So will everybody have slapped Nonoka by the end of this show?
This was the episode of Sora no Method I had been waiting for. The premiere was very good and the following two episodes were decent but not spectacular. This episode brought everything from the first three episodes together and pointed towards where the show will go from here. It’s exactly what the show needed to do to show me that Sora no Method is actually going somewhere and won’t peter out due to lack of ideas.
The episode began where we left off last week with Yuzuki’s realization that the girl she had befriended and recruited to help her get rid of the saucer was actually the same girl who called for the saucer in the first place. It’s interesting to see that more than merely being a physical representation of change that Yuzuki wanted to turn back, the saucer may have actually had direct negative effects on her life based on the ominous bits of flashback we got. I said after episode two that Nonoka had an instinctive connection to Yuzuki’s desire to go back to the way things were based on the loss of Nonoka’s mother. Now it seems like they might have even more in common than I initially thought. It’s something worth filing away for later at the very least.
Yuzuki’s arc in this episode was really tremendous to behold. She goes from losing her friendship with her brother, to having the one friend who supported her seemingly give up on her to finally in the present day losing the girl she thought would be her one ally in her anti-saucer quest. The episode does a superb job of showing the isolation that Yuzuki feels and the desperation that comes out of seeing every doorway she has available to her slowly closing. This process is made even more potent through the very effective use of flashbacks in this episode. Sora no Method has excelled at intelligently placing its flashbacks to create maximum impact when their information is revealed. This episode jumps back and forth between the early days of Yuzuki’s campaign against the saucer and her present efforts to get rid of it. We see the early efforts of Koharu to support Yuzuki juxtaposed with Koharu’s current opposition to Yuzuki’s disruptive protests. This is followed by Yuzuki seeing Nonoka with her brother, which harkens back to when she entered middle school and saw Souta working to push Koharu away from her. Each flashback is carefully crafted to show us exactly why this moment in Yuzuki’s life is so trying.
Yuzuki isn’t the only one feeling isolated and helpless though. While the rest of the former group of friends isn’t mired in as futile an activity as Yuzuki, they all show their own signs of despair. Shione’s isolation is the most obvious but it’s also the most clearly self-imposed. Leaving town probably didn’t help with this, but Shione makes no effort to hide the fact that she wants nothing to do with everybody else. Souta also seems about to enter self-imposed exile as he prepares to leave and study abroad. It’s revealing that Souta wants to reconcile with Yuzuki but he also has little patience for her outlandish antics. He’s all but given up at this point as Yuzuki shows no signs of moving on from the events of seven years ago while Souta has long since accepted it.
The most interesting case, however, is that of Koharu. Again, the flashbacks in the episode do a great job of illustrating the change that the saucer’s arrival has forced on her. It certainly isn’t as dramatic as what happened to Yuzuki, but it’s enough to get her to initially support Yuzuki in her protests. She’s never as gung ho about it as Yuzuki is, choosing to participate more to support Yuzuki than from her own desires. Souta doesn’t like this since he sees it as encouraging Yuzuki’s destructive behavior. Koharu is conflicted as she’s caught between her desire to help Yuzuki (“I’m always on your side”) versus Souta’s very valid concerns about Yuzuki’s behavior. It’s hard to strike a balance between helping Yuzuki work through a trying time and encouraging foolish behavior. We see Koharu begin to distance herself from Yuzuki before eventually completely giving up on her efforts. The scene where Koharu confirms that she thinks Yuzuki’s efforts was extremely powerful as it represented the final step in the abandonment of Yuzuki by her former friends. At the same time, Yuzuki’s plight isn’t completely lost on Koharu and it’s clear that she is experiencing significant guilt over her inability to get Yuzuki through this as she declares “I’m not good enough.” Koharu finally gives in to her own feelings of failure and despair before Nonoka joins her as the episode closes.
Now that everybody has given in to despair and pushed their friends away, it falls to Nonoka to help bring the group back together and let the healing begin. Nonoka has to come full circle from being the catalyst that pushed the friends apart seven years ago to being the force that draws them back together now. It should be relatively easy for her to win over Koharu but reconciling with Shione looks to be a long ways off and regaining Yuzuki’s trust after her identity was revealed will likely be very difficult as well. Things are also likely to get worse for Yuzuki before they get better as she doesn’t yet know that her one remaining ally, Noel, is also the saucer she’s trying to get rid of. It’s a tall task for Nonoka but I believe she’s gained significant strength in the years following her mother’s passing. If anybody’s up to the task it should be her. I, for one, am extremely excited to see how this plays out.