You almost want to watch Kanata sitting there for the whole episode waiting for that magical phone to ring.
What They Say
We open to Kanata fidgeting atop a chair. A broken bottle, wet clothes... Seeing the disarray that the mess hall is in, Kanata cannot help but think thoughts of regret and retrospection. Even doing all that, when she has to put up with it... And yet before her tear-ladened eyes rests a black phone that has yet to ring. Private-second-class Kanata Sorami, currently on the mission to confirm maintenance to the HQ-command line for high-level emergency situations.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Soranowoto from the start has been a show about the atmosphere and mood more than actual plot or anything, as we're following the characters as they explore their lives in the military outpost of Seize. It's not a show with big action moments, though we've certainly seen a few, as it wants to be more personal and intimate than anything else. Sometimes this works really well, such as the first episode that introduced us to a beautiful city and its surroundings, while other times it falls pretty flat and dull like this episode.
This time the drama revolves around waiting for the phone to ring. Seriously. The entire plot concept for the episode is that Kanata takes on the duty of waiting for a test maintenance call from HQ for the high-level emergency phone line that the fortress has. Phones aren't common occurrences anymore in this age and Kanata has never actually used one so it's a huge deal for her and she's taking the whole thing very seriously as she's assigned watch duty while everyone else goes off to other places to deal with various assignments, including Filicia returning to HQ to deliver some important reports.
So yes, we watch her sit. And sit. And deal with little things along the way, such as watching Rio head off to deal with the Guild leaders because they're concerned about reports that the peace negotiations between the two countries are going slow and poorly. Or the arrival of the elder priest who has come to visit before going off to Treize for awhile and watching how that cause everything to go wrong in a perfect storm with the two kids that come with him and the owl that lives there. Half the time the premise seems to be guessing when the phone will get damaged or whether it will ring at all. The owl is the best part of the show as it watches from a high perch, hoots every now in then in a great sounding voice, and then stares some more. When the owl is the highlight, you know you're in trouble.
While there's an interesting hint towards the end of the episode involving Rio, this episode largely falls very flat for me. When the highlights are watching Kanata watch a phone or holding in going to the bathroom, there's not a lot to off here. I've really enjoyed a lot of episodes of this show so far which are very laid back and relaxed as it does the whole mood and atmosphere thing, but this one goes too far in that direction and ends up becoming completely dull. I've not looked at the countdown timer on any episode of Soranowoto until now and hopefully I won't have to again as this really kills some of the enthusiasm for the show.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.