If the last instalment of Sora no Woto could be considered "the Rio episode", then this particular episode puts much of its focus on the previously all but monosyllabic Noel.
This particular instalment sees Noel and Kanata sent out into town to pick up various provisions - A trip which of course fills Kanata with her own unique brand of wide-eyed wonder as she gets to see the town properly for the first time. Perhaps even more impressively, Noel proves to be a font of information about... well, pretty much anything really, packing quite a smart brain beneath that normally quiet exterior. You can't help but get the feeling that there's more than just intellect behind her quiet nature however, as she seems conflicted about her role in maintaining and repairing the machine she loves on the one hand but seems scared by the power to destroy it holds on the other, while there seems to be a deeper sadness beyond even that hinted at in her behaviour.
All that aside, the girls eventually visit a glass factory which is working to provide Noel with the required lens for their tank's sniper rifle scope, a task which is proving exceedingly difficult. As the master glass-blower works on his latest effort, he also gives Kanata some valuable advice about her trumpet playing efforts, which finally allows her to see why she's struggled so much thus far in what is quite a heart-warming little revelation for her.
From not being entirely sure about Sora no Woto from its opening trio of episodes, this fourth instalment has finally convinced me that there is something rather special about this particular series. Not only is it frequently beautiful to watch, but it also seems to be succeeding at balancing a juxtaposition of the cute, girly shenanigans of Kanata in particularly with a some far more melancholy moments, moving us effortlessly from Kanata's childish wonder at the dolphin statues in a shop (she should visit my local town, where we have a reputation for creating very similar dolphin statues) to the shock of being rebuked by an orphan who lost his parents in the war. This mixture of everyday joy and deeper sadness reverberates throughout the episode, from Noel's personality to the suggestion, once again, that Kanata is being kept in the dark about something important just around the corner. It makes for a headily fascinating mix, and one that could well propel Sora no Woto to become more than the sum of its component parts.