The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Sora no Method

Title: Sora no Method aka Celestial Method
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Company: Studio 3Hz
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2014 – 28 Dec 2014

Synopsis: After seven years, Komiya Nonoka and her father are returning to the house the two and her mother used to reside in. The town hasn’t changed much, except for a mysterious flying saucer over the lake next to her house, which has been floating there since the day she left. On the day of her return, she encounters a strangely dressed young girl named Noel, who manages to make her way into her house, and soon enough into her heart. But Nonoka’s encounter with Noel is no happenstance. As her childhood memories come back, her connection to Noel becomes clear, as well as how she connects to a wish made by Nonoka and her four closest friends who called the saucer in the first place.

The Highlights 
Animation: Studio 3Hz has set expectations high.
Characters: Weak in personality and chemistry. Noel is adorable beyond words.
Drama: Flimsy and artificially inflated.
OP and ED Themes: If these songs never get out of my head, I’m perfectly fine.

Sora no Method is the first project by the newly formed Studio 3Hz. Drawing talent from Production I.G and working with a story penned by Hiyada Naoki of Kanon fame, the show was no short on recourses to succeed. Of course new companies come and go despite possible advantages. Given the results of their maiden work, I wouldn’t hedge my bets on the new studio, but neither do I see reason to write them off yet.

Sora no Method unfortunately doesn’t offer much, but is in abundance in the animation department. There is a general pleasantness to the artwork from the color saturation to the lighting. The lighting especially has a naturalistic quality to it, capturing the effect of shadow and texture. Most impressive is the Saucer above the the town, which at times appears to be a mere subtle trick of the eye while at others has striking gem-like qualities. Save for some awkwardly animated sunflowers, there is great fluidity to the motion as well. Ebata Ryouma employs a more limited use of rotoscoping seen previously in Aku no Hana here, albeit to more stylized artwork.

While there may exist a more interesting plot thread in universe about the saucer’s effect of society, as presented, the drama in  Sora no Method is unfortunately wanting. I am not particularly well versed in moè or Hiyasa Naoki‘s works, nor have I ever been a teenage girl. But nonetheless I never lost the nagging feeling that the conflict felt forced. There is a paradoxically cyclical nature to the saucer’s existence and how it relates to the tension between the core characters, and the script does not appear interested in addressing it, or is even aware of it. The result is a rather flimsy plot device to justify some underwhelming drama. The stakes of the series end up coming off as artificial, and this rests heavily on the shoulders of the main characters’ tepid chemistry. Their is so little compelling about their friendship that, by comparison, more genuine pathos is evoked by a plywood monster. No character is without minor moments, but the only one to truly endear themselves is Noel, whose innocence and jubilance at the world won me over without her ever coming off as obnoxious or overly naive. Cute girls being cute for cuteness sake is not my general forte, but if there is any reason to watch Sora no Method, it’s for her. 

In light of the praise I can give Sora no Method, it is always the least bit damning when the OP and ED comprise the majority of my motivation to keep up with a series. The ending sequence, however, encapsulates all that is good in this series distinguished by Ebata’s full-on rotoscoping with greater stylization. And “Hoshizaku no Interlude” is a fantastic song to boot. Even if I may forget this anime, I’ll be humming that melody to myself. Speaking purely technically, the new Studio 3Hz should feel accomplished. I just wish that they’ll come up with stronger material next time. 

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx


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