Alderamin on the Sky is the story of Ikuto, a young man who uses his well-practiced grasp of logic and scientific thinking to become a genius tactician–even though he would rather be anything than a soldier. The fourth episode is the first to truly explore his clever mind, but what is far more captivating is the episode’s exceedingly bloody end and how it affects the main pair of characters.

Perhaps the more interesting facet of the anime overall has been the relationship between its two main characters: the aforementioned Ikuto and his constant companion Yatorishino. The exact nature of the relationship is left shrouded in mystery. The two are night-and-day in their world views: Yatorishino believes in duty, honor, and hard work while Ikuto believes in none of these things. Yet, where Yatorishino leads, Ikuto is sure to follow.

Yet, that’s not to say he doesn’t have a will of his own. Rather, she is the only one capable of reining in Ikuto–even if that means violent intervention. And as we see in the latest episode, he is the only one who can do the same for her.

While there have been a few rare enemy deaths in the anime so far, much of the fighting we’ve seen has been non-lethal training exercises. Yatorishino is shown again and again to be superbly skilled at hand-to-hand and melee combat. Moreover, she is always calm and cool regardless of the circumstances. However, in her first full-on battle, we see that even she can be crushed by the weight of taking so many lives.

It’s a brilliantly directed scene. In the heat of battle, she cleaves through a good dozen soldiers with her twin swords like an unstoppable killing machine. In the aftermath, the anime switches to her point of view as she stands covered in blood–clearly in shock from what she has just been forced to do.

Sounds are muted and she finds herself unable to focus on what surrounds her–and can’t seem to release the swords in her grasp. But slowly, one sound comes through the haze: Ikuto’s voice. He talks normally and she focuses on the surreal image of his feet hopping between pools of blood as he approaches her.

He jovially points out that she’s covered in red. Still in shock she responds in kind, claiming being covered in red doesn’t bother her, but being covered in the smell of iron–i.e., the smell of blood–does. Even in this state, she is disturbed by her actions. She knows she smells like a killer.

Ikuto then calmly chastises her, claiming it’s not her that smells of iron–i.e., that she doesn’t smell like a murderer. It’s just the swords she is holding that are giving off an iron smell. Then, showing that he is in no way repulsed by her, he reaches out and gently takes her arm, causing her to release the blades and walk forward into his arms.

This whole scene makes killing have real weight. Our heroes may be soldiers, but they are far from immoral murderers. Even the most calm and collected suffers when she takes a life. Moreover, it shows the depth of Ikuto and Yatorishino’s relationship that he is able to approach her so fearlessly and bring her back into a safe place mentally–which in turn adds another layer to their mysterious relationship.

Alderamin on the Sky can be seen for free and with English subtitles in the US on Crunchyroll.

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