sola

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Sheex's avatar By Sheex on Aug 7, 2007

Story

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.


Animation

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.


Sound

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.


Characters

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.

7/10 story
9.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8/10 overall
Glitch32's avatar By Glitch32 on Oct 6, 2010

NOTE: This review was posted on a forum I am active on in a thread about anime. Parts of this review may be affected by that. This review was written on October 6, 2010.

Finished it a Monday night. Really great series. I wasn't sure what to think before, cause I knew it was written by the same guy who wrote Kanon, but it wasn't Key's work. So I knew it would be good, I just wasn't expecting to to be that good! I'll keep this spoiler-free since no one else here has seen it yet.

STORY … 9/10

You know, I really hate when people rate a story according to 'originality.' Come on guys, there's nothing new under the sun. As long as the princess doesn't have to kiss the frog or some cliché bbq then it's just plain rude to say that something's not original. So this guy might have taken a few things from Angel Beats!, but that doesn't make this series original or un-original, cause Angel Beats! was written with a bunch of ideas taken from other places, and those were made of ideas taken from even more places, etc. So all that to say that I'm not going to be lowering sola's rating just because it's very similar to Angel Beats!.

What I enjoyed about sola was that it never ceased to surprise me and never ceased to bring something new to the story. Every time that I started to think, "Oh that makes sense now..." and when I finally connect A and B, they threw C in there and it mixed things up even more. It wasn't one of those stories where you know what's going to happen in the end. Anything's possible, and quite frankly, the ending surprised me... a lot! In sola, there's not a clear 'these are the good guys' or 'these are the bad guys.' You know the main characters and what their missions and goals are, and you love these characters. Then it's up to you to chose who you want to cheer for.

What's interesting about the parallels with sola and Angel Beats! is that while the plots and storylines follow on the same paths, the way they execute these are completely different. I just tried writing out the least spoiler-y example and it's just not going to work. You'll just have to watch to see. But while there are a ton of similarities in the progression of the plot in these two shows, they both take place in completely different settings and circumstances. (sola does not take place in the afterlife.)

ANIMATION … 8.5/10

As for the animation, I thought it was really well-done. I didn't find any faults in it that I noticed without trying to find them. Throughout the series I just kept falling in love with the character design of Matsuri. The one thing that really hit home for me was the beautiful scenery and background design. If you're gonna watch sola you're definitely gonna want to find an HD download cause it's totally worth it. Every setting was unique, and every sky they show is beautiful in it's own unique way. One of my favorite locations in the show is the church where Matsuri is a lot. (Second picture.) It's got a really omnipresent look to it... like it would never end. Other than the settings and character designs there's not much left to say that really jumped out at me. Summed up, it was done very well and had some great scenery.

SOUND … 7.5/10

The music in sola was beautiful. The opening theme was just average, nothing really exceptionally special about it. But I loved the ending theme as well as the themes for the characters and the closing song of the series. I can't elaborate much on anything else cause that's basically all there was. Nothing seriously stood out to me except for those mentioned above, so I guess sound could be it's weak pillar, but for a short series like sola, it had a few excellent tracks that I'll definitely be plugging into iTunes.

CHARACTERS … 9.5/10 

Definitely the strongest point of the series. This is it's main difference from Angel Beats! and where it becomes more like Toradora! in that it's got only six main characters (and two of those I wouldn't even consider main characters) where Angel Beats! had like ten. sola really focuses in on these characters and connects them with the audience really well. I really loved Matsuri a lot, as well as Aono and Yorito. Those three characters have a fascinating past and it was so fun going through the story trying to plug each piece together. My only complaint would be Koyori... she kinda got annoying at times, and while it was kind of funny watching Mana always whack her when she didn't call her onee-chan, her dying-to-do-oragami attitude occasionally got to where it's like, 'Okay, she's folding paper with 'nee-san again, I get it, move on now.' But that's my only complaint! The rest of the characters were fantastic and I really loved them all. I found Sae to be absolutely hilarious and how she's always falling over backwards for Takeshi. Great characters all around minus Koyori, and all that put together makes for an excellent series with a few great tracks, beautiful scenery and animation, and and story that will keep you on the edge of your seat even after it's over.

OVERALL SCORE … 8.6/10

9/10 story
8.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
8.6/10 overall
XxZeroeZxX's avatar By XxZeroeZxX on Oct 13, 2010

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.

9.5/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
xrekani's avatar By xrekani on Mar 2, 2011

{WIP - [work in progress] }

 

Story {8/10}

The story defiantly wasn't what I was expecting at all. I came across Sola when I was reading a manga and I always liked to look at the back of the book because of the suggestions of other animes / manga – well one of them was Sola. So I decided to watch it. Honestly I was expecting fan service, 5 women trying to get the main character, your typical harem anime. Boy was I wrong. I’m really glad I got across it.

Sola starts out with a young teenage boy Yorito who likes to spend his free time taking picture of the sky (a major point in the story) he then meets a strange girl (Matsuri) who is trying to get a can of tomato bean juice from the vending machine. It takes a quite a few episodes for the ‘real’ story to begin – and when it does, you are left with some surprising twist and turns. What you thought was the main focus of the story – is completely turned upside down.

If you’re looking for an anime that is different from others and leave you wanting more – then this anime is for you! It is definitely different from ‘typical’ animes

 

 

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
asaha's avatar By asaha on Jul 7, 2012

Sola is a story of the protagonist Yorito, a high school student who loves to take photos of the sky. One night as me is taking pictures of the sky, he meets a mysterious girl named Masturi who happens to be kicking a vending machine....

Story: The story is very well developed, follows smoothly through out. I found this be quite interesting story, as one dives into the anime we find aspects of conflicting love as well as the expected mystery but again I have to reiterate all of it is so smooth. Everything just feels like it fits. Another thing that annoys me about mystery animes is that sometimes they try to drag on the mystery way too LONG (e.g. Future Diary) however, Future Diary paces itself very well. The first couple of episodes are very Slice of Life but give depth to the characters and even though Slice of Life is not my thing at all, the brewing romance and the relationships still kept me coming back for more. The story personally challenged me to think what is good/bad. 

The story gets  8.5/10, the 8.5/10 rating is for the ability to mesh all sub-plots and conflicts together in so well as well as even challenge you and invoke emotion into you. Listen if you want a good multi-layered story that is executed superbly this is it. Flaw in my opinion Takeshi/Mayuko sub-plot should have been handled better and back story of Matsuri should be focused on more.

Animation: Good character designs, if you were to judge the animation on production/value then I can say it the anime is fairly satisfactory, however, if we take it onestep further and see how it fits with the anime then it was impressive. The action sequences did not jump at you, as they were average action sequences however the detail in the action sequences was amazing. The action sequences served to show the humanism of the characters, nothing jumped out but that was the point. These were just "people" trying to be normal and fight for what they believe was normal. Animations job is to heighten the themes and overall tone of the anime visually and Sola's animation just that. 

Animation gets 8.5 out of 10, animations production/value is good not amazing, the message behind the animation served its purpose. Basically saying "Hey look at I am a Slice of Life, Mystery, Drama, Romance Anime but I have some action to it, don't worry I'll use the action to entertain and strengthen the themes"

Sound: Disclaimer don't give a damn about ending/closing music as I find it totally irrelevant to the anime itself.  The music during the anime was good kept the tone of the anime very well, however the song explaining Mayuko's real wishes was absolutely phenomenal in opinion. It's  tier a above what I expected, again much like other aspects of this anime the music just blended well together with everything and fit, with the exception being Mayuko's song which I fond to exceptional.

Sound gets 8 out of 10 for being good and controlling tone of the anime having a few flashes of unexpected brilliance.

Characters: Okay guys this is where the brilliance of this anime takes place, Matsuri, Aono, Yorito hell just about everyone in the damn cast is perfectly utilized and balanced, We learn about the pasted of the characters we need to learn about, we feel an attachment to the characters because they offer us such human qualities and ideals even though they may not be human. The characters that need to be fleshed out are, the characters that don't need to be aren't. There are no overgrown side characters or undergrowth of a protangist. The best part of this anime is the fact we understand or are hinted to why they do as they do. For example in the Love-square(?) each girl is given a reason for their love involving our protagonist not just falling magically in love like other animes. The protagonist is given reason as to act as he does and rather than be magically devoted in a second, it grows or we are again reason for the intensity if it is intense from the beginning.  I even loved the filler character Koyori because even being a filler character she has a role plays it and has unique characteristics about her that just make her fun.  Personal Flaw is I wish Mayuko and Takeshi characters were a little more full and organic like the other characters and explored in depth.

Characters gets 9 out of 10, in these anime we have balanced well explored and fleshed out characters that are made interesting by their execution. Characters are given reasons for the way they act and allow us as the viewers to understand their motives. Flaws again which Mayuko and Takeshi were explored more like the other characters (but again were above average characters

Story: 8.5/10(Good story, Interesting Premise, Brilliant execution)

Animation:8.5/10 (Good production value, Good character designs, Animation strengthens themes well)

Sound:8/10 (Good Sound, Good Control of Tone, Flashes of Brilliance)

Characters:9/10 (Great character development, Emotional attachment to characters, minor flaws)

Overall: 8.5/10, This anime does everything well and delivers everything and executes it perfectly. Their won't be "WTF, why did this happen type moments?" everything flows. This anime’s strengths are the characters, even though this is technically a harem, you will never feel like that. Sola is enjoyable anime spanning only 13 episodes, with memorable characters and solid ending it won't make your masterpiece list but will leave you with a sense of enjoyment and carthesis even after the anime finishes.

This is my first review please leave any feedback on the comments section or my profile thanks

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8.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall