Well, at least one person remembered who Nonoka was.
Sora no Method may turn out to be the kind of show that works better if you watch it after the fact when all the episodes are available rather than slowly working through it week after week. The show seems content to slowly reveal its intentions over time rather than playing its hand all at once. While I appreciate the careful and deliberate way in which the story’s secrets are being revealed, the show didn’t exactly throw a hook out early on and the piecemeal way in which flashbacks have been used can be off-putting. That said I like that Hisaya Naoki seems fully aware that he has thirteen episodes to work with and he isn’t going to rush through plot points if he doesn’t have to, even if that makes it harder for me to sell people on the show at this point.That actually sounds disturbingly similar to what I had to say about Glasslip at this point, which didn’t turn out well. The big difference for me here is that Sora no Method through three episodes has demonstrated far more purpose than Glasslip ever did.
While the show isn’t rushing forward, this was the week Hisaya finally decided to get things moving in earnest, thanks in large part to Togawa Shione. In contrast to the initially oblivious Yuzuki, Shione knew from the start who Nonoka was and is not at all a fan. It’s curious that Shione is also not fond of the saucer since Yuzuki’s vendetta against the flying object and the change it represents to her is clearly personal and shouldn’t really apply to Shione. I’m sure her reasoning will be revealed at some point, but for now it remains a mystery. The more immediately interesting fact is that Shione is the first to directly connect the saucer to Nonoka. We had one mystery checked off this list here as it’s revealed that Nonoka’s wish seven years earlier was for the saucer to come. Given this it’s understandable that resentment would build up since Nonoka by all appearances summoned a saucer then skipped town leaving the rest of her friends there to experience the fall out. What that fall out is isn’t clear at this point but the saucer has made at least two enemies in Yuzuki and Shione.
The twist here is that Yuzuki didn’t realize that Nonoka was the one who called the saucer until after already befriending her. The second half of this episode was effective at capturing the confusion and betrayal that Yuzuki feels when somebody she considers a friend and her ultimate enemy are actually the same person. It’s tough when you’ve based your life around hating your memory of somebody and then you realize that the real person isn’t as eminently hateable as you expected. Things don’t get any easier for Yuzuki either as coming off of this we also find out the cute little girl that Yuzuki instantly grew attached to is one and the same as the saucer she hates.
That final scene as a whole was extremely well executed as it set up Nonoka as an isolated, lost girl and contrasted this with how close the group was when they were together previously. The rusted, abandoned kindergarten contributes to the overall theme of change and drives home the idea that what the group of friends once had is gone and can’t be recovered. Sora no Method is a show that has demonstrated a knack for selling each episode’s climax and this might have been the best one yet.
There are several interesting avenues for Sora no Method to explore from here. The immediately obvious one is the damage to Yuzuki’s psyche in the aftermath of the two big reveals at the end of the episode. Beyond that, Koharu is more or less a mystery at this point. Her primary objective seems to be seeing everybody get along but I think there’s more that makes her tick than just seeing the people around her be happy. I’m looking forward to seeing how the transformations in several of the characters took place, particularly Shione’s apparent personality flip from timid to cold and stand-offish and what happened between Yuzuki and Souta that pushed them apart. I really like how the show has set up contrasts between the people we see now and the people they were seven years earlier before Nonoka left town, now they just have to bring it all together.
The elephant in the room, of course, is what can be done about Noel. It seemed likely last week that getting rid of the saucer would necessitate getting rid of Noel as well and after this week it’s almost an inevitability. That dynamic has the potential to get overly maudlin but thus far Sora no Method has proved adept and handling its characters and their emotional baggage so I’m hopeful that this can be handled properly as well. Hisaya Naoki is a name I trust and thus far he hasn’t let me down.