A-1 Pictures Inc. is at it again with its recognizable art style and mixed comedy/drama-esque storytelling. Sorami Kanata, a young trumpeter trainee gives me the impression of a typical clumsy-moe anime character, but the sudden perfect pitch insights, willingness to attempt professionalism, and the animation studio's proven tendency to allow effective dialogue-less plot advancement keep me interested in her. From her friendly decision to join the wine-splashing portion of the festival to her recognition of the pitches of glass accessories artfully contrasting to the sketch effect on people...
Here we are introduced to Kazumiya Rio, first the person telling Kanata to back off the glass store to the random strict stranger admonishing her wine-splashed uniform - only later do we (or at least Kanata?) realize that she is a higher-ranking soldier in the unit. Am I reading into it too much? Perhaps. But the vagueness keeps me interested, and the cut to Felicia and Kureha (and Noel later on) are plot devices that naturally embed into the introductory episode.
Everything seemingly random is suspiciously so important - the well-animated owl that swoops by and steals the bell, leading to a cut to the Fire Maiden festival and the winged demon... we are exposed to the world of SoRaNoWoTo in a way that doesn't reek of fantasy nor simplicity. It's like the story plot is being laid in front of us in such a way that we only think of it as a road to the next device - though, it actually is the plot itself.
- typical A-1 Pictures animations, which is a good thing. Only a few animation studios give me a sense of good liquid physics and wind. We see that in Kanata's ride to Seize and the Fire Maiden festival. The details of character actions are focused on something always moving - your eyes don't get distracted by a strangely immobile shirt sleeve, a common annoyance in other anime.
- cuts from light to dark are very dramatic and the art is just beautiful. Seeing the large mysterious skeleton glowing in the ocean, contrasting with the dark night above the murky ocean surface. The flashback uses selective contrasts and shading, also drawing the eyes toward the importance of the scene.
- the festival is just so deceptively "side event" but I suspect it'll be important to the latter episodes. Half of the episode is on the festival, and yet you don't get a feeling that they're just throwing a plot device at you.
8.5 for high first impressions and high expectations.