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Sound of the Sky: Complete Collection - Limited Edition

Right Stuf // Unrated // July 5, 2011
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Rightstuf]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 19, 2011 | E-mail the Author


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SOTS-DVD


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Sound of the Sky
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> tells
the story of the 1121st platoon
of the Helvetian Army. The platoon is entirely made up of young women
who have
their own aspirations and dreams to follow. Each character joined the
platoon
for a different reason. This is one of those quietly-paced anime series
which
is determined to spend much more time developing the characters and
focusing on
their stories than on telling a story with a grander story arc or
scope.
Instead, Sound of the Sky aims to be a slice of life series
that will
find an audience primarily through the unique and humble qualities it
displays
from a storytelling perspective.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
series
begins by introducing Kanata Sorami, a 15 year old volunteer who joins
the
1112st platoon with a goal of learning how to play the bugle because of
her
passion for music. Indeed, several of the other characters on the show
share a similar
passion and determination to bring their music to the world that
surrounds them
and this is one of the elements of the series that lends it some
necessary charm
as a show that emphasizes the importance of music in a person's life.
The backdrop
of the show is the aftermath of a war that destroyed much of
civilization, and
where people are left with the limitations of their own surroundings.
This is
almost entirely a back-burner element that only occasionally seems to
affect
the storyline and not in particularly surprising ways for the most part.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
animation
is simply stunning. This is easily one of the most impressive looking
anime
series of the past few years. The highlight of the entire show may very
well be
that the production values never cease to impress. Without such
incredibly detailed
and authentic artwork the series wouldn't have been as enjoyable as it
was to
behold. From the character designs to the landscapes everything seems
very well
thought out from the art department, with art direction by Masatoshi
Kai (who
was part of the art department for such classics as Jin-Roh: The
Wolf
Brigade
, Millennium Actress, Ghost in the Shell 2:
Innocence
,
and Howl's Moving Castle).


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
music by
Michiru Ohshima is another highlight of the show. It is eloquently
beautiful
and adds several layers of enjoyment to the series. The best scenes
throughout
the entire run of Sound of the Sky were usually accompanied by the
score (which
really brought things to another level at times).


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
scripting
was done by Hiroyuki Yoshino and unfortunately this is where the series
really
seems to disappoint the most. The effort to focus on characters above
plot is sometimes
to be appreciated but it seems to make this a difficult show to enjoy
at times.
I love character-based series but Sound of the Sky doesn't have
the most
compelling characters (even as it tries to develop their stories) and
without
characters I can fully appreciate it just doesn't work as a story as
well as it
should.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">There
were
five characters in total that represented these girls of the platoon. style=""> Each of the characters had a distinctive
personality (in anime cliché vein) but that seemed to almost
hinder the series
at times as the characters were fairly easy to figure out and not as
multi-layered as they could have been. I say "distinctive" to emphasis
that
each character seemed to be given somewhat generic traits. There is one
surprise late in the series that makes one central character a shady
past but
the character remains unchanged and the only surprise is that the
plot-point
was even left in the series (I won't spoil this development, but I
might as
well hint that it involves the war that preceded the beginning episode
of Sound
of the Sky
).


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Mamoru
Kanbe
does a good job directing the series for the most part. There is a lot
of
interesting camera-work and the style is refined enough that each
episode of
the series feels more like a short film than an episode of an ongoing
series,
but even with this aspect Kanbe does maintain  the
show as something consistent within the
story's unique universe.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">This
turned
out to be a nice series to see and it was one where I felt more of a
positive
vibe from the overall experience than a negative one. The series has
many flaws
(most of them being script related) but the strong direction and
(especially)
the stellar animation make this a series worth watching at least once.
There is
even thematic relevance in how the series emphasizes the importance of
friendship and the power of music. Sound of the Sky may be
flawed but it
is worth checking out even with the shortcomings.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
DVD:
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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Video:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Sound of
the Sky
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> is
presented in the original broadcast
aspect ratio of 1:78:1 on DVD with anamorphic widescreen enhancement
and the
result is a presentation that looks strikingly beautiful with strong
colors and
good contrast. The show is even less soft than I expected for this kind
of anime
production. The animation is exquisite and the DVD reflects that well.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Audio:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is surprisingly strong
for a stereo mix. It has some solid sound-mixing for each of the
speakers and it
sounds clean, clear, and dynamic for a limited sound field. This is one
of the
more impressive stereo mixes I have heard in recent memory. The series
is
presented with only the original Japanese language dub and with
optional
subtitles in English (and the option is included to turn on/off
text-translation).


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Extras:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">There
aren't that many exciting extras included with
this Limited Edition box set release. The best extra for this
release
may actually be the special packaging. Sound of
the Sky
is presented in a nice art-box that houses
the four individual slim-case discs with separate artwork on each. It's
a nice
package that will look impressive on an anime collector's shelf. The
set
includes an impressive booklet featuring notes from many of the
key
members of the production and they gave comments that are worth reading
for any
fan of the show. The booklet also features some pre-production art and
stills
from the series.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The set
claims to include two special bonus episodes
but I hesitate to consider them as real extras. The final episode "The
Sound of
the Sky - Dream's Horizon" is an essential wrap-up to the characters
and the
series would have ended on a much less interesting note if it had not
been
included. It would have been a major mistake to not
include it on this release. The second "bonus episode" is
actually just an alternative version of the first episode with the
series opening
credits sequence included (the original broadcast of the first episode
did not
include the opening credits featured in every other episode of the
show). I
didn't notice any other differences in the episode at all so it seemed
like a somewhat
redundant bonus.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Lastly,
the set is rounded out with character
bios
, line art galleries,  the
U.S. trailer for Sound of the Sky, and trailers for other
RightStuf!/Nozomi DVD releases.


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style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Final
Thoughts:


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Sound of
the Sky
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> was an
interesting series that
focused on the importance of friendship and music. The lead characters
were
likeable and the tone of the series was light and optimistic. The
animation is
beautiful. The scripting could have been quite a bit better at times,
and the
show suffered for that. The overall experience is still worthwhile. The
DVD
features pleasing PQ/AQ, little in the way of video extras, and a nice
series art-box
(with a neat booklet). It's worth picking up for the right price - so
it is recommended, but the best bet may be to
give it a test drive first.  Rent it.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.


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