I wasn’t sure what to make of The Pilot’s Love Song upon first glance, as it looked similar to 2003’s Last Exile, thanks in part to the old fashioned, steampunk look. I wasn’t too far off, as this two disc, thirteen episode series deals with drama, flying machines, and a bit of romance that pulls enough barrel rolls to please fans of anime and those looking for something different to watch.
The series follows the young Kal-el Albus, a former prince who has lost everything and is taken in and adopted by an airplane mechanic that has three daughters, with the youngest named Ariel. Kal and Ariel join Cadoques High school on a floating island called Isla and train to become pilots there. While there, they learn that Isla is heading on a pilgrimage to a place called the End of the Sky, where they will need plenty of pilots (and those in training) to fly WWII-like fighter planes as they battle against a mysterious enemy that will do anything to keep them from their quest. Of course this wouldn’t be an anime if some drama, romance, and interesting characters with past issues weren’t thrown in for the ride, and you’ll find plenty of them here.
I found this series to be a pretty solid anime series, despite having a slow pace and short length. Those who think they’ll see any dogfights right off the bat will be sorely disappointed, as the show tends to focus on the cast and their lives before anything else. When the awesomely animated fights do occur, they’re shown to reveal the vulnerabilities of the students and how they must learn to move past their shortcomings. This series is also not afraid to address the horrors of war, so I’ll just say don’t get too used to the cast, because all of them won’t make it through to the end.
Watching this series unfold in high definition was a nice bonus, as the details on both the artwork and animation really come through on Blu-ray. The original Japanese audio is featured here with English subtitles, and comes through perfectly as the sounds, music and cast bring the show to life. Speaking of bonuses, our friends at NIS America sent over the premium bonus set that includes a nicely detailed hardcover box for the discs and artbook it comes with. The artbook is a 64-page hardcover filled with detailed character info, interviews with cast members, episode guides and of course beautiful, full color illustrations that will satisfy those who spend the extras cash for this collector’s version.
If you don’t mind your anime taking its time with the characters and setting, then you’ll enjoy The Pilot’s Love Song. It’s a bit slow, short, and has an ending that may or may not satisfy those who put the time into watching, but the detailed dogfights, characters, and nice extras included in this release make up for any shortcomings. This anime comes recommended, and is worth spinning up the propeller and flying off to pick up a copy.