What could be better
than high-flying adventure
with the one you love?
I never quite know what I’m going to find on the Anime Network On Demand channel, but I was thoroughly delighted when they offered a charming series called Allison & Lillia.
Allison Whittington is an adventurous air force pilot in a fictitious (yet vaguely WWI-era) world that is split into two nations: Roxche and Sou Beil. These two countries have been at war with each other for most of their known history, but when the story begins there’s been an armistice between them for the past thirty years. Wilhelm Schultz is a student and Allison’s bookish childhood friend who tries to avoid danger but usually finds himself right in the middle of things after Allison drags him there. Both Allison and Wil are residents of Roxche.
In episode one Allison pays a summer visit to Wil at his school. They go for a drive around the countryside on Wil’s sidecar motorcycle and end up giving an elderly neighbor a ride back to his house. After being invited in for tea, the old man proceeds to tell the two young people stories, none of which they believe since Wil quietly informed Allison earlier that the man is known for his outrageous tall tales. However, in a strange moment of seriousness, the old man tells them that he knows of a treasure so great that it could permanently end the war between Roxche and Sou Beil.
Before he can expound on this topic any further a hulking figure shows up at the front door and whisks the old man away. At Allison’s insistence she and Wil follow until they crash by the side of the road when the car ahead fires gunshots at them. Allison and Wil continue to follow on foot when they spy a nearby plane (which surely has the old man on it) disappearing into the night sky. They discover a hangar with another plane and take off after them, despite Will’s nervousness at having never flown before. As the episode ends Allison informs Wil that they will be making a dangerous journey into forbidden Sou Beil territory in order to rescue the old man and find the secret treasure.
This anime is based on a series of light novels by Keiichi Sigsawa. Allison & Lillia: Generation One doesn’t revolve around one central plotline but instead chronicles the continuing adventures of Allison and Wil as they make new friends and work toward bringing peace to both nations. While this series is mostly action-oriented, there is romance to be found as well. Don’t bother looking for Lillia in these initial thirteen episodes: the first part of this story is all about Allison and Wil. Lillia shows up in episode thirteen and becomes the protagonist in the second part, Allison & Lillia: Generation Two.
I loved this series right from the start, literally. The opening theme song struck me immediately as one of the most gorgeous anime songs I’ve ever heard. Add to that lovely bright artwork, endearing characters, and an interesting story that keeps you coming back for more with its use of cliffhangers, and you’ve got a great little anime. Though I don’t mind fan service as much as I used to, I found it refreshing that Allison & Lillia eschews such cheap tactics and chooses instead to focus on filling out the story and action as much as possible. It’s certainly not the deepest anime I’ve seen, probably due to the fact that the characters are on the move so much that you rarely see very far below their surfaces. Or perhaps, like so many anime series based on light novels, the creators found it difficult to pack everything into twenty-six episodes. Whatever the case may be, at times this made it difficult for me to keep watching (since character development is my bread and butter) but each week I returned for more, and I was glad that I continued to do so despite the lulls. I’m not sure how much rewatch value this show has for me personally; a lot will probably depend on what happens with Lillia in part two. But I’m very glad that I’ve had the opportunity to watch it, and I could easily recommend this anime to any adventure fan of any age. I can think of no better word to describe Allison & Lillia: Generation One than “charming,” and I look forward to being charmed by Generation Two over the next few weeks.
Rating: ★★★★ A solidly enjoyable jaunt through a fictitious history.