his sister Ariel Albus, Claire Cruz, and Ignacio Axis. Kal-el and Claire meet and it seems to be love at first sight. Even with their class differences separating them, the bond will only seem to get stronger in time.
Episode 2: Cadoques High School, Aerial Division
School episode, Kal-el, Ariel, and Ignacio meet their charismatic leaders and teachers, and see first hand the oppressive nature of the noble-born children. Claire and Kal-el partner up even if from different classes, inciting the leader of the noble-born children, Faustio Melze, son of the Aerial Knights to list Kal-el as his main rival. Ariel and Ignacio pair up.
Episode 3: The Wind Revolution
Claire hangs out with the commoners, and Faustio, slighted by the other day’s snubbing by Kal-el, still attempts to lure Claire away from the commoners. More history of Kal-el is shown in a long flashback sequence, showing his hatred of Nina Vilento, the priestess that brought down the Balsteros Empire in one night, the execution of his father and mother, and the adoption by Michael Albus after conspiring with the prison warden to say that the crown prince died shortly after his mother’s execution.
The military command decides that the students must become full-fledged pilots by the time they reach the Holy Spring, and the pilots are given their first formation flight in establishing a patrol lane. Kal-el and Claire are put into the noble’s squadron as a crash-bonding and teamwork rationale. Faustio maneuvers to deliberately throw the pair off course and into a cloud bank, with Claire helping Kal-el pilot via instruments alone. Kal-el and Claire land on the sea to await rescue.
Three Episode Rule Gallery: