Early Impressions: Sora Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Space)

28 05 2009

JG Sora 1Most anime fans are likely familiar with Sunrise, the company who brought us the oft-revered Gundam Wing, as well as each subsequent series like Gundam Seed and the currently popular Gundam 00. Fans searching for slick-looking space battles between shiny, fast mobile suits know that Sunrise is the ticket.

Not largely known outside of Japan, though popular among the anime insider crowd (those who follow the trends in Japan, admittedly an arduous and never-ending task), is a lesser-known title in the Sunrise lineup, Sora Kakeru Shoujo — literally translated as sky-soaring girl, though generally translated as The Girl Who Leapt Through Space.

Sora Kakeru Shoujo is the brainchild of the creative minds at Sunrise, and to sum up the show very briefly: It’s Gundam with girls. Lots of them. In fact, the vast majority of the cast in this show, whether it’s the space patrol, the security guards, or of course the main characters, they’re all females. Otaku who couldn’t get enough of the female characters in Gundam will get an eyeful in Sora Kakeru.

The show has made quite a media blitz since its premier in January. A manga based on the show, Sora Kakeru Shoujo R, premiered in the April issue of manga phonebook Dengeki Daioh, a light novel adaptation has been running apparently since the December before the show even aired, and a radio show runs weekly.

JG Sora 3The show revolves around Akiha, a somewhat normal girl living in post-space-travel society. Taking a page out of the Gundam playbook, humanity now lives in colonies, with Earth life considered somewhat passé. (There’s nothing on Earth anymore,” her pet robot-potato tells her. Yes, I said robot-potato.) After a mysterious ship appears near the colony, alerting the space police force, Akiha ends up onboard, along with a high-strung, sexy police officer named Itsuki. After Akiha engages with the ship’s artificial intelligence, an eccentric personality who’s hobby is apparently creating historical Earth replicas (the ship’s interior currently looks like turn-of-the-century London, complete with trolley), Itsuki shows up, trying to arrest the wily AI, only to be disappeared down a hole created in the floor. Meanwhile, Akiha ends up in a mobile suit, piloting it for the first time while assisting the mysterious ship. The first episode ends with the group warping out of colony space, away from the police barricade, with another strange girl wearing a pointy-eared hat being introduced as the scene ends.

JG Sora 4The first episode is intriguing, expounding the visual style Sunrise has been known for recently — slick, shiny looking characters like those of Gundam Seed, though perhaps not as exaggerated. Fans of Gundam already know what they’re getting into visually here, and for space animation, perhaps nobody does it better. The visuals aren’t genre-breaking, but certainly more than competent and enjoyable.

The series is also aided by excellent opening/ending themes by anime favorite Ari Project, who’ve also done themes for Code Geass and Rozen Maiden. Ari Project’s sound borrows heavily from classical themes, blending the pop and classical in a way few have been able to do successfully.

Overall, Sora Kakeru Shoujo holds a lot of promise. Those intrigued by the antics of space pirate Ryoko and space police officer Mihoshi will likely be intrigued by the setting. And banter between the naïve Akiha and the ship’s AI produced some genuinely funny moments, with the promise of good old-fashioned, lighthearted space adventure ahead of them. 

To see the opening of Sora Kakeru Shoujo, click: Here!

(Update: Better opening link, courtesy of Jonathan.)

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