After watching the trailer for Sora no Woto it vaulted to the top of the anime I was anticipating the most for winter - and through the first episode, it doesn't disappoint. The animation quality is good, the cast seems interesting, and while, no, it's not for fans of a lot of action, I think it's got a lot of potential. I think a lot of people saw girls with musical instruments plus K-On-like character designs (although I always think of them as Kannagi-like since that's the series I saw this style in first) and assumed we have a K-On clone on our hands, but I think this is going to be pretty significantly different, especially with the potential for drama.
The story starts with Kanata, who at first glance is your genki main character type, heading to her new post since she just joined the army - it's six months after an armistice that ended a war and the country she's in is at peace, with the draft over but Kanata volunteering for the army anyway. She seemed to have a traumatic event in her past where she met someone from the army, and that might have motivated her to join. From there, she gets to the fortress where she's posted, meeting her squadmate Rio on the way and getting to experience a little of life in the town as she comes across a festival.
The thing that struck me the most watching this was the setting and the atmosphere - the backgrounds are amazingly detailed and really capture the feel of an old European town well. It's pretty enough it could be an advertisement for a travel agency trying to get you to go to Europe (although what's missing is in real life there'd probably be a McDonald's off the square - I remember even finding one in the historic part of Florence). The backstory with the winged demon, and Kanata then seeing its massive skeleton under the lake, makes me think there's going to be some fantasy element in the plot too, and if the girls repeat the legend from the past there's certainly some potential for drama too.
The characters are interesting too, which is usually what makes or breaks a series like this for me - Kanata and Rio both seem to have suffered losses in their past, probably from the war, and I'm sure as the series goes on we'll see more flashbacks of their past. Other than Kanata and Rio the rest of the platoon didn't get much screentime, but I'm sure they'll play more of a role as we go. Unlike K-On's cast, I think the odds are these characters will have a few inner demons to work through, between that and the legend there's definitely a lot of potential for drama (which I think ends any comparison with K-On right there, although I loved K-On it's definitely not much in the drama department, unless you could Ritsu's pointless fight with Mio that took half an episode).
Overall with a great setting, some comedy, and quality animation, I'm already looking forward to next week. A-1 Pictures also did Kannagi, and I like what they did with it - with Sora no Woto I think they have even more potential to make this season's winner.
Mikotoism seems as impressed as I am with the first episode (although I actually liked K-On too), although Moe Sucks...not so much. I guess the contrast just goes to show you have to see things for yourself, since pick any series you can name and you can find two completely opposite reviews of it in the Blogosphere...