Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions > Yosuga no Sora Episodes 1 and 2 – Kissing Siblings

Yosuga no Sora Episodes 1 and 2 – Kissing Siblings

One of the unfortunate things about otaku demographics is that most of the shows dealing with love and relationships are either romantic comedies or based on visual novels. Even if they aren’t pornographic in content, visual novels about romance tend to be relationship pornography, more about satisfying the reader’s desire to attain some generic vision of an unattainable beauty than telling an effective or moving story about a relationship.

This leads to a necessarily skewed view of relationships in anime, to the point where it makes sense that many otaku seek the palliative comforts of the 2D world to the exclusion of (or because of failed attempts at) relationships with girls that are multi-dimensional in more than one way.

Obligatory rich girl Kazuha seems to be a main character. Her maid, Motoka, is mostly relegated to the short after the show

But there are some rare stories adapted from dating games that transcend the dull, masturbatory fantasies of the medium that spawned them, and manage to become touching dramas in their own right.

Amagami SS (covered by our very own threeheadedmonkeys) is, at times, one of those shows, along with a few others, such as ef, Clannad or White Album. These shows still, by necessity, adhere to some of the conventions of the genre—multiple story arcs each centered on one girl being the most notable—but they either use that to their advantage (as in White Album) or simply tell a worthy story within those confines (as in Clannad).

Yosuga no Sora had a promising start, and still has many of the elements that made those shows worth watching. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that the writer’s motivations are coming from the right place—that is to say, above the belt.

Sora is bratty and demanding when alone with Haruka, but timid around anyone else

After losing both their parents in a car accident, Haruka Kasugano and his sickly twin sister, Sora, are forced to move to the only place they can call home: their deceased grandfather’s empty home in an isolated village. Haruka and Sora share a close bond, but her being unable to attend school slowly begins to drive him apart.

This particularly troubles Sora, whose affection, we slowly learn, is more than merely sisterly. At first she seems merely clingy and shy, bratty around Haruka but hopelessly shy around anyone else. Her jealousy can easily be written off by her isolation, until we start cutting to flashbacks of an experimental kiss between them, or a scene turns into to a fantasy of Haruka passionately kissing her.

Sora's inner thoughts seem to focus heavily on her brother's mouth

Sora is trapped not only in the house, but also in her own head, unable to admit the feelings welling up inside her. We see her grow gradually more desperate, as Haruka’s unfamiliarity leads to unexpected popularity among the other students—especially the girls. With her only outlet a cell phone to send Haruka messages he’s too busy to read, she slips further into despair as her unrequited love—and only family—is slowly drawn away from her.

The first episode ends with a cliffhanger: Sora enters Haruka’s room at night, unusually embarrassed, and slowly disrobes. It’s an excellent and dramatic way to close out the episode, but it’s ultimately all for naught.

Two other (female) members of the cast, Kazuha and Akira, seem like they have their own issues to work out re: forbidden love.

You see, all Sora wanted was for Haruka to measure her. Apparently, all she needed to attend school was to have a uniform made. And the other girls who have their eyes on Haruka seem to get equal billing, at least in the early episodes, turning the show into yet another high school drama, and not a well-written one.

That’s Yosuga no Sora in a nutshell, really: hinting at something more before falling back into familiar territory, with some gratuitous female nudity to take the edge off.

This is one of the cheesiest bait and switch cliffhangers I've seen in a long time

So, Yosuga no Sora seems poised to turn into yet another show about a high school guy who high school girls inexplicably lust after. Except one of those girls is his sister, and some of the girls also seem interested in other girls.

And, since this is a modern anime in which sex or sex-like (in the same sense that Cheese Whiz is “cheese-like”) situations are possible, there’s plenty of unnecessary nudity crammed in for good measure. The main show has its share of lovingly rendered (if oddly articulated) nipples, and there’s a five-minute short after each episode focusing on a side character that features more naked females and a female masturbation scene with some of the hammiest voice acting I’ve ever heard.

Our policies (and common decency) prevent me from showing you Motoka awkwardly pleasuring herself, and then crying, so here's a super-deformed shot of her breaking into the school, Mission Impossible-style, instead

It should also be mentioned (if you can’t tell from the screenshots), that this is a show about incest, and not afraid to be unflinchingly explicit. If nudity, sex or incestuous relationships aren’t something you’re comfortable watching, you’d definitely want to stay away. Especially since only the uncensored version seems to have been subtitled.

The sad thing is that all its pandering is completely unnecessary. If it was able to fully commit to a story, Yosuga no Sora is a show that could easily stand on its own. Takeo Takahashi’s direction is excellent, framing shots of Sora and Haruka from unconventional angles to accentuate the strangeness of their relationship, covering her isolation in lonely long angles and generally keeping the show moving at a steady, laid-back pace.

These long shots emphasize Sora's isolation

The main story has some promise and the languid, melancholy atmosphere is well-done, if not particularly novel for these kinds of shows. But, Yosuga no Sora isn’t interested in playing to its strengths: it’d rather play it safe and do what everyone else does.

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  1. January 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

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