If I could live in that endless sky, with no class hierarchy, no poverty, no contempt, no scorn, I wouldn’t need anything else in the world.
“You’re still not satisfied?”
“Even if no one else knows about me, if Lady remembers me, that’s enough for me,”
Charles said, carelessly.
But Fana, looking serious, said, “Okay. Then I’ll remember pilot Charles, forever.”
“I don’t deserve such an honor.”
“I’m not joking.”
– excerpts from Inumura Koroku’s To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku (fan-translated by the good people at Mazui subs)
Oh, and I highly suggest reading the novel first before watching the movie.
Before anything else, hats off to the guys at Mazui subs for, not only subbing this, but also translating the source light novel. I again encourage you guys to give it a read first. There are some terms that were better discussed in there, and there were some pretty nice scenes that didn’t make it to the big screen. More on that later.
To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku, or Remembrances for a Certain Pilot (the movie also has it as “The Princess and the Pilot”) had it’s premier a while back in October of 2011. Since it’s a movie, it took until the BD release before anime fans outside of Japan got a chance to see this. Sure enough it got to our digital shores only just recently.
The movie starts out in the slums of Rio de Este, where we see a young kid mugged and stolen from by some older kids. They also called him a bestado (a mixed-blood, in essence, of the two warring states) He would later be known as our male lead, Karino Charles. He, despite being an orphan, got a job near an airport terminal. Because of this he got interested in airplanes, and later on learned how to pilot a craft himself. He was now the best pilot of among all of San Maltilia, which is saying a lot given that even the Levammian air force which was also stationed where he was, didn’t really hold a candle to his skills. In short, he was the real deal.
Also near the start, we are shown an extravagant ball at the house of del Moral in Rio de Este. The guest of honor is Lady Fana del Moral, the silver-haired daughter of the del Moral, who have garnered prestige as a royal house. Among the other prominent guests was Colonel Domingo Garcia (that sounds so Filipino, lol) of the Levamme air force, and Prince Carlo of Levamme. Upon hearing of, and later on bearing witness to, the beauty of Fana del Moral, Carlo immediately asks her hand in marriage. Incidentally, that was what Fana’s father wanted all along. Being wed to the the future emperor of Levamme would raise the del Moral’s prestige even further. By her father’s wishes, and not her own, she accepts. She is also our female lead for this story.
As night closed the curtains on the gathering, a fleet of Amatsuvian (I take it they’re the Japanese) fighter jets bomb the del Moral house. As unexpected the attack was, Diego del Moral, Fana’s father, had fell victim to it. The bombing however, was meant not meant for the head of the del Moral family, but to the empress-to-be Fana del Moral. The Amatsuvian forces have gradually been improving they’re firepower and have since then been besting the Levamme forces. Fana was the last hope for Levamme, and the Amatsuvians want to crush that hope. In a desperate attempt to bring Fana to the mainland, and to the Prince as well, Colonel Garcia assigns the arduous task of delivering the empress-to-be to an escort fleet to the mainland, to the best pilot they’ve got, Private Karino Charles. The Princess and the Pilot now meet.
I apologize for the lengthy tidbit of the story above (think of it as an extended intro, lol) but that also goes to show how deep and, well, political the story gets. I’ll spare no more words about the specifics as I do not want to spoil you guys any further. To say the least however, the situation presented in the story has a very old-school feel to it. The same goes for the art-style, to which Mad House did a nice job I believe. One thing I didn’t like about the production though was Fana’s voice. Not to take anything away from the seiyuu, but I felt like her voice didn’t match well with Fana, or how I imagined her voice would be after reading the novel.
Speaking of the novel, as I said earlier, the movie took some liberties in adapting it. The excerpts I gave at the start of this post didn’t make it into the film – the first being from the prologue and the second from Charles’ and Fana’s second rest at sea, along with a few others. I was especially fond with the latter one as it gives more weight to the title, so I was a bit sad that it didn’t get through. Despite that I believe that the conflict between the Levamme Empire and the Amatsuvians were explained neatly, as well as the details of Charles’ mission. Compared to how both was explained in the novel, viewers should have an easier time getting the gist of the situation.
Also, as I think I’ve watched already quite a few light novel-anime adaptations, one thing that’s really hard to portray in my opinion, is internal dialogue. I don’t hold it against the movie though since internal dialogue is, well, internal. However, a big part of the development of Charles’ and Fana’s character is taken from what goes on in their minds. The movie didn’t really showcase Charles’ desire to be away from the ground, and all the social caste systems, how he believes that when he’s flying, he won’t get stomped on anymore. In Fana’s case, we don’t see how she built the puppet-like facade of a woman caught in the trappings of the noblesse oblige, how she longed to be more than just an object ornamented for a prince. For both of them, there’s also the tinge of affection, and the resulting conflict inside both characters, which is in my opinion only slightly touched upon in the movie.
That is to say, even though I believe that this movie is good (better than some really) I feel that the novel was a bit better. I may be wrong though, but all the same, check the novel and this movie out. I believe it to be worth everyone’s time. Oh and, the picture above was the original design for Fana. I for one, like her better here :3 (though, in Mad House’s defense, she’s supposed to look like she’s 18 years old)