With due respect, the things that are worth watching in Yosuga no Sora outweigh the negatives. The description of Yosuga no Sora (The Sky of Connection) presents the anime as a prima facie harmless show about a brother and sister moving into the Japanese countryside to get a fresh start on life after being orphaned. Despite appearing similar from a physical standpoint, their spirits and personalities are fundamentally different, and the older of the two, Haruka Kasugano, tries to make the most of things to protect Sora, his sister while adapting to life with familiar company. Over its twelve episode run, rather than following a single story, the episodes branch out and provide to viewers a depiction of several alternative scenarios of what would happen should Haruka decide to date one of the female leads. The anime offers solid essentials (storytelling, artwork, characterisation), but contrasting almost all of the series I’ve seen so far (save several OVAs), there are scenes involving contents that are absolutely not family-friendly. These occur with a surprising frequency, but are integrated well with each of their respective arcs, giving each of the female lends dimension and realism as the story builds up to the point where Haruka finds his feelings for each of the respective leads.
- Twenty images have been carefully selected to make sure this post remains reasonably friendly. Here, Kozue Kuranaga speaks with Haruka while Sora looks on in disapproval. Despite having known Haruka since their childhood, Kozue doesn’t get an arc in the anime, and is ultimately presented as a serious but caring individual with the community’s best interests at heart.
- Besides Sora, everyone central to the story is here in this image: from left to right, Kazuha, Akira, Kozue, Haruka, Ryouhei and Nao. One of the core features about Yosuga no Sora is the deep azure sky, which seems to go on forever; even with the characters in the foreground, the sky plays a significant role in setting the mood, and at its best, appears to convey a sense of eternal yearning.
- Kazuha Migiwa is the daughter of an influential magnate and lives a cultured life. Sharp-minded and attentive to detail as a result of her parents’ constant travels and long-distance liaisons, she learned from a young age to behave responsibly, as befitting her social standing. Nevertheless, Kazuha does not consider herself superior to others, and doesn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand whenever asked. Kazuha is an experienced viola player, yet she shies away from playing in competitions, preferring to play only for those she cares for. She dotes on Akira constantly and worries excessively for her well-being.
- Initially, I had no idea about the formatting in Yosuga no Sora, and so, when Haruka approaches Kazuha, I was wondering if he was rushing into things, although in retrospect, the anime does seem to do a reasonable job of condensing everything into twelve episodes. The primary conflict in Kazuha’s arc is her constant worry about Akira, and after she finds out that her father has, in fact, been helping Akira out, she is able to let go and pursue a full-fledged relationship with Haruka.
- Motoka Nogisaka is a college student struggling to make ends meet and works as a maid in the Migiwa Household to pay for her tuition expenses. While not ideally suited for household chores, her warm compassion and captivating personality offset these deficiencies. While she only has a small role in the anime proper, in the bonus feature, she is the main character and falls in love with Haruka, despite him being significantly younger than her; these bonus segments are lighthearted, but despite being entertaining, they are also
somewhat very questionable and should be watched with the headphones plugged in, away from other observers.
- The typical setup for each arc is a budding relationship that is stymied by a problem: together with Haruka, each girl is able to face their problems and move ahead. In Kazuha’s arc, the story ends with Kazuha playing the viola for both Haruka and Akira. I will not speak of the cinematography that complements this scene: “Infinite Zenith’s Rule Number One: There is no boobs showing in this blog“.
- Akira Amatsume was orphaned as a baby and taken in by the keeper of the local shinto shrine, who raised her as his granddaughter when none of her more distant relatives were willing to take her. Although still only a teenager, Akira has been the only miko and shrine keeper since her foster grandfather died. She spends much of her time practicing the habits and traditions, including performance of requisite ceremonies and holiday festivals. She also devotes a lot of her time to helping the elderly in the village: her energetic, innocent personality makes her beloved by all.
- This is about the upper limited for what I can reasonably post before exceptions start being thrown. Akira’s arc breathes more insight into her character, showing a side of her that’s rarely seen. It turns out she rues losing her mother’s penant, and grows closer to Haruka when he offers to help her find it. Similar in appearance to CLANNAD‘s Nagisa Furukawa, I found her arc to be the perfect blend of drama and love story.
- Kazuha’s mother tells Akira everything at their home, where Akira is shown the lost pendant, returned to her by someone who found it at the mountains. She reveals that she and Akira’s mother had shared the same hospital room, and, one day Akira pulled the pendant off of her neck as Mrs. Migiwa held her in her arms. After hearing that Akira’s mother had died, she gave the pendant to her to make her feel, at least, the presence of a mother. After Akira’s heredity results are made known, Kazuha’s mother let her keep the pendant, and apologizes to Akira, allowing the arc to end in an optimistic manner.
- After finding the pendant again, Akira confesses her love to Haruka. As with Kazuha’s arc, Akira’s arc ends with a satisfying conclusion: this is all I’m at liberty to disclose.
Until recently, I had no recollection of why I decided to watch Yosuga no Sora; thanks to the magic of file systems, I now remember that I decided to give this show a shot somewhere back in February after seeing a recommendation for it, which said that fans of Puella Magi Madoka Magica might have enjoyed Yosuga no Sora for its emotional impact and stunning artwork, as well as the fact that the arcs do take on an increasingly darker tone as the series wears on. Coupled with the cover-art depicting Haruka and Sora riding a train in the Japanese countryside, I decided to give Yosuga no Sora a shot for the artwork. After episode one ended, I quickly realised this was no ordinary anime: the relationships progress at a bewildering speed, jumping over the emotional aspects in favour of things that are more risqué. However, given that there are only twelve episodes, all of the separate arcs are concise and satisfying to watch, cutting straight to the point and giving the overall story a very focused feel.
- Nao is Haruka’s next-door neighbour and childhood friend. Beautiful, intelligent and an excellent swimmer, Nao’s compassion and maturity projects a sense of sisterly love towards others, though for Haruka there is a deeper and more intimately sensual feeling. Of all the characters, I think Nao is probably the best fit for Haruka, and in her arc, Ryouhei, Akira and Kazuha are in on bringing the two closer together, staging a swimming training session to provide instruction for Haruka, who can’t swim well.
- After the two finish swimming, Nao’s backstory is revealed; it’s a little macabre to behold, and although Nao is filled with regret about what had transpired, Haruka nonetheless forgives her and explains that he was merely surprised at what happened. There are problems with Haruka’s dismissal of things, but as those lie well outside the scope of what I’m qualified to talk about, I will merely state that there is something of a double standard here and leave it at that.
- Haruka walking with one of the heroines following classes under the gentle evening skies is an element common to all of the arcs. The anime is distinctly set during summer, and as of now, we add Yosuga no Sora to the likes of Ano Natsu de Matteru and AnoHana, both of which are set in the summer and bring about a nostalgic air to them. Where I live, there are many evenings during the summer where the sky becomes aglow with a warm, golden light as the sun sets.
- Nao and Haruka have settled things reasonably quickly, but the arc’s main conflict lies with Sora’s unwillingness to accept Nao; the former sees Nao as someone who is vying for attention from Haruka. She openly expresses her hatred for Nao, especially after catching Nao and Haruka doing sacrilegious things to one another at Haruka’s place. While Nao becomes dejected from Sora’s reaction, Haruka resolves to set things right between everyone.
- One would imagine that moments such as these is what makes Nao’s arc interesting, but closer inspection finds a surprisingly dark background that merits watching. During a summer trip to the beach, Haruka is swept into the ocean, but quick action from Nao saves him. Despite not attending, Sora sees this from a distance and becomes more insecure.
- I think I’ve lost track of how many anime I have watched that feature a summer festival of some sort: the number is surprisingly large, but in all cases, summer festivals are characterised by a general sense of cheer and high spirits. Anime typically depict its characters as playing various games, like goldfish scooping and target shooting, or else enjoying the equivalent of carnival foods (such as yakisoba and takoyaki, the latter of which I can finally say I’ve had and tastes excellent).
- Set a short ways after Nao saves Sora’s stuffed rabbit (her only memento of her parents) from a burning, lightning-struck bus shelter, Sora finally warms up to Nao, ending this arc. Compared to the other arcs thus far, while Akira’s arc ended up having the strongest finish from an emotional standpoint, Nao’s story also ended up being remarkably fun to watch. In each of the branching points, minor differences in how things turn out send Haruka down a path with a different girl, subtly hinting that as with real life, countless random variables mean that the future is constantly changing.
- Especially with regard to relationships, predictions and forecasts are about as effective as trying to stop a hurricane using one’s fists. Setting aside the topic of statistics and probability, I will take a moment to note that the main theme in Yosuga no Sora is hauntingly beautiful and melancholic at the same time. Together with the calming and nostalgic landscapes, these two elements come together to provide the perfect backdrop for a branching romance story.
- Sora’s arc is one with a great deal of emotional turmoil, especially from Haruka and his conflicting feelings about Sora. Haruka and Sora ultimately choose to move abroad to pursue a forbidden relationship, leaving the others behind. Of all the characters, Kozue is the one who is least able to accept of this relationship, crying her eyes out and admits to having feelings for Haruka in their last conversation. Nao is willing to hear Haruka out, learning that Haruka never saw Sora as his sister but tried to turn things arounf with Nao.
- In the end, although Haruka and Sora ultimately find their solitude, it comes at a terrible cost to them, as well as their friends. This arc was probably the most emotionally charged, with an ending far from the same happy endings as seen in Kazuha, Akira and Nao’s arcs. All in all, Yosuga no Sora is an anime that delivers a solid story in a short time span, which is no small feat. Next on my list of things to talk about will be Love Lab, followed by Sidonia no Kishi and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?. At a friend’s request, I will also watch Higurashi: When They Cry and do a whole-season reflection once I finish the entire thing. I’m pretty sure it can’t be as scary as Yosuga no Sora. On the gaming side of things, I’m nearly done playing through Metro: Last Light and should have a talk out soon enough.
Besides the sort of emotions associated with relationships, Yosuga no Sora also explored issues and implications surrounding families, heredity, guilt and incest in each of their respective arcs. Each of the four female leads bring out a different side to Haruka, and although he remains a kind individual throughout, it is refreshing to see how Haruka goes about helping everyone, even as the series eventually treads into more difficult territory. Taken together, the elements in Yosuga no Sora come together to present an anime that, despite having beautiful landscapes and a melancholic musical accompaniment, illustrates how Haruka and the female leads eventually find happiness. The final verdict on Yosuga no Sora is that, for all of the disreputable content, the anime remains remarkably enjoyable and merits watching for a solid portrayal of the raw emotions that the characters experience. All in all, Yosuga no Sora performs quite well, and although I did not find any similarities in this anime to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, I’d say that the situations the characters experience probably leave an emotional impact of a similar magnitude, making it worthwhile for anyone who doesn’t mind the anime’s complementary anatomy lessons. Of course, it goes without saying that one should only watch Yosuga no Sora if they are assured some solitude.