Home > Episode Reviews > Yosuga no Sora Episodes 3 and 4 – Fade to Gray

Yosuga no Sora Episodes 3 and 4 – Fade to Gray

I don’t know why I keep getting my hopes up, thinking that a show will somehow rise above the torrent of cliches and sheer lack of creativity that mires the industry in lookalikes, shamelessly following whatever trend seems to be profitable.

It seems like every show dangles a hook, promising something unique or well-told, only to pull it away and replace it will the same tedious pablum after two or three episodes. It’s the rare show that manages to do anything but repeat the same elements of every other anime, like a dull and repetitive remix of a song you know could be so much better.

You soon realize that you have seen everything there is: beyond the rare and blessed exception, there will be nothing new, just a relentless parade of the same individual elements. Oh look, an unspeakably wealthy girl with a klutzy maid. Oh look, seemingly tragic melodrama resolved with a shocking revelation that actually surprises no one. Oh look, a beach episode.

The creative ways of presenting the episode titles is the artistic highlight of the show

Yosuga no Sora has all this, and more. These two episodes tell the story of Kazuha, the viola-playing rich girl who holds a grudge against her father for his apparent mistreatment of her half-sister, Akira, disowned at birth for being the product of an affair.

Kazuha and series lead Haruka quickly develop a relationship that, to the show’s credit, is driven mostly by Haruka. That’s a rare development, and a welcome one.

But the focus is less on their relationship and more on its effects. Kazuha is worried that she is abandoning her sister, forced to live in poverty at the local shrine, to pursue her relationship with Haruka. Akira effectively tells her not to worry, albeit in a much more dramatic way, and that’s the end of that.

Akira convinces Kazuha that she needs Haruka by trying to make out with her

The only thing left is the matter of Kazuha’s relationship with her father, which is resolved when Kazuha realizes that her father hasn’t abandoned Akira at all, he’s just been doing on the sly to avoid drawing the ire of his wife. And that’s probably the biggest problem with this arc: the ending makes the entire conflict of the story completely meaningless.

There’s no reason Akira couldn’t have told Kazuha what her father was doing, since she presumably knew he was taking care of her, and she surely knew that Kazuha hated her father. Not only would this have made the conflict between Kazuha and her father unnecessary, it would have removed any need for the subplot about Kazuha worrying about leaving Akira behind for Haruka.

So, the entire story arc hinges on knowledge that a character would have imparted to another character if they were acting in a manner consistent with what we know of them, and that not doing it would make the character inconsistent with how she is portrayed everywhere else.

Turns out Akira's father was looking out for her, after all. End of story

That’s just colossally bad storytelling. The rapid development of the story can be overlooked considering the whole thing has to play out in about half the running time of your average film, but the fact that the story is, itself, completely unnecessary is unforgivable.

And what little time the show has to tell its story is sacrificed in favor of revealing shots of teenage girls in various states of undress. This show loves its fan service, and it’s way more graphic than most about it. The most interesting thing it does is make the characters actually get physical with each other.

Unfortunately, one thing that has carried over from the first two episodes is the show’s inability to portray sexual behavior as anything but awkwardly creepy. The fourth episode ends with a totally unnecessary and horribly animated scene of Kazuha and Haruka consummating their relationship.

Why this shot of breasts requires censoring but the rest of the scene doesn't is beyond me

The scene depicts a view of sex influenced more by pornographic manga than the actual act, but that’s hardly surprising. It looks like someone used a bunch of frames of sex scenes in manga and then, despite being completely unfamiliar with passionate displays of human affection, animated it.

The result is a creepily animatronic sex scene that has its characters going through the right motions, but completely fails to make it seem like an act of passion. Kazuha writhing in pleasure looks more like she’s trying to get as far away from Haruka as possible, and it gives the animators trouble making Haruka’s figure track with it.

I know making two separate human beings touch each other realistically has to be one of the hardest things to do in animation, but why bother at all, except for the ludicrous titillation of it?

Kissing continues to look weird in this show, but to be fair, it's really hard to make anime characters look normal when they're kissing

All that is punctuated by oddly inconsistent censoring that completely mangles some shots but leaves other shots of the exact things being done to the exact same body parts uncovered. It makes no sense, even as a DVD advertisement, and seems there mostly to be as obnoxious as possible.

So, I’ve seen nothing to confirm my hopes that Yosuga no Sora would tell a complete and compelling story, and nothing to dissuade me from thinking that this show exists mainly as yet another vehicle to titillate lonely otaku.

Perhaps I should not be this morose. To its credit, Yosuga no Sora has so far been told with panache, with an endearing, if familiar, stable of characters and a grasp of small scale emotional drama. It may have glaring flaws in the storytelling, but it’s still capable of sustaining your attention and drawing some pathos out of the situation.

The scene where Haruka confesses his undying love to her with the gift of a music box was touching, too, if a bit hammy

I’ll admit, I was affected by the scene where Kazuha reconciles with her father, up until the point where I realized it was something that should have happened years ago. It’s just too bad everything feels so much the same.

I don’t even think it’s Yosuga no Sora’s fault, really. It does plenty to separate itself from the rest of the pack, both by trying to tackle serious drama and by pushing the envelope in its sexual content. But its many glaring flaws means it just contributes to the anime fatigue that is wearying me. Four episodes in, it’s just not a good show. Maybe it will recover and realize the potential it showed in the first two episodes, but after thinking that about so many different shows, I don’t have any faith in it.

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  1. January 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

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