May 05, 2010

Chekhov's Tank

Over at TVtropes.org (warning: not safe for those without a lot of time), there's an entry entitled "Chekhov's Gun."  It gets its name from a famous law of playwriting by Anton Chekhov, which states "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.  If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."  This is an admonition against unnecessary things in a story, and works very, very well.  So when we first see the giant spider tank in Sora no Woto, it's immediately clear that, even though it's in pieces, it WILL be used some time in the series.

...at which point, I closed ZoomPlayer and said "no thanks, no longer interested." 

Until last weekend.  Either caught up or bored with everything else I've been watching recently (K-On!!, Angel Beats, a few others), I restarted the show again... and wondered just what the hell was wrong with me the first time.  I blitzed the 12-episode series in two days, enjoying myself the entire time.  Okay, sure, it's a show about Japanese girls wearing German uniforms exploring a Japanese music school in a Spanish town full of French people celebrating Chinese New Years in Switzerland, shooting South African owls while piloting multi-legged, talking, demon slaying, Amazing Grace-singing, 500mm coil gun firing "son of the god of fire" supertanks from the future, but I'll be darned if it isn't really, really good.

It's NOT "K-On! Goes To War" as people described it when it first debuted.  Music plays a small part in the show (the aforementioned Amazing Grace ties the characters together in a way the series explains quite well), other than the main character being a military bugler.  It's certainly a better looking series than K-On!, without a doubt.

Which is amazing, considering that only a couple of years ago, Kyoto Animation (who does K-On!) was considered the preeminent studio for "pretty shows." 

Having said all that, Sora no Woto isn't a great series, but it is good.  It's entertaining, has a pretty good story behind it, and characters that you get interested in.  The show's downfall is that it's too short.  I think it needed another three or four episodes, as the final story arc changes the tone of the show abruptly from rather light-hearted to a dark war story.  If that arc was extended it would have done the story a world of good... but I don't think it'd support a 24-episode series.  And yes, Chekov's Tank does get used.

If you haven't seen the show, give it a look... you won't regret it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:35 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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