Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Military, Romance
Age-Appropriateness: 12+ (Violence, mild language, suggestive humor)
TheAwersome Rating: 6.3 / 10 (If you’re Really into fighter jets, sure)
Premise: Kei Narutani and his childhood friend, Song Minghua, are Chinese refugees who are fleeing from the Zai, a mysterious organization that indiscriminately terrorizes their country and its people. During their escape to Japan, they are saved by a strange red aircraft. Kei’s fascination with this aircraft leads him to meet his savior: a girl who is an “Anima”—the pilot of a unique type of airplane called a “Daughter.” The girl goes by Gripen, an adorable JAS-39F fighter aircraft. Kei develops a bond with Gripen and is then recruited by the Japan Self-Defense Force to help Gripen overcome her troubles with flying. Later joined by Eagle, a carefree F-15J-ANM, and Phantom, a proud RF-4EJ-ANM, the squadron takes up arms, determined to protect humanity. Together, the five individuals battle against the invasive Zai, forming the last line of defense against the threatening alien force.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: I couldn’t leave the “Military vehicles as Anime girls” genre undone and leave out the fighter jets. I probably should have though. This doesn’t have nearly the charm or gripping nature as Girls und Panzer or Arpeggio of Blue Steel and feels like an adaptation of a profoundly mediocre visual novel. I feel that Girls und Panzer, and even Panzermadels for that measure, show a greater love for the subject matter (tanks in their case) than this did for the jets. Those at least gave history of the varying models, here it felt more like an afterthought. The overarching story felt like a half-baked copy of Arpeggio of Blue Steel, but without any of the intrigue or nuance. Overall, this show relies too heavily on anime tropes as content rather than just a sauce.
TLDR: About as insubstantial as a “Fighter Jets as Anime Girls” show sounds.
There’s so much mediocre here that it feels odd to pick on a specific thing, but I gotta do a mini rant just so I can cleanse this show from my system. Something that happens almost every single episode is that Minghua, the protagonist’s childhood friend, will make plans to do something with Kei. Right as they start, there’s some form of “Oh no! Emergency at Air Force base, gotta go, haha oops!” It’s not just the trope that childhood friend always gets shafted romantically, but Kei never does anything to make up for it. It always just turns into a “haha uh-oh, Minghua’s mad at him, lol” scene which like, absolutely she should be.
Truly my favorite part about this was the fact that I recognized a few of the jets and their nicknames because I have family that has flown those specific planes. And having the highlight of a show be cameos means it’s lacking. The dogfights weren’t even that thrilling.