What They Say:
After losing both of their parents in an accident, Haruka and his twin sister Sora move out of the city to the rural town where they spent their childhood summers. In their new home, everything seems peaceful until Haruka discovers a special, forbidden love that may disrupt the entire town!
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this series comes with just the Japanese language track only and it’s encoded in stereo at 384kbps, which is certainly higher than the norm. The show is pretty much all dialogue though so it’s not something that makes a huge difference, but there’s some good clarity to it overall and the opening and closing sequences have an added overall warmth and richness to it that’s definitely a positive to it. The dialogue side of it is fairly straightforward throughout though as we get mostly center channel based pieces for it with a couple of bigger moments here and there, but still little of note in the end. But everything comes across in a clean and clear fashion making it a solid encoding overall, which is what you want.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes are spread across four discs and are done in a rather different way than normal. Working off of how the Japanese Blu-ray box set was done, each disc is essentially its own arc. But each arc starts with the first episode, for the most part, and that episode is also on each disc where it’s supposed to be. That makes it so that you can watch just one character arc and enjoy it without getting part of a different one or having to swap out. It’s a little unconventional, but it fits with the route theme of the original visual novel. The series is animated by studio Feel and it largely has a good look to it in terms of animation and design and the encoding mostly gets it right. It’s almost set evenly at a 7.5 mbps level, though it goes higher from time to time, and most of it comes across well. The show itself doesn’t look highly detailed in some ways and there are dark areas where the backgrounds show more blocking than it should, but part of it feels reflective of the materials and the limitations of standard definition releases.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized DVD case that has a hinge inside to hold the multiple discs while others are against the interior walls. The front cover goes for the familiar design of the main cast spread about in different sizes with a cloudy background to it, all with some peeks of blue, so that there’s a light and fun aspect to it. You get to see the main cast and their general designs and you also get the two main characters back to back in close form that’s its own significance. The logo is kept along the lower left where it’s in the original Japanese name as well as the lengthy English language version as well that’s just a mouthful and a half. The back cover goes for a bit of a dark and murky background but it’s complemented by the two strips of shots from the show that are full of fanservice and color. The premise is kept simple and the top portion breaks down the episodes and arc aspect of it. The bottom rounds things out with the production credits and the technical grid, though I’m not sure why it lists the run time as 129 minutes since it’s actually 300 for the non-repetitive aspects of the release. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is one that’s carried through all four discs in its overall structure and design, but it changes up based on the characters. The right side uses the respective character artwork for that arc with the lead girl for it where it’s done up with a really appealing style that lets them stand out in illustration form. The left side provides the series logo in both forms along the top while below you get the basic menu selections, which is mostly dropping down further for scene selection or turning the subtitles on or off. It’s a good looking menu all around, though a little slow in some of the functionality when it comes to finishing up subtitle selection as there’s a touch of lag.
The only extra included is a brief art gallery with some obviously appealing pieces of character material.
Not listed as an extra, though they should have been, are the twelve three minute bonus episodes that are attached to the end of each episode. These are done in chibi form for the most part and tend to play it wacky and goofy as it messes with the cast, but it also brings in some sex scenes or at least nude scenes for them in normal form to try and tie things together in a weird but usually amusing way.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the adult visual novel of the same name, Yosuga no Sora is a twelve episode anime series animated by studio Feel. The show is one that does what some visual novel adaptations do in breaking things out into individual arcs. These are done in such a way here that each disc basically starts back at the beginning, which may feel weird at first, but in a way it promotes watching the arcs as separate movies almost and putting a little space between each of them. Including the first episode with each disc is certainly a bit unusual, but the end result is one that I think works well in allowing it to come across properly and more defined with each arc.
The show is one that definitely plays to its adult origins and that may be off-putting to those that aren’t aware of it at first since it goes into full blow sex scenes. There are characters that masturbate, there are sequences where first experiences at younger ages come to light and there’s some forceful situations that come into play based on some real mental struggles with what they’re going through. But there’s also some really fun sequences where there’s real enjoyment and pleasure to be found throughout all of this and that’s just a welcome change. As mentioned in a lot of other series reviews relating to relationships, so many of them tend to avoid committing to anything since they’re playing to the manga and the will they or won’t they aspect that I end up loving shows like this all the more because it dives deep into the actual actions, repercussions and the feelings of it all.
The series essentially works four arcs into what it does and each of them offers something different to it. We’re first introduced to Haruka and his twin sister Sora, two high school students that have found themselves moving to a small countryside village where their late grandfather lived. They’ve had to do this after the sudden and tragic death of their parents. The siblings have not had it easy as they spent several years apart at one point when they were young as Sora was elsewhere for presumably medical reasons, and when they got back together there wasn’t quite the same sibling bond, at least from Haruka’s point of view. He viewed her as just another girl, one that he was attracted to, and they briefly acted on it before he ended up distracted by other girls at the time. For Sora, that’s stuck with her the whole time and she never got past it or past wanting more of it. That relationship does not impact most of the arcs outside of the last one though, so you can have that as a foundation and then ignore the actual exploration of it if it goes past your squick limits.
The first and third arcs are the ones I really liked the most with the characters they explored. The first arc involves Kazuha, who has had a crush on Haruka for some time and the two of them end up in a relationship. Part of the problem is that there’s tension between her and her best friend Akira because there’s some illegitimacy involved between the two through their father, but it gets to be a messy point in the background that keeps impacting things in the present. The fun is in watching the way Kazuha and Haruka interact with each other and explore the openings of a relationship. This arc also includes some of the setup time with Akira, which spins into its own arc later, so there’s a shared episode and then each have their own two part that follows it up. Akira’s arc left me less than interested overall, particularly because something about the whole shrine maiden thing just continues to rub me the wrong way as an overused and very uninteresting trope.
The other arc that works really well for me and is my favorite is that of Nao. Nao and Haruka had an encounter when they were a few years younger where she basically overpowered him and had their first sexual experience together without really understanding it in a way. Nao seemed to have gotten it with what it meant, but there was a kind of uncertainty to Haruka – made worse by the fact that they left not long after that to return to their parents. His return in the present has him interested in her once again, a little older and more understanding of things, and the two find themselves in a quick and very fun relationship as they date, grope and get pretty intimate on different occasions. The complications come with Sora though, as she saw that earlier instance a few years ago, and views Nao as someone who will take Haruka away from her. It’s an interesting arc with what it dabbles in, both past and present, and I really liked Nao as a character because she’s a bit more aware in general of some of the dynamics moving through the story.
The last arc is the most complicated and understandably so with its themes of incest between brother and sister that’s made even more complicated by the twin aspect of it and some of the psychological issues there. This one goes in wholly with events as it starts with the Nao/Haruka relationship in its early stages but has a far more possessive Sora – one that Haruka discovers really has feelings for him in a big and sexual way. That turns the corner quickly between the two and they become incredibly connected to each other, emotionally and physically, which starts to bleed into their normal school lives. The reactions are mostly of the shunning variety, though Nao tries to play it as understanding as she slowly steps back, but it takes an interesting toll on both Haruka and Sora that’s explored as best as it can be in this kind of format. It’s a tough arc to watch because it also feels like it’s the most blatantly sexual of them all.
Yosuga no Sora is one of those adult visual novel adaptations into anime form that does not excise the adult side of it. Most do find ways to become clean versions and that’s all well and fine since most games are all about just having them have sex. But the explorations of how sex impacts relationships, the dynamics of individuals going into those relationships, and the fact that teenagers are all over the map in understanding themselves makes for some volatile and engaging stories to be told that are often passed over in the form of safe things. Maybe a kiss, maybe an admittance of love that doesn’t get explored far. This one explores the arcs well for each of the characters and digs deep into how relationships impact the two involved and others. Yes, it could have done it without showing the sex, but if you’re fine with watching people blow up, get sliced and outright eaten by monsters, this should be the least of things that disturbs you. It’s a fun show overall, and I imagine I’ll be leaving the final arc out of my overall view of it in a sense, and I keep hoping we get more like this in general.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Gallery
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.