Yosuga no Sora Review

This is review number three hundred and thirty four. This anime is part of the Fall 2010 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Yosuga no Sora or “In Solitude Where We Are Least Alone” which sounds stupid so I’ll just stick with Yosuga no Sora. It’s a twelve episode anime about a guy having sex with a lot of girls, and it’s not a hentai. I think it should be, but what do I know? Let’s read on.

Story

This anime is about a guy named Haruka Kasugano, who moved to his grandparents’ home along with his sister after their parents died. The siblings wanted to get a fresh start at life, so moving into the countryside is the perfect choice for them now. This is where Haruka grew up, so memories come flooding back to him. Including, and wouldn’t you know it, a lot romantic exploits with girls from this town. They’re all grown up now and Haruka happily gets reacquainted with them.

Taking the Pants Off

I finally finished this anime after putting it on hold twice, because I watched other anime. I’m really just in this to see the incest that was a hot topic back when this anime aired. 2010 is a blurry year for me, because I was kinda a miserable NEET so I want to forget it, but I have heard of Yosuga No Sora and its infamous incest story. Most of the stuff I read about the show is that it’s absolute filth and it’s outrageous how it presented a taboo concept, and people just don’t like this show in general. It caused me to avoid it and watch other shows instead. I’ve always been curious at the outcry the show received though, and I’ve also wanted to review it. How bad can it really be? I mean, no one should really defend incest but I always thought the negative aspects are blown out of proportions. So let TPAB take a look at it and add fuel to a 2010 fire. First of all, this anime is boring as f*ck like a true VN anime. When you just take key points of the game, take away the gameplay and replace it with the constraints of a twenty two minute anime then the result is obviously bad. Like any true VN anime, its one goal is to promote the game and give a nod to the people that already played it. People who just decided to pick it up out of curiosity will not appreciate the boring narrative this anime had. It’s just not for them. These people are also the ones that yelled out of their minds when they are introduced to, what I think, is the very first anime that embodies the eroge genre. Yes, gawd damn it, a lot of Visual Novels have sex in it and it’s part of what makes a VN great. To establish a relationship, fall in love and then mount a female character is the appeal of an eroge game. Yosuga No Sora might be the very first anime to try to be daring with its eroge content, but they somehow screwed it up. This anime has potential and an idea truly ahead of its time. I mean, a vanilla hentai anime wrapped inside a typical VN anime is a wonderful concept but the execution needs to be spot on. Feel (the studio) did not realize the wonderful goldmine they had, and it ultimately lead to a boring romance anime that just happens to have sex in it, because why the hell not? Unfortunately, the 2010 audience scene is also not receptive to this radical idea so this daring concept faded into obscurity. It’s a shame, because the potential this show had is a definite game changer if the circumstances were in its favor.

Anyways, this is a game by Sphere and it’s supposedly their first. I read up on some reviews of the game, and it’s basically just like the anime. The hero chooses among four girls to mount, but the true ending is when you pursue the incest route. The game’s routes are too short though, and Sora is the only nicely developed character in the game. So it runs like your typical VN where you follow a girl’s route and conquer her. This is where the anime truly sounded unique for me, because it followed the game faithfully. Most VN would just d*ck around in its adaptation, because following one route isn’t faithful to the original source but following all routes is impossible with its limited episodes. Yosuga no Sora decided to present the four routes, and functioned pretty much like a game. This anime feels like you are watching someone play the game perfectly, because the progression is truly the same as a visual novel. To those that have wasted time with VNs, then you’ll realize just how unique it is to see an anime progress like one. This is minus all the wrong choices though, but the game reviews cited the VN as being too easy. The girls easily throw themselves at our hero, and it’s pretty much the same as the anime. Yosuga no Sora is very faithful to its original source. This is saying a lot because VN anime often opt not to follow its original source because it’s complicated. It’s hard to capture the appeal of the game in anime, so they just tease a route but never pursue it. This is especially true to adult VN. Some adaptations don’t even try and deviate from the spirit of the game after the second episode. So the ten remaining episodes are just dumb fluff, and gawd bless anyone that decides to watch it. I have, and I even review them, so Yosuga no Sora easily stands out for me. Of course, most VN don’t try capturing the game’s spirit because there is an abyss they can never climb out of should they try. Yosuga no Sora fell in that abyss, but I’ll talk about that later on.  For now, the attempt of this anime to be like the game is truly unique, because it gave us a chance to follow the routes as they are presented in the game.

This anime presented four routes, and the progression is similar to when you pursue a character’s route in the game. The show presents a timeline and Haru pursues a girl until they reach a happy ending at episode three. At episode four though, the story resets to a specific timeline where it branches to a different story of Haruka conquering another girl. After a happy ending with the next girl, the next episode features a different girl from a different timeline in the game so Haruka can pursue her. He’s like a murderer travelling back in time, but he’s more sexually motivated. That sounded awful, but the anime feel like someone loads a save game then goes back to finish a girl’s route. It’s pretty unique, because you’re watching how the game is actually played. The routes are pretty bare bones though. All of them follow the same three-part progression. The first is the Introduction, where Haru slowly falls for the girl and they kiss making them a couple.

The second is the Conflict, where the girl’s personal problems are preventing her from loving Haru and even distancing herself from him. This’ll require him to act and help the girl move on from her problems.

After that, it leads to a happy ending. This one is short but it’s punctuated by the fact that Haruka is rewarded sex for helping the girl. He has sex with all four girls in the series.

You like it so far? I bet some of you are already backing out, but I have a lot of screenshots so we’ll go over each route. The first one is Kazuha Migiwa, the stereotypical rich girl with long wavy black hair. She’s strict and serious but a day at the beach with Haruka got her to soften up. Slowly getting close to her, Haruka inadvertently discovered her secret and it causes Kazuha to pull away from him. Upon further meddling, Haruka discovers that the girl has father issues and our hero finds a way to mend the fences. Kazuha wants him to back away though, but Haruka is ready to tell her that she figured her father wrong. He’s not the awesome villainous monster she figured he is, but he’s actually the opposite. Haruka convinces Kazuha to witness this first hand in the Summer Festival, and Haruka successfully achieved a happy ending. This is our first taste of the story of the anime, and it’s pretty clunky. It’s like going from one flag to another and it lacks proper build up to really make the story pop. It gives you an idea of how it is in the game though, including the first time we see the vanilla hentai unfold before us. This is the point where you would decide to stay or not, because the sex scenes gets more explicit from here. So yeah, a girl in a state of orgasm is shocking but the anime finds way to make it more awesome for us.

The second route is Akira Amatsume’s story and it branches off from Kazuha’s arc. In the pool episode in Kazuha’s arc, Haruka heard Kazuha’s secret but he pursues Akira instead, who is also part of that secret. It turns out that she has a secret of her own as well, and her energetic personality is just a façade to hide her insecurities. This prompts our hero to find a necklace Akira lost when they were young. They didn’t find it, but they fall in love within that time and officially started dating. Akira’s secret is more complex than a lost necklace though. If Kazuha has hang ups with her father, then the same goes to Akira and her mother. This is my favorite route in the anime because the plot is really wonderfully done. It blossoms from a simple thing into a more serious matter and it gives you an idea just how much Akira is shouldering. Haruka decides to give Akira a push to solve her problems with her mother, and it leads to a wonderful resolution that leads to sex! SEX! I like this one a lot as well, because the symbolic necklace is part of the love making adding a level of sophistication to the rough intercourse that is happening. I can’t believe I just typed that, but the sophisticated storytelling stops here. The remaining routes are absolutely filthy, and it took me a while to finish them.

The third route is Nao Yorihime’s arc. This one starts with a sex scene and the entire relationship actually revolves around sex. Oh gawd, buckle up cause it’s about to get bad. Anyways, Nao is Haruka’s neighbor and they were close when they were young. Feeling vulnerable and lonely thanks to her parents fighting, Nao decides to run away so she won’t hear them fighting. She goes to Haruka’s house and she forced herself to Haruka. She rode him like a horse, and Haruka is seen absolutely traumatized by the event. They never patch things up because Haruka left for the city, and Nao feels awkward seeing Haruka back in her life. She avoids him, but her big boobs have their own gravitational pull and it draws Haruka to her. He mentions that he didn’t mind her f*cking his brains out, and he wants them to be a couple. No one objects, except for little sister. She absolutely hates Nao, and you think it’s because she is just overprotective of his brother. It turns out to be different, because Haruka isn’t the only one traumatized by their child porn adventure. Sora was f*cking watching them. So Nao has to patch things up with Sora, but little sister doesn’t want to. It’ll take divine intervention, like lightning striking Sora, for her to forgive Nao. No, seriously, lightning struck something in Nao’s arc. This is where the “adult” part of the adult visual novel is alive and raging. Nao’s story is pretty typical for eroge, and this is the first time we are treated to its absolute raw-ness. Eroge is loaded with characters fooling around, sex replacing dating, and the main character being reduced to a sexual hound to fit the more-than-adult appeal of the route. Eroge loves mixing casual sex, typical Japan hardcore sexing, and romance in the same boat to create some pretty disturbing stories but this is the spirit of what makes eroge great. It’s not for us. It’s for Japan, and its target audience can understand the appeal. Nao’s arc ends in the summer festival as well where she is mounted by Haruka while her moans are blanketed by the sounds of the fireworks.

You think that’s crazy? You should f*cking run away for the last arc. Mid-way through Nao’s arc, Haru realize that Sora is in love with him. Throughout the series, she always just slumps in her room thinking about Haruka while he pursues a girl, but this is the first time Haruka is made aware of it. Realizing his little sister’s love, he began contemplating about being with her. The anime address the taboo subject as well, and the other characters are ready to tell him “No! No! Don’t bang your sister. No”. His love for his sister is too much though, and it escalates when he discovers Sora masterbaiting to the thought of being with him. We’ve officially entered taboo at this point, and there is no turning back. Haruka decides to take the plunge and be all up in his sister’s love. The story isn’t all magical like the two reasoning that they are lovers trapped by a blood bond. No, it’s straight up Haruka sexing his little sister. While he does reason that he fell in love with her when they were young, because he no longer sees her as his sister, Sora feels different. She wants to be with him, because they are siblings. They only have each other, they’re lonely and she wants him all for herself. She transforms in this route as well. The tsundere little sister becomes a forward girl cooking breakfast naked for Haruka, initiating sex and even giving him a kiss in the morning:

This route is entirely sexual, but the conflict arises when the other characters discovers their taboo adventure. The look on Kozue’s face walking in on them pretty much sums up the whole uncomfortable and shocking nature of this route. Haruka defends his decision though, and he man up to tell everyone that he loves Sora so they should just accept it. Actually, no, they ran away together and taboo it up in a faraway place from there. Good gawd, that’s the true ending? Talk about a bad way to end your series. The series used incest as nothing more than shock, and then just ruins everyone with it. Isn’t that a fun way to tell an incest story?

Oh, there’s also this stupid route about the maid, Motoka Nogizaka. She doesn’t have a route in the game, but there’s a bonus story for the anime involving her. It’s pretty stupid, but just as filthy as the rest of the show. I think it’s also trying to be funny, but it’s hard to like a sexually deviant maid moaning at night while her parents listen. I mean, that’s funny? The characters are in chibi as well, but shifts to regular art from time to time. It’s really just worthless filler for the anime, so just enjoy it as it is: dumb filler.

Now that the story is out of the way, let’s talk about the one notable thing about this anime: it’s boring. This stems from the show’s decision to be faithful to the game. Wait a minute, didn’t I just praise the show for being like the game? Yeah, but that’s a problem as well. The game is fun because you can pace the story to your liking, and choosing the best answer from choices that’ll lead to conquering your girl is part of the fun. If you take out the gameplay, the story isn’t really all that fun. It also moves on the anime’s pace so the sex scenes look uncomfortable and the incest story is so sudden that there’s no way to prepare for it. This is the abyss that VN anime can never get out of. Making your own vision of the VN gives us a halfhearted adaptation, but capturing the spirit of the game leads to a mess of the story, the characters and everything the game represents. It’s robotic, it’s subdued, and it lacks the emotional nuance that is part of the game. For a better example of this VN abyss, let’s mention another anime that stayed faithful to the game: Little Busters. Remember that show? It sucks, because the moments are forced and the characters are bland but it progresses like the game as well. The routes are properly presented and it’s even structured like the game where the true end appears after finishing the other routes. In the game, Refrain is unlocked when you finish the routes thus a second season centered only on Little Busters: Refrain. The intentions are good, but the anime is merely a shell of the VN. It’s not as good, and it’s mostly because it tried to be too much like the game. This is what happened to Yosuga no Sora as well. Everything feels too complacent. It lacks proper storytelling, since it’s too focused on what the game accomplished, and not embracing the franchise as its own. This is the stupid thing about VN anime. It’s a lose-lose situation. You can never make a great visual novel anime, because the abyss is hard to conquer. I’d mention Clannad, but let’s not. I need to re-watch it to fully understand if it’s a great VN anime.

The approach of being like the game isn’t a bad thing though. The problem is the lack of owning the game, and being too much like it. Instead of being like the game, they could present the same boring story but punctuate the important moments. Look at Clannad. It’s boring as well, but the dramatic moments are properly presented. Punctuating the good stuff makes the anime unique while still being true to the game, and it’s a shame Yosuga no Sora didn’t do the same. If it builds up the romance, and add more shock factor to the sex scenes then I’m sure it would’ve been a lot more impressive than it is now. The anime is hard to appreciate because everything is muddled. The romance isn’t properly established since it’s just a pre-requisite of the story. It’s just a plot device, and nothing more. The same goes for the sex scenes, but the anime also employs the same annoying Ecchi clichés that I thought died off a long time ago. Walking in on a naked character, falling on top of them, their breasts in the character’s face, panty shots and girls throwing themselves at Haruka adds nothing to the anime. It actually messes it up some more, because its purpose is muddled. Why employ Ecchi clichés? Because it’s in the game? Ok, but does it really serve the anime? Does it make it better? No! So cut that sh*t out, and focus more on what’ll make the anime great. Reserve the explicit scenes when you really need it, and it’ll act as payoff for the boring story of the anime. This is really what plunges a VN anime to the abyss: the studio’s lack of ownership. I think adapting a VN is strict though, because a lot of deals are done beforehand, but there should be some artistic freedom for the studio to make the anime good. Instead of a robotic adaptation, punctuating some of its components could’ve made a big difference. Yosuga No Sora already conquered the hurdle of a faithful adaptation, but it shouldn’t have stopped there, and focus more on making it better. It’s a shame, because Yosuga no Sora already had a good thing going.

Let’s be real though. The sex scenes are a double edged sword for this series. People will stay away from it because it’s pretty much Hentai, and the way it’s presented is pretty thrashy as well. People will automatically hate this anime because of the Hentai, but the show should’ve owned it. I think there is really no chance to make this aspect of the anime good, so just have f*cking have fun with it. They should’ve made it look more special. Add a soundtrack at the f*cking scenes, different camera angles teasing the act and constant shots of the girl’s face in a state of euphoria would’ve at least made the scene more tolerable. This is a potential I wanted the show to get correctly, but it ultimately poisoned the series. I honestly want more eroge anime out there, because a lot of them are relegated to Hentai now. Eroge with interesting stories are reduced to cheap twenty two minute f*cking sessions devoid of story, and I think Yosuga no Sora’s success could’ve changed that. It’s not just a thin story of two characters f*cking, but it’s a complicated plot full of horny teenagers, uncontrollable lust and complicated relationships. There is a way to properly tell them, and Yosuga no Sora was almost there. Almost. Sadly, people flee at the sight of vanilla hentai and the idea died afterwards. Yosuga no Sora planted an idea though that I think still has a chance to live. This anime is liberal with nipples, and TNK Studios took that idea for High School DxD. If filth like Highschool DxD can get a strong following, pushing the anime to three seasons, then I’m sure Yosuga no Sora’s potential can still thrive. It’ll especially thrive, in 2015, because radical ideas are being entertained and met with an open mind now. This anime, and its potential, is ahead of its time. We need to see it revived, and I’m hopeful it’ll come back. Fingers crossed. Ditch the incest though, that’s even more poison and the world will never embrace that taboo.

The characters are all bland. This is a downside that any good VN possesses because a character is fleshed out in a gamer’s pace in visual novels. There’s no time for that in the anime, so characters are hurriedly presented and they come off as bland. Haruka is bland, almost being the perfect character that just goes with the flow. Sister wants to f*ck you? Let her. Emotional pincushion to a vulnerable girl? Yeah, he’ll be that. Problem solving guy? Why the hell not? He’s a guy recovering from the loss of his parents, and the show never used that. Sora is the one greatly affected by it, and Haruka really just goes along with a girl then goes to bed with her. He lacks a definite personality as well, and he needed one because we have no idea why the girls fell for him. Um…his pen*s? No, that can’t be right. It’s hard to sell a filthy romance story if your characters aren’t convincing you to buy their love story. While Haruka represents most bland main characters in visual novels, the studio should’ve been given the chance to inject some personality to him for this anime. This guy is so useless that the other male character has a more stand out personality. Poor Ryouhei Nakazoto, he’s the “other” guy in a VN. This is a staple in VN I never really liked. There is one male character but he has a best friend that doesn’t get any ass. It’s all for the main character, and I often think he should at least get one girl. Ryouhei is also used for comedic purposes, mainly to make the main look good. Yknow, like that other guy in DC Da Capo or that blonde guy in Clannad or that other dude in Canvas. I don’t remember their names, and that’s the point. Poor f*ckers. The girls are also bland, so let’s not get into that. They’re all just there for sexy time and that’s that. I’m sure the pictures above are enough to give you an idea to the extent of their role. Even Sora, the most developed character in the game, is bland and her pining for her brother doesn’t really make her a great character. Since I take too many screenshots though, here are the girls moaning in delight:

Feel did their gawd damn best in this anime, but you can tell it wasn’t enough. As a reviewer, you really feel a bit of anger when you spot the potential of the show, and it wasn’t achieved at all. I’m not saying this anime is bad (it’s actually boring) but there is something there that is epic and it should’ve been realized. They went the extra mile to give us hentai level sex scenes, so it shouldn’t stop there. There’s still more this anime could’ve done to be awesome. This studio is a pretty minor one, but they have produced decent shows. There’s nothing really good though, but also nothing bad that can hurt them. I also think that their time doing Da Capo and KissXSis was building up for this moment, and they should’ve gone all out with it. The route storytelling of Da Capo and the filthiness of KissXSis kinda culminated in a chance for Feel to bring the appeal of both shows in Yosuga no Sora, and they fell short in the execution. Oh well, till the next vanilla hentai series if they ever make one again. They probably wouldn’t. Takeo Takahashi specializes in bland stories and incest. It’s weird, but his other notable work is Aki Sora – another incest anime. You’d think he’d nail this sh*t by now, but most of his other directorial work aren’t really all that good. There’s Spice and Wolf, but I think the source is just too good not to mess up. He should stick to incest and see where it leads him. It’ll be like a weird treasure hunt, but with his career so it’s all good.

Sight and Sound

Yosuga_No_Sora_03_A_Careful_Distance_Minitheatre.org.mkv_snapshot_05.43_[2015.10.24_16.56.07]

Hiro Suzuhira designed the characters for the game, and it’s pretty awesome. It still looks like your standard flash VN character design, but she has a good grasp of what makes a great VN character. I love Sora’s outfit, but I also notice she’s the only one with a different outfit in the series, as if telling us to pursue her out of everyone else. While the design itself looks stereotypical, I think it’s enough to carry the series. It’s not like the bland characters can be saved by the visuals. That being said, I like the uniform. The slit on the sleeves are a nice touch despite looking simple. Of course, I also love the body composition. Sex scenes look great because the characters look great. Animation in 2010 sucks, but I think it looks better in the VN. There is a more appealing flesh color for the skin in the game, and it adds a lot to the filthy sex scenes. The faces are also nicely designed. The idea that it can contort to a moaning face is pretty hot, even though the design doesn’t really look all that great.

Animation is decent. In 2010 standards, this is above decent but it’s also not consistent so that ruins the experience a bit. There is nothing to carry the boring story, and the animation isn’t able to capture proper reactions at times. We’re in an era where characters only move their lips, and it’s distracting but nothing to pull you away from the show. Feel is also a minor studio, so it’s commendable that they gave us an above decent presentation. Hey, I saw Bakuman and the animation is also just above decent in that. I give points for the sex scene though. I bet the director was speechless when he was asked to direct hentai scenes, and he did his damn best. He rarely presents full body shots, penetration is hidden and only the faces of the girls reacting to the pain are shown. There are tons of groping though, and naked characters rubbing skin but nothing over the top. They had a TV rating to work with, so I know it’s hard to keep eroge TV friendly. He should’ve done more though, but I also think he didn’t really want to feature the sex scenes. They just happen because it’s part of the anime and nothing more. It’s still pretty great with its cut away shots, first person view angles and ability to bring out the “love” in hardcore love making.

The anime’s OP is “Hiyoku no Hane” by eufonius. It’s a pretty decent song, and it’s made more impressive by eufonius’ voice. I think the song is about two lovers trying to be together or something. The lyrics are vague, but the song itself is nice to listen to. The OP sequence features all the characters, and a brief introduction of their route. Nothing to spoil the story, as it sets up the routes and all the fun to expect from it. Each girl is also nicely introduced, but Sora gets more screen time just like in the anime.

The anime has two ED for some reason. The first one is “Tsunagukizuna” by Team. Nekocan [Neko] feat. Junca Amaoto. It’s apparently the “main ending theme” as it features a song loosely about incest. It’s like Sora’s theme song or something, but it’s about someone unable to love another because of something. I’m betting its incest, but that’s my subjective idea of it. I do love the song though, because the lyrics are good and the singer’s voice is incredible, giving an emotional factor to the ltypical song. The ED sequence features scenes of Sora and Haruka throughout their life up until the point of the anime. It nicely encapsulates all the feelings in Sora’s route, so that’s pretty freaky. The other ED is “Pinky Jones” by Momoiro Clover. I remember these girls from Wani to Shampoo, one of the stupidest song I love to listen to. They were called Momoiro Clover Z though, but I think this is their first name starting out. It isn’t as zany as true Momoiro but it’s still an energetic song about random stuff. The voices aren’t all that powerful though, but you can tell they’re growing from here since this song borders generic pop to the iconic Momoiro Clover Z style they’re known for. It’s about doing the best in life and just having fun, as it is set to a montage of the anime. To get a better understanding of the entire show in three minutes, then check out this ending sequence. It’s pretty awesome, and the perversion of the series is made to look crazy hyper in here making it more tolerable to some degree.

Overall Score

6/10 “The story is boring, the sex scenes are decent and everything in between isn’t all that good as well.”

I still see massive potential in this anime, and I’m bummed that it wasn’t properly achieved. This anime only stands out because of its controversial sex scenes and it’s the taboo subject. The characters, story, and the animation isn’t all that great to make you sit through twelve episodes. I still like the way it captures the game’s pace, but it could’ve been done better. If you like vanilla hentai then you’ll like this anime. If you’re curious about incest in anime then take a stab at this one. If you like romance and decent stories in your anime then stay away from this one. It just has sex and incest, but those two things are done pretty spot on so enjoy.

Thoughts~

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