What is there to say about Sora no Method?
“Sora no Method was ___.” Good. Bad. Slow. Boring. Melodramatic. Heartfelt.I don’t know. None of those words describe how I felt about the show. Sora no Method was. I wouldn’t recommend it to most, yet I have a nagging feeling that it’s better than mediocre.
In Sora no Method, middle-schooler Komiya Nonoka returns to her picturesque rural hometown of Kiriyako after seven years away to find a huge flying saucer hovering over the town’s lake and a cold shoulder from her childhood friends. Not long after her return to town, she meets Noel, a strange, blue-haired girl who is revealed to be the flying saucer itself— summoned to Kiriyako seven years ago by Nonoka and her former friends. With Noel’s encouragement, Nonoka sets out to repair her broken relationships and win back her friends.
Nonoka is a compelling heroine, honest and firm in her convictions. She has to be: her former friends harbor deep grudges against her and resent her uninvited reappearance in their lives. Through the show, Nonoka is screamed at, slapped, and spurned time and time again. Her headstrong willingness to fight through her own pain and discomfort made me cheer her on through her adversities.The majority of Nonoka’s abuse comes from two of her childhood playmates: Yuzuki, who resents Nonoka for calling the saucer to town, and Shione, who… I’m not even sure what her problem with Nonoka was. Nonoka’s reconciliation with Yuzuki is straightforward enough, featuring the usual tear-filled confrontations characteristic of tween angst. Sora no Method handles these emotionally charged scenes excellently, conveying raw, visceral emotions without veering too far into the comical melodrama so characteristic of anime.
However, Sora no Method takes a turn for the worse during its second half, which concerns itself with Nonoka’s reconciliation with her friend Shione. Shione is stern, cold, and mean— not someone that anyone would want to be friends with. Yet, with Noel’s encouragement, Nonoka repeatedly reaches out to Shione and is spurned again and again. Shione reminded me of the Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus— every time any sort of progress towards reconciliation is made, something or other happens and we find ourselves back at square one. Finally, we learn that Shione isn’t actually cold and mean, she’s just a little awkward— a most tired personality cliche. All this made me question Nonoka’s motivation for seeking reconciliation with Shione. What’s the point of being friends with someone who’s utterly uninterested in being friends with you?
Enter Noel, the flying saucer and grantor of wishes. Her mere existence guaranteed Nonoka’s eventual reconciliation with her friends― an insurance policy to ensure a happy ending. Nonoka and Noel’s repeated attempts to seek out Shione became annoying. It’s a shame— were the show’s conclusion less obvious, those scenes of confrontation between old friends would have carried real emotional weight.
Perhaps the writers of Sora no Method also realized the show was becoming predictable, which may help explain the show’s rather unconventional ending. Despite moments of genuine beauty in the last few episodes, I found them distracting. True, the finale could have been a lot worse, but it also failed to impress.Despite my complaints about the predictability of the show’s conclusion, it was still gratifying to see Nonoka struggle and triumph over the many roadblocks she faced. There was a genuine sense that she grew and learned something from her trials. The most emotionally charged moments in the show— Nonoka’s fights with Yuzuki and early confrontations with Shione— are genuinely tense. It’s too bad that Sora no Method couldn’t be a bit more subtle with its central conflict. It’s a show that did beautiful things, but is simply not strong enough to be remembered.
Verdict: B (Guide to ratings)