Anime Corner: Alderamin on the Sky Review

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Fighting the lazy way

What’s the Story?

Ikta Solork is lazy, a bit of a ladies’ man and absolutely hates war, which is kind of awkward since he ends up joining the Imperial army after a shipwreck and saving the life of the Empire’s young princess. Thanks to Ikta’s scientific way of thinking though he actually has the potential to become one of the Empire’s best generals, you know, if he can survive the idiotic orders of his current commanding officers. With his friends at his side, including the elite swordswoman Yatori, Ikta must survive several battlefields if he wants to protect the people of the Empire.

The Review

Alderamin kind of surprised me, I mean I enjoyed it from the start but I really wasn’t expecting something this smart and character-driven. There were plenty of warning signs for this anime to either go into clichés or just generic plotlines. There was Ikta as the jerky character with a heart of gold who of course all the women would fall for (I was really worried this would turn into a harem, but thankfully that never happened, even with Ikta’s womanising tendencies. We see him hit on women and hear stories about him, but we never actually see him romantically involved with anyone.). Then we’d no doubt have Ikta being the only one speaking sense against the idiots in charge and of course he’ll be the only one that can possibly see the path to victory and pull it off against all the odds (this does kind of happen, but it’s a testament to Ikta’s character that it never comes off as a cliché).

Let’s talk about Ikta. It does take a while for him to warm up, he’s always fun, but the character doesn’t really hit his stride until the characters head to the North. Doing the tactical genius character is always hard because, well, a lot of the time they come across as annoying know-it-alls who are only so smart either because the plot makes everyone else stupid or they happen to know something really specific that turns everything around. They can to come across as manufactured a lot of the time, which I suppose they are. Ikta isn’t like that though. We see him struggle with his decisions (mostly in that arc in the North) and it’s apparent that he’s not afraid to come across as the bad guy if it meets with his end goal. Seeing Ikta mourn the soldiers killed by his own decision or doubting himself as he finally meets his match does a lot to make Ikta feel like a real character.

Another aspect of Ikta’s character that helps him feel more genuine as a person is that his tactical genius actually has an explanation. He looks at things in a scientific way, something that is frowned upon about the rest of the Empire, though it does lead to a very interesting philosophy from Ikta, that the best way to be a soldier is to be lazy. Do just enough get the job done and no more, don’t over exert yourself and don’t do things that aren’t necessary. He’s not interested in fame or glory, he doesn’t care about being some hero and he definitely isn’t bothered about protecting his country, deep down all Ikta wants to protect is people. It’s why he hates war so much, outside of being unscientific it’s such a terrible waste of life and even though he’ll claim he’s lazy to the end, Ikta will do everything in his power (including removing his own finger, this happens) to save as many lives as possible. It’s this that makes it easy to root for Ikta and feel sorry for him because no matter how smart he is; he can’t save everyone.

Ikta isn’t the only interesting character in this show though, we also have the scarlet badass that is Yatori. I seriously love her, she’s smart, she’s funny and confidant and a demon with a pair of swords in her hands. I’d call her the brawn to Ikta’s brains, but that would imply that Yatori isn’t smart, which she is. She’s studied scientific methods with Ikta and can often see along the same lines as him, even if she doesn’t get that final piece that turns everything around. Where they stand in regards to the Empire is what makes things interesting. Ikta can see that the Empire is on its last legs and after the unceremonious way they treated his father, he doesn’t really have a lot of love for those in charge. As I said, he wants to protect the people, not the Empire. Yatori on the other hand comes from a long line of warriors who are supposedly the guardians of the Empire and no matter what happens to the Empire, that will always be the case. Yatori is a warrior through and through and will fight to her dying breath to protect the Empire (an idea that is ridiculous to Ikta), she’s less of a person and more of a living weapon which adds a real note of tragedy to her character.

The rest of the character all feel pretty relatable, even though they may only turn up for a couple of episodes. None of them are quiet as interesting but then they don’t really get that much time devoted to them to properly explore them, we do see them progress though, developing as both soldiers and people. A lot of the characters are well written, you get a sense of who they are and what they believe in with how they talk, there are a couple of nice scenes with the characters just sat around talking as I imagine real soldiers do (respect the lonely path of the warrior!).

The one aspect of the series that I wish was expanded further would be that of the spirits. We see the little guys in the first episode and every character has one, but we never really get a good idea of what they are, they’re just there. Are they an extension of the character’s self? Are they mystical being that have some kind of symbiotic relationship with the characters? We never get a sense of what they are or what they’re about, they barely have any lines and we never see any unique personalities from them.

The only real downside with this anime is that its just thirteen episodes long, especially when the last episode sets up so many great ideas that I want to see come to fruition. There had better be a second season or I’m going to, well, go buy the source material, which is probably what the makers of this anime want. Damn it!

The Verdict

Alderamin on the Sky is a series that starts off looking like its going to your typical genius characters proves all his superiors are idiots and saves the day story, but instead proves to be a smart and intriguing story about a young man with an interesting philosophy in a kingdom on its last legs. The characters are relatable and interesting and though the stuff about why war sucks has been done plenty of times before, you feel for these people as they struggle through it. I just wish there were more than thirteen episodes!

fish stamp great

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. Karandi · January 6, 2017

    This was definitely the surprise of its season. I wasn’t expecting anything from it and then thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I really loved Ikta and Yatori as characters but I agree that the spirits kind of needed to be fleshed out a bit because they still feel kind of like a random gimmick rather than an integral part of the world.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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