When I watched the final OVA, I don’t think I realized quite how much I missed this show. Beautiful art, beautiful music, insightful dialogue discussing dreams vs. goals, and the cutest haircut session ever.
I forgot that one of the things that I really like about Sora no Woto was how it uses moé motifs to mask what is essentially a very bleak situation. The world is dying, the population is dwindling, wars are raging, and the current superpower of the time expended considerable effort to map the known world. Which is made difficult when the majority of the known world is covered by an impenetrable and encroaching desert caused by ancient nuclear wars. Meanwhile, the show spends it’s time focusing on the exploits of a few cute girls doing cute things. I feel though, that that focus comes into line with a theme that was introduced in Filicia’s flashback episode regarding the inherent meaninglessness of life. Life is what you make of it and if the world is slowly dying around you, you can still choose to have fun in spite of it. It serves the dual purpose of inspiring a sort of easy hopefulness, which is invaluable in an apocalyptic setting.
It culminated in a beautiful scene in a newly built hot-air balloon using technology that was once lost. Under the auspice of having fun, the girls inadvertently sow the seeds of hope against a dying future world.
One of 4chan’s favorite activities was to piece together the puzzle of the intricate world that was presented in Sora no Woto. While not without merit, I feel it’s a bit outside the point of the show since I feel it reaches almost a parable status. What exactly the moral is, is debatable, but I’m attracted to the idea that it’s linked to Filicia’s existential ruminations that were brought up in response to her Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The last episode caps off the series nicely by including what feels like an addendum to what was introduced in Filicia’s episode, with the girls attaching solid meaning to their lives through the discussions of dreams vs. goals.
There is no meaning to our lives, except that which we make for ourselves. It’s the difference between us thinking we are paper-knives, made with a predetermined purpose, as opposed to us actually being bits of flint on the beach which can be MADE into something useful and purposeful in reality. (thanks Sartre)
After looking back on the original preview, I’m actually pretty delighted to see how thematically tight the entire show was.
“The world is not always full of fun and happiness. Rather, it may be a dark and lonely world. But that depends on how you look at it. …How it’s decided depends solely on you.”
Sora no Woto isn’t the first show to espouse these themes of someone having to blaze their own trail and determining their own outlook and fate, but I find it executes these themes both elegantly and with charm.
4 responses to “Existentialism in the Execution of Sora no Woto”
I must watch this show…I quit after about 3 episodes, and I’ve been told I should definitely return to it. This post just emphasizes that further.
I loved the series when it was floating around! Was one of the first few shows that got me into blogging anime, amazing animation and fun characters to watch plus it had a mecha spider tank! Really cool and the music wow just great ;)
A while ago I wrote something about how it’s one of those distinctly Japanese things, a “gentle post-apocalypse.” It’s comparable to one of the earliest iyashikei shows, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, which too focuses on the daily humdrum life with a backdrop of a ruined world. I wonder if it’s not so much existentialism in the distinctly Western sense than the concept of mono no aware, the beauty of fading and temporary things.
I did ultimately feel that Sora no Woto wasted some of its potential at the end—it didn’t dig as much as it hinted and sometimes strove for. But for 3/4 it was actually a very good, sometimes excellent show.
I was very sad when this show came to an end. It was one of my favorite anime of 2010 and I stand by that claim. It isn’t a K-ON clone. Far from it. K-ON focused on the life of high school girls all the way through graduation, while SnW had an emphasis on protecting a beautiful country, and its inhabitants from an inevitable war, while exploring their personalities full of mystery and wonder…especially my beloved Noel.
2nd season or movie s’il vous plait.