Yosuga no Sora 12 and Wrap-up

Yosuga no Sora is a series that wasn’t afraid to end by descending into very dark territory, but didn’t present it as such. Throughout the series, Haru fell in love with various girls, with each subsequent girl having a deeper bond with him, right up to the closest bond of all, that of blood. But love is love, and it isn’t something that can be switched off, no matter how unconscionable it may be. Listen to the soundtrack throughout Haru and Sora’s scenes together: it isn’t judging music, it’s the same romantic music that was played for all the other girls’ arcs. This series concentrated on that fact, rather than presenting a debate about the morality of what Haru and Sora were doing. The details were irrelevant; it was all about the motivation.

It was very interesting to see the difference between Nao and Kozue’s reactions to finding out about Haru and Sora: Kozue, the well-adjusted, normal class president, had a very normal, real-life reaction to discovering incest: disgust and despair. When Nao learns that Sora saw her deflower Haru years back, she realizes just how much Sora actually loves and needs him, and however much she or anyone else loves Haru, it will never be as deep as Sora’s. Knowing she couldn’t provide happiness for Haru, she lets him go and wishes him the best. It isn’t perfect, but it’s just the way things have to be.

Haru wrestles with doubt, confusion, and self-loathing throughout the finale, but when Sora runs off after he reproaches their situation and suggests they part ways, she runs off to a sacred place where it’s believed life on earth began and where one goes to be reborn. When they go so deep underwater, it seems inconceivable they’d be able to survive. Evidence suggests they do, however (Haru later texts his friends), but the experience does change Haru. Where before he was going to try to sort things out on his own, he now knows the only thing he can do is try to make Sora happy. No one else can, after all. So the twins go off together, leaving behind their childhood home and friends in search of a place of solitude and peace.

Yosuga no Sora presented some powerful romantic drama in its twelve episodes. It tackled both the emotional and physical aspects of its love stories with a seriousness, honesty, and intensity few anime dare to. It ended in a  manner befitting its title: “In solitude, where we are least alone.” We have our world; Haru and Sora have theirs…and n’er the twain shall meet. Rating: 3.5

Series Mean Ranking: 3.208 (Ranked 12th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Yosuga no Sora 11

Yosuga no Sora dives right into the deep end with aplomb as Haru and Sora give in to the miniature devils on their respective shoulders. Yes, no more imagining; this series has the audacity and cajones to actually go there. We shouldn’t be surprised, as that’s what this was building up to, yet here I sit, surprised nonetheless.

Once the deed is done, there’s no turning back. Haru completely forgets about Nao and his other friends and wants to do nothing but spend time with Sora. Sora, meanwhile, is a new person: far happier and energetic than we’ve ever seen her. Even her voice seems more alive. This suggests all of her lethargy thus far was actually love-sickness, and this is exactly what she wanted all along…which it is. But both siblings will pay a steep social cost for “going beyond ‘getting along'”. Sora doesn’t care, and Haru kinda still does.

It doesn’t take long for his classmates, including Nao to find out something is very amiss. Their suspicions are aided by Haru looking at books about the history of incest in the library (subtle!), the suddenly very frequent public displays of affection between him and Sora…and an unlocked front door inviting anyone to simply barge in and catch them in the act. And catch them they do! So where does this go from here? I don’t see them simply stopping after going so far, but will they be forced to descend into isolation? One more week to sort out the madness. Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 10

Rather than reset, the timeline seems to have only rewound a wee bit, to a point where Sora still won’t recognize Haru’s relationship with Nao. Her contempt for Nao is clear as day, leaving Haru in a difficult position. Meanwhile, Haru’s classmate jokes about him being lucky he knows what Sora wears to bed and the like. “No weird fantasies!” his other classmate scolds. Yet Haru is having strange dreams…involving Sora. Bad! He realizes this is bad, and fights it.

But the kicker is when Sora’s issues come right to the fore: Haru catches her…doing that, while saying Haru’s name. Why Japanese people don’t notice when their doors are open a crack, I don’t know, but wow…this closing scene is disturbing to say the least. It would seem Sora is not going to be fine without him. So the remainder of the series will likely be devoted to the, ahem, complex relationship between Sora and Haru. Not for the faint-hearted!  Rating: 3

Yosuga no Sora 9

This expression pretty much sums it up: Sora is not warming up to Nao at all (btw, lots of nice close-ups of Sora in this episode). It’s gotten so bad, she fakes illness to get Haru to come to her side. Every minute he’s with Nao is a minute too many, for Sora. It’s become an obsession. One wonders if she can help it: her brother is the only family she has left and she doesn’t really have anyone else.

Or does she? When she makes an ultimatum and tells Haru to choose, he goes off with Nao. When Haru returns, Sora has run away. Everyone goes to look for her in the rain, including Nao. She finds her in the same place where Haru found her years ago; in a bus shelter. An…ahem…aluminum bus shelter.

After a whole arc of Sora showing nothing but resentment and contempt towards Nao, Nao runs into that shelter after it’s set ablaze by lightning to save not Sora, but Sora’s stuffed animal. It’s an incredibly stupid thing that could have gotten Nao killed (Nao also happened to save Haru from drowning earlier in the ep), but it seemed to do the trick: Sora seemingly snaps out of it. Talk about risky diplomacy!

She comes around by episode’s end, perhaps realizing that even with Nao in the picture, Haru isn’t going to abandon her. This arc contained the most tension between Sora and Haru’s lover; probably to set up the next arc, which resets the clock again, and centers more on Sora herself. It’ll probably get weirder from here. Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 8

“You got to appreciate what an explosive element this Sora situation is. If she comes home from a hard day of school and finds a couple of lovers doin’ a bunch of lover shit in her kitchen, ain’t no tellin’ what she’s apt to do.

Haruka’s relationship with Nao burgeoned with breakneck speed last week, and now the consequences have arrived. Sora is absolutely not okay with this coupling. Any time she lays eyes on the two of them together, she cannot mask her contempt. While this seems like childish jealousy and possessiveness on the surface, Haruka is all she’s got. Having accidentally seen Nao doing terrible things to Haruka on more than one occasion doesn’t help matters.

His sister she may be, but Haruka isn’t going to let Sora decide who he’s allowed to be with; she just has to get used to the fact that he loves Nao and is going to be with her. But despite multiple attempts to bribe her with food, it’s clear that Sora isn’t going to accept this easily. She sees it as brother theft, plain and simple.

So Nao is the wedge between Sora and Haruka. We’ll see if Haruka and Nao gain any ground on the issue or if Sora will force Nao away for good. I’ll close this review with the observation that the skies in this series – and this episode in particular – were epically gorgeous. But I guess that’s to be expected when sora is in the title…Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 7

The timeline reverts to when Sora inexplicably wakes Haruka up in the middle of the night to measure her for a uniform. This is the arc where Haruka and Nao hook up, but it would seem they already did. Some time back (how old are these guys again?) she popped Haruka’s cherry, and has always felt guilty about it, which is why despite liking him, she’s so reticent.

What’s interesting about Nao is that her feelings for Haruka seem to have been the same throughout the series so far (unlike the other love interests, who liked him in different arcs and didn’t in others). She just stayed away out of guilt of taking his virginity. She’s not the only one who feels the same throughout; so does Sora.

She seems particularly pissed off about Haruka and Nao getting closer, even going so far as to spend an evening typing “I hate Nao” thousands of times on her laptop. This could be because she knows what Nao did in the past, or it could just be because she’s possessive of her brother. In any case, her jealousy seems to have built up cumulatively. We’ll see if she does anything about it, or just continues sulking as she has the whole series. Rating: 3

Yosuga no Sora 6

The ‘Akira Amatsume arc’, if you will, concludes in this episode. Akira tries to distance herself from Haru, fearful that one day she’d lose him, just like she’s lost everything else that mattered to her. But Haru is determined to get answers for Akira, and answers he gets: a DNA test proving that Kazu’s mother isn’t her mother. Akira’s mother passed away when she was a baby. Not only does knowing a little more about herself does Akira perk up, but Kazu’s mother also hints at building a relationship with her after years of turning her nose up.

How does Akira thank Haru for uncovering the secret of her mother? With lots of sex, of course. Though it’s a bit cheesy, it’s handled more maturely than about 90% of anime romances. Of course, the next episode likely rewinds the timeline again, so their relationship won’t be nearly this close, as it will be another childhood friend’s arc. These are fast-paced romances that don’t mince words or actions or waste time. That rapidity and immediacy really brings them to life. Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 5

This series takes a complete U-turn back to when Haru finds out that Kazu and Akira are related, and then Haru ends up with Akira instead. I like this in the same way I like Amagami’s way of handling romance with multiple love interests: manipulation of the timeline. It’s more interesting than for both to be in love with the guy at once, because that competition is always taking up time better spent developing one relationship at time. I’m not saying love triangles (or polygons) don’t work,it’s just that they’ve been overused in this medium, and its nice when shows try other things.

Something triggers Haru’s memory of Akira; how they were close years ago, and how much he cared about her. Things then advance with dizzying speed, all the way to making love in the bath, a scene that was tastefully handled (unlike this series’s awful epilogues). It doesn’t come off as random or rushed, because they already loved each other; Haru simply repressed memories (something caused that, we’ll see if it’s ever revealed), and Akira was obviously just waiting for him to remember her. They just acted on it when the opportunity arose.  Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 4

In this episode, a sister does get kissed by her sibling, but it isn’t Haru’s, it’s Kazuha’s, and it’s so Akira can make a point: don’t sacrifice happiness and all that because you’ve fallen for a guy and aren’t paying as much attention to her. It’s clear Kazuha feels guilty that Akira’s life turned out the way it did (if I’m not mistaken, Akira’s mother is the shopkeeper, and making ends meet hasn’t been easy), but none of that is Kazuha’s fault.

The same exact thing is happening with Haru and Sora, because he’s fallen for Kazuha, he isn’t spending any time at all with his sister. Even with the end credits sequence, we aren’t quite sure why their parents are dead, but for all intents and purposes, Haru is all Sora has, and if their distance widens, there could be trouble.

Haru’s waking dream while Kazuha is playing the viola is pretty funny (and suitably over-the-top), especially since it isn’t played as a dream at first. But it establishes that he indeed loves her, or at least wants her. I’m glad that, unlike Tarou and Yuuno in MM, this series kept developing Haru and Kazuha’s relationship, rather than just hitting the pause button. Rating: 3.5

Yosuga no Sora 3

It turns out Haru’s imagination ran wild last episode; Kazuha and Akira aren’t lovers, they’re sisters. Specifically, Akira is the illegitimate daughter of Kazuha’s father, a diet member, and so he kicked her out of the house. What is with all the horrible people this season? At any rate, Kazuha looks after Akira just like Haru looks after Sora. This makes Kazuha the most likely first love interest for Haru. And this episode doesn’t beat around the bush and tease as expected of such shows; Haru and Kazuha fall for each other very quickly indeed.

Sora and Akira are kind of off on their own and don’t find out about this yet, but I’m sure they will quite soon, with much jealousy and consternation to ensue. The romance was nicely done in a very short time, but this series still loses points for having an awful opening theme and frankly worthless, time-wasting post-episode mini-skits. When the normal credits are done rolling, do yourself a favor and just switch the TV off. Rating: 3

Yosuga no Sora 2

Haru has the correct reaction ready for when his twin sister walks into his bedroom in the middle of the night and strips down to her undies: W.T.F. The tense situation is defused, however, when she says she needs to be measured for a school uniform. Riiight. Sora’s got problems.

She’s not alone, though. Haru is faced with too many different girls, one of which – a girl who’s always chauffeured around in a pimpin’ long-wheelbase Lincoln Town Car, of all things – seems to also be in a very ‘complicated’ relationship with an upbeat, bob-haired redhead who lives alone at a friggin’ enormous mountain shrine.

This series also features a Loud Obnoxious Male Chum(TM) whose introduction naturally makes Sora retreat behind her brother in fear. Dude, she’s a shut-in who rarely makes contact with other human beings…a little sensitivity, please? Oh yeah, I really don’t like the opening, (it sounds out of tune) or the ending (too sappy) or the post-credits fanservice (I’d rather have 2-3 more minutes of the real episode) Rating: 2.5

Yosuga no Sora – First Impressions

So this guy Haru and his twin sister Sora move back to the small rural village where they grew up, after losing their parent or parents in some kind of accident (interestingly, there’s back-story in the first [of two] EPs). They haven’t been here in four years. Haru is very protective, while Sora just seems to be a bit of a spoiled brat. I immediately thought of the isolated village in Shiki, but there’s nothing supernatural in this series…though it does have a screw loose.

I will say this first episode is full of nice, tranquil, ambient moments that really establish the rural setting. That said, this tiny rural village has your typical Japanese high school. Also, every girl who lays eyes on Haru seems to fall in love with him…including his twin sister, who apparently has had eyes for him a long time. Alrighty then, this series falls into the “harem/incest” genres. Neither is all that new, but Yosuga no Sora does manage to juxtapose them in a fairly interesting way.

Again, this first episode mostly just laid out the pieces. There’s apparently going to be a whole host of girls vying for Haru, and he’s sure to react with varying degrees of obliviousness. As this theme has been done to death, and I’m dubious this will remain watchable if the characters beyond the brother and sister are all shallow cardboard husks. Regardless, finally, the answer to a question that somebody at some point must have asked: what if an anime combined the themes of the harem and incest? Yosuga no Sora seems to be that answer. Rating: 2.5