The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Yosuga no Sora

Title: Yosuga no Sora
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Feel
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 4 Oct 2010 – 20 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Having lost their parents in an accident, the Kasugano twins Haruka and Sora decide to move back to the rural town, and to the house where they spent summers with their late grandfather in their childhood. There, they meet old friends and new, and all seems familiar and peaceful. However, as memories come back to Haruka, things begin to change.

The Highlights
Audiovisuals: Fairly impressive, if not top-tier.
Omnibus format: More like a rehash of the original VN’s routes than an actual adaptation.
Story arcs: Individually decent, but a little too compressed.
Omake: Talk about mood whiplash.
Gratuitous sex: How much of the naughty can we slip into late-night TV?

An adaptation of Sphere‘s visual novel in a year that was generally anemic, and particularly bereft of the memorable classics in this genre, Yosuga no Sora would initially appear to have some promise, given its reputably decent source material and nice production values. If only it panned out that way, for what we got instead was a series of melodramatic tales of varying quality, bulked out by some of the trashiest scenes that could somehow get into TV.

First off, let’s give credit where credit is due; the animation and art is quite decent, and a fairly good attempt at recreating the atmospheric feel which characterises most good VN adaptation romances. The character designs are a little suspect (with there being no continuum between runway-flat and humongous honkers with regards to female “assets”) but otherwise quite distinctive, and the backgrounds are pretty enough to have a reasonable claim to being second only to the likes of Kyoto Animation and P.A. Works. The series appears to further stamp its claim on being a good romance drama with its accompanying music: another nice OP from the evergreen eufonius and a generally excellent set of mood-setting BGM feature throughout the series. The audiovisual component is pretty much one of the best things about Yosuga, and could have been an important part of a truly great story.

Unfortunately, nothing else in Yosuga no Sora is quite that good. For one thing, the narrative of the series takes the form of an omnibus format. In short, it is not one story, but a set of 4 parallel-universe tales, each revolving around one of the female characters in the same setting, and resetting to a prior point at the end of each story arc to make way for the beginning of a new one. While this places the focus on each girl at a time, this comes at the great cost of sacrificing much character development; while the entire cast is more or less consistent to their character in each different story arc, they react differently to the different circumstances in each arc, and become quite different personalities at the conclusion of each arc. This is especially apparent in the male lead Haruka, who is a fairly good character in his own right, but develops so differently as a personality every story arc he might as well have been several different people.

Speaking of the story arcs, although they all come in the by-this-time cliched format of the male lead helping the sad girls (in snow) through their issues and winning their hearts in the process, each of the arcs have premises which are interesting enough in their own right to warrant a look. However, because of the omnibus format, each arc only gets a few episodes from start to conclusion, barely enough time to develop the melodramatic elements into a good melodrama. This is not helped by the fact that there is less than an episode’s worth of air time for the main story arc each episode, with the rest of the time being taken up by an omake detailing the misadventures of a ninja maid (yes they went there) with, once again, Haruka the male lead. Apart from taking up time which could have gone into fleshing out the events of each story arc, the maid’s story arc in the omake is basically mindless comedy, which can effect a real mood whiplash if following after a particularly dramatic episode.

As a matter of fact, the series seems less of an adaptation, than a rehash of each route of the visual novel’s material. What is particularly galling is how there seems to be little reason for such an uninspired execution of the source material… apart from an apparent desire to give each female character a turn at being the female lead, and a chance to show off their bodies in all their naked glory. Yes, you read that right; Yosuga no Sora boasts some of the most explicit sex scenes which could somehow be slipped into television, all of which stop just short of displaying mosaics from being classified as full-blown hentai. While these are occasionally plot-critical scenes, for the most part they seem to be there simply to serve as wet dream material for male libidos, sacrificing even more time for plot and character development in the process. Whatever classiness might have been hinted at by the above-average audiovisuals gets all but dashed by this trashiness, and only makes it even harder to give a damn about the melodrama.

For anyone looking for a good romance drama, Yosuga no Sora is unfortunately far from being an ideal recommendation, due to its many issues in story format, character development, and utter lack of class. It has just enough good melodrama to avoid being the bottom of the pile, but the only reason to watch this might be a lack of alternatives….or if it is softcore porn one is looking for.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Ascaloth

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