Yorito’s biggest hobby is taking pictures of the sky. When he gets up early one morning to finally get a good shot at the sunrise over the sea, he meets the enigmatic but lively Matsuri, a girl who seems to have the ability to appear and disappear at will. However, he quickly finds out that she holds a secret that other people are willing to kill her for, a secret involving his bedridden sister Aono and maybe even himself…
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: Well-written mystery; great seiyuu work; best climactic revelation ever
Lows: Too long by half an episode; side characters implemented awkwardly
sola is one of the many mystery dramas that have popped up in the wake of Kanon, and while it has all the looks and feel of an anime based on a visual novel or dating sim, it is not. And you’d never believe that if you were looking at the cast and plot: generic weakling hero, generic female best friend, generic cute sidekick, generic gloomy girl, generic mysterious girl.
The show even starts off like one based on a visual novel: guy meets girl in an innocent situation, and then all hell breaks loose. From that point on, fortunately, sola continues as though based on a quality visual novel, one that puts great effort into developing an air of mystery and into making the viewers guess about the truth behind all the strange things that happen. Most of the characters develop a personality beyond the expected cliché, and a few truly shocking developments keep everything interesting.
Nomad manages to deliver the show with good visuals and a splendid action choreography, but it’s the seiyuu that really draw you into the plot with their performances: Higurashi’s Rena and Elfen Lied’s Yuka, the two female leads, turn the story into something very somber, very menacing, and even Okamoto Nobuhiko, Yorito’s voice and a newcomer to the world of voice acting, delivers a very convincing young man facing a terrible dilemma.
The series starts off a little slow but becomes better and more exciting the longer it goes, finally culminating in probably the best and most surprising revelation in an anime ever, in episode 12. That is the definite climax of sola, and it doesn’t get much better after that. In fact, after that, it starts to get worse, and as the end credits roll one episode later, much of the power of the aforementioned revelation is lost by too much explanation. Put bluntly, sola is too long by half an episode. It also loses dramatic impact through all four major side characters who never add anything to the story except for a bit of comic relief that doesn’t fit into their personalities. Were this a series based on a visual novel, I’d suspect they had no room for their individual story arcs; however, as it is not, I don’t know what the creators were thinking.
All in all, sola is a great show at its core, but one where many little flaws keep gnawing away at the potential it actually has. It is also a great reminder of the adage “more isn’t always better”, one that Nomad, a young company with a promising future, should take to heart. If you don’t mind your anime dish overcooked in a few places, you will probably find this series tasty enough.