I watched episode thirteen some time last week but I got held up with other things so I wasn’t able to write up a blog entry about it. I also wanted to recollect my thoughts about the series as a whole so that I could write up a good, honest entry about it.
NOMAD really put in a solid effort in this episode. I noticed very few animation slip ups besides some awkward faces early in the episode, Koyori whilst folding origami next to Mana, and the last bit when Aono and Mana are walking together. Barring these issues, the animation for this episode has been excellent and is on par with the rest of the series. The music needs not be commented on as I’ve praised it several times in my past entries. They played a shorter variant of “カスカナヒカリ” during the very brief fight scene that this episode had and I can safely say that nothing could’ve pleased me more.
The conclusion of this series caught me off guard during my first run through the first episode. Yorito’s sacrifice was just really hard to swallow. It just seemed way too rushed. He dies, Aono cries, Matsuri dies, Aono turns back into a human, and now we queue the epilogue. The conclusion didn’t evict any sad emotions out of me, which displeased me greatly. I’ve been clamouring for a sad ending throughout the series’ run and these two deaths just didn’t do anything for me.
I slept on the issue (as implied since I watched the episode last week) and pondered over it before returning for a second run through the episode yesterday. The second run felt different, much different. Maybe because I knew who was going to die and how the episode was going to play out, I don’t know. It just felt different. The episode gave me a very fulfilling experience, something I obviously didn’t feel during my first run. I think it was probably because I wasn’t sitting on my chair looking for a sad ending. I just watched the episode “as is”…and I enjoyed it. By not simply staring at the screen in anticipation of something sad to come flying at my face, I was instead able to look past the deaths, beyond the simple emotion of being sad simply because somebody died. Yorito sacrified himself not only to protect Matsuri but to also tell Aono that she should let it all go. His death also helped wipe out Matsuri’s hesitation and she was then able to follow through with their plan, granting Aono her life back, reconciling what she did centuries ago. I didn’t get it when I first heard Matsuri say it, but now it’s all come together. To put it simply, there was a real purpose in Yorito’s death. Maybe you all saw it during your run through the episode, but in my burning desire to see something tear jerking happen, I waved off Yorito’s sacrifice as being completely out of place, not sad in any way, and merely helping to accelerate the series’ conclusion, giving it the rushed feel I was talking about previously.
Evaluating the series as a whole, there really has been no major flaws to sola. The pacing has been good, the animation is excellent and very consistent, its soundtrack is brilliant with great opening and ending themes (including the first episode’s opening and this last episode’s ending), and the fight scenes are a true testament to NOMAD’s animation skills and choreography, building on top of the great stuff that they had produced for the 「ローゼンメイデン」 series. The seiyuus for this series has been excellent though additional kudos has to go to Nakahara and Noto for their lead roles playing Aono and Matsuri. On the plot front, the series has kept me on its tail since the first episode and the conclusion has me very satisfied with my personal stamp of approval. The fact that sola was able to somehow get me to forsake my wish for a sad ending and to accept its more mellow (which isn’t really what I want to say, but you know what I mean) conclusion speaks volumes about the series. To end on this high note, I’d like to announce that sola has officially entered into my annals of “Top 10 Japanese Animation”.