The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Nao Yorihime

Revisiting Yosuga no Sora with Dewbond: A Collaborative Exercise in Finding Appreciation for the Maidens’ Solitude

“I don’t care what they say. I don’t care how tough it may be. I want to make sure you’re as happy as possible.” –Haruka Kasugano

When Yosuga no Sora is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the anime’s clever presentation of four concise but emotionally-powerful stories in an omnibus format, or the visually-powerful setting that is necessary to accommodates the story. Instead, topics of incest come to the foreground, and an anime like Yosuga no Sora would draw sharp criticisms for dealing with what is counted to be a verboten topic. However, there remains one fact: that there has been a steady uptick on people searching for Yosuga no Sora in my site metrics, and this has piqued my curiosity in revisiting the series again. While it has been difficult to find folks who look past the incest in Yosuga no Sora, into the numerous merits that Yosuga no Sora may have, it is an honour to welcome Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime into the discussion: we’d previously exchanged the idea of a collaboration, and this idea soon became a reality. I’m very pleased to present the first collaborative project this blog has hosted, and without further ado, let’s get into the post itself.

  • Before we begin, I will note that there is a bit of a content warning for this post. Yosuga no Sora is known for its content, and in order to really make some of the moments in the anime felt, I’ve chosen to include screenshots that correspond to moments that Dewbond and I will cover. If anatomy is not to your liking, I recommend hitting the “back” button immediately: by reading past this point, you agree that neither Dewbond nor myself can be held liable for whatever happens when people see anime papilla mammaria. If there are no objections, then let us continue!

Dewbond, let me begin by welcoming you to this party. You’re the first collaboration this blog’s ever hosted, so I’m going to do my best not to butcher anything. I am very impressed with your multi-part breakdown of Yosuga no Sora that delved into what each arcs characteristics were. There is a lot to unpack in Yosuga no Sora, far more than just Sora’s…desire to be closer to Haruka!

Thanks for having me here Zen. I’m always happy to a do a collaboration post, especially when it is discussing anime that are too often ignored by viewers. Yosuga no Sora is one of those series, and I am glad we can take some time to have a chat about it. Let me start by asking a question: what made you watch Yosuga no Sora and want to talk about it on your blog?

That’s a great question, and the story is a bit of a funny one. After watching Madoka Magica, I was looking for a similar series, and was given Yosuga no Sora as a recommendation. I had no idea what I was getting into, but the synopsis was compelling: two siblings returning to the countryside to pick up pieces of a life and yearning for a peaceful life, but struggle as a dark secret unfolds? I was sold. It wasn’t until I’d reached the conclusion of Kazuha’s arc that I began to understand what I’d picked up, but the way the stories were told compelled me to stay, and I’m very glad that I did.

As am I. For me, I had seen clips and rumors of Yosuga no Sora for years, but I always just chalked it up to being a softcore hentai. It was only when I started this blog, deciding that I would start to review things are often ignored, that I decided to give Yosuga a full fair and balanced looked. I am glad I did, because beyond the memes and eye-brow raising final arc, it is actually a good interesting story.

It certainly sounds like you had a blast going through Yosuga no Sora. The series began in a pretty tame manner, although even the first episode immediately hooked me with its ending, only to reveal that Sora was really just trying to get Haruka to take her measurements for a school uniform. Out of the gates, Yosuga no Sora feels unassuming, and I’m guessing this is why viewers would’ve been shocked to see how open the series is about the physicality in a relationship. Kazuha’s arc, being the first of the series, acted as a hook to continue watching, and in many ways, set the expectations for what was to come. I certainly ended up being surprised at the end of Kazuha’s arc; the emotional build-up was natural and flowed well, but I certainly did not expect things to be quite as visceral as they were. As I was watching this on an iPad in campus halls after hours during the summer, I was fortunate not to have been spotted – after the Kazuha arc, I became more mindful and only watched the show with my back to a wall and headphones in!

Yes, we may as well get that out of the gate right now. One of the best things I like about Yosuga no Sora is that it pulls absolutely zero punches in its display of intimacy and sex. There are no cutaways, no clever use of framing, no censoring. It’s a story that involves people having sex, so it shows people having sex. There have been so many eroge and ecchi shows that have had to walk a fine line between what they can and can’t show. Yosuga deciding to go “fuck it, let’s fuck!” is a bravery I can respect. It helps make the romances land, the plot points matter more, and the characters beats feel more heavy. What was your take on the use of sex in the show?

I’ll admit that when I first saw Kazuha and Haruka getting intimate, I was surprised. The series had not given any indicator it was going this way. However, as more arcs passed by, I found it to be a powerful part of the storytelling. In particular, it adds the weight you mention into each scenario: Yosuga no Sora’s a busy anime and making a compelling romance work in the space of three episodes is a challenge, so they really had to show only the most critical of moments. I think the series has succeeded in this area, and after the initial shock, on revisitation, I think the series has done a superb job of using the physical side of a relationship to augment the fact that each arc is memorable. Of course, the series does become a little more wild in it’s second half, what with Nao and Sora’s stories!

Absolutely I thought the sex worked extremely well, and it was portrayed in a way that was sexy, but it wasn’t “hentai-sexy,” if that makes any sense. I also enjoyed how the sex was escalated for each consequitive arc, which I think is how much of the arcs actually go. Before we get to the heavy stuff with Nao and Sora, let’s talk about Kazuha and Akira. I’ve mentioned that Kazuha’s arc is my personal favorite, what was your take on the both of them?

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Kazuha’s arc was a superb one in many ways. Not only did it set the precedence for what Yosuga no Sora intended to tell in its story, but it also establishes the kind of person that Haruka is: he’s someone who, despite being in the difficult circumstance of having to look after his frail twin sister and make things work in his new life, does his best to help those around him. Haruka ends up demonstrating to Kazuha that her father does in fact care about Akira, and this finally puts her at ease.

In Akira’s arc, this side of Haruka leads him to search for a pendant belonging to Akira’s mother. Although unsuccessful, this act does show Haruka’s commitment to those he cares about. I admit that, as you’ve said, Akira’s arc feels distinctly like something out of The Young and The Restless. Of course, being Yosuga no Sora, I’m glad a solution is reached. Overall, both arcs show Haruka in what would be a clean slate, portrayal the growth of a relationship that comes about very naturally. The first two arcs are what I count as being the purer side of the series; this is appropriate in allowing us to see the series at its most idyllic.

I agree with that both arcs are the “cleaner” version of Yosuga. I would also agree that Akira’s is absolutely the most soap opera out of all of them. It’s also the weakest arc, because a lot of what Akira is has been done before so many times in anime, and done better. The girl who hides her pain behind a smile, that’s not something new to anyone who’s been round this artform for a while. Yet again, it is never not bad, just not as good as the rest of the three.

Kazuha however, is my favorite for two reasons. Her connection to Haruka is shown to be quite genuine and real, and there is a clear attraction between both her, and Haruka throughout the story. You can feel the literal push pull between what Kazuha wants, a relationship with this boy, and the self imposed duty she has to Akira, who turns out, is just doing quite fine. It’s a simple effective story to really ease you in to the anime’s world and setting, which brings me to my number two point. The setting and the music, which I think we both agree is second “secret sauce” to what this anime works so well. Now I’m going to let you just gush about that, because I really like your take on the world of Yosuga no Sora!

You’re absolutely right, Dewbond: there’s a certain, almost indescribable magic about the aural and visual aspects of Yosuga no Sora that is the series “secret sauce”. However, if it were indescribable, there’d be no post, so I’ll try to put it into words as best as I can. I think it makes sense to start with the setting, since that’s so prominent in the series – Yosuga no Sora‘s tagline, “in solitude, where we are least alone”, is sourced from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Lord Byron suggests that being alone, is not as lonely as one might think. This cleverly applies to Yosuga no Sora, in allowing Haruka to pursue a relationship in a place of peace, solitude. This is where the setting becomes so critical: the choice to set Yosuga no Sora in the inaka, the rural countryside of Japan, creates an incredibly lonely environment. As Haruka and his friends walk to school, there’s hardly another soul in sight on the road cutting through the verdant fields, leading into distant mountains and a seemingly-endless sky. The neighbours are far away, parental figures are distant or outright absent, and this really serves to reinforce just how isolated Haruka is. In his solitude, he finds companionship, support through any one of Kazua, Akira, Nao or Sora, and the loneliness conferred by the countryside allows Haruka the space and time to really focus on his relationships, which in turn, gives them more depth.

Admittedly, while I’ve always enjoyed the music of Yosuga no Sora, I’ve never really given it much thought until now. Composed by Manabu Miwa and Bruno Wen-Li, similarly augments things. The main theme is particularly insightful: through the use of piano and strings, this song creates an incredibly wistful sense of yearning. There are points in the main theme where two instruments perform solo, yielding a lonely, contemplative sound. Together, the theme becomes immensely rich and complex, but also retains its melancholy. It cleverly links all of the different arcs together, and suggests to viewers that the relationships Haruka pursues all have their ups and downs. We could probably spend an entire post just dedicated to the music: Yosuga no Sora‘s main theme is not the only piece of note, and there are other pieces that capture Kazuha’s gracefulness, the joyful world Akira sees, Nao’s yearning and Sora’s own feelings. The setting and music, so masterfully used to set the stage for Kazaha and Akira’s arcs, now come to play as we move into Yosuga no Sora‘s darker side. This opens with Nao, whose story happens to be my favourite. Dewbond, you’ve previously mentioned that her story was tricky to talk about because Nao’s conflict is internal. This invariably leads to the question of whether or not Nao’s action, when she was younger, is something that can be accepted: while Haruka was surprised, can we, as the audience, be as quick to forgive Nao’s choices?

Well first off, this is why my blog is called “Shallow Dives” cause you said things about the setting and music far better than I could! You are absolutely right in that the setting is crucial to having this story work. The countryside does create this vast plain of loneliness and solitude that allows what happens to happen. It is both the literal solitude of them being so far away from the city, and the metaphorical solitude of two children with no parents, trying to pull together their lives out from a tragedy.

I didn’t really have an issue forgiving Nao, because she clearly feels guilt about forcing herself on Haruka when they were younger, but also because Haruka himself seems to have accepted, even enjoyed it. Their conversation in episode 2 where they just confront the drama helps lay this out. Yes he was shocked and surprised, and it probably stayed with him, but there wasn’t any lasting damage. It was clear he enjoyed it and it remains a fond, if strange memory of this youth. This is what makes Yosuga brave in some regards. It pulls zero punches in what happens sometimes among young people. They don’t know their bodies and they fuck, it happens, it’s there. To deny that reality is sticking your head in the ground.

Personally, I was curious to see what Haruka himself had made of it, and hearing is conversation with Nao sorted things out on short order. I agree that Yosuga no Sora‘s openness about these topics gives the series a chance to properly explore the topic, where other series would either downplay or turn into comedy such a moment. This was probably the most visceral of the moments for me, and from there, once Nao and Haruka come to terms with what happened that day, the main challenge Nao and Haruka faced was really getting Sora to accept them. At this point, things become a little more cut-and-dried: it took a lightning storm to give Nao a chance to demonstrate to Sora that her objective isn’t simply to take Haruka away from her, but once a resolution is reached, we viewers are treated to a bit of love making as the arc comes to a close.

Overall, because of how Haruka and Nao resolve the obstacles driving their relationship, the fact that the love between them is the most strongly rooted, and because Nao’s attributes makes her a category of her own, this is why Nao’s arc is the strongest in all of Yosuga no Sora for me. We’re now left with the Sora arc, and this is where almost all of the discussions, memes and disdain for the series comes from. The other arcs explored the different progression for more conventional relationships, but the Sora arc really opens the floor to topics that are much more challenging to discuss in the open. Now that we’re here, though, it’s a little hard to pick just one thing to talk about. What do you think, Dewbond: where does one begin for the Sora arc?

Well I think the first thing one does is go to the train station and buy a ticket to “incest central”

Sorry, had to get that joke out somewhere. The Sora arc is absolutely the most controversial, and frankly the most interesting of the four. It very much serves as a sort of a mirror image to the Nao arc, but where Haruka is unable to push away his feelings for his sister. I liked that the divergence point took place actually after the heart to heart he has with Nao, which puts that plot point to bed for both stories.

Like with Makoto in School Days, Haruka is a man shaped by his environment. One with no parents or wise adults to help guide him through this difficult time in his life. As you said before, the sheer solitude both he and Sora find themselves in, pretty much in the middle of fuck no where is important, as it cause them, and especially Sora to look inwards to themselves, and find a way to cope. While Haruka has chances to build relationships, Sora is unwilling to, and clings to her brother as the last thing she has left. If you take that, mix it up with teenage hormones and place yourself in a setting with zero adult supervision, I’m not surprised things ended up the way they did.

The progression leading up to Sora and Haruka making their relationship physical is a very logical one, then: it does not come out of nowhere, and what we viewers see on screen is a very raw, genuine portrayal. It’s not mean to titillate; when I saw it, I saw a relationship that was inevitable given the tragic and isolated circumstances that Haruka and Sora found themselves in. The Sora arc, in a way, does what School Days did: in dramatic circumstances, people are compelled to actions that they might not otherwise take. For Haruka and Sora, watching them go at was very moving because it showed very vividly just how alone, even broken, they were – to go to these lengths to find a meaningful human connection has its implications, and their pain was very plainly conveyed to me. My reaction in watching the Sora arc is equivalent to Kozue, not because of any emotional connection, but because of the aforementioned implications. While it may be the most taboo of the arcs, the Sora arc was also the most emotionally powerful: every relationship previously stemmed from a desire for closeness, but here, the absence of family, and love, creates a vacuum that saps at both Sora and Haruka.

I don’t know if it saps them, since the story ends with both Haruka and Sora accepting they are in love, and leaving to go and rebuild their lives. Instead of being separated again, they decided that what they have is more important and go stake out their own future. That gives them a happy ending, but a sad and bitter one for the rest of the cast, especially Nao, who seems to have returned to be depressed and lonely.

I do agree that the Sora arc shows how lonely they were, and how much they needed a emotional, even physical connection. Sora probably the most, because like I said, she is unable to form any connections with people who aren’t her brother. She even says it after they are caught by Kozue, she tells her brother to just “look at me.” That’s the point you can tell that she really doesn’t give a damn about what other people think, probably because unlike like her brother, Sora doesn’t have any social circles to try and fit in.

Overall, I still believe what I said in my blog. This should have been the entire story. I like the other arcs, but the Sora/Haruka relationship is the most interesting and thematically compelling. Making that the entire series would have been very interesting to see, but it speaks to the strength of Yosuga that it is able to make it work with the limited amount of time they have.

I should clarify: the isolation is what makes it so difficult for Sora, hence the sapping at their well-being! Sora’s isolation makes her arc all the more poignant; in the other arcs, she begins attending school and presumably begins to warm up to the others, but here, being unable to connect creates that loneliness. The amount of material, the cause and effect of isolation leading to Sora’s desire for a relationship with Haruka, could indeed be an entire series on its own: you’re absolutely right in that Yosuga no Sora’s biggest strength is being able to condense it into a short space and still clearly convey its ideas. With this in mind, there is one thing that’s bugging me. In the epilogue, Nao, Akira and the others return to the now-empty Kasugano home and find Sora’s room utterly destroyed, with her stuffed rabbit shredded as though by a feral force. However, when Sora and Haruka are headed for their next destination, her rabbit seems intact again. What do you make of this?

The stuffed rabbit is a gift from their mother, and Sora holds onto it as a memento of her mother and the family life that was ripped away from her. She destroys it in anger when Haruka attempts to reject her, which I think is an admittance from her that her family is completely gone.

The rabbit that is at the end of the series I think is a new one that Haruka bought for her, and serves as representation that Haruka, not her parents, is the most important thing to her now. Destroying the room and the rabbit I think, serves as a metaphor for both of the twins finally putting their old lives behind them, since they both decide to journey into the unknown to start a new life together. So in a sense, I think it is the death of their old lives, and the start of a new one, because they pretty much decided to cut all ties. That’s why Nao looks so forlorn and sad at the end, she knows in her heart that she’ll probably never see either of them again, but knows that it is for the best.

Dewbond, that clears things up considerably and helps me to appreciate the ending of Yosuga no Sora to a greater extent than before. I’m certain that our readers will, as well. With Haruka and Sora starting anew, it leaves the others to wonder how they are, and I’ve heard that Nao does fall into depression afterwards. The Sora arc was powerful in this regard, and marks a powerful end to a series that ultimately dared to be bigger – looking past the negative reception, memes and misconceptions, Yosuga no Sora is one of those series that not only takes a difficult concept and explores it, but explores it in a mature, even insightful manner. Folks who appreciate Yosuga no Sora are decidedly rare, so it is a joy to be able to share thoughts on what made this series more than initially anticipated. I came in looking for a Madoka Magica-like experience, and when the series is done, I cannot say I’ve been disappointed.

Indeed, it has been a pleasure talking about this series and giving it a fair and honest appraisal. Is it a masterpiece? I don’t think so, but as you said, it attempts to tell a difficult story and does it exceptionally well. It respects its viewers by not pulling any punches, and deals with the taboo subject matter as best it can.

Overall, I think Yosuga no Sora is a important series in the anime medium. It’s controversial, taboo and yes, even a little bit sexy, but it’s existence helps show that anime is more than willing to tackle tough and interesting stories, and actually do them well. That is something to be respected and admired, not shunned and laughed at.

Yosuga no Sora definitely will be one of those anime that will be remembered – we’re approaching the anime’s one-decade anniversary this October, and the conversation I’ve shared in this collaboration shows that there is a series here worth watching. Truth be told, when I finished watching Yosuga no Sora for the first time, I was not expecting there would be people who were willing to look past the more controversial parts of the anime, so being able to talk about this series in the way that Dewbond and I have here was superbly refreshing and enjoyable. I certainly hope that more people will be willing to give Yosuga no Sora a shot, and I’d like to thank you for having suggested the idea of a collaboration. It’s been wonderful to have the change to speak to you and learn of your thoughts, Dewbond. Thank you very much for making this possible!

Thank you for playing host Zen, this was a great conversation to have, and I hope we can do this again with another series real soon!


There we have it! It was a fantastic discussion, and I would love to do another collaboration at some point in the future. I think that this wraps up the bulk of our discussion: the final verdict is that Yosuga no Sora definitely has its moments that make it worthwhile, and remains unique in being able to cover difficult topics with a brutal honesty, removing comedy from the equation to tell a more moving story. While the collaboration comes to a close for the present, I will leave readers with a few more links to posts both Dewbond and I have previously written on the anime. Perhaps this will help to sate the curiosity of the folks who are curious to learn more about Yosuga no Sora, and I further hope that, that for whomever is driving the inbound searches for this anime, this collaboration and set of posts below will be helpful in some way.

Dewbond‘s Yosuga no Sora Posts

Infinite Zenith’s Yosuga no Sora Posts

Yosuga No Sora: Providing Solitude Through The Choice of Setting

“I can’t do this anymore!”
“That was seriously fucked up, we almost died!”
“Why do you keep doing this to us?”
“I don’t know, Morty. Maybe I hate myself, maybe I think I deserve to die…I-I-I-I-I don’t know!”

—Morty Smith and Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

Nearly seven years have elapsed since Yosuga no Sora originally aired; I came across the anime three years after its original airing, a consequence of seeking out anime similar to Madoka Magica. At this time, Yūki Yūna is a Hero had not aired yet, and having come across Yosuga no Sora, I was intrigued to check it out. The recommendation had stated that powerful emotions and beautiful animations were commonalities to Madoka Magica and Yosuga no Sora. My curiosity piqued, I began watching Yosuga no Sora. The anthology-like structuring presented four unique stories, following Haruka’s emotional journey with each of Kazuha, Akira, Nao and his own twin sister, Sora. Concise, focused and visceral, each arc is with its own merits as Haruka grows closer to a girl as he helps them with a problem they face. This is a reasonably generic setup that, while entertaining, is not particularly groundbreaking in and of itself. However, the Sora arc of Yosuga no Sora most definitely sets the anime apart from most of the other love stories I’ve seen – dealing with the taboos associated with incest, Yosuga no Sora captures the fracturing friendships, suppressed emotions and turbulence that troubles Haruka’s friends when this relationship becomes known. Ultimately, Haruka and Sora depart for Scandinavian Europe to find their happiness together, leaving behind more questions than answers. Incest is not the singular aspect that sets Yosuga no Sora apart from other anime dealing with romantic love: OreImo deals with the topic with a rather more lighthearted approach, but the reason why Yosuga no Sora is able to create such a powerful story is through the unique combination of its narrative structure, the soundtrack and the setting.

While initially appearing to be little more than a generic locale in rural Japan, Yosuga no Sora‘s setting ultimately acts as a visual representation that fully captures the sense of loneliness and isolation that Haruka and Sora experience once they decide to commit to one another. Under the unending skies of azure most vivid and plains framed with verdant mountains reaching into infinity, the peaceful calm of the Japanese countryside allow Haruka to focus on his relationships without interruption. Feelings of nostalgia come out as the sun begins setting, casting the lands in orange-red. While seemingly insignificant, the setting and its attributes are subtly present in each story arc: by the time of Sora’s arc, the solitude and emptiness in the countryside become quite apparent. The solitude offered by the background for Haruka becomes a sort of prison, isolating Haruka and Sora as their relationship intensifies. In a place where there are few others, Sora and Haruka turn to one another to escape their loneliness, finding comfort in their relationship when all others have become absent. The great beauty, and simultaneous isolation in the landscape is then distilled into Nao’s perspectives on Haruka and Sora’s relationship – she’s accepting of their relationship, believing the uncertain pair will find happiness, although in the aftermath, Nao also finds herself growing increasingly apathetic and depressed. In Yosuga no Sora, then, the choice of setting becomes important to visually indicate emotions and feelings: the build-up in preceding episodes familiarise audiences to a setting that ultimately contributes to conveying the same sense of sadness and loneliness felt by the other characters as Haruka and Sora set out to find their happiness elsewhere.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last Yosuga no Sora post that I wrote was back in 2014 June; because the anime adapts four of the routes from the visual novel, I elected not to try and determine a single thematic element for the anime, but rather, remarked on whether or not the anime was effective in giving audiences a sense of what the visual novel might be like. The answer is that the anime succeeds in capturing the four arcs, and while each arc is quite short, they are also very to the point. In this post, featuring thirty screenshots (mostly of the landscapes in Yosuga no Sora), I’ve opted to go with a much looser feel, as this is not a review in a traditional sense.

  • Yosuga no Sora is now best-known for dealing with the topic of incest in its final arc, and prior to the final arc, for coming close to the line for what can be shown in an anime as far as anatomy goes. I was quite surprised to learn of this, having entered Yosuga no Sora without any prior information. However, episodes for the most part follow a very well-defined structure, so knowing which episodes were more interesting meant I could watch some of the episodes out in the open without too much consequence.

  • The precise setting of Yosuga no Sora is Okukozome, a fictionalised, generic depiction of the Japanese inaka. I’ve been hard-pressed to find a location in Japan that satisfies the criterion for Yosuga no Sora‘s setting: the anime is set in a village situated in a wider valley between mountain peaks, a fair amount of forest cover and moderate proximity to the ocean. The closest candidates are likely in the Toyama, Nigata or Yamagata Prefectures.

  • Unlike the sociable and easygoing Haruka, Sora is withdrawn and frail, spending most of her days alone at the Kasugano clinic. She browses the web or else explores the clinic’s now-unused facilities while waiting for Haruka to return home. She expects to be doted upon, and while she occasionally entertains thoughts of a relationship with Haruka, for the most part, these are intermittent. The shadows and darker tones in this image contrast with the bright summer weather outside, signifying the disconnect Sora experiences from the world around her.

  • Last year, I noticed a resurgence of visits from folks looking up Yosuga no Sora and jokingly remarked that I would do another post on the anime if there was sufficient demand for it. While getting proper screenshots of the characters going at it proved challenging (i.e. could not be fit into one frame), I will make good on my promise to feature at least one screenshot of papilla mammaria in this talk. Given such, I’ve opted to go with Nao, who remains my favourite character in Yosuga no Sora for her grace, caring personality and also for having the hottest body of anyone.

  • I believe that my intrigue with the Japanese countryside by summer began when I learned of Onegai Teacher! shortly after picking up Ah! My Goddess. A story of forbidden love between a secret couple set in the countryside, there was an appeal about the story that made it quite intriguing. The premise was re-purposed for 2012’s Ano Natsu de Matteru, which similarly told an story of an awkward but growing love. In a sense, the summer feels to be the best time for falling in love; even if one’s feelings are not reciprocated, the vastness of the world continues to remind individuals that there will be other opportunity later.

  • Conversely, by winter, when the world is hibernating and grey, it can feel as though one’s problems are overwhelming, inescapable. Winter is a time for hunkering down and finding things that are guaranteed to keep one warm, whether it be a cosy fireplace or a hearty stew. Of course, now that I’ve gone and said that I feel summer love to be the most magical, I am willing to wager, perhaps upwards of 50 CAD, that my next love story will now happen in winter.

  • The townscape in and around Yosuga no Sora is most similar to the environments in and around Banff National Park with its forests and mountains. I am very fond of environments such as these, and although I live quite far removed from any mountains, there are numerous paths in the city where it certainly feels like I’m in a rural setting. It’s one of my favourite things to do beyond blowing things up in games, to walk around and enjoy the pleasant summer weather while it lasts.

  • The first of the arcs in Yosuga no Sora follows Haruka’s time with Kazuha, helping her deal with the troubles surrounding Akira. Their time together ignite a relationship culimating with Kazuha’s father praising Akira before her eyes, demonstrating that she’d been mistaken. No longer feeling as though she needs to be ever-present for Akira, Kazuha and Haruka pursue a full-fledged relationship.

  • One of the more memoriable aspects in Yosuga no Sora is the atmosperhics present during the summer evenings, when the final hours in the day cast the land in an orange light. Many of Yosuga no Sora‘s more important conversations happen by evening, and in this moment, a desolate Sora stands under the sun on the road while waiting for Haruka to give this image a particularly ethereal quality.

  • The high school of Yosuga no Sora is styled in a typical manner, and I remark that it’s impressive for a school of this size to still be at operational capacity in rural Japan, considering the issue of population drain from the inaka as people move into the cities for more opportunity. This is a topic in Locodol and Sakura Quest, but Yosuga no Sora, classes seem packed, perhaps suggesting that Yosuga no Sora is set in an age where folks have not yet begun leaving the inaka in large numbers.

  • The page quote was specially chosen after I saw the preview for Rick and Morty‘s sixth episode; it will air later tonight and follow Rick and Morty after a particularly traumatising mission leaves them in need of a vacation. I felt more or less the same way after watching Yosuga no Sora, and my “vacation” from the after-effects took the form of working on the Giant Walkthrough Brain to calm my nerves. My initial review doesn’t reveal this, and I’ve never mentioned this until now, but Yosuga no Sora did have a profound impact on my world view in exploring the side of love that is less pure in nature.

  • My reaction was prompted by the backstory in Nao’s arc, where it is shown that she turned to Haruka for comfort during difficult times a few years earlier and is guilty about it. Although it’s pretty F’d up S that I won’t be able to un-see, Haruka’s  relationship with Nao is probably the one I enjoyed the most, especially for the awkward beginnings as the two slowly reacclimatise to one another and come to terms with their feelings for one another after reconciling and coming to terms with Nao’s actions in the past.

  • In a manner of speaking, the landscape and lighting itself can be thought of as another character in Yosuga no Sora, quietly and subtly guiding the events of the anime’s different arcs. By building the viewer’s expectations for upcoming events and their corresponding moods, the setting is probably the strongest aspect of Yosuga no Sora. The visual novel is set in a more heavily wooded area and has reduced saturation compared to the anime; the latter is really able to accentuate the atmosphere with its artwork

  • I have a confession to make: in the aftermath of Yosuha no Sora, I picked up Aki Sora and gave it a whirl, only to be disappointed that it lacked any of the emotional tenour found in Yosuga no Sora. I’ve watched things like OreImo previously, as well, and it feels as though the choice of a rural setting allowed the narrative to explore options that would not be plausible within an urban setting.

  • Going to the beach is very much a pastime anime characters partake in during the summer, roughly equivalent to folks around my town visiting the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and hiking the mountains in the national parks nearby. Because adults are not present in Yosuga no Sora, and because Sora is able to follow them to the beach despite declining the invitation to participate, it stands to reason that the village where the anime is set has train access out to a beachside-town, which further suggests a location set on the western edge of Japan overlooking the East China Sea.

  • To the right is Motoka Nogisaka, a post-secondary student who has her own “what-if” segment in Yosuga no Sora‘s bonus features. One part hilarious and one heart-wrenching, they follow a hypothetical situation where she and Haruka fall in love with one another, and against all odds, manages to marry Haruka after an immensely rough start. In Yosuga no Sora proper, she’s a maid working with Kazuha’s family and while not suited for the position, compensates with her friendly and attentive manner.

  • Apparently, the anime adaptation of Yosuga no Sora is more emotionally charged than its visual novel incarnation, the latter of which feels much more light-hearted in comparison. It isn’t until the midpoint of Kazuha’s arc where things began to become more interesting, so in retrospect, I can see where the comparison between Madoka Magica and Yosuga no Sora comes from.

  • We’re very nearly at the end of August, and the shortening days are becoming quite apparent now. Less than a month remains to summer, although looking back on the summer, this was a rather eventful one: from the numerous hikes in the mountains and closer to home, to enjoying various foods of the summer (ranging from an exquisite sirloin-and-lobster-tail in Banff, to BBQ beef rib bones and a slushie), and even just stretching out under the summer sun on quiet weekends, this summer’s been very enjoyable.

  • This is probably one of the more spectacular sunsets in Yosuga no Sora, featuring vivid reds, oranges and yellows streaming through tree branches as the day draws to a close. In Japan, I noticed that sunset occurs quite early: by 1800, it’s already dusk, and the night dominates after 2000. Conversely, the sun rises ridiculously early (even by Alberta standards, where the sun rises by 0530 MDT): sunrise is typically at 0400 JST. Hence, the “evening” walks that Haruka and his friends have take place earlier in the evening.

  • In all branches of Yosuga no Sora, Sora herself finally begins attending school, although it takes her some time to adjust. Absent from most of the proceedings in Kazuha and Akira’s stories, she plays a bigger role in Nao’s arc, hating her for her misdeeds in the past. This changes when Nao saves Sora and her stuffed rabbit, a memento from their late mother, from a fire after a lightning strike ignites the bus shelter she’s hiding in. Sora subsequently accepts Nao, and from a personal perspective, this is perhaps one of the best endings as far as outcomes for the characters go.

  • The sheer number of images in this Yosuga no Sora post set under a brilliant summer sun inspired me to take a bit of a walk today: temperatures had been expected to reach 29°C today and ended up exceeding 31°C, so I decided to do the walk by morning, waking up a little earlier than usual to take advantage of the still-cool air. The walk itself spanned a distance of ten kilometers over the course of an hour and a half, being remarkably enjoyable but also quite exhausting as the morning sun began warming the skies. The smoke’s finally clear in the area, and the skies above were of deepest blue.

  • After the walk, I showered off and sat down to home-made burgers and fries for lunch. It’s the last weekend of August now, attesting to how quickly time flies by, and next weekend, we will be entering September. It’s been a fantastic summer this year, especially with respect to the weather, and moving into autumn, things will begin cooling down. Autumn itself is not for another couple of weeks, and forecasts indicate that the weather will remain quite hot well into September.

  • We’re now into the Sora arc, and the observant reader will note I’ve got no screenshots from the Akira arc. While that arc was enjoyable, I did not end up using any of the location screenshots for this post. The Nao arc set the table for what was to come in the Sora arc, which is easily the most dramatic of the arc. I have a feeling that, if I were to include some of the defining moments for this story, this blog will be removed from Google’s search results for violating some terms of use somewhere.

  • Consequently, I’ve opted not to show moments where Sora is having a blast on her own while thinking about Haruka, or the moment where Sora and Haruka give in to their temptation and copulate on the doorstep even as Nao and Kozue arrive. Instead, viewers will have to do with Haruka and Sora holding hands while walking down a peaceful country road. Here’s an idea: if there is sufficient incentive to do so (read “people requesting it”), I will do a dedicated post for just those moments alone.

  • The Sora arc is the opposite to the Nao arc with respect to outcomes: Kozue and Nao find themselves at the frontlines, struggling to figure out how to handle the situation where Sora and Haruka have started a relationship. Kozue is hit the hardest, crying with an intensity that it leaves her eyes visibly red. Earlier, Haruka also attempts to force himself on Nao out of frustration at the way things have been with Sora. It is here that Yosuga no Sora really captures the tumultuous nature of some relationships and their emotional impact on individuals.

  • After Nao ceases her relationship with Haruka and confronts Sora. The fragmentation amongst this group of individuals is compounded by financial difficulty, which was conveniently never an issue in the other arcs. The impending possibility of being separated and living with different relatives drives Sora over the edge: she rends her room and prepares a suicide note before running away. Haruka manages to save her, and are spared separation when an artisan in Estonia agrees to take them in. This individual has known the two’s parents, and in extended materials, it is shown that Haruka and Sora’s mother knows Estonian. The two leave the Japanese countryside to find happiness elsewhere, and in their wake, leave Nao, Kazuha, Akira and the others to deal with their departure. As an unrelated note, in Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, Russia invades Estonia and routs the countryside with their T-90 tanks before American operations force them to retreat.

  • I’ve heard fan theories that Sora and Haruka drown and are not saved owing to how ambiguous the anime’s ending is. The largest strike against this particular outcome is that Haruka messages his old friends with an update on where they are, and the characters left behind appear to be disappointed rather than saddened, as would be the case in the event of death. One of the most unsettling moments in Yosuga no Sora‘s ending is the level of destruction seen in Sora’s room: she’s ripped apart her stuffed rabbit and school uniform, somehow managed to shred the curtains and shatters the window.

  • While Nao hopes for Haruka and Sora’s happiness, it turns out that she’s also deeply affected by the events, becoming apathetic and depressed in the aftermath. I tend to think of the Sora arc as the true ending to Yosuga no Sora given the narrative’s direction, and in supplementary materials, Sora and Haruka have a child following marriage. My familiarity with biology compels me to note that a difficult path await Sora and Haruka: similarity of genes increases the risk of immune deficiencies and any expression of genetic disorders, development disabilities, physical disabilities or even death.

  • So brings my second Yosuga no Sora post to an end. Writing for this post proved quite difficult, and with this one in the books, it’s time to take a gander at the latest Rick and Morty episode to steel my nerves. I’ll be returning at some point in the near future to do a discussion on Far Cry 4, and in a few days, Kantai Collection: The Movie will be coming out. This one’s on my radar for a review, so I will be taking a look at the film by around mid-September. On the whole, September is looking to be a busy month for blogging; with In a Corner of This World releasing on September 15, the finales for both New Game!! and Sakura Quest impending, Gundam: The Origin and In The Name of The Tsar for Battlefield 1 releasing, there will be quite a few posts inbound in the upcoming month.

Ultimately, the setting is precisely what led Yosuga no Sora to present the Sora arc in such a powerful manner. While some feelings and thoughts may have remained ambiguous amongst the characters, the build-up leading to the anime’s conclusion, accommodated by the decision to set the story in an isolated rural area, made it very clear as to what the aftermath of Haruka and Sora’s decisions are. Yosuga no Sora‘s darker themes seem quite far removed from those of GochiUsa, but the fact is that both anime made extensive use of their setting to immerse their audiences in their world. I watched Yosuga no Sora during the same summer that I did GochiUsa, although the former’s contents are something that I remarked, required a fair bit of solitude to watch. Entering the first episode, I was not aware of what Yosuga no Sora entailed, and so, watched the anime out in the open. I shortly realised that there were CCTV cameras in the open area, and subsequently, decided to watch the anime away from prying eyes. While Yosuga no Sora‘s narrative and explicit depiction of the more intimate stages of a relationship might be off-putting for some viewers, the anime itself is wonderfully presented with respect to the characterisation, artwork and soundtrack. Altogether, I enjoyed this one for the sum of its parts, and it was at this point where I realised the magic of romance type anime set in the Japanese countryside: the wide open fields and seemingly endless skies of summer present the perfect location for individuals to find love, far removed from the chaos, judgement and expectations that seem to accompany romances set in an urban locality.

Yosuga no Sora final reflection

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.