The final pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together.
I never expected Sora no Method to be the kind of show to have a true antagonist. Shione had been the closest thing the show had up to this point, but I think we all knew she wouldn’t turn out to be as cold and cruel as she initially appeared. This episode did outstanding work with her character, painting a picture of an insecure girl who has always been unsure of herself and showing that, despite the fact that she had matured outwardly in the intervening seven years, Shione still held a childish grudge from seven years earlier. As usual, this is made possible by the show’s expertly timed use of flashbacks.
The first half the episode was devoted to showing how Shione came to join Nonoka’s group of friends and the significance Nonoka’s friendship held for her. We see Shione as an isolated, shy girl who didn’t have any friends. Having Nonoka approach her like that and welcome her into a circle of friends was a life-changing experience for Shione. At the same time, we see how friendship can also make you vulnerable. By accepting Nonoka’s friendship, Shione also opened herself up to being hurt and that’s exactly what happened when Nonoka was suddenly forced to leave due to her mother’s illness. While we as viewers understand that Nonoka had no control over this, it was a very traumatic experience for Shione, one that altered her approach to friendship entirely.
I really like what this episode says about trusting someone and how the act of believing in somebody opens you up to being hurt. Shione wasn’t hostile towards Nonoka because she didn’t believe her, it’s the fact that she did believe Nonoka that made this hurt so much. Shione declares “I always believed her” and that faith being betrayed represents a significant loss of innocence for her. Previously she had thought the people around her could be trusted so to have a person she trusted as much as Nonoka simply vanish without telling her face to face was incredibly difficult for her. I love how they showed us how strongly Shione believes in Nonoka as she waited on the same bench, year after year, hoping that one day she’d be able to fulfil her promise with Nonoka. This culminates in a wonderful scene in the observatory where Shione sums up her motivation here by saying “I’m scared. I’m afraid of my trust being betrayed.” We initially saw Shione as a hostile, angry girl but this episode revealed her to be nothing of the sort. She isn’t angry, she isn’t upset. She’s simply a scared young woman who wasn’t ready to open herself up to more heartache by forging strong human connections.
Of course, Shione was never going to be able to isolate herself completely and being confronted with Nonoka’s genuine attempts at reconciliation this episode was the final step in getting her to accept that she can take the plunge and become friends with Nonoka again. We see here how being confronted with somebody you had previously demonized and realizing that they aren’t actually the monster you had told yourself they were can really change a person’s outlook on life.
The climactic scene where Shione and Nonoka reconcile was superbly done. I’ve been impressed by the visuals in Sora no Method since the start, but this scene was exceptionally beautiful. The planetarium setting was perfect for creating an intimate setting for Shione to finally take the step we had been waiting for her to take for six episodes. Seeing the two share a private moment like that as the beads of light danced across the walls was a magical experience.
Of course, not everything is perfect in Sora no Method land as we still have two big issues hanging over our heads. First is the matter of Souta’s impending departure to study abroad. It’s becoming painfully clear that Souta has romantic feelings for Koharu and I’m starting to fear that the extent to which he’s putting this off will mean he has little time for anything more than a confession and a sudden departure, if that. Confessing your feelings and then flying away isn’t exactly a great thing to do to someone, although being forced to bottle those feelings up even longer may be worse. In addition, we also have the issue of Noel and her status as the saucer above town. I complained about how she was being used last week but this week was a great improvement as she did a great job as the catalyst to get Shione to finally acknowledge the unfairness of her animosity towards Nonoka. Looking forward though, it seems that Noel can’t stay around forever and the threat of losing Noel has caused Shione to retreat back into her shell. It seems like despite all the progress we made this episode, there’s still more healing to be done.