First Look: Warlords of Sigrdrifa

Alternative title: Senyoku no Sigrdrifa
Anime original by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

Mankind is invaded by an otherworldly entity known only as The Pillars. With conventional weaponry failing to stop them, an individual claiming to be the god Odin bestows the human race with the power to fight back in the form of the Valkyrie; cute anime girls with magical planes.

Gee’s verdict: Not Cleared for Takeoff

Warlords of Sigrdrifa can’t seem to decide what kind of show it wants to be. Does it want to be a self serious Ace Combat inspired dogfighting drama? Is it cute girls doing cute things (in planes)? Is it about emotional healing through the power of camaraderie? Is it going to focus on the planes or on these ill-fitting anime girl archetypes? The anime can’t seem to decide and as a result, it all feels very jumbled. Compare that to Glorio dark horse The Magnificent Kotobuki, a show thqat wasn’t perfect by any stretch of imagination, but was so sincerely devoted to its portrayal of WW2-era dogfighting that we could not help but be impressed by its attention to detail. It was an anime with an uncompromised vision of what it wanted to achieve, which makes Sigrdrifa’s double length premier look even more lacking in comparison.

But really at the end of the day, the problem is no individual part of Sigrdrifa is particularly appealing. The plane action is adequate, and I will admit there’s some excellent setpieces. The problem there is that none of the action is that well choreographed and once the girls start busting out the super moves, it becomes apparently pretty quickly the show isn’t super interested in an accurate portrayal of dogfighting. Still, I could live with it if it weren’t for the absolutely intolerable characters. I’m not against a goofy squad of teen girls flying planes to save the world, but the girls feel like they’d be more appropriate in a show about a high school music club than living on an airbase at the frontlines of mankind’s survival. I’m not even saying they need to be grizzled vets, but even just aging them up by like five years would do wonders for the show’s character dynamics. As it stands, I can’t tell if the characters’ utterly lackadaisical attitudes in contrast with the gravity of the war they’re fighting is an intentional contrast or just an utter failing of the writer to tie these disparate elements into a cohesive narrative.

At the end of the day, Sigrdrifa’s greatest sin is that it bores me. I love planes nearly as much as I love mecha, and with the resurgence of Ace Combat, I’ve always hoped that maybe plane anime that aren’t Macross would make a comeback. It appears I will keep waiting.

Iro’s verdict: Soulless Designer Brand Kotobuki

I shouldn’t compare shows so readily, but it’s impossible for me to watch Warlords of Sigrdrifa and not think about 2019’s The Magnificent Kotobuki, a totally different show about plucky teen girls piloting WW2-era fighter planes. Kotobuki‘s odd dedication towards realistic dogfights and regional trade politics rose over its wacky hijinks and questionable CG animation, and ultimately it felt grounded enough that introducing a never-produced, jet-powered variant of an already obscure Japanese fighter plane as the final boss felt earned. I’d say Kotobuki was a surprise dark horse among the Glorio crew.

I’m somewhat less enthused by Sigrdrifa‘s double length premiere, wherein anime teen girls are The Last Line of Defense against monstrous otherworldly jellyfish. It’s completely straight-faced in its absurdity, while simultaneously refusing to be serious; protagonist Claudia’s sorties have a 99.9% casualty rate, for instance. No reason (other than some oblique references to them being Valkyries, the daughters of Odin!) is given for why the teen girls must pilot WW2-era planes, nor why their bullets can piece the jellies more effectively than those of modern jets. Still, the jet battles are adequate, and the magic powers are not intolerable. An inordinate amount of time is spent introducing the main cast, each expressing their Anime Girl Archetype; I suppose the “twist” this time is the central character is the morose pretty one rather than the peppy bleeding heart.

Sigrdrifa is undeniably a well-produced show. However, the only feelings it inspire in me are boredom and indifference. Maybe you’ll disagree.

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