I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
(For Grim. Happy birthday!)
I keep taking naps that last ten times longer than I intended them to, so I haven't gotten through as much of this as I would like. However, I'm still enjoying it, which surprises the heck out of me because it's pretty jargon-heavy and because I'm still waiting for the sentient fighter plane I was promised.
So far, this book has been a series of events in Rei's life as Yukikaze's pilot. I'm starting to think this is going to be more of a philosophical book (with occasional aerial warfare) than a gripping war story. The big questions so far have been: What's the point of all of this? Are humans really necessary in this war?
Rei hasn't spent much time on the first question, because, for him, the point is that the JAM (the aliens Earth is fighting against) exist. They attacked us in the past and we weren't able to completely beat them - therefore they are our enemy, and we must fight them. Never mind that all the fighting now happens on a completely different planet. Never mind that, in 30 years, no human has ever even seen what one of the JAM look like and no one knows why they attacked in the first place. Never mind that no one knows for sure if the JAM would attack Earth again if we suddenly decided to stop fighting them on this other planet.
The second question, on the other hand, bothers Rei a lot. Rei's problem with the "Are humans necessary in this war?" question is that "it seem[s] to negate his relationship with Yukikaze" (59).
Rei is legit in love with Yukikaze. An entire page or two is devoted to the more than one hundred system checks (not all of which are required) he does simply to spend time with her. I've been disappointed that, so far, there have been no signs of sentience on her part, but I really don't think Rei cares. I'm a little worried that Kambayashi is setting Rei up to have his heart broken by his fighter plane.