The first things you’ll notice going into this show are the really nice animation and art style, along with wonderful music – including one of my favorite openings of the year (it feels very reminiscent of a visual novel intro) and one of my favorite endings of the year as well. The show also manages to make you feel some interest in what’s going on and where this will go – not to mention wanting to know what the fuck is up with the giant flying saucer over this town. Sadly none of that will matter very shortly after when you realize all the potential this series possibly had was squandered and the show instead chose to be a dragging pile of archetypical moe girls, mediocrity, and melodrama.
The prime issue is what you’d expect: the writing. It’s incredibly hampered by the fact that it’s so obviously written by someone who typically works on visual novels. Even if you didn’t know that it literally is, you’d probably jokingly say “this feels like Key game” and be right. It has all the same cliches and overused shit that appears in every single Key VN – yet here it’s displayed in an exceedingly bad fashion, possibly because the writer isn’t used to the medium. I don’t know why anyone would assume writing VNs is the same as writing anime, but it felt like this guy believed being good at one meant being good at the other – and writing just isn’t that simple. Anyway, Sora no Method has all the usual trappings of Kanon, Clannad, Little Busters, and so on – all while managing to take those elements and make them worse and far more repetitive than ever before.
The writing is THE ONLY issue actually – as that includes the characters, so let’s talk about them a bit. Everyone is an asshole and seems to suffer from serious memory issues. I really do mean it, not a single character in this show is likable aside Noel and Nonoka’s father who is barely a character (and yet I’ll get back to him in a bit). Aside that everyone is a massive bitch or a total retard (that one mostly just applies to nonoka, the rest are too busy being total cunts) more often than not. They are constantly treating each other terribly, ignoring one another like five year olds, slapping each other, or outright having fucking temper tantrums in the middle of a street while blocking traffic and regrettably not being run over, which would give this show some actual worthwhile event to speak of.
As for the memory issues, well it’s not a literal canonical thing. There’s nothing like “The UFO is making their memories fade very quickly” or anything. It’s just that everyone forgets the most unbelievable things imaginable. Three things stand out the most.
1. Nonoka. Nobody remembers Nonoka. I understand HER not remembering THEM as she was purposefully fighting against memories of her childhood because of her mother’s death (not a spoiler, revealed like 3 minutes into the first episode), but there is no actual reason everyone else doesn’t realize who she is. They simply are too fucking stupid to put together the facts. Those being things that wouldn’t just make you think it’s possible, but would tell you with 100% certainty it is her. Her full name is exactly the same, she looks exactly the same wearing even similar clothes and having the exact same haircut, her voice is the same, her house is the same one she used to fucking live in, she has the same mannerisms, and her father is the exact same and looks the same as he did back then – hell, he even has the same fucking car. But, oh, who is this new girl in our tiny hobunk town? No way in our town with like 100 people population could this person that looks, sounds, acts, is living in the same place, fathered by the same man, and has the same exact name could possibly be Nonoka from our childhood.
2. Noel. This is actually far worse than Nonoka who was gone for seven years at least. Noel has been in this town for the past 7 years just being herself and screwing around. She also met all these girls 7 years ago when they SUMMONED HER FROM FUCKING SPACE AND SHE APPEARED IN FRONT OF THEM LIKE MAGIC AND SO DID A GIANT UFO. But nobody seems to remember that until way later in the show. HOW DO YOU FORGET A FUCKING ALIEN APPEARING IN FRONT OF YOU? HOW DO YOU FORGET YOU SUMMONED A UFO? And worse, how do you forget this when both the girl and ufo are CONSTANTLY AROUND FOR YEARS? Not to mention the entire cast seems to constantly forget what Noel is throughout the show even after her stating directly to them on multiple occasions that “I am the saucer”.
3. This only shows up near the end, so spoiler warning a bit – but in episode 11 it goes back to Nonoka first arriving in town yet the saucer isn’t there this time. Fine. The problem is that it turns what seemed like stupid writers simply having a massive unbelievable plot hole as the ‘main point’ (the lack of anyone remembering each other) into a showcase that the writers indeed knew how fucking stupid it was and went with it anyway. Here her friends remember her after a moment because she has the same name, looks the same, acts the same, has the same voice, and so on as I’ve already said. So once they really look at her for a second they go OH it’s Nonoka from all those years ago. WHY DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN IN THE FUCKING FIRST PLACE? They all remember her on a realistic and believable level – just as they SHOULD have in episode 1 instead of taking till halfway through the entire series for the full cast to realize who she was.
Actually, unrelated to memory issues but continuing from number 3 – the last two episodes of this show are beyond bad. They are a convoluted mess in the strangest of ways and don’t even attempt to make any sense of it whatsoever. Noel leaves and suddenly, as mentioned, we’re thrown back in time yet no, we actually aren’t. Somehow everyone is like a different dimension version of themselves aside Nonoka. They didn’t have memories wiped or anything because time is LITERALLY BACK to the actual day the first episode took place, so none of the events of the show happened, yet they remember, and yet they also refer to that time as “that other (character name here)” that existed. So they even outright say it’s not them and that these people are new characters. Not to mention they lived the past 7 years without a saucer, which means their entire lives were lived differently. This is relevant especially to Yuzuki, Souta, and the shop keeper girl who all three had hugely changed lives when the saucer was there yet now would be totally different (and it comes up that they are – most notably Yuzuki who they point out is strangely shy now when she wasn’t at all before – made all the more strange by the fact that she’s nearly topless in public in some kinda barely-there skin-tight ‘shirt’ when this conversation happens, so much for ‘shy’).
This means these characters are completely different people. And it only gets stranger, Shione remembers yet she’s also lived the past 7 years in this ‘dimension’ or whatever the fuck this is, yet she remembers the events of the first 11 episodes of the show, yet in the past 7 years in this existence she didn’t even come to this city at all and went to a different school. So who IS she? Who are ANY of these people – they certainly aren’t the cast we’ve known the past 11 episodes because their lives were so drastically different the past 7 years. What the fuck is going on? Oh, it’s never explained. Instead we get a strange obsession with sunflowers OUT OF NOWHERE which were never relevant whatsoever (not even symbolically) the entire show and them knowing Nonoka is magically returning and that’s that. What? What the fuck happened? How much more of a non-end could you possibly have, let alone a non-end with just random convoluted bullshit occurring to make it happen – they put so much effort into making this the ending and spent two episodes on it and yet it’s totally nonsensical in every way and the ‘big finale’ of the final episode is seeing Noel drawn in some terrible style and poorly animated.
Anyway, I said I’d talk about the dad some. Aside Noel (who actually isn’t innocent of being a problem, as she’s the main cause of almost all the dumb bullshit) and Kaiju-san, he’s the only one who steers clear of the retarded asshole epidemic in town. I don’t have much to say about him, but I did want to point out that he – as a character who barely exists at all in the show – is to thank for almost all of the good scenes in this series. He’s likable every time he’s around, clearly a good person, and most importantly his interactions with his daughter and his dead wife are sometimes genuinely touching to see. Moments with him are the only moments you might actually feel anything while watching this or get a sensible chuckle out of it, and he has like a total screen time of 5 minutes if you add up all his short parts throughout the show.
Aside that, the characters actual visual designs are also extremely generic and look so cookie cutter, along with the typical personality for each look, that they are incredibly forgettable. No wonder they all forgot Nonoka so easily, I could barely remember these characters from week to week.
Sora no Method is a perfect example of a show that doesn’t need to exist. It serves no purpose, it doesn’t care enough about itself to avoid plotholes or contradictions, the characters have no real point in existing at all within the story as the same story would have been possible with just nonoka, shione, and noel, and it overall has no purpose at all. Anime doesn’t need a “purpose”, but I mean in terms of writing a piece of entertainment.
You want set pieces, you want plot points, you want all your characters to have some value or worth to what is going on (that even applies to slice of life shows – not that this is one), but these people just seem to exist so there can be pointless melodramatic moments between them that ultimately lead to the same fucking pointless melodramatic moment happening again the next week because progress isn’t allowed to happen in this show as that would cut it down to about 3 episodes total instead of an overly long 13. This should have been a movie or a 6 half-length episode OVA at most. The length is one of the biggest fucking problems with this show because it causes it to go nowhere and just repeat itself then ultimately ends with a total mess of an “ending”.
And no, I am NOT fucking exaggerating about the show repeating itself EVEN MULTIPLE TIMES IN THE SAME EPISODE and no this was NOT something being done for some reason within the show, like time travel or deja vu or anything like that. This was a regular occurrence in the majority of episodes and you would have a character decide to be nice, then be a bitch again, then be nice, then be a bitch again, then be nice again only to go through the same fucking scenario again in the next episode. Not only that, but at one point it LITERALLY has the same exact drama from earlier in the show repeat itself so exactly that the characters themselves bring up the fact that this is fucking retarded and that they’ve done this exact shit before. And then they continue doing it anyway. It’s too bad being self-aware doesn’t undo terrible writing, and saying it’s self-aware is being way too generous given the show makes it painfully obvious that the writing staff had no fucking clue what they were doing.
Sora no Method is a six out of ten at it’s very best moments – disappointingly, those moment’s aren’t even often enough to call “few and far between”. They are nearly nonexistent. As much as it is a disappointing show it is equally a bad show, and it’s not something I’d recommend spending any time watching, as the few merits it has are just wasted here. For something from a head Key writer, you’d expect higher quality or at least something awful but with entertaining qualities like Angel Beats which is shit but watchable shit. Instead you’re given one of the most boring slogs imaginable with the same one character flip flopping on being a bitch or being friendly constantly as the main fucking point of the show. It overstays it’s welcome, feels like a chore that never ends, and is just overall a bad show with a horrendous fucking just godawful ending that’s harder to understand than fucking Drakengard. Don’t watch it.