Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu – 09

nag91

Even though it starts with an innocuous late night game of cards, it feels like a lot more happens in this episode than last week’s, thanks both to Ryouko’s vivid imagination and Tsuruya’s stargazing suggestion. It’s also a better episode...IF we forgive its deeply disconcerting final moments.

nag92

At first Yuki loses, and as a penalty she has to get food and drinks for eveyrone. Naturally, Kyon comes along, for chivalrous purposes (it’s dark out and Yuki’s a klutz). Indeed. she trips and ends up in Kyon’s arms, and from Ryouko (and everyone else’s) POV they seem to even lean in to kiss.

But then, quite unexpectedly, it all turns out to have been a fantasy Ryouko made up in her head. In fact, the lovebirds never went out; she’s the one who ends up with the Old Maid.

nag93

Thankfully, Yuki and Kyon do go out together when Ryouko and Haruhi conk out and Tsuruya suggests they go to a perfect spot for stargazing, which is quite a hike away. Kyon offers to hold Yuki’s hand, but she can’t quite do it, settling for his sleeve. They end up in a whimsical park full of huge dinosaur models.

nag94

Turns out they’re being tailed by Ryouko and Haruhi here as well, and it’s here where Ryouko confesses to Haruhi she’s not worried about Yuki and Kyon alone together, she’s jealous, and lonely. But the ever-chipper Haruhi assures Ryouko her relationship with Yuki won’t change for fall by the wayside, whatever happens between Yuki and Kyon. They’re words Ryouko needed to hear and wants to believe.

nag95

Everyone ends up reuniting at the stargazing spot, which is as awesome as advertised. When Yuki ends up off on her own, reaching out to starts that look close enough for her to touch, but can’t be, it’s Kyon who touches her hand, and takes it into his.

As their love theme—Debussy’s Clair de Lune—plays, Kyon leads Yuki back to the others, hand-in-hand. Yuki, who had been momentarily preoccupied by her insignificance in the vast universe above, is brought back down to earth, a place where she’s valued and loved not just by Kyon, but Ryouko as well.

nag96

They get to sit next to each other on the train ride home, and just like that, the long, sprawling, eventful “training camp” is over, and Yuki is a little closer to reaching her goal. Cut to the rains that precede Summer, a time when Ryouko remarks Yuki will have to come up with excuses to see Kyon, and after they part ways, Yuki walks out into the street with the Walk sign, and it sure looks like she gets hit by a fucking car.

This…was upsetting. Not because I think it will be the death of Yuki—she appears alive and well in the preview—but because it’s so damned random. So far all of her nice romantic moments with Kyon have just kind of worked out, and now it’s as if the show wants Yuki to pay the piper or something for all of the good luck she’s had. It’s cruel.

Then again, the universe only needs one fraction of a second to everything away from you, and Yuki isn’t immune to that possibility. Also, disappearance is part of the title; I just sorely hope it isn’t her memory and love of Kyon that disappears. That would suck, frankly. I just want Yuki to be happy in her spin-off. Is that so much to ask?

8_ses

Advertisements

Sora no Method – 09

sora91

At this point, if Nonoka was extremely frustrated with Shione’s sudden about-face, I totally wouldn’t blame her, because I’m frustrated too. Not just because I didn’t feel like it was adequately explained why Shione did that about face, but because we come no closer to learning anything.

sora92

We have the festival this week, which is nice and all, especially the way other classmates (who exist!) help out when crunch time comes around, but there’s zero progress and even some regression as Shinoe drifts further and further away, which makes this episode smack of stalling.

sora93

All I can work on is my own theory on what Shione’s new problem is, and that is this: one new fact we learn is that calling a UFO was originally Shione’s idea, with Nonoka and the others going along with it.

sora93a

Then, it worked; the saucer came, and with it, Noel. Noel says she is the saucer, I imagine Shione is worried Noel will disappear if the group’s wish is fulfilled. Therefore, taking responsibility for Noel, Shione isolates herself from the others so the wish won’t be fulfilled and so Noel won’t vanish.

sora94

That’s all we get, and despite some moments where Shione seems happy Nonoka is working so hard to figure out what her issue is, Shione doesn’t give her anything to work with other than “I hate you”, and “I don’t want anything else to do with you.” It’s almost as if Shione is trying to burn her bridges, making Nonoka and the others not want to be friends with her, as if that would make leaving them any easier.

sora95

By the end, Shione never goes to the planetarium (which is awesome) with the others. But even if she’s working to stop their wish from coming true, Noel goes after Nonoka on her own and ends up passing out, either from being too far from the saucer or some other reason.

So despite Shinoe’s efforts, Noel may not be long for this world anyway. She was there to help deliver a wish to the group of friends; if they’re not a group of friends anymore, she has no more reason to keep existing in the world. If something else entirely is going on with Shione, we don’t learn about it this week…and frankly, I’m a little weary of being strung along.

6_mag
drop_mag

Sora no Method – 08

sora81

With the rest of the group back in one anothers’ good graces, the one remaining nut to crack is Shione, and she proves far tougher than the others, requiring the cooperation of all to get her (force her, really) to participate in their Hokubi Festival activity: building a planetarium. Yes, Waremete beat Sora no Method to a planetarium, but I’ll allow two because planetariums are cool.

sora82

After Yuzuki acquires the school funding suspiciously quickly, the five go shopping that evening, then start building a prototype, which blows up in their faces. Through it all, Shione is present, if not the most involved, and I think it’s because she truly does want to be there with everyone else. It’s an effort, at least.

sora83

Eventually, however, Nonoka involuntarily reminds her of why they’re no longer friends: her Big Lie about seeing the meteor shower. After Nonoka and Shione made that promise to see it, Shione returned to the same bridge to find only Noel, who relayed the message that Nonoka went far away but “will be back soon” to see the shower with her.

sora84

Shione trusted the word of Nonoka-via-Noel, and waited for Nonoka to return, at the same bench, for six years. Every year, her trust in Nonoka eroded a bit, until by the seventh, it was all but gone, just when Nonoka finally returned.

sora85

Visiting Noel in the abandoned observatory, Noel makes up for her poor phrasing seven years ago and through hugs, manages to engender the courage Shione needs to open back up and trust Nonoka again. After all, Nonoka did come back.

sora86

On a lark, Shione goes to school that night, where she finds not only Nonoka, but a room dramatically, magically lit by the stars of the properly-functioning planetarium device. There, Nonoka speaks first, telling her how awful she was for forgetting everyone, as well as her promise. Shione suddenly gathers her in a big hug and tells her she’s to blame for not trusting her. They agree to be friends again and part ways.

sora87

So ‘Yay’, right, Shione and Nonoka are friends again! The group is back together, just in time for that meteor shower. But wait…uh-oh? We should have known it would get more complicated with Shione involved. After considering what Noel said (about her “being the saucer”), the next morning a stern Shione tells Nonoka they can no longer be together. What’s all this about? Is Shione worried Noel will disappear?

8_mag

Sora no Method – 07

sora71

As Nonoka, Yuzuki and Koharu near the gravesite of Nonoka’s mother, the day turns cold, cloudy, and grey. I just so happened to myself watching it on a cold, cloudy grey day. While it was just a coincidence for me, for Nonoka the weather reflects her mood; she hasn’t visited her mother’s grave in some time, because she’s been afraid.

sora72

And not because her mother was a mean-spirited, fearful woman — precisely the opposite: she was as kind and loving a soul as one could ever hope to meet, and a wonderful mother to boot. But then she got sick, and didn’t get better, and they moved to Tokyo where she could get care, but she died anyway, leaving a massive hole in Nonoka’s heart.

sora73

Nonoka patched that hole, which was causing so much grief and pain, by essentially letting go of her life before her mother died, and moving forward as if none of it ever happened. In the process, she forgot about a great many other things, like her promise to her friends; something Shione still hasn’t forgiven her for, though Koharu and Yuzuki surely have, and now probably feel a bit silly for ever being angry at Nonoka for moving, something she had to do suddenly for her mother’s sake.

sora74

In the B-plot, Noel, who can’t accompany Nonoka because the cemetery is out of saucer range, sticks with Souta, who is again stuck minding Koharu’s family’s store. Noel breaks the monster photo board thingy, and breaks it again while trying to fix it. After some little-kid negotiations, Souta convinces Noel to assist him in fixing the monster. As with Nonoka’s psyche, the repairs are quick and imperfect, but unlike Nonoka, it doesn’t matter; just as the monster was originally built by Souta, Koharu and Yuzuki as a labor of love, repairing it was a similarly rewarding experience between Souta and Noel, and when Yuzuki and Koharu see their handiwork, they approve.

sota75

As for Shione, she’s in an unenviable situation where she’s held Nonoka to task for so long over lying and breaking her promises that now, even if Nonoka or the others were to explain the very understandable circumstances surrounding what Nonoka did, Shione still seems too proud — or too scared, or both — to lose face by softening her stance or letting Nonoka back into her life. After all, intentional or not Nonoka hurt her deeply.

sora76

It was Nonoka’s mother who allowed Nonoka to become friends with Shione in the first place, by reminding her to smile when meeting new people, especially shy ones like Shione. And yes, it was Nonoka’s mother who indirectly drove the two apart by being the reason Nonoka had to move away and abandon Shione. But when a snowflake melts in Shione’s hand at the cemetery, and when she arrives at places just before or just after Nonoka was there — they’re signs that Shione is ever-so-gradually warming to the idea of reconciliation. She just won’t be rushed.

7_mag

One Off – 03

A large group of stargazers arrive at the Niwa inn, and Anri, Sayo and Rie volunteer to help out. Haruno is open to singing Anri’s song when she finishes it, but balks at an all-out concert. After being browbeaten by Cynthia, she changes her mind, only to drop the issue again. The night of the stargazing, her friends ask her about it again, and after chatting with one of the stargazers, she agrees to do a concert after all.

The overall theme of this episode is “little by little” – taking small steps, taking your time, being patient in order to achieve achievable goals. Take the picture of the Rosette Nebula Haruno’s dad hangs on the wall. It’s a long-exposure photo, taken under ideal conditions. The village is ideal for stargazing, but the brilliant red color is not visible to the human eye, ina telescope or not. It’s just a dense cluster of stars. But even that can’t be seen in the city.

But to Kageyama, one of the stargazers, it’s enough that she can see a hint of it and get lost in thought under the stars. Even after her ride to the sea, Haruno is a little more receptive to trying things like singing, but is still afraid of exerting energy if it will only result in failure. Her daydreams are overambitious, but none of them are as impossible as she mopes about. Ultimately, she decides to give a concert a try, and the group she and her friends form has the appropriate name “poco a poco” – little by little.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Motorcycle and Car Cameos: Rie’s brother has a PCX Scooter. Kageyama rides a Shadow 750 (pictured). There’s a third-gen CR-V in the Niwa garage (that D-pillar is unmistakable), and one of their customers drive a Stepwgn.