I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I really like Sora no Method.
It’s a very good sign for Sora no Method that each time I re-watch an episode before I write about it, I find that I like it even more than I did the first time. Sora no Method is the kind of show that grows on you the more you become aware of the emotional significance of the events you see. The show plants seeds here and there but it’s only once the full picture is revealed that you understand the true significance of what you just saw. The care taken to slowly build the full picture with very deliberate ordering of scenes is one of Sora no Method’s greatest strengths.
This week the on-screen action focused on Nonoka’s continuing efforts to bring her friends who had drifted apart back together. It’s great to watch Nonoka work through this as she has a knack for understanding the people around her and what it takes to win them over. I said after episode two that Nonoka instinctively understood the emotions underpinning Yuzuki’s vehement opposition to the saucer and Nonoka took advantage of that connection to reach Yuzuki in this episode. This episode did a great job of contrasting the way Nonoka brings people together with the way Yuzuki forces them away from her. Without the calming influence of Nonoka the trio of Yuzuki, Koharu and Souta were forced apart and seeing Nonoka working hard to bring them back together was really great. I also appreciated that the show didn’t create an idealized world where simply by asking nicely Nonoka would be able to launch fireworks. The authorities stuck to their rules, not making any exceptions for main characters, which meant that Nonoka had to find a way to achieve her goals without the flashy fireworks and she did a superb job of that.
While Nonoka was the main event this week, Yuzuki’s role as a tragic figure was very well realized too. The process she went through last week as she was slowly broken down set the stage for rebuilding her this week. The truth behind her hatred for the saucer came to light and it explains a lot about her extreme behavior and her refusal to be talked down by anyone. You kind of knew the saucer was never actually the enemy here, and it turns out it was a scapegoat for Yuzuki’s own guilt. Sure, the saucer’s arrival was associated with some extreme changes in Yuzuki’s life but deep down she felt that she was at fault both for the failed meet up at the fireworks festival and her brother’s subsequent injury. Seven years is a long time to keep something like that bottled up and we can see the strain it put on her each time somebody tries to apologize to her or refuses to place the blame on her. Yuzuki knows her own guilt and wants a way to acknowledge that but instead hearing Souta and Nonoka apologize to her just twists the knife more and makes admitting things even harder.
Nonoka stepping into this makes things even worse because in Yuzuki’s mind she’s just an outsider who can’t possibly understand what Yuzuki is going through. It pains Yuzuki to hear Nonoka speak of fireworks and promises when Yuzuki believes Nonoka can’t understand what significance those words actually hold. She remarks that “[Nonoka] doesn’t know what happened seven years ago” and uses this to rationalize remaining distant from Nonoka despite Nonoka’s best efforts to bridge that gap. It’s through the help of Noel that Yuzuki finally understands the real meaning behind Nonoka’s actions and that the words that had felt designed to hurt her were actually heartfelt and meaningful. This all culminates with Yuzuki at long last getting the emotional release she needed in a scene that was both emotionally moving and beautiful to watch. The timing of everything from Yuzuki’s realization regarding Nonoka’s memory, to the lighting of the lanterns, to the crying and finally the fireworks on the saucer was perfectly executed to get the most out of that scene.
All of this character growth and emotional depth is made possible by the show’s continued outstanding use of flashbacks. The timing used in when the show revealed Souta’s injury and the events that took place during the festival seven years earlier was designed perfectly to enhance the experience and make the events in the present day that much more poignant. It’s indicative of Hisaya Naoki’s writing skill that the show can so effectively jump between the past and present without skipping a beat. Director Sakoi Masayuki also deserves some credit for how polished the whole thing feels. He isn’t one of the biggest names out there and he doesn’t put his stamp on this the way other directors do with their work but Sora no Method does come together very effectively to present Hisaya-sensei’s vision to us.
Aside from the primary Yuzuki/Nonoka-centric plot of this episode, I will say that I love seeing Shione with Noel. Shione is so cool and collected all the time and watching her struggle to deal with the effervescent Noel was quite a treat. From here Nonoka must move on to the task of bringing Shione back into the fold. While Yuzuki was certainly more explosive in her verbal attacks against Nonoka and the saucer, Shione will likely prove the harder nut to crack. She seems to be more set in her ways and I don’t think that winning her over will just be a matter of saying the right words and massaging the right places in her memories. Whatever it takes to reach Shione, I trust that Nonoka will remain positive and continue moving towards her goal. This week we really saw the mental and emotional strength that Nonoka has, which was likely enhanced by the death of her mother. I love how she refuses to get mopey or give in when things look tough and those skills will serve her well in the coming episodes. We’re not out of the woods yet, but given her track record I expect that Nonoka can make this happen. Given the show’s track record I also expect that I will thoroughly enjoy the ride between now and then.