Creativity and innovation are keystones in writing quality stories. Taking these principles to heart, Sola weaves a fascinating and involving storyline from a fairly basic concept, transforming an ordinary series into a commendable piece of anime craftsmanship. Despite the presence of a number of harem elements, such as three cute girls chasing after the lead male, Sola is anything but. Though the first episode hinted at a somewhat shallow cast of characters, I was elated to find out that this was not the case.
I've come to respect series that discard character fluff in favor of substance and depth. At its core, Sola focuses on the emotion of regret, using each of the three girls to reflect upon a different facet of the idea. Only two of them have an actual romantic connection to Yorito, which takes away the annoying "sister is madly in love with brother" cliché. Mana, for instance, while initially appearing to be a typical girl with a high school crush, develops tragically as the series progresses. Unlike many romances where the girl remains wishy-washy the entire duration of the series, she is forced to confront the sincerity of her feelings. As Yorito delves farther into the world of the Yaka, she must decide whether or not he is worth pursuing, even at the cost of her own happiness.
In and of itself, though, the actual storyline itself was somewhat of a bore. My enjoyment from Sola came almost purely from watching the characters interact with each other and struggle with their circumstances. Very little is actually explained about the Yaka, save their longevity and aversion to ultraviolet light, which left me with a plethora of questions that were never answered. The actual concept of the Yaka seemed little more than a ploy to bond Yorito, Matsuri, and Aono together, but I felt its shallowness somewhat easily dismissed because the series never actually uses it as a focal point; it was touched upon so little that I never actually built much serious concern or interest.
Just from watching the opening video, you'll notice an incredibly fluid and detailed atmosphere that pervades throughout all thirteen episodes, surprisingly with relatively few lapses. Details such as the rotation of the wrist when a character throws an object really stand out. These visual subtleties might not seem like much, but when viewed in a cumulative sense, they work wonders when framed during action scenes. The emotional vibes of the characters come alive in their actions, and you really get the sense that when a character is experiencing fear, he/she is sincere. Lots of neat light filtering effects stand out too, which prove as strong visual compliments to the Yaka's inability to withstand direct sunlight.
My only real complaint is Aono's character design, as her hair/eye coloration just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the cast. Most characters have dark hair and eyes, but hers are much lighter, and thus stand out a little too much. Not too big an issue, but it is a minor quirk. Aside from that, however, nearly flawless; you'd be hard pressed to find such beautiful aesthetic interplay in any non-movie/OVA production to date.
While you're at it, toss in a splendid opening and ending theme for good measure. Tack on a beautiful soundtrack and there's not much to complain about here. I found myself hopping back into previous episodes occasionally to listen to some of the insert music, and that's always a good thing. I particularly liked Matsuri's seiyuu, as she gave her character a very distinct feel and flavor. Overall, high marks here in general, as there's little to really find fault with.
Yorito, though initially seeming shallow, turned out to be rather well developed. Despite following a fairly generic male design, he quickly emerged as a respectable lead. Clear and decisive, he spends little time wallowing in self-pity, relying more on his skills in rational thought than in wrist cutting. With each episode, my amount of respect for his character grew, and I felt the decisions he reached by the end were presented quite well. At times he could be annoyingly naïve, but as the series progressed he actually learned from his mistakes, which really humanized his ordeal.
Matsuri (especially), Aono, and Mana, being the crux of the series as far as relationships go, were all panned out nicely as well. Each of the girls has her own reason for being drawn to Yorito, and none of them are really cookie-cutter. None of them were attracted to him "just because," which I felt to be one of the series' real strengths. As real life goes, as well, Yorito doesn't try to bounce between the three as if they're mindless puppets. He has true affections of his own, and the hopes and desires of the girls are not reciprocated in full.
Takeshi's side story was my only real gripe. It built itself up to be something greater, but after the climax it ended with a thud and I found myself scratching my head. Not bad per se, but uninspired.
All in all, I enjoyed Sola from start to finish. Though it moves tediously slow at times, it never lasts long and is always followed by an interesting plot twist or action scene (all of which are gorgeously animated.) After I first finished the series, I had somewhat of a slight distaste for the ending, but reflecting back I'm actually quite satisfied. The series spanned its thirteen episodes quite well, conveying a high level of production quality while not trying to overstep its bounds. Sola won't find its way into your collection of classics, but it's certainly unique enough to leave a lasting mark, and of that I have no lasting complaints; a satisfying watch that I'm sure many would enjoy.
Once upon a time, an anime named Kanon was released. Then once upon a time, an anime named Air was released. And finally once upon a time, an anime named Clannad was released. These 3 animes created the Big Key anime trilogy, which if I have to explain what that means then you must be very new to anime so I won’t. And then, in my book, the big Key trilogy created another trilogy I like to call Little Key anime trilogy. Those animes are Little Busters, Angel Beats, and Sola. Wait a second…Sola? What the heck is a Sola? It sounds like a blanket company! WELL, IT’S AN ANIME OF COURSE! Why has everyone forgotten of this anime time after time that was created by the co-creator of Kanon? Well I have no freaking idea but we’re reviewing it so let’s go into the night and review Sola!
Sola is a 13 + 2 OVA episode long anime done by Studio Nomad back in 2007 that was originally a manga by Naoki Hisaya, the co-creator of the Kanon visual novel.
This anime can be rated from PG to TV-14 for its dark themes and light amount of gore. Viewer discretion is slightly advised.
What’s amazing about a story from Key themselves is that they are able to tell a story so simple but then it becomes something very big and deep, as like I’ve said before in past reviews like Kill la Kill. Sola is definitely no exception. Sola is about a high school boy named Yorito who has an odd obsession for the sky, always skipping class just to go take pictures of it. He has very little friends like his hospitalized older sister Aono and Mana, a stubborn-ish girl in his class. That all changes when one night Yorito meets a mysterious yet kind girl named Matsuri. As they get to know eachother and become friends, it turns out that Matsuri is a yaka, a human-like creatures who will deteriorate because of the sun’s rays and has supernatural powers. Determined to one day let her see the daytime sky, Yorito starts to become closer to Matsuri. But is there more to the story than this simple friendship?
The story of Sola is something unique, and surprisingly has lots of decent twists, too. But don’t get your hopes up too high as the anime can be very slow and sometimes rushed due to only 13 episodes focusing around the main story. But overall, it’s quite interesting.
Now keep in mind Sola does the exact same thing that Key Company has always been doing…lack of male characters. Come on, we all know it’s true! There are only 2 male characters in this series and the rest are girls. And there’s like 10 characters in this series as a whole! It’s like No Game, No Life but except take out the word Game and replace with No Sky, No Life! It’s like one big harem!
Now it doesn’t really mean that Sola’s characters are not interesting to say. Yorito is bland and has a weird fetish but at least he tries to help. I like Matsuri and Aono because of the huge character developments and backstories they have to make the series expand. Everyone else is ok but they definitely do provide a nice feel to the story to make you stay and watch for more, it’s almost heartwarming like any other typical Key story! It’s not really sad to be honest, just heartwarming.
2007 was a big year for anime to be honest. Animation really started becoming more unique like Soul Eater and Lucky Star and provided a bigger variety and welcomed new fans to join the fun. Sola’s animation is not very significant, especially for 2007. Sure it’s very solid and even in many cases beautiful and touching. But if you watched an older like Tokyo Mew Mew which was back in 2004 and compared it to Sola, they’d sort of look like they were made from the same year or maybe a one year difference. The character designs can get kind of awkward too, especially with Yorito’s design (most specifically his head, god his head).
The animation really is nothing special, but it can have a nice charm to it.
The music for Sola is something a lot more noteworthy though as it is really good. Not Clannad or Madoka Magica good, but still pretty good. I’d most specifically like to point out the opening and ending, especially the ending. Both of the songs definitely fit in the anime and provide a nice touch along with beautiful animation (the opening I mean). The ending is a better song but the opening has better animation for it besides still pictures of the characters and skies.
Not much else to say…good!
If you liked pretty much anything from Key, especially Kanon, you’ll definitely come to like Sola. It’s cute, has a great story and solid animation, it can be sad but also has a happy feel whenever you watch it. I do very much recommend it to anyone in general, and chances are you will definitely come to enjoy or at least think it is ok. J
Next Review: Soul Eater
(If you have any questions or corrections about this review or Sola, contact me! :D)
Why is the sky always so depressing?
(this is in reference to the fact the I watched this series right after
watching Air which also has this theme)
Wow... this series was amazing. More people have to catch on to Sola. This should be a top 50-75 anime on the web-site and frankly I'd have to say it's among the most complete series I've seen. From beginning to end this series is nothing short of brilliant. They've done almost everything right with this series. The pacing is sublime. It goes like this: there are several episodes which tie in, there's a minor resolution (so you can catch your breath), then repeat. And the story builds through each minor plot angle. Also, Sola does a terrific job of not spoiling key pieces of information too quickly. Obviously the viewer has a better sense of what's going on than the characters for most of the series, but a lot of the back-story as well as the purpose of the two major supplemental characters (Takeshi and Mayuko) don't come to a full level of understanding until much later. In other words, the series doesn't just spoon-feed you information, you have to make some assumptions as you go along and maybe they'll be right or maybe they'll be wrong; that's what makes the story so much more compelling. Sola is simply at a higher level than most anime. The story is probably best categorized as a quasi-tragedy. It's not the sort of depressing, eerie tragedy that was had in School Days (see my review), but it still has some great impact. The final few episodes are fantastic. A totally inconceivable plot twist in episode 10 leads to the beautiful tragedy. The characters are fairly strong. You immediately get a strong connection to Matsuri (the female lead) and soon after Yorito (the male lead). Aono (Yorito's sister) provides a polarizing anti-hero to round out the three main characters. There are flashes as well from the other characters, particularly Mana (Yorito's classmate) and Takeshi (I'm thinking of one quote in particular). There is very strong allusion throughout the series to Plato's work "The Allegory of the Cave." If you've read this grand work of Plato, then you'll surely get a lot more out of the series. If you haven't, no worries, as a little bit of inference will get you a long way. There are also some definite Shakespearian references in the last 4 episodes, but I wouldn't say with confidence that this was really a theme. There is one very significant symbol in Sola and that is the sky (or sora). The next to last scene (I think) will really test how much you've bought into the whole symbolism of the sky. And I think the reason I like anime like Sola (and Chobits) so much is that they are more than a sum of their parts. Overall, this series is magnificent. I've given a minor deduction for the characters could've been a bit more dynamic and as well, the sky symbolism isn't perfectly executed. However, these don't act a deterement to the real crux of this series which is the story. So 9.5 out of 10, a must watch in my eyes.
My anime reviews are always simple, short and straight-forward and is 100% spoilers-free.
Genres: Drama, Romance, School
Additional Info: Contains a bit of feels. Get your tissues ready!
Ending Rating: 88%
Sola is a good anime with a good mixture of drama and romance and little comedy. The anime is easy-going then things starts to get serious as the plot progresses. Sola is worth a space in your anime list and your tears so jerk them up and have an eye reimplantation later.
This is my first time doing an anime review so bear with me. I think of myself as more of an abstract reviewer so I base my scores according to my feelings and attachments to this anime as an audience. After watching a few series of Ecchi/Comedy related animes, I have decided to watch something a little different. So I decided that I would give Sola a try based on the reviews I have read and the site rankings.
I guess like some others, I'm blessed to not take any movies or animes lightly. When i do watch an anime, I feel like I was in there, either being one of the characters participating or a sideline viewer within the anime. I'd become so attached to what I was watching to the point where the real world would become numb to me.
'Sola is in a sense quite a heavy series. It arouses many feelings inside me that I couldn't even clearly explain myself. The name sola is a romanizing of the word Sora, which means sky. In Italian and Spanish, the word Sola also means "alone", suggesting a double meaning to the title.
The anime itself is as beautiful as the name sounds, it's a tale of friendship, jealousy, eternal love and promises. It explicitly portrays the emptiness and loneliness of someone having lost a loved one and having the desire to never let them go, just like Aono; and further portrays the inability to accept the reality and to move on. The theme of the sky reoccurs in the anime, and it's also the promise between Yorito and Matsuri, in that they will see the bright blue sky together some day.
'A part of your memories of someone would never die'. Yorito's habit of taking pictures of the sky later becomes Mana's habit even if she had no recollection of who Yorito is. This shows the idea that the great memories you had with your deceased loved ones would one day become your strength and drive you on. I could go on and on about how I feel but I guess I am kind of off track here, so anyways...
The anime started off lightly but ends in a somewhat reminiscent tradegy, although there was no complete recollection of memories. The character who changed the most to me was Aono, from ignorance (< pretty strong word here) to acceptance. Although (SPOILER AHEAD) not every character survived until the end, the ending was somewhat satisfying and conclusive in that the most stubborn character of all finally realizes and understands what the others have sacrificed for her.
"That's why...I walk under the sky, under the sky that those two gave me."
All in all, if you are looking for something a bit more serious, something short, lovely and bittersweet, this is definitely what you would want to watch.