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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Sound of the Sky: Complete Collection - Limited Edition
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 18, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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Sound of the Sky
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.

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.

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).

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).

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.

There were five characters in total that represented these girls of the platoon.  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).

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.

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.

The DVD:  


Sound of the Sky 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.


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).


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.

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.

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.

Final Thoughts:

Sound of the Sky 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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