Sora no Method is certainly cute but it has a bit of an edge to it as well.
While the second episode of Sora no Method may not have been as emotionally charged as the premiere, it was just as purposeful in its storytelling. This episode brings Nonoka to school where she finally gets to formally meet the rest of the cast. I find it interesting that it appears that neither Nonoka nor any of her friends remembers that they used to know each other. This doesn’t appear like fake forgetfulness on anybody’s part, with the possible exception of Shione, but I’m curious whether this is just an effect of seven years apart or some kind of supernatural event that caused them to forget each other. The first episode made it clear that they were close friends at one point so I’m curious why they don’t seem to remember this.
The primary focus of this episode was on Mizusaka Yuzuki, a girl with energy to spare and an axe to grind with the saucer floating above the lake. Yuzuki is played by Toyosaki Aki, using a voice some people will probably find grating but I think it works for Yuzuki’s intensity and passion, naïve as it may be. As a new transfer student who is unsure of herself, Nonoka is a prime target to get dragged along with Yuzuki’s nonsense. At first Nonoka appears to be interested merely in weathering the storm while doing as little damage to her reputation as possible. Eventually though, it is revealed that while Yuzuki is certainly eccentric, her passionate feelings about the saucer come from a genuine feeling of having something taken from her. To Yuzuki, the saucer represents the inevitable changes in her life that she wants to turn back.
It’s this desire to return things to the way they were that works to connect Nonoka to Yuzuki. Nonoka’s family circumstances allow her to understand Yuzuki’s desire to restore the past. At the same time, Nonoka recognizes that sometimes you can’t go back to the way things were and need to accept change as a fact of life. This makes Nonoka the perfect companion for Yuzuki in that she can reign in the more eccentric portions of Yuzuki’s passion while also providing an understanding friend that can help Yuzuki work through this. It seems like Yuzuki hasn’t had anybody who is willing to humor her passions which has led to her falling out with her brother and also likely lead her to be more and more extreme in her efforts.
There’s another side to this of course since Noel is almost certainly connected to the saucer in some way. She’s willing to help Nonoka though, despite a brief troubled look when getting rid of the saucer is first brought up. My money at this point would be on getting rid of the saucer also resulting in Noel being forced to leave although that’s mostly speculation without any real hard evidence other than the fact that the arrival of both seems to coincide. I am curious whether anybody else can see Noel. We’ve only seen Noel around Nonoka so far, but Yuzuki made a reference to “that girl” arriving around the same time as the saucer which might refer to Noel.
Thus far I’ve been very impressed by the way the characters’ personalities in Sora no Method flow naturally from their back-stories and fit well together. I’ve mentioned the way Yuzuki’s desire to restore things to their previous state complements Nonoka’s own feelings about the past very well, but I also like the way Nonoka’s relationship with her father is portrayed. Even when her mother isn’t explicitly referenced you can feel her absence in the way Nonoka has had to take responsibility for the cooking and other chores rather than being allowed to live as a normal child. It reminds me a lot of the relationship between Wakana and her father in Tari Tari and I suspect that Nonoka, like Wakana, has paid some price in terms of emotional growth when she took over the domestic side of things. Having characters whose traits and personalities are reflective of their circumstances rather than just being tools to push the story forward or pander to the audience makes a big difference in terms of viewer immersion and Sora no Method is doing this splendidly.
Where Nonoka and Yuzuki will go from here with no real plan to deal with the saucer is unclear. My guess is that, much like the saucer is merely symbolic of Yuzuki’s own insecurities, the efforts to get rid of the saucer will serve more as a means of addressing the characters’ fear of change rather than being an end in and of itself. Wherever we go from here, Sora no Method has demonstrated a level of writing competence and visual flair in its first two episodes that has me very hopeful about it going forward.