A group of cute and sexy girls piloting old school fighter planes in a semi post apocalyptic landscape and of course engaging in epic dogfights. That was all I needed to know about the show for it to grab my interest. Let us find out whether it is worth readers’ time as we take a look at The Magnificent Kotobuki.
Alternate Title: Kouya no Kotobuki Hiokutai (Japanese)
Genres: Action, Post-Apocalyptic (sort of)
Themes: Aerial Warfare, Airplanes.
Number of Episodes: 12 with a light novel sequel
Plot Summary: In a desolate land, people trade goods with each other to survive. Goods are transported via huge zeppelins which hire squadrons of fighter pilots for defense against air pirates and carry their single-engine fighter planes on board. One of these is the Kotobuki Squadron, a team of six young women; Kylie, Emma, Kate, Reona, Zara and Chika.
The main plot is politically driven as it is set in a world where people depend on trade of goods to survive. The one MINOR spoiler I will give is that the reason fish are considered goods worth sacrificing one’s life over is because water is extremely rare in this Wild West like world. Viewers will have to watch the show to find out why I said “rare” and not “gone”. The rest of it is the standard “politicians fighting for power”. Worry not as it is more exciting than it sounds. I do not mean the debates and stuff. That is standard stuff, meaning discussions on what is the right move to make for a better tomorrow. The topics are decent but the excitement comes from the slow buildup to the reveal of the main antagonists and the secrets of the world. The latter is neat but the former…let me put it this way. I love the main villain because he is so old school, meaning over the top and not deep at all. Plus the main story is buried behind a wall of super fast arguing, bantering, complaining and rambling among the cast. What I mean by this is more often than not when everyone is arguing with each other they talk really fast (Not Teekyuu fast thankfully. Keeping up with that for more than two minutes would be exhausting) and when the Japanese talk fast, especially women, it is music to my ears. Besides, learning more about the cast is more interesting. None of them have particularly deep character arcs but it is still fun to learn more about them.
Speaking of arguing, a trend on the show is depicting most male side-characters as stubborn, narrow-minded mules with most of them being nearly beyond reasoning. Most (non-enemies) are also incompetent or less reliable than the female pilots/employees/politicians. Now certain viewers annoyed by the “Girl Power” trope need not worry. Although the women are more skilled, capable, intelligent, stronger etc than the men they are not devoid of the same weaknesses as the men. It is meant to show viewers how not to act, unless you want to run for government office. Yup. Obvious jab at stupid middle-aged politicians if obvious. When the ladies lose their cool or let their guard down they pay for their mistakes. Basically the male cast are split between grumpy narrow-minded nitwits, decently capable dorks and dangerous villains.
One of the two main reasons to watch this show are the air battles. While the anime is 90% Japanese CG animation it is at its best during these battles. The show drops viewers right into the action from the first person view of a plane taking off to the epic final battle. Each dogfight is action packed, complete with sweet maneuvers and strategies as the heroes and villains try to outdo and shoot down their respective planes. The camera movement during battles is fantastic. Every angle making absolutely sure to give viewers the feeling that they too are part of the action. Let me put it this way. This anime would benefit from virtual reality lenses (At least I think so). As I just mentioned the animation is mostly CG with some 2D thrown in here and there. It is well done in my opinion. It may take some getting used to for some but I am somewhat confident it will be no time at all for viewers to not mind the animation. The soundtrack is simple but fitting with the tunes matching most of the planes’ and blimps/zeppelins’ nostalgic designs. As an interesting artistic choice there are several dogfights with no music. Some thought this felt weird. I thought it was great. Another great decision to help viewers get into the action as the only sounds heard were the propellers spinning, planes flying, machine guns firing and damaged planes crashing. This was not the case for all battles. Most have background music. The silent ones to me felt more personal in a way. The OP is pretty cool and the ED neat.
Not going through all the characters so let us briefly talk about the Kotobuki Squadron.
Kylie/Kirie: The main protagonist. An energetic hothead who has a short temper but means well. She loves pancakes and flying.
Chika: Like Kylie/Kirie she too has a short temper but may be more energetic. She enjoys squabbling with Kirie but when she is not around she shows her more caring side for the hothead. Enjoys kicking ass.
Emma: The ojou-sama of the group. She is part of the calm trio (Emma, Zara and Kate).
Kate: The “robot” of the group, meaning she uses a lot of big words and talks in a logical/calculating manner, hence coming off robotic and monotone. She is simply not good at expressing more than one emotion. Not an ice princess.
Zara: The sexier one, big sister of the group and Reona’s right hand. Is aware of her sexiness and knows when to use it to her advantage. The most levelheaded of the group despite being a heavy drinker.
Reona: The sexy commando and team captain. The most devoted to completing missions, stemming from her hatred of being indebted to someone, meaning she dislikes not being able to repay anyone for helping her (Remember this). Although it often appears she has everything under control, which she does, there are of course times she loses it.
Although I said I would not go over most of the cast there is one side-character worth mentioning. Julia. An egotistical, yet cool deep down, beauty who often comes off like a nagging hag but in reality is a brilliant badass who speaks the truth. At least she is aware of her flaws and hag status and embraces them. There is also one last thing about her…
Oh and the Kotobuki mascot is a dodo. Because. Okay. Maybe it is connected to the status of the world setting. Just a guess.
As always before ending the G-View we talk about the yuri. There is one ship, a (probably) one-sided crush and a couple who slowly build up to the big moment. I already threw some clues about the types of yuri on the show but here is the biggest one for the aforementioned couple.
Overall The Magnificent Kotobuki is a fun and rowdy time with epic dogfights, a likable cast who like to bicker but care for each other deep down (each having a neat story to tell) and have a good time beating up stupid men, very nice CG, fitting soundtrack and some yuri for viewers who pay attention. While the main plot is ultimately a means to an end we do get some hints on the kind of world the show is set in. Hopefully there will be a second season and the continuation is not relegated to a light novel and mobile game. Recommended to fans of badass cuties and hotties and epic dogfights.