Anime’s greatest strength is it’s ability to be many things, and tell so many different stories. That diversity of views, the ability to take almost any concept, from the heartwarming, to the tragic, to the comedic, to the just plain insane. When other people sit there and ask “why?” Anime proudly stands tall and says: “why not?”
That has been the mantra that I have approached here at Shallow Dives in Anime. I don’t turn away from series just because they are strange, or address controversial or even taboo themes. These things deserved to be talked about, to be judged fairly and with open eyes. Whether you end up enjoying it is up to you, but to dismiss something out of hand just because it tackles something you might not approve is, in my view, the height of arrogance.
This month I have done such a thing, and after the cut, join me as I give you my final thoughts on Yosuga no Sora: In solitude, where we are least alone.
After all twelve episodes, I am still trying to unravel what I really think about Yosuga no Sora. Unlike previous looks at entire series on this blog, Yosuga isn’t a show that has completely sucked me in like YU-NO, Steins;Gate or Fate did. However it was also a show that I was surprised at just how much I honestly, un-ironically actually really liked it. I had heard the stories about Yosuga, the jokes and the cringe at what was infamous known as “The incest show,” but what I didn’t know was that, after giving the show an honest and fair show, just how good it actually is.
Right off the bat, Yosuga is probably one of the most immersive series I have watched. In my two decades of anime, there has never been a series that uses atmosphere and music better then this one. Every moment you watch Yosuga you just feel pulled into the world. You can feel the peaceful nature of the countryside setting, the lazy days spent out in the middle of no-where, and you can feel the haunting sense of melancholy and quiet passions through the soundtrack. I have never been one to pay attention to music or design when it comes to anime, but Yosuga is the first, and I was floored by how much it works here.
In terms of the story, Yosuga felt like a series that often times tried to straddle the line between slice of life, and soap opera drama. It is at its heart, a story of young love. Of teenagers living far away from city life, discovering their emotions and indulging in their desires. Stories about four different women: Kazuha, bound by duty to her sister, Akira, who doesn’t want to upset a flawed sense of peace, Nao, who struggles between her guilt and desire, and Sora, who doesn’t want to be left alone. These stories vary in their quality, some deserve to be longer than others, but each of them are engaging, and make you feel for their plights, triumphs and journeys, which is a marvel considering the limited length of the series. Sometimes you’ll roll your eyes at it all, but the sheer honesty that the anime wears on its sleeve is something to be admired.
However Yosuga’s greatest strength is its bravery to fully embrace the eroge routes of its source material. These are stories about teenagers in love, and often teenagers will have sex. Yosuga not running away from that fact, not trying to compromise or pull its punches gives the series a sense of serious maturity that even some of the most ecchi series are often too scared to have. Yes, lines are crossed and taboos are broken, but Yosuga seizes them with both hands, respecting the audience to make up their own minds. There is little hand-holding, and even for anime that is something to be appreciated.
Yosuga no Sora: In solitude, where we are least alone isn’t a masterpiece. It may not even be a great series to some, but it is a good show, a good anime, and a good story. Controversial, touching, immersive, romantic, and yes, even sexy, Yosuga no Sora is a story that will probably won’t come around again to the anime world anytime soon. It will never escape the reputation it has earned, fairly or not, but I am glad that I was able to sit down and give the series a fair and honest shot. It isn’t my favorite series of all time, but it was an experience I won’t forget anytime soon.