It’s hard to keep any group of friends together, but it’s especially hard when one of them is Shione.
It was something of a transition episode this week on Sora no Method as the episode was mostly devoted to revealing information to various members of the group and building atmosphere rather than really moving the plot forward. We’re left largely where we were last week with Shione determined to leave the rest of the group behind and Noel’s future hinging on whether or not Nonoka can convince Shione to have a change of heart. The most interesting part of this episode came right near the end once everybody finally had complete information about the situation they’re facing. It helps put some perspective on Shione’s behavior when we see how the rest of the group reacts when they know everything that Shione knows. I find it interesting that revealing this truth sets off a similar desire to step back in each member of the group although for entirely different reasons. We’ve already discussed Shione’s tendency to erect walls around her even if she really does desire friendship, and Souta’s reasoning that he’s leaving anyway so he can be the one who keeps Noel from disappearing is pretty straightforward. The more interesting ones are Yuzuki, who appears to have some lingering guilt despite what she went through earlier in the series which makes her want to step aside as a sort of penance, and Koharu, who’s always been helpful to a fault and this appears to be no exception.
What the episode lacked in major plot progression it made up for in superb atmosphere building. The episode ranged from the initial fear regarding Noel’s health, to hope when Nonoka finds Shione again, then to hopelessness and despair as Shione doesn’t come around to Nonoka’s point of view and eventually pushes everybody else apart. The show commands this emotion beautifully thanks to the combination of visuals, character writing and music. The music in particular was very good this week. I really liked the songs they chose for the scene in the classroom where Nonoka and the others reflect on their history with Shione, Nonoka’s tearful meeting with Shione in the park and finally when Noel talks about how beautiful Nonoka’s wish was.
While the music was great in that scene, I did feel like this episode bordered on the overly saccharine at times. I can stand quite a bit of sweetness but Noel waxing poetic about how wonderful the wish was seemed like a stretch to me, although the fact that the music was extremely pretty helped a lot with that scene. Overall, this is a tricky episode of Sora no Method to evaluate in a vacuum. So much of what I think about this episode hinges on where the show actually goes from here. On the surface this feels a bit like a cheap way to press the reset button and force everybody apart just for the sake of drama. But dig a little deeper and all of the individual parts make sense even if the result feels a bit off right now. Time will tell whether this is where Sora no Method took its first misstep or if it’s merely a slightly clunky transition into a soaring final three episodes.