October 14, 2010

Yosuga no Sora Ep1-2: In Solitude

Posted in Yosuga no Sora tagged , , , , , , at 5:27 pm by meotwister5

As a manga reader (with what manga is out anyway) I was initially planning to blog this show as the rather risque premise was very interesting when to consider most shows who try to carry a bro-sis romance theme.  A lot of shows try to use this premise but either end up doing it very shallow, throw the issue down the crapper or attempt circumvent the attached social issues by making them unrelated by blood.  Suffice to say that while one expects these type of shows not to really make it big considering the taboo, there are those shows and series like Koi Kaze who can stick with its theme and bring it out with a deft and emotional touch.  I was expecting this show to at least achieve some degree of this.

And while I was more or less unimpressed with the first episode, the second episode managed to restore some faith of mine that this series can carry an incest theme without making silly shortcuts.

The following post is really just the combination of posts I made in Animesuki.  Just text, no images.  Official blogging starts with the third episode.

Episode 1

Ok… yeah… I guess aside from the characters and the setting, there is close to nothing similar I’ve seen from the first manga volume that came out, and based on player reaction, no similarities with the VN as well. Might as well be prudent to treat this as a completely different entity.

But where to start…

From the get go Haru’s already working the magic with every female he’s encountered so far, a quality any harem lead must posses. Much to Sora’s irritation of course. The similarities people have pointed out to Myself; Yourself does sort of exist, and this is a bit of a bad thing for me, because I hated that series. It seems like every girl has the hots for him already.

The obvious sexual tension between the siblings, or at least from Sora’s side is already readily apparent even if we aren’t too sure why. She’s pretty much downright lusting for him as her fantasies suggest. It obviously stems a lot from losing their parents and probably her own feelings of emotional isolation and abandonment, which makes the potential dynamic and expected strains in their relationship an interesting thing to watch.

But this is where my problem with the first episode starts. I have mixed feelings with the episode, it isn’t bad but it isn’t great either, because I have a very mixed impression with what the episode, and the show by extension, is trying to be. The last 5 minutes of fanservice, masturbation etc. further muddles this idea of mine.

What exactly is this episode, and the rest of the series by extension, trying to be?

You’ve got potential for a incestuous drama in there, as well as the starting points for a potential harem comedic drama and an ecchi to borderline hentai fare. The first episode really didn’t mesh it all together very well, at all. The differences between them felt jarring and segmented, like I was watching 2 or 3 shows stapled together in a single episode. I don’t feel a focus anywhere because Sora’s story felt so “outside” the realm of everything else, and while I assume her story is supposed to take center stage, the school sections are also greatly focused on, yet the episode doesn’t put them together into a more seamless and integrated approach. It feels like Haru instead is switching between a harem-ish school life and an incestuous home life, with everything else in between.

I honestly can’t feel a sense of identity in this episode. I don’t feel a sense of focus. Most series’ pilots already tell you what the show is and what to expect from it, but frankly I have no idea right now what this show is or wants to be. Like the manga I can feel something deep from the potential relationship between the two, but in the episode it’s neither here or there because of everything else that makes it like everything is always shifting focus and stuff. It’s a vague feeling I know, but honestly I can’t put my foot down because I simply can’t make a conclusion of what this is.

If indeed it’s trying to put all of those elements together, then it didn’t do a good job at it. The best simile I can make is that it felt more like having two jigsaw puzzles, and trying to mix them up and make one bigger puzzle from all the pieces. It feels like the pieces don’t feel like they go together, and that you’re forcing pieces to fit. If the episode decided to focus on just one then it would be fine, heck I would prefer the incest parts because they were actually handled pretty well, but the disjunction is glaring to me, and if this is the approach for every episode from here on in, it’s just going to feel awkward and disjointed.

I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and say it’s just because of the inherent difficulties a pilot episode has to face, and give it at least 2 more episodes. Thing is, if it’s really going to feel very segmented and compartmentalized, especially with whatever the hell those last 5 minutes of near pointless fanservice was, watching this will simply not be fun at all, no matter how interested I am at the incestuous dynamic.

Which is sad because I find it intriguing, and I haven’t seen one I liked since Koi Kaze.

If the segregation is deliberate then it’s fine because it can work, and it’s been made to work before. However at the pace it’s going, it makes the divisions far too obvious, forced and at times too distinct, like Haru is shuffling between two dimensions. There’s really not enough time to delve into him, his sister, and everyone else caught in the crossfire of this potentially incestuous relationship.

If I HAVE to make a comparison, even if the series’ are only linked by the incest theme, Koi Kaze managed to segregate Koshiro’s professional life with his troubled personal emotions in his home life very well. Same thing can be said perhaps of Nanoka’s school life and her growing affection for her brother. At the same time however, they mixed together to make the opposition apparent, the end result being their shared emotional turmoils made manifest by a society unaccepting of the relationship.

I can tell Yosuga no Sora is trying to make the distinction between the normalcy of school and the taboo of Sora’s feelings, but they need to mix and meld in some places to make their differences more apparent. Having two worlds almost completely independent and unaffected of each other would ultimately fail to let us see how both worlds clash.

Episode 2

Well this episode was a hell of a lot better narrative wise compared to the pilot. While genre identity and all that is still up in the air, it felt more cohesive in what it was trying to do rather than feeling like two separate shows combined together. Partially it may be because of my manga bias, because this episode is pretty much 50% the first chapter of the manga.

First off it’s because it didn’t feel like two shows anymore. Rather than having isolated segments for Sora and the school, it combines snippets of them together to make the parallels easier to see, as evidenced by the lunch in the school being compared to Sora having lunch at home. Combined with Sora now entering school, much of the obvious segregation is gone, and it goes for a bit of a smoother viewing experience.

Secondly it’s also because of Sora’s affect. I didn’t like her as much in the first episode because I didn’t see much of the conflict she’s having especially when comparing the way she talks to Haru and the way she acts. Here her body language towards Haru and their classmates is much more visible, and it’s much more apparent how differently she treats people compared to Haru. Most apparent I think is her more than obvious jealousy, which I think is very much seen when Ryouhei talks about Akira while the three walk to school, and how we see Sora react to Ryouhei’s insinuations especially when he’s suggesting to pair up Haru and Akira.

I’m… still not amicable with the post-episode sections because they fell really out of place even now. I’ve gotten over the fanservice in the credits, but… ninja-maid-jutsu? Yeah…

Over all a better episode than the first. It’s easier to watch and digest.

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