A Certain Girl’s Day Off: Sora no Method OVA Review and Reflection
July 26, 2015
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“It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit.” —Antoine Rivarol
Sora no Method originally aired during the Fall 2014 season, imparting the familiar (but not unwelcome) message of the significance of friendship. Though it was impacted by more tearful moments than might be necessary and some inconsistencies here and there, Sora no Method was not a poor anime by any means, and concluded on a high note. Thus, it was quite surprising to learn that there had been a short OVA bundled with the final Blu-Ray volume; the OVA follows Yuzuki’s quest to learn more about Shione’s activities after learning that the latter is frequently loaning out a monster movie. They discover that Shione had just been going to feed some ducks, and it turns out that Nonoka had a copy the entire time. While watching the film, Yuzuki learns that Shione played a role within said film.
While Sora no Method had constantly conveyed an air of melancholy and wistfulness, the OVA has chosen to depict less emotional moments, and the end result is a simple, self-contained story that follows Yuzuki’s antics. Dragging Koharu, Nonoka and Noel into her schemes, the humour stems from the resultant situational irony once Yuzuki learns that there is really nothing extraordinary about Shione’s day, and again when Shione turns out to have played a role within the movie. Besides the humourous elements, the Sora no Method OVA also depicts the sort of curiosity and vivid imaginations that youth may possess: Yuzuki manages to project her speculations into Koharu, Nonoka and Noel to drive the adventure forwards, and as they learn, sometimes, seemingly extra-ordinary observations can in fact be accounted for by simple explanations.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The Sora no Method OVA is quite recent, only having come out two days ago. It was so low-key that I did not even realise that there was going to be an OVA, but I welcome it. This post is going to be of a standard length (twenty images), even despite the OVA’s shorter run-time.
- Yuzuki’s desire to figure out what Shione is up to stems from a frustration of always being beaten out towards loaning out the monster movie at what appears to be her local library.
- Donning Sherlock Holmes-style garb, the girls tail Shione as the latter goes about town on ordinary activities. Contrasting Jack Ryan, Dominic Caruso and John Clark, Nonoka, Yuzuki, Koharu and Noel’s fieldcraft is quite shoddy. Amusingly enough, Shione is rather absorbed in her own itinerary and does not notice that she’s being tailed.
- This post was quite unexpectedly timed: I had been out for most of yesterday with family (involving another excellent dinner with mayonnaise shrimp, wonton soup and yi mein, amongst other things), and today, was expecting to take the afternoon off to back up my files in preparation for Windows 10. Despite the suddenness of the OVA’s release, the backup is mostly done now, and I’ve had a chance to watch said OVA.
- Using the Monster billboard as cover, Yuzuki and the others follow Shione closely around town, jotting down observations and conversing amongst themselves as to what Shione is really up to. It would’ve been a fun exercise for viewers to play “Find the Monster” in a similar manner as the Where’s Waldo? game had Yuzuki and the others hidden more effectively, but throughout the OVA, their tail on Shione leaves them out in the open.
- Shione greatly resembles Hibike! Euphonium‘s Reina Kousaka in mannerisms and appearances; in both cases, Shione and Reina open up to the protagonist as time progresses, and largely in part from the protagonist’s initiative (Nonoka and Kumiko, respectively). While one might dismiss this as a coincidence or claim it to be lazy writing, I see it as an opportunity to explore different directions as to how characters develop in different environments.
- While my screenshot collection does not have any instances of the saucer that formed much of the conflict during Sora no Method, the saucer does indeed make an appearance within the OVA, acting as a subject for Shione to photograph. It appears that there are numerous abstract sculptures in the Lake Kiriya, which is inspired by Usuzanfunka Memorial Park on the southwest banks of Lake Touya in Hokkaido. I will return in the future to do a locations post on Toyako if time permits.
- Noel’s naïveté means that she readily believes the extraordinary, and follows Yuzuki’s beliefs that Shione is about to summon the monster. Consequently, she’s disappointed when no monster shows up, and this is readily visualised through her eyebrows; one of the things about anime I’m particularly fond of is how the eyebrow’s visibility allow for emotions to be conveyed effectively without losing its subtleness.
- While largely passed over during discussions, the scenery in Sora no Method contributes substantially towards the atmospherics in the anime; anime set in Hokkaido tend to project a sense of longing and nostalgia. Some readers have informed me that Kanon was also set in Hokkaido on account of the snow, and given the similarities that Sora no Method shares with Kanon, it’s not difficult to surmise that Kanon must also be set in Hokkaido.
- As the episode progresses, Koharu and Yuzuki continue to busy themselves with observing Shione, while Nonoka only half-heartedly follows. Although fieldcraft in the real world is nowhere near as glamorous as depicted within fiction (and certainly not as fun as seen in Sora no Method, where ), reading spy-fiction and immersing oneself in the world of political espionage and military events is incredibly entertaining.
- I’ve been a fan of Ian Flemming’s James Bond ever since I was in primary school, and as my undergraduate degree drew to an end, I entered Tom Clancy’s universe through Threat Vector, a political thriller about cyberwarfare. I’ve since read all of the Jack Ryan Jr. series up to and including Command Authority. Ever since Tom Clancy’s passing, Mark Greaney has taken over the authorship for the Jack Ryan Jr. series, and I look greatly forward to reading Full Force and Effect.
- The choice to don such outfits is actually reminiscent of a similar moment in Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, where Karen and Alice decide to find out more about her new homeroom instructor by following her around and collecting notes. To complete the effect, scene transitions take on a mystery-type theme.
- This here island is located on the western edge of Usuzanfunka Memorial Park in Toyako. It shares similarities with Spirit Island on Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park in that it’s a tied island, but their differences end here: Spirit Island is 14 kilometers up-lake and completely lacks road or trail access, so the only way to reach it is by boat.
- It’s actually quite surprising to note that over three-quarters of the summer has very nearly elapsed. Soon, it’ll be August, and the days’ shortening will become more apparent. Two years previously, I felt that the summer had ended rather abruptly, as well, and in the blink of an eye, Autumn was quickly upon us.
- Lacking the courage to face Shione head-on, Yuzuki sends Noel forward to get a closer look while the others remain behind. It appears that this time, I’m actually ahead of the curve with respect to this post’s timing: I actually finished before anyone at tango-victor-tango even had a chance to post their episodic notes!
- While the precise point of the OVA relative to the timeline in Sora no Method is not known, given that Shione does express concern for Noel as the latter tumbles towards the water but otherwise treats the others coldly. Moreover, the monster billboard is still untarnished and whole. As such, it is not unreasonable to surmise that the OVA is set between episodes six and seven, after Shione and Noel share time together at a hot springs, and before the monster billboard is damaged.
- Shione’s expression conveys utmost embarrassment and frustration as Yuzuki mocks the former’s love for all things sweet, reminiscent of countless strict-looking characters in other anime who secretly have a vulnerabilities to all things adorable. There is no shame, though, given that sweet things are quite good in moderation (I usually take a candy or chocolate once or twice a day to bolster my spirits whilst working, and do enjoy things like cheesecake).
- It turns out that the entire day’s adventure might have been adverted if Yuzuki had simply asked Nonoka as to whether or not she might’ve had a copy of the monster film or not. Oftentimes, to drive stories forward, plotlines are done in such a manner such that solutions usually considered to be “common sense” are eschewed. While forgoing this factor would yield a more realistic story, it would preclude the adventure and exploration that accompanies the choice to do things in a roundabout fashion.
- It turns out that Yuzuki and the others, though off the mark about Shione’s actual plans for the day, quite accurately guess at what her role in the film is. Shione has a role in said film and appears to greatly enjoy watching herself, summoning the monster in a scene.
- That’s pretty much it for this post, and regular programming will resume shortly. Up next on the blogging list are the Strike Witches and Shirobako‘s OVAs, which release in the final week of July. I actually have yet to watch the first Shirobako OVA, so the Shirobako posts will probably come out mid-August, but the Strike Witches talk will be written as soon as possible.
Now that the OVA’s out, it’s doubtful that there is likely to be a continuation to Sora no Method: the original TV series had already made it clear that Noel’s return is a sufficient conclusion to the anime. While opinions about the anime were mixed, it is widely accepted that the ending is one that Nonoka and company ultimately deserves. There aren’t any loose ends remaining after Nonoka, Shione, Yuzuki and Koharu reunite with Noel, and consequently, discussions on Sora no Method have also ceased to be. Thus, the OVA represents an encore of sorts for Sora no Method, providing one final opportunity to illustrate all of the characters together; it is quite successful in doing this, acting as a relaxing close to Sora no Method.