My Vengeful Wind Priestess Can’t Be This Cute.
I think that it is safe to say that I haven’t seen a story featuring a couple with a darker past than Toaru Hikūshi e no Koiuta’s Claire Cruz and Karl La Hire in quite some time. This week saw another Toaru Hikūshi episode that mixes dark character flashbacks with more typical slice-of-life/military training action, except this time those flashbacks were from the perspective of Claire Cruze, aka Nina Viento, the girl who has fallen in love with the boy whose parents were killed in in the coup d’etat that she symbolized. Toaru Hikūshi certainly hasn’t been afraid of dumping large amounts of backstory on the viewers in the form of flashbacks, and while the storytelling technique might seem quite simple, it is definitely effective at creating sympathy for the show’s characters.
Before we can get to Claire’s past, though, we get to experience the requisite beach sequence, as Isla’s students get some relaxation in after a rigorous bout of training. The aristocrats, barring Claire, ditch, which was to be expected. Ignacio also chooses to hang back and watch, rather than participate, until Ariel drags him down to the beach. It is interesting to see that Ignacio is getting a bit closer to Ariel, and by closer, I mean that he doesn’t completely ignore her. Hey, small steps and whatnot.
Whilst fetching firewood, Karl and Claire end up in a rather compromising situation when they accidentally fall down together. The RA spots them before the situation develops any further, but Claire is pretty clearly shaken up by the fact that she is getting so close to the boy who she now thinks might be the former Crown Prince.
Claire isn’t the only one Karl is having issues with, though. Ignacio clearly holds some resentment towards Karl, and a brief run-in between the two leads to Karl thinking about his past once more. This allows us to learn the truth about why Karl is on Isla.
It was a bit hard to believe that the Albus family would be able to keep Karl a secret forever, and indeed, the government of Balsteros did find out about the Crown Prince quite some time before the start of the series. Instead of arresting Karl La Hire, though, they let him be for some time, before proposing that he join the Isla expedition, baiting him with the fact that Nina Viento would also be on Isla.
Toaru Hikūshi continues its love of flashback scenes by shortly following Karl’s flashback with the first one we’ve set set in Claire’s past. Claire’s family was of common stock, but as a child she developed an ability to manipulate the wind. As a result, however, she was branded a witch and her mom eventually gave her up to some moneylenders. In her distress, Claire caused a tornado that almost certainly killed and wounded a significant amount of individuals, after which she was taken in by some sort of religious sect.
I’ve mentioned how Karl’s past is pretty depressing, but it turns out that Claire’s isn’t much better. It is easy to see how and why she ended up as a tool of the political movement that sought to take over Balsteros and end the monarchy, the movement that caused all the distress in Karl’s life. Talk about forbidden love. We also learn about how Claire ended up on Isla – apparently she was talked into going on the voyage by Luis de Alarcon after she lost her ability to manipulate the wind.
Back in the present, Claire is unable to confront Karl after the earlier incident, but the two end up having to work together in a mock dogfight as a part of a training exercise. I should note that one-on-one aerial combat is a big deal in this society. In Toaru Hikūshi e no Tsuioku, which is set in the same universe, pilots make a rather big deal out of the chivalry of such dogfights. With Claire as the pilot and Karl as the gunner, the duo initially performs rather poorly, unable to coordinate properly until Karl is finally able to reach Claire with his words. He, of course, has no idea that Claire is Nina Viento, but Claire ends up overwhelmed with the desire to maintain their relationship as it is, allowing them to triumph in the aerial duel.
Their moment of triumph, however, is cut short by the sight of foreign planes flying in formation over Isla. The rather antiquated planes belong to some entity known as a “Sky Cult”, and are set upon immediately by Isla’s Knights in their tiltrotors. However, this does provide the audience with the first real taste of what is to come, in terms of plot. Isla’s voyage clearly isn’t going to be a peaceful one – that much is made clear by the OP – and it will certainly be interesting to see not only how Claire and Karl’s relationship develops, but what dangers they and the expedition as a whole are put in on their mission.
The flashbacks we got this week were certainly very important, as they allow us to answer a lot of questions. Why is Claire – Nina Viento – on Isla? She was a political tool that was no longer useful, and to prevent her from being used by another faction, the government used the expedition as an opportunity to exile her. It seems that she has lost her ability to manipulate the winds – for now – which means that she couldn’t move against the government that is doing this to her. Why did they send Karl on the same trip? Just as Nina was used by the Wind Revolution’s plotters as a tool, Karl La Hire is also a potential tool to be used by any faction seeking to gain control over Balsteros. He could easily be used by some group claiming to be working to restore the monarchy, and he would probably go along with it, given his hatred for Viento. By sending him off with Viento, the government got rid of two risky factors in one stroke. Worst comes to worst, one of them offs the other. Either way, it doesn’t matter much.
Ignacio is the main unknown left in the series, and I think it is safe to predict that we’ll be getting his backstory pretty soon – probably in the next episode, I’d wager.
Toaru Hikūshi has impressed me with its ability to contain some rather tragic characters yet keep an overall atmosphere that isn’t too depressing. I am definitely interested in seeing where this series will go, especially now that the plot seems to be getting into gear.
Episode Rating: 8/10
- Why were those Sky Cult plains seemingly just chilling over Isla? They were in formation, but they didn’t seem to have any specific target.
- I was a bit ambivalent to the OP at first, but it is really starting to grow on me. Plus, it is sung by the voice actors of Claire and Ariel, which is nice.
- In most anime, Igna would be the type of guy who is silver-haired, mysterious, and very good at everything. I like the fact that in this series, he is the type of guy who is silver-haired, mysterious, and actually an average if not below-average pilot. Just an observation. He doesn’t seem to be into the whole flying thing – his motivations clearly lie elsewhere.
- I wonder what happened to Claire’s mom and brother? I wonder if we’ll find out.