Yosuga no Sora Episodes 5 through 12 – Someone’s Dark, Twisted Fantasy
When I last left the anime adaptation of erotic dating game Yosuga no Sora, my interest was at an all-time low. A poorly though out story arc combined with a staggeringly unnecessary and exploitative sex scene all combined to make me lose interest in writing about the show.
But, as you can see, I kept watching the thing, even though the next arc was just more of the same. I kept at because I had a feeling that there would be one moment that would make the whole miserable endeavor worthwhile.
I knew from the first few episodes just how powerful the relationship between Sora and her brother, Haruka, had the potential to be. Sora’s isolation, the tragedy of losing their parents, the insular, tight-knit relationship they had developed, her misplaced lust for her brother: all the elements were there for a beautifully tragic tale of dark, twisted love.
Melodrama, often to ridiculous levels, is almost a requirement in any adaptation of a dating game, but that limitation works to Yosuga no Sora’s advantage. You know from the very beginning exactly what is going on, from the moment we see Sora clutching to her brother on the back of a bike. We know how it’s going to end: it’s just a matter of getting there, to that moment.
That moment: Haruka has begun dating Nao Yorihime, girl next door and childhood flame. His attempts to keep it secret from his jealous sister have failed, though, and she has complained that she fears he will leave her.
Haruka wakes up late one night to get a drink of water, and hears his sister moan his name. Wondering if she’s in trouble, he cracks open her door, finding her on the floor, masturbating, while panting for ‘Haru’.
It’s a beautiful scene, seeing years of pent-up lust and frustration spill out in one moment, unwittingly laying bare a terrible and painful secret. It’s a perfect moment of horror, a revelation that, despite our best intentions, we are broken and pitiful people, bearing scars so embarrassing, painful or terrible that we dare not show even to the people closest to us. It’s a moment of staggering vulnerability that is familiar and human, even if, or perhaps because, the exact circumstances are somewhat exceptional and foreign.
I think that exceptional nature is what makes stories about incest so fascinating. It’s something dark and terrible, the ultimate taboo, but it’s also removed from most people’s common experience. That makes it safe, conveniently alien enough to use it to explore people’s darker impulses.
Unfortunately, that allure and its inherent sexuality also makes it something ready and willing to be fetishized, trivialized and turned into a cheap thrill. And if there’s anything anime can do, it’s fetishize.
I wish I could say the rest of Yosuga no Sora is totally worthy of that moment, that it builds up to it and uses it as the fitting climax (yeah, not going there) of its story. I wish I could say that this scene starts in motion a whirlwind of tragedy that ends either in despair or catharsis. But I’ve been watching anime long enough to know better.
The fact is, too much of the show is used as an excuse to get to more awfully-rendered, completely unnecessary, relatively uncensored sex scenes. Every girl gets one, at the end of her arc, and they’re all as tasteless and explicit as they are gratuitous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV anime ever be so explicit.
I’ve no problem with sex if it’s used for a reason, to make a point about a relationship, to evoke a theme, anything. Here it just seems like a ‘thank you’ for putting up with another lazily-written tale of dark romance, a happy ending to an otherwise dreary few episodes. That doesn’t make it worthy or interesting; that makes it pornography.
There are two exceptions, in the last two arcs, which are about one and a half stories. Nao’s story is the beginning to Sora’s, so those episodes are aired together because it makes sense chronologically. Each girl’s arc branches off from the first episode or a previous arc, trying its best to stay away from Sora’s story, which is the only interesting one.
So, you’re left with a fairly good five episode arc: episodes 1, 7, 10, 11, and 12, intertwined with seven episodes of useless filler. And even Sora’s arc isn’t the high tragedy I was hoping for.
After Haruka realizes his sister’s feelings for her, he begins to feel them too, forsaking Nao in favor of his sister. Their relationship becomes wild and sexual, careening out of control until some of their classmates find them having sex at home.
The show does a good job of amping up the tension, of building the suspense for the ultimate confrontation, when everything is going to fall apart. We wait for the forces of society, represented here by class representative Kozue Kuranaga, to come down on the forbidden love.
But in the end, that really doesn’t happen. There is a climactic encounter between Haruka and Sora, but although it’s dramatic, it’s also lacking.
It’s not until the relatively upbeat conclusion that you realize the show has been pulling its punches, aiming for a happy ending. Which is not only a horrible cop-out that betrays the tension it spent the last two episodes building up, but it makes you realize that all this was just a pretext, just an excuse for the sex.
The only thing, then, that separates Yosuga no Sora from a show like Kiss x Sis (actual pornography, in other words), is that moment, and the suspense and tension that follows from it. It’s a breathtaking moment, no doubt; enough to justify watching the entire series and enough to make it memorable, to me, at the very least, but not enough to save it from the worst fate that can befall an anime: mediocrity.