Series Recommendation: Sora o Kakeru Shoujo – The Girl Who Leapt Through Space

A space comedy turned into an epic saga

Many anime fans are familiar with “The girl who leapt through time”, but did you know there’s a mecha version called “The girl who leapt through SPACE”? Although an obvious naming parody, the anime is nothing like its earthly counterparts. Sora o Kakeru Shoujo is a quirky mix between space sci-fi and some slice-of-life comedy, before going full mystery and space opera the likes we see in other hardcore space mecha like Macross.

The series started out pretty normal. We got a clumsy school girl Akiha and her cutesy assistant robot Imoko, and they live in and attend a high school in a space colony. Due to a mishap, Akiha was stranded on an unidentified flying colony (UFC?) that just appeared out of nowhere. There she met a sassy AI cube called “Leopard” and he arbitrarily tasked her with being his partner – “the girl who leapt through space”. Following the encounter, Akiha would meet many more friends, including a young girl with telekinesis ability and a paranormal detective. Furthermore, a more sinister plot between Brain Colonies unfold as Akiha and her family struggle to fulfill their inherited destiny.

+ Plot: The anime started out pretty standard – with plenty of uplifting moment and comic relief. But very soon, more sinister and darker force would show themselves and raise the tension. The series’ transition from a SoL into a true space scifi is very satisfying – just like many shounen comedies turning into battle mangas like Negima or Hitman Reborn. The characters who are seen as comical grew and become more serious. But the balance between drama and levity is maintained perfectly. In times of crisis, there are cute moments. And when things are peaceful, nefarious schemes were being carried out. The characterization for the series is very well done, giving plenty of development to side characters. Of course the main characters – Akiha and Leopard, are most fleshed out, but they are pushed forward by the supporting cast, which in turn giving them their own progress as well.

The overarching plot at first seems straightforward and basic. But after the halfway point, it changes into something worth pondering about. It raises a few question about humanity and existentialism that is wrapped under a standard space drama. I really like how they present the twists in the series – natural but unpredictable. Although there are some Dues Ex Machinas appearing out of nowhere.

+ Animation: The anime is animated by your favorite 2D mecha studio: Sunrise. If you pay extra close attention, you can see A LOT of Code Geass in the series (totally not because of Lelouch voicing Leopard). Even though the series is 26 episodes, the mecha combat frequency is below average. There are a lot of human combat as well – which is quite similar to Pre Cure with how “mahou shoujo” it is. However, there are definitely intense battles – but it’s between the colonies instead! Yep we got some literal Colony-on-Colony action right here. Which is something that has never been done before – where giant CG space habitats use their facilities to punch, whip and slash each other in the face/cylinder(?)

+ Mecha Design: While the mechs aren’t given a lot of screentime, they are quite unique with a great modern style. The general aesthetic is similar to a centaur + tachikoma style where they have quadruples but a humanoid upper body. This helps them achieve a feasible “cruising” mode transformation and is actually quite realistic in terms of being a functional robot. There are also unique one-off designs that are really interesting in the series.

And…I can’t believe we are talking about this – but we also need to talk about Colony design! Leppard is pretty much a standard UC colony, but there are other Brain Colonies in this series with some pretty funky design. They really push the notion of “colony” to the limit – making it not just boring cylinders for people to live in, but actual war machines.

+ Music: I won’t lie, the first OP by ALI Project isn’t so much a banger as the 2nd one by Minami Kuribayashi. ALI Project’s style is those weird melody with a strange off-beat words. Code Geass and Linebarrels are also example of their words. Their style certainly is unique, but it’s not for everyone. On the other hand, Minami Kuribayashi channel her inner Angela with a powerful song with an uplifting melody. The series’ music is said to be composed by none other than Jam Project and Ken’ichi Sudou, Tomoki Kikuya. But there’s no actual songs sung by Jam themselves, which is a bit surprising.

+ Conclusion: Overall, Sora o Kakeru Shoujo is a surprising entry for me – a hardcore mecha fan, where it successfully lead viewers into a gripping space opera story despite starting out quite wacky. A large part is thanks to Jun Fukuyama’s charisma while voicing Leopard – a surprisingly chuuni and emotive “cube” – a usually inanimate object. The story and development of the character is definitely the strongest part of the series and is the thing that will convince you to follow through. The quality of the production is quite standard 2000s Sunrise – which is good enough.

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