Bringing up the name Kaishaku is always an interesting one. Most notable for writing the controversial yuri classic Kannazuki no Miko, the manga-duo Kaishaku are known to write their favorite things into their stories, whether they fit or not. Yuri, complex plots, mecha, mythology, cat-girls, returning characters, maids, heartfelt drama, and sometimes fanservice. You can guarantee that you’re going to be in for an… interesting experience.
Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora (also known as Shattered Angels) is no different: an experience.
10 years ago, the world was nearly destroyed when an experiment to create super weapons known as Absolute Angels went wrong. Kuu Shiratori lives in Academia, a city built in the wake of the disaster focused on learning from that mistake, where she leads a normal high school life and dreams for nothing more than a prince to whisk her away. When the Absolute Angels return and begin feeding on students at her high school, a familiar prince arrives in the nick of time, offering his hand to Kuu and whispering the iconic words, “let’s go… together.”
I’m not going to mince my words. Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora has an obtuse backstory behind a barebones plot that is underwhelmingly explored. You’ll be tested to believe some of the plot points, which are over-reliant on overexaggeration and low on explanation. In its second half, the twists are quite erratic and reveal some plot holes. But…
It more than serves its purpose for creating the plot points to drive the drama; to drive the romance.
Romance? Yes, romance. Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora really focuses itself on two things: girls fighting each other by summoning parts of mechs (such as legs or arms), or around three couples with two love triangles in a world that forces drama and romance. There’s even a mana-transferal system like in Fate/kaleid requiring partners to kiss to refuel.
Although the ultimate story might be lackluster, when I think about it, the way it’s told in a huge set-piece style with almost zero subtlety and wonderfully heartfelt drama at its core, makes it very easy to get behind the characters’ struggles.
Supposedly our main character, Kuu, is a clumsy girl who, by her own admission, isn’t very interesting. She’s a character you’re probably very used to—bland, but easy to associate with (possibly because she’s a yuri fangirl). Sometimes funny, sometimes depressed, sometimes annoying (especially when she introduces episodes with a letter to a prince in a dream), she’s a very honest character and is easy to sympathize with as she struggles in her love triangle; as she vies for the prince and against the princess, who is an Absolute Angel… and a maid.
Kyoushirou, the prince, seems to look for excuses to rip his shirt open, but as a person? He’s incredibly determined in his goals and his attempt at nobility. Though, honestly, he sometimes comes across as kind of nasty. Still, he’s hot, so you can get why the shallow girl likes him. Setsuna, the Absolute Angel that Kyoushirou has under his thumb, obviously loves him more than life itself but is constantly reminding Kuu and herself that an Absolute Angel is nothing more than a tool. Poor girl.
While our three leads aren’t the most interesting characters on paper, we’re given enough insight into their heads to make them actually quite compelling.
Thankfully, the series spends a good amount of time with our secondary love triangle, a yuri triangle. Fans of Kannazuki no Miko will instantly recognize these girls.
Himeko and Chikane- I mean, Himiko and Kaon, make appearances in typical Kaishaku fashion. While technically support characters, they are given enough time and dedication to feel like more than that and seriously outperform their leads. I don’t even think that’s just me being biased towards the yuri, either.
Kaon is another Absolute Angel who wields the “Sword of Murakumo” (wink wink, Kannazuki no Miko fans) and is a seemingly kind girl that is wrapped around her master’s finger and forced to do her bidding. Much like Chikane from Kaishaku’s other series, she seems to have tunnel vision on the object of her affection, Himiko, but is also a lesbian badass.
To her credit, Himiko is much stronger than her Kannazuki no Miko counterpart. In fact, she’s kind of a badass, too, even charging into fights with no power and refusing to wait on the sidelines. Head over heels for Kaon, she becomes a slave to Kaon’s master and is used as a leash to control Kaon. Drama.
Then there’s their master, Mika, who is almost irredeemable, other than the fact that she is gay. She wants nothing more than to have Kaon love her like Kaon loves Himiko. She has an entire shrine/school (I’m not really sure) of girls all clamoring for her. Despite all this, I ultimately felt kinda sorry for her.
The other couple are barely given the time of day. Cat girl Tarlotte is another Absolute Angel who is mostly just a pain and only becomes a bad guy because she’s hungry. Scarface is just trying to make sure she doesn’t do anything too bad. They barely qualify as a couple though, since they’re not a love triangle, they are restricted to barely any drama and, therefore, just get cute moments. When Tarlotte isn’t being an annoying comic relief character, anyway.
As far as production goes, the animation is very varied. Surprisingly, the first episode has the most sketchy moments, but after that, it’s mostly passable for its age, with some decent action sequences against some poorly detailed backgrounds. The typically sharp ages of the shounen art style makes it look a little more dated than it is, though.
Part of why the drama and romance is so successful is because of the fantastic score from Mina Kubota, of Kannazuki no Miko fame. It’s a truly gorgeous set of piano and string arrangements, though slightly less hooky than her other works. If you’ve listened to the Kannazuki no Miko OST enough, you’ll realize that even she was clued in on the links between the series and carried over Chikane/Himeko’s themes for Kaon/Himiko, although you’ve got to listen closely to hear them.
Before I wrap up this review, I’ve got to talk about the specials. In my opinion, they’re absolutely necessary.
I strongly recommend watching Special 1 and 2 following Episode 2. It contains relevant backstories. Special 2 is amongst the most romantic 5 minutes of yuri ever. Special 4 is also unavoidable for yuri fans. Special 3 is mostly just a comedy skit centered around Kuu and Setsuna. It is quite charming. Special 4, which is mostly a comedy, and 6, which functions as an epilogue, have some yuri moments in and are worth watching.
All in all, Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora is so passionate in what it does well that it’s quite easy to forgive some of its flaws in the writing department. By no means does it become a masterpiece, but it is heartfelt. It’s a definite recommendation to fans of Kannazuki no Miko, and for everybody else it’s a melodramatic romance with a lot of oomph that’s worth a whirl for the yuri.