Sola Soundtrack

October 17, 2009

It’s been such a long time since I’ve watched that amazing supernatural anime series Sola so much so that I nearly forgot to blog on one of its plus points. Besides the storyline, characters and breathtaking art, the series also boasts several beautifully crafted background music. Now that is what I call providing both eye/visual and ear/audio candy.
 
The background music are all compiled into one big CD album entitled Soukyuu No Hate released in mid 2007 and the tracks here are mainly composed by Hitoshi Fujima. There are a total of 43 tracks in this album and although it may look hefty, it is certainly considered a standard amount in today’s standard. Besides, many of the background music lasts less than 2 minutes so I guess there is enough to fit lots of short duration tracks on one disc.
 
The album includes the TV version of the opening and ending theme of the series as well as the short size insert song by Ceui, Binkan No Fuukei. I’m not sure if I ever remember hearing them all in the series but there are some memorable ones which I liked. As usual, listed below are those favourite tracks of mine in alphabetical order:
 
1) Asayaka Na Hikari
2) Hazumu Kimochi
3) Kasuka Na Hikari
4) Kibou No Kaze
5) Kokoro Kasanete
6) Nagi
7) Sougen No Kaze
8) Yozora Miagete
 
Too bad that isn’t even 1/5 of the track. Don’t despair, though. As I have said, these are my numero uno favourites and as of today, I’m still listening to them without getting the slightest boredom or tire (unless I hear it several times consecutively of course). It’s hard to say which of the 8 favourite tracks occupies my top spot. If I had to sit down and think real hard, then I suppose it would be Kibou No Kaze. It is a light hearted and fun piece in which the easy play of the violin and cello gives a happy effect.
 
Another light hearted and fun melody is Hazumu Kimochi which is mainly piano driven. I like the ‘cheeky’ play of the piano and the background bass which gives out a playful expression. Kokoro Kasanete also follows the same feeling but is a little livelier and has several instruments in it namely the flute. Yet another happy-like song. Hey, does this series only have joyful tunes? Not totally. Not if you’re listening to Kasuka Na Hikari. Now this piece gives out a dark, evil and gloomy feeling, the way the strings are arranged. It starts off on a slow and gradual note and then progresses to get a little dramatic in the middle before turning a little faint and then the dramatic climax.
 
There is a piece in which I can successfully play with my guitar after trying my play-be-ear skill for the umpteenth time. Hey, it’s better than nothing and though it may not sound as close as the original, at least I can still consider it as an achievement. That song is Nagi and is a light and easy guitar solo piece. Thinking about it, since that song only lasts a minute and a half, I remember taking hours and hours (not to mention days) just to master it. I also tried to do the same for Yozora Miagete, a slightly sombre piece. At first I thought it was a guitar solo since that is how it started but the final half of the song commences another guitar picking ala bumblebee style as the main lead while the earlier guitar plucking becomes the background accompaniment. So if I’m playing the guitar solo for the first half (which sounds rather close after all those trying), the sudden switch in guitar roles would make my playing sound a little ’empty’, if you know what I mean.
 
Asayaka Na Hikari has the same tune as Nagi but this melody is a waltz version of the latter. Instead of guitar, you now have piano and strings and feels like a song fitting for a ball. Why not? It sounds like a waltz piece, right? A very soothing and calming piano solo is Sougen No Kaze. Though I think that there is a low string accompaniment in the background but it isn’t that obvious. This tune makes you want to close your eyes and lie down on the grassy plains while the sun shine in your face and the wind breezes through your body.
 
There is a variety of other songs in the album depending on the mood of the tune. For instance, the track also offers slow and calming pieces which may swing to either sad or happy ambience like Te Wo Toriatte (using mainly strings and piano which gives an impression of a fairytale world), Fureru Yubisaki (an electric organ solo version of Yozora Miagete), Suiteki (a slow but sad sounding piano solo), Chikadzuku Kyori (another slow song using the cello), Sokubaku (a slow enigmatic piece), Yukyuu No Omou (a sad melody using orchestra strings), Itsuka Mita Aozora (in addition to slow, it is also a gloomy piano solo), Kimi No Soba Ni (a slow soothing and slightly jazzy melody which evokes a sense of calmness), Futari No Yorube (using echo sound effects to give a calming effect), Egao Afurete (a happy flute driven tune which brings to mind a joyous and light hearted outing in the sun) and Atataka Na Omoi (another calming solo piece using the harp which makes you feel like you’re flying above the clouds in Heaven).
 
Then you also have tracks which sound suspenseful and dramatic such as Kako To Mirai To (a piano driven tune which gives an impression that something climatic may happen or time is ticking), Uzumaku Kaze (a suspenseful and dramatic piece), Toki No Hazama Ni (a simple tune though it gives off feelings of a little tension and anxiety), Kishimu Kuuki (an action suspense tune which gets more dramatic as it progresses), Tsumetai Yami (another suspense song but it doesn’t turn any more suspenseful as it sounds the almost same throughout its duration), Haiyoru Konton (another suspenseful track which sounds the same as the duration goes by. Only difference is that it adds cymbals in the later half) and Shichi Ni Nozomu (a techno beat which gives out action and suspense).
 
Not forgetting eerie and creepy-like composition which include Konmei To Michi (the violin and cello play makes it an eerie and enigmatic piece), Kairan No Yoru (an evil sounding song with a slight techno hint in which the suspense feel makes it as though something bad will happen anytime), Miezaru Ashioto (another suspenseful evil tune which sounds like a variation of Kairan No Yoru), Semaru Zetsubou (another suspense track with a few weird sound effects. First impression to me that this sounds like a trailing hot-on-your-heels cat-and-mouse feeling), Midareru Kokoro (the eerie strings reminds me of a horror suspense movie or some evil supernatural phenomenon) and Kodoku No Soko De (a slightly creepy tune since it incorporates high pitched chime bells and a wind instrument which I can’t make out. But the middle part slightly changes to a little positive though the creepiness still remains).
 
Finally weird sounding tracks which could raise an eyebrow or two (at least in my case). They are Warabe Uta (reminds me of a temple hymn because of the children voices singing), Yoru To Ame To (another strange melody but calming tune with the flute as its lead), Kokuu No Mon (some weird instruments here which I can’t make out but it gives off a creepy and ghostly feel) and Nibi Iro (a weird tune which sounds like an African tribal music infused with techno beats to give an action suspense atmosphere. The later half of it sounds like it came out from the 70’s because it sounded a little funky. I think). The remaining balance of the album comprises of Kuruuhaguruma (a short rock outfit), Kanashimi No Hate Ni (despite the name, it doesn’t sound melancholic but rather a little like a dramatic medieval tune) and Namida Tsuumi (bordering somewhat between casual and moderate).
 
Of course for those who can’t get enough of the series’ music, there are the full versions of the opening and ending themes of the series as well a 7 track character image album called Oratorio. Even prior to the screening of the anime series, there has been a drama CD released which serves as a brief prologue to the story’s setting though nothing much about the characters is revealed. I guess it is part of the marketing and advertising strategy so much so there are even 2 internet radio shows which feature the main seiyuus of the series. Having said so much, it’s not like I’m interested in listening to them all. I’m just happy with the handful of background music in my collection. And that’s the sky for me.
 

Sola

Colorless Wind

February 13, 2009

  Hane ga shiroku hikari mabushiku tonde yuku,
  Kokoro dake nosete hoshii no ni,
  Tsumetai te wo nobasu todokanai shitteru,
  Dakedo ima furetai kimi ni
 
Colorless Wind is another one of those opening anime theme songs which I didn’t like a first. Not to say that I hate it, but in the sense that when I first heard the song, it wasn’t appealing to me and thus it didn’t really matter that time if I had the song or not. Ironically, after some time finished watching the series Sola, I then started to have an urge about wanting to hear the song. Thankfully, now that I have got and heard the song, I think it’s such a wonderful piece. It’s a shame that I didn’t notice his earlier on. I wonder what made me change and want to hear the song. Was it because I felt nostalgic that a great series had ended?
 
  Natsukashii kaze ni wa ano koro no fune,
  Maboroshi ga omoide wo miseta
 
This piece is sung by Aira Yuuki and is quite an upbeat and dramatic song, which fits the mood and tone of the series. The way the strings of this music is the main reason of why this song sounds so. I really love how it greets listeners in an exciting and thrilling way when the song opens. So if you keep your ears peeled and closely on the strings, they are apparent throughout the song, but not all the time though. I can’t imagine this song without them. Perhaps also one of the reasons why I liked the song.
 
  Wasurenai dareka no koe ga setsunaku hibiku,
  Hajimaru yokan ni furete
  Wasuretai negau no jibun ga wakaranai,
  Matte iru yurarenagara yume hitotsu wo
 
Also even though I mentioned the buoyant dramatic-ness of the song, it’s not like it is all the way. All that hype dramatically slows down during the solo and gives an impression of calmness and serenity before it goes back to its usually dramatic build-up once more. Quite nicely done actually. And to end it all, yet another dramatic play on the strings but lesser on the beat and percussions. Isn’t it such a dramatic song?
 
  Wasurenai dareka no koe ga setsunaku hibiku,

  Hajimaru yokan ni furete
  Wasuretai negau no jibun ga wakaranai,
  Matte iru kodoku no naka
 
I’m glad there is a karaoke version of it. Thankfully, I don’t sound horrible much while singing it. There aren’t lines which need me to go to a higher pitch or a higher octave. Even if there are, it doesn’t pose much of a big problem. So much so, I think I sound quite close (though not perfect) to the singer herself, especially during the verses.
 
  Aimashou itoshiki hibi no tsudzuki ga kowai,
  Memai ni tomadou futari ga,
  Aeru deshou hikareau no wa tsumi desu ka,
  Tomadoi no keshite shimau
 
However, whenever I sing this song, I noticed that I need to sing it with full passion in order to get it right. Yeah, I caught myself movin’ my body with the flow of the song at times. Also due to that, I need to sing at the top of my voice during the chorus just to sound right. Though by the end of the song I felt a little ‘drained’, but it overall made me feel good about the whole song. But my only little complain is that the karaoke version doesn’t have any background vocals. I know that part is just minor and not that obvious, but I feel that background vocals help too, no matter how insignificant. Hopefully, I should enjoy this song for a long time now that I know what good thing I had missed previously.
 
  Yume hitotsu de…
 
Sola

Sola

June 28, 2008

I don’t know why, but at first I was kinda reluctant to watch the anime Sola, given that it was a surprise hit series for 2007. And with all that rave reviews (at least from what I read, most of them like it was voted as the best anime of 2007), it should’ve given me a sign that this show should be on my must-see list. You know that gut feeling when I have my first impression whether to watch an anime or not.
 
Anyway good thing is that I decided to satisfy my curiosity by watching it simply because of 2 things. One, there are a lot of beautiful people here. The visuals and character designs here are stunning and it’s all thanks to Naru Nanao, the one who’s also responsible for the character design of the series Da Capo. So expect to see bishoujos and bishonens here. Plus, the storyline is intriguing enough and is done by Naoki Hisaya, who made the hit series Kanon. So this is the outcome if you combine good scriptwriters and designers.
 
The second thing which made me watch this series is simply because of Mamiko Noto. I have to admit that I’m a big fan of her voice acting. Which brings me to another case. At first glance, based on my stereotypical experiences of Mamiko Noto’s voice acting and the look of the 2 lead female protagonists, I thought she was going to voice 1 of the main character, Aono Morimiya. Likewise, Mai Nakahara, another voice actress to voice another main character, Matsuri Shihou. I’ve always had this perception that Mamiko Noto voices dry, husky-voiced characters (like Enma Ai in Jigoku Shoujo) and Mai Nakahara lively ones (like Mai Tokiha in Mai-HiME and Noi in Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge). But to my utmost surprise, their roles are in reverse! In fact Mamiko Noto did the voice for Matsuri while Mai Nakahara voices Aono! It’s pretty much a departure from their standard roles and the way Mamiko Noto voiced Matsuri kinda reminded me a little of Narue in Narue No Sekai. But nevertheless, both ladies did a fine job.
 
The tv series has 13 episodes. As mentioned that the storyline is quite fascinating, but I find that the series takes off on a slow note at first. Those who can’t stand the slow pace of the series would’ve opt out already. Since it’s only a dozen and one episodes, might as well finish it, right? Of course the series takes its time to introduce the several characters and the first half is more comical and light-hearted. When it reaches midway, the series takes a grimmer and serious turn and there is a shocking twist revealed. Yup, I wouldn’t have guessed it too. Maybe I wasn’t really thinking then.
 
In episode 1, we are introduced to this photograph mania high school student, Yorito Morimiya. No, he’s not a pervert taking undesirable pictures, but he loves taking pictures of the sky. One may say his hobby is weird but his passion and fascination about the sky kinda reminds me of that girl Nao in Windy Tales, who herself likes to take pictures of the sky but more to ‘catch’ the wind. Just like in Nao’s case, Yorito feels that no 2 skies are alike. True. Even if I don’t pretty much noticed it. In order to get the best sky picture, Yorito 1 early dawn wakes up and waits for the sunrise. He finds a girl, Matsuri, kicking the vending machine. This Matsuri girl is quite a loveable character because she’s quite cheeky. She loves drinking some tomato juice and obviously she’s always having trouble getting one from vending machines as the machine always eats her money. But it seems by kicking it always works. But kids, don’t try this anyhow. Yorito remembers he has to take a sky pic but when he turns around, Matsuri isn’t there. Was it his imagination?
 
Yorito is Aono’s younger brother and due to some illness, she’s bed-ridden in hospital. Since her birthday is the next day, Yorito’s classmate, Mana Ishizuki plans to buy a cake to celebrate her birthday there. Sorry folks. If you plan to see some chemistry between this 2, forget it. Yorito’s first love is always the sky. So much so, he’d sometimes prefer to go and wait to take a pic of the perfect sky (or even go buy a new camera!) and forget all about his poor sister who’s anticipating his visit. Yorito and Mana arrives at Aono’s room and gives her the cake. It seems Yorito has a present for her too. Why, it’s a horrible looking doll. Aono just chuck it into some useless doll bin next to her bed. Over the series, you’ll see Yorito giving Aono different horrible dolls in hopes that she’ll accept it but the outcome is always the same. Never give up. Then there’s another patient in the same hospital who also visits Aono. She is Koyori and is Mana’s little sister. Koyori is the moe one of the series and she always has a tendency to call Mana by her first name, rather than ‘onee-san’. Everytime she does this, Mana will give her a painful chop on the head. I find this to be quite hilarious and cute. You’ll see this in every episode. "Mana-san…". *Thud*. "Itai…" (it hurts…). So much so it becomes a reflex action and you’ll know the cue when Mana raises her hands and Koyori quickly covering her head with her little palms.
 
But Yorito’s bad habit comes to light again. Yeah, he’s planning to ditch this visiting hours to take the perfect sky. Is this the one? A sunrise over an abandoned church. Speaking of which, it seems Matsuri is residing here. So back home, we see Mana doing some cooking and is out of some ingredient. I wonder what happened to Yorito’s parents. You’ll also see Mana coming over to his house to cook dinner. It’s amazing that their relationship don’t develop from here. Yorito rushes out to buy whatever Mana’s missing and once again, spots Matsuri taking out her frustrations by kicking the vending machine. Since it’s raining, the wind blows away Yorito’s sky-design umbrella and Matsuri is fascinated. So the 2 had some chat about the sky while Yorito has his first taste of that horrible tomato juice. Matsuri seems quite happy to chat with him before rushing off.
 
We also see a man with a sword, Takeshi Tsujido, who’s looking for a little girl, Mayuko Kamikawa (reminds me of a Rozen Maiden doll, her goth-loli dressing) who seems to like sleeping in odd places like cardboard boxes and even dustbins! Mayuko seems kinda picky of what she wants to eat. Plus, she’s always seen carrying a ragged rabbit doll. Back in Yorito’s room, we can see his obsession about the sky so much so his ceiling is pasted with pictures of the sky. You might think it’s an open air room. Yorito recalls that encounter with Matsuri and soon goes out to find her (something about a picture Matsuri showed him with that nearby church), Matsuri is sleeping in the church when Takeshi comes in and attacks her. Just then Yorito comes in and saw what’s happening.
 
A short fight ensues in episode 2. We see Matsuri has some ability to turn things she touched into rusty and collapsible. Takeshi asks what is Yorito’s connection with Matsuri, if not, don’t get involve with that yaka (meaning, woe of the night). Takeshi throws some explosive thing to slightly injure Matsuri. Yorito tries to go after her but Takeshi stops him. Just then, Mayuko arrives and Takeshi has no choice but to let him go. Seems that Mayuko is against hunting down of the yaka. Yorito is wandering around and finds Matsuri unconscious. He takes her back to his home. Next morning, Yorito wakes up to find Matsuri admiring his sky pictures. As gratitude, Matsuri decides to fix Yorito breakfast. Okay, this girl doesn’t know how to cook too. She stuffs everything and I mean everything edible into the microwave oven. When it doesn’t work, she tries to kick it! Yorito tries to stop her but got kicked instead. Later the duo talked about what has just happened. Being the cheeky girl she is, Matsuri says she’ll give him a reward. Since Yorito is taking his time thinking, Matsuri calls him ecchi. Hehe. Probably that’s what he’s thinking though he denies. Anyway, she just pats his head. Matsuri also tells the truth and puts her finger in the sunlight through the curtains. Shockingly, it starts to dissolve and she’s in pain. After she retracts, she tells him that she isn’t human but a yaka. So is that another term for a vampire? Well, can’t go out in daylight and likes drinking tomato which is a substitute to blood. Nope. A yaka is some creature who lives forever and well… good thing Matsuri looks kinda cute and pretty rather than hagged. Because a yaka can’t come into contact with daylight (or they’ll die. So much for living forever), they can only roam about at night. Thus, the reason why Matsuri was fascinated with Yorito’s pics.
 
We then see Takeshi having a meal with Mayuko at a restaurant. Now this particular part time waitress, Sakura Sae, seems to take a liking for Takeshi and calls him Hige (beardy). This dreamy voiced girl has her weird fantasies concerning relationships and is Mana’s classmate (she too works part time here). Also, Aono is quite good at origami making all sorts of designs for Koyori. Aono also wonders where Yorito is. Obviously Yorito has skipped school today to ‘babysit’ Matsuri and didn’t even answer Mana’s call. So I guess when he gets the message this time, he has to go there or else sis will be mad. Once Yorito comes home, he spot his room lights on and fears something may have happened to Matsuri and rushes in. Nothing much, just that she’s admiring his ceiling sky. Since she has never seen the real sky before and wonders what’s it like, Yorito promises that he’ll show it to her one day.
 
Because Matsuri has no place to live, in episode 3, kind ol’ Yorito allows her to live at his home. Well, feeling lonely, is he? Sister at hospital, Mana only comes sometimes. Oh wait. He’s been skipping school for a week ever since. Can’t use that been sick excuse all the time, right? Even Mana’s suspicious. Yeah, it’s like Yorito’s trying to keep a mistress or something. Haha. So much so, Mana surprisingly arrives at Yorito’s doorstep 1 night to cook dinner. Due to Yorito’s body language, Mana could easily tell he’s lying and hiding something. What’s this? Lots of instant noodle cups on the dinner table? Luckily Matsuri knows what’s going on and is hiding. But she wonders if Mana is Yorito’s girlfriend. Since Matsuri has used up some ingredients, Mana orders Yorito to go to the mart to get some so that she can cook. He has to go or else more suspicion will arouse. After he left, Mana searches the house but finds nothing strange until she comes back to the kitchen and finds Matsuri slurping away her instant noodles. Are we in for a catty fight? Don’t think so. They’re quite acquainted with each other. Of course Yorito has a shock of his life to find the 2 girls chatting. Busted. Matsuri also learns about Yorito’s sis and since she doesn’t want to interrupt them, Matsuri leaves after the meal. But Mana wants to talk with her more. Unfortunately, Matsuri’s gone. Worried, Mana tells Yorito to look for her but Matsuri returns with a huge bag. She just when back to get her stuffs and looks like she’s moving in. Matsuri asks if they’re dating, in which they both strongly deny. With that, Yorito won’t have to skip school anymore. As for Mayuko and Takeshi, it seems they love patroning that same restaurant. So Sae wonders if that cute girl is his daughter. Due to Takeshi’s surprise, Mayuko just mentions that he goes home late due to work. I think Sae’s getting the wrong idea.
 
Episode 4 focuses more on Aono and Koyori on how they met and became friends at the hospital. One night when Koyori can’t sleep, she saw Aono sitting near a vending machine. It seems the machine has given Aono a wrong drink, coffee. Koyori spots Aono’s origami work and is fascinated. The 2 chat and Aono tells her the reason why they can’t sleep is because they’re lonely. I think the reason why she and Koyori can’t sleep is because of the coffee ;P. Back in present time, Mana and Yorito make their usual trip to see Aono and as usual, Yorito’s bad taste in dolls makes Aono discards it. Koyori wanted to tell Aono that she’ll be discharged soon but is having difficulties. Then I’m not sure about this part whereby she saw a discarded origami on the floor. She gets discouraged and leaves. Mana goes after her and inside her room, Koyori cries while hugging Mana. Later as Koyori sits by the vending machine, it’s like a reverse deja vu because Aono comes by and reintroduces herself. Yeah, have some more coffee. Still don’t like the caffeine taste? As the 2 chat, Koyori says how she wanted to learn origami from her. Aono then offers to teach her because she’s her friend. This made Koyori happy as she finally tells that she’ll be discharged soon. The next day, Koyori shows off her school uniform and promises to come visit Aono often. That Mana is working at the restaurant and Yorito brings Koyori home. Takeshi spots Yorito through the window from his regular seat.
 
Episode 5 starts off with a flashback about a young boy in horror after watching a blood soaked corpse. In present time, this episode is mainly about Yorito and Matsuri’s ‘date’. They’re not lovers already, mind you. It’s just that Yorito decides to show Matsuri the sky and since it’s raining, there won’t be any sun rays to burn her. But it isn’t perfect either since the rain blocks the true view of the sky. They went to places like the vending machine where they first met and even took a boat ride. Yeah, a mischievous Matsuri rang a random house doorbell and ran away while leaving Yorito in a lurch (something about the best view of sunrise is through here?). Later, Yorito leaves his home to visit Aono. So Matsuri is home but to her surprise finds Koyori there (trying to collect something secretly?). Koyori quickly gets acquainted with Matsuri and they became friends. After Koyori leaves, Matsuri finds an unwanted guests. Takeshi. He finally finds out where the yaka lives. Another short battle starts. Matsuri can’t leave the house because it’s sunny outside. Matsuri is then cornered in Yorito’s room and is about to give up until she sees his sky ceiling. She sums up enough power to partially rust Takeshi’s hand, causing him great pain, before jumping out the window. Yorito comes home to find the house in a mess and fears the worst. Though it’s still sunny, Matsuri takes refuge under a shady tree and an injured Takeshi has got her cornered. Before he could strike with this sword, Yorito interrupts. He asserts how he’ll fulfil his promise. Mana’s voice is then heard in the background. No choice, Takeshi withdraws for now. Matsuri then collapses but luckily, it’s starting to drizzle. Mana is shocked to see Matsuri’s wounds. Back at the hospital, Koyori tells Aono about her encounter with Matsuri. This shocks Aono very much and from her expression, it looks like she knows who Matsuri is.
 
Episode 6 has another flashback but this time Aono and Yorito living in the feudal past and they know who Matsuri is as Yorito wants to show her the sky. Matsuri wakes up from that dream and finds herself sleeping next to Yorito (not naked, mind you) and touches his warm head. Matsuri and Mana had a little chat over breakfast. Meanwhile Takeshi got his hand bandaged at the hospital as Mayuko wants to know what really happened. Mayuko bumps into Koyori as the latter was on the way to see Aono to tell her that Yorito’ll bring Matsuri to see her. At home, Mana suggests that Matsuri pretends to be Yorito’s girlfriend and cheeky Matsuri agrees. She even suggests to practice being one! On the futon, Yorito explains about the warm fuzzy feeling after the futon is left to dry in the sun. Matsuri lies on it and immediately falls asleep. Yorito puts his hand on her head and thinks it’s impossible to be his girlfriend. Maybe she was just pretending to be asleep and tells him not to retract his hand. She even asks is there any girl he likes. You know his answer lah. Matsuri then suggests they kiss! It must be taking forever for Yorito to sum up his courage but when he puts his hands on her shoulder, she just laughs and says it’s all a joke. Hehe. Cheeky girl. But all that laughter turns into worry when Matsuri learns that Yorito’s sister is Aono.
 
When the gang visits Aono the next rainy day, they find her asleep so they left. But Aono was just pretending. While waiting for a tram, Matsuri spots Aono across the street. Matsuri tells the gang to go ahead while she walks home. When she crosses the street, she only finds Aono’s origami there. This leads her to meet with Aono at an abandoned tram. It’s revealed that Aono’s a yaka and her powers are gradually returning. So if Aono’s a yaka, then why isn’t Yorito? Another short flashback of how Aono slit her own throat back then. Matsuri is shocked when Aono confirms Yorito is her little brother. The gang are surprised to see Matsuri coming back with Aono. Not sure if she could be discharged yet but Aono says she wants to see the girl Yorito lives with. Over dinner, Matsuri brings up that futon incident and sends shockwaves to Mana and Koyori, thinking he’s a pervert. Hehe. "Koyori will be changing her perspective of Yorito now". There goes his reputation. That night, Yorito and Matsuri sneak into the school grounds and chat. On the school rooftop, Yorito reiterates his promise as Matsuri sheds a tear while telling him how she can no longer stay with them. With that, she kisses Yorito and when he open his eyes, Matsuri is gone.
 
Because of that, it’s been a month since Matsuri’s missing. In episode 7, Yorito tries to find her high and low but to no avail. One day, Yorito is pissed off to find Aono rearranging the furniture by taking down all his framed sky pictures. They got into a short quarrel. Koyori tries to explain that Aono didn’t want him to have painful memories but that guy didn’t understand. Aono thanks Koyori for speaking up for her. Soon Yorito apologizes for his outburst and they went for a walk. The abandoned church reminded Yorito of Matsuri as he enters it and observes the hole in its roof. It seems that the next day, Yorito has promised to go on a ‘date’ with Aono. So Aono had a swell time trying different outfits and hairstyles. Also that chop isn’t just restricted to Mana. Yeah, Aono too gives Koyori a chop when she mentions her sister’s first name. Thought she could be safe without Mana around, huh? Aono also gives Yorito a kick in his shin when he comments on her fashion style. Thus Yorito and Aono went round the city like the place where Yorito buys those ugly dolls. Because it’s raining, Aono got wet and Yorito decides to buy a towel at a convenience store. A tomato can juice rolled to his feet and when he looked up, to his surprise he saw Matsuri there. He tried to give chase but Aono grabs his hand and pleads not to go. But that guy obviously is more interested in Matsuri and rushes off. Aono is alone and devastated and wonders why did this happened seeing that she remembered Matsuri did promised her not to show up to them anymore. We see Matsuri living in an abandoned building along with Mayuko. Wait a minute, she’s living with her now? No wonder Takeshi’s been looking for her. Yorito arrives and tells Matsuri to come home because he hasn’t fulfil his promise yet and hugs her. As usual, she says she can’t. As Aono is going crazy, a shocked Matsuri finds herself being stabbed by Yorito with a sharp broken glass! Gasp! OMG! What’s happening?!
 
Episode 8 sees Yorito awakening from that bad dream. But it did happened, right? Yorito’s not feeling well too and is resting back home. He tries to tell Aono about last night’s incident but she says she doesn’t know anything about it. I later found out that it was Aono’s power which is suppressing and controlling Yorito. Meanwhile Sae is on a tram and spots Matsuri walking into an alley with Mayuko and takes a pic of them with her handphone. Back at the abandoned building, we see a flashback of how Matsuri saved Mayuko from being dissolved by the sunlight. So she’s a yaka too. In a way, Mayuko is grateful to her. Mana and Koyori visits Yorito at his doorstep and wonders if he needs any help but Aono declines. Similarly, Yorito is in some sort of pain as he tries to remember Matsuri. Aono tells him to forget her or else he’ll be in great pain. Outside his room, Aono then sheds a tear. In school, Sae shows Mana that pic she took and Mana asks Sae to send her a copy of that pic. Mana rushes over to Yorito’s home, wanting to see him. But Aono refuses to let her in, giving excuses. When Mana says how Matsuri is close by, Aono tells her to get out and pushes her. However, since it’s sunny, that little sunlight dissolves Aono’s hands a little. Mana is shocked to see what’s happening. Aono retreats into the sanctuary of her home leaving Mana outside. Yorito now is going crazy and screaming that he wants to see Matsuri. Aono can’t do anything to calm him down. Yorito accidentally rips the curtain and the sunlight almost dissolves Aono if she hadn’t hide behind the shadows. A short chat to calm him down and put Yorito back to bed. Aono then says they’ll be able to live together again after she’s finished some business. That night, Mana sneaks in to the house to find it in a mess and Yorito’s condition worsening. She shows her that pic of Matsuri and soon the duo hurried there since he recognizes the landmark. At the abandoned tram site, Matsuri is being attacked by flying papers. It seems Aono has arrive to finish Matsuri once for all as she tells her that she no longer exists.
 
A one-sided battle ensues in episode 9 with Aono using her paper projections (is this the ultimate origami skill?) while Matsuri evades each one. Eventually, Aono has cornered Matsuri and is about to finish her when the latter smiles. A little flashback whereby we see Matsuri comforting and holding a crying Aono’s hands. Though Matsuri is prepared to meet her fate, Aono didn’t have the heart to kill her after having seeing visions of her younger self not to do so, and soon leaves. Meanwhile Takeshi bumps into Sae and the latter tells that she has seen his ‘daughter’ with Matsuri. Matsuri awakens with Mayuko by her side. Yorito and Mana can’t find Matsuri and the former starts to feel pain. Yorito is back at his home. Koyori suggests to call Aono over for dinner but Mana refuses. Mayuko and Matsuri are seen waiting at a train station. When the train arrives, Mayuko gets on board while Matsuri stays put. When the door shuts, Mayuko spots Matsuri being confronted by Takeshi. Mana arrives at Yorito’s doorstep only to be told by Aono that he hasn’t returned yet. Mana knows she’s lying and hiding things so Aono tries to shut her out.
 
Another flashback but this time it’s when Takeshi was a little boy and has befriended Mayuko and seems to have a crush on her. Takeshi asked what she wanted for her birthday and Mayuko replied a rabbit doll. Surprised that she already has one, Mayuko gives him a rabbit doll punch and says that it would be lonely. One day, everyone in Mayuko’s family was massacred. Takeshi could only watch in horror (flashback in episode 5). Later he is shocked to see Mayuko still walking. She tells him that a yaka has resurrected her and that she is no longer a normal girl. She shows him what will happen to her if she’s being exposed to sunlight. Takeshi pushes her back into the shades and vows to make her normal once more. In present time, Matsuri is trying to escape from Takeshi’s attack. Once again, he manages to injure her and finish her when Mayuko shows up and tells him to stop. I’m not sure how killing a yaka could return Mayuko back to normal but Mayuko says that she wouldn’t want to turn back into normal if it costs another life. She also tells him that her real wish wasn’t to turn back to normal, but rather to be by Takeshi’s side. A wish that hasn’t changed since. Another flashback about the times spent together by them. Matsuri wakes up to see them emotionally embracing each other.
 
Yorito finally remembers he did stabbed Matsuri in episode 10. He wants to go look for her but is stopped by Mana. She tells him that Aono is a yaka but Yorito doesn’t believe her. Koyori, who feels Aono would be alone, is seen cooking with her even if Mana didn’t approve of this. After Koyori leaves, Yorito confronts Aono and wants to know the whole truth. She says it’s better for him to forget Matsuri and what she’s doing is to make him happy. Yorito not satisfied with her answer, opens the curtains so as to prevent Aono from approaching him. This confirms that his sis is a yaka. Meanwhile Mana is seen searching throughout the town for Takeshi. When she does, she asks him about Matsuri but he didn’t say much. Later, Yorito meets Matsuri at that abandoned building. After a short chat, Matsuri suddenly stabs Yorito with Takeshi’s sword. Tit for tat? Actually, since Yorito insisted that he wants to know the whole truth, he has to endure this pain to do so. Now this is the shocking part. Yorito’s form slowly changes into paper! OMG! What is he?! Matsuri narrates that he died long ago and since Aono was obsessed about him, she recreated him using her powers with paper and implanted memories of Yorito. So he’s just an ‘actor’. Didn’t see this one coming. So this explains a lot. But it also arises new questions like if this happened hundreds of years ago, how does Mana and Koyori know them? Another mind-implanting illusion? And why didn’t Matsuri recognized Yorito’s uncanny resemblance when she first met him? From now on, Takeshi and Mayuko has become side characters as I felt their presence didn’t really matter. So Matsuri and Yorito had a little chat since the latter now knows his true form. But Matsuri says that Yorito is Yorito before kissing him. She also suggests that he disappear with her to end it all. I wonder how it feels like kissing paper? The next day Mana and Koyori are surprised to see Yorito back to his usual self while Matsuri confronts Takeshi and Mayuko and wants him to teach her on how to use the sword.
 
In episode 11, Yorito starts taking down his sky ceiling picture. He and Aono plans to leave town so things will go back to the way it was. Similarly, Matsuri is having a chat with Mayuko and finds out that she and Takeshi too are leaving town as they can’t stay this way. Elsewhere, Mana and her pals are at the restaurant and as usual Sae goes on ranting about her dream beau. But during their conversation, Mana realizes something is wrong when they don’t remember who Yorito is. Oh oh. She then rushes off. Mana is on a bridge thinking when one of her pals come by. Mana tries to show a pic of Yorito in her handphone but is shocked to see his portrait missing. At the same time, Koyori seems to be quite fond of Aono, making lots of visits each time. She requests that Aono teach her origami and the latter agrees and lets her in. Mana rushes back to the school rooftop to see Yorito there, watching the sky. Mana tries to assure that Yorito is the real thing and that he exists. Tears roll down her cheeks as she tells him how she’ll never forget about him ever. But then, she wonders why she’s crying and won’t stop. It’s setting in. Likewise, Koyori too doesn’t want to part with Aono even if she tells her that it’s all over. Finally Takeshi and Mayuko part ways with Matsuri. Matsuri turns around to see Yorito standing there. Back at Aono’s place, she hears a sound and finds out Matsuri is here with a sword. Round 2 coming up.
 
So in episode 12, Matsuri challenges Aono to a duel over Yorito at an abandoned construction site. Well, seems like a harem anime (no, I don’t consider this to be 1), huh? It’s paper vs sword. I wonder if Aono has unlimited supplies of paper. Maybe they’re being recycled. More light is shed on their past like how Aono is supposed to be sacrificed to appease the yaka, which is Matsuri. But she finds that Matsuri isn’t as horrible as the villagers painted it. Just a myth. So Yorito and Aono had Matsuri come live with them so she won’t feel lonely. One day, I think the cave they lived in collapsed and Yorito perished. Aono blames herself for his death and committed suicide. However, Matsuri resurrected her. Since Aono can’t live without Yorito, she recreates him using paper. Back in present time, Matsuri realizes that Aono has tricked her by using a fake paper self as distraction while the real Aono goes after Yorito. Even is she has found him, he still sides Matsuri. Somehow, the projector starts rolling a film of the sky. Matsuri reminisces the good ol’ times before stabbing herself with the sword. After that, she head towards Aono, who is being pinned down by Yorito. We then see Takeshi explaining that the sword has the power to return a yaka back to a normal human. Meaning that the life of the yaka it first stabs is transferred to the sword and the 2nd stabbing will transfer and revert the person back to normal. No wonder Takeshi was chasing after Matsuri previously. Aono screams for her brother to let her go and not to do it. Her fearful expression makes her seem so pitiful.
 
Well, due to Matsuri’s injuries, she missed stabbing Aono in episode 13. Aono manages to get away but since Aono is gradually losing her yaka powers, Yorito’s arms are beginning to turn into paper. Both girls regrouped to face each other 1 last time as they think back about the good times they had with Yorito in the past. Aono still has the upperhand and is gonna stab Matsuri with her own sword when Yorito comes between them. Aono is devastated and horrified that she has stabbed Yorito, who then completely turns into paper, fluttering away with the wind. With Aono in complete distraught, Matsuri comforts her before taking back the sword and stabbing Aono. As the sun rises, Matsuri also vanishes and remembers how Yorito and Aono promised to show her the real sky. Though it’s short, but I guess she finally saw it. It’s kinda sad to see both Yorito and Matsuri gone but on the other hand, Aono has returned to being a human once more.
 
A year has passed and we see Takeshi and Mayuko still wandering around like homeless people. Mayuko’s box sleeping habits freaks out a poor little boy. This time she dons a different goth-loli outfit, which Takeshi says her fashion sense is getting worse. She slaps him. Sae is still very depressed that her beloved Takeshi is no longer patroning the restaurant so much so she thinks he has left without saying goodbye. We also see Aono meeting Koyori at a bookstore and it seems nobody remembers who she is. Outside, Aono teaches Koyori more origami. Funny part is, when Koyori mentions Mana’s name, Aono instantly raised her hand but stopping short of chopping her head. Hehe. Reflex action. Even if she doesn’t know what it’s all about. Mana goes to the school rooftop to see Aono in their school uniform. Looks like she’s a new transfer student and they both quickly become friends. It seems Mana has taken after Yorito’s weird hobby as she can’t explain why she love the sky. She even shouts out loud how she loves the sky and goes back down hand-in-hand with Aono. But Aono did narrate how she’s grateful to Matsuri and Yorito. Because of their sacrifices, she’s able to walk under both skies. Mana and Koyori wakes up real early to meet Aono at the vending machine where Yorito and Matsuri first met. While Mana prepares to take a picture of the morning sunrise, Koyori is having problems with the vending machine. How does she solve this problem. Aono runs up to it and kicks it! And it works! Deja vu? Some things don’t really change even if it means a different person as well.
 
But it’s not over yet. There are 2 additional OVA episodes which takes place before the turning point of the series and is more light-hearted. Episode 14 sees Koyori winning a grand prize lottery to a family water resort unlike Mana who could only win tissues. Lots of them. At the same time, Takeshi too wins that grand prize but wish he had won some tissues because of his cold. Since Aono can’t leave the hospital and the expiry to the ticket is very near, I guess Yorito has no choice but to go with Mana and Koyori. Not only that, Mana’s pals, Sae, Chisato Mizuguchi and Touko Uehara (both girls previously appeared in the tv series but quite rare). Also, Matsuri can’t go into broad daylight so she has to stay home. At the resort, we see Chisato has a weird fetish for anything cute and glomps Koyori right away. Enough to scare the living daylights out of her. Mana’s pals thinks Koyori is so cute and whenever that chop comes into play, they think Mana’s been mean to her all along. Sae even has her weird fantasies of that harem thingy. You know, a guy surrounded by 5 girls… So the usual fun in the pool (not to mention fanservice). However, Yorito accidentally bumps into Takeshi in his Speedo trunks and before you know it, Takeshi starts chasing him and wanting to know where the yaka is. Where did he hide all those darts?! Luckily he calmed down and the 2 chat like as though they’re buddies. Sae is obviously happy to see her dream guy there. Mayuko comes by and asks Takeshi who is that and the latter bluffs her by saying he’s an intermediary agent for his negotiations with the yaka. Whatever. Lonely Aono is seen trying on a swimsuit in her room. So the guys meet up with the girls and had some refreshments. Mana asks if they know each other. "Well, it’s a small world". Takeshi also tells the rest that Mayuko is her daughter and that being a single parent is hard. Sae must be loving it and wants Mayuko to call her mommy. But I guess the rest had to stop her before he fantasies run wild.
 
The gang then goes to soak in a hot bath. Looks like Mayuko isn’t being spared from Chisato’s extreme ‘molestation’. Hope she isn’t scarred for life. Yeah, a yaka lives forever, you know. Since Mayuko soaked too long, she’s near to passing out. Takeshi and Yorito heard the girls scream and rushes over. For the first time, I think I’ve never seen Takeshi’s perverted face before as he wants to give CPR. Before he can do mouth-to-mouth, Mayuko comes to and gives him a kick in his crotch! Ouch! Takeshi and Mayuko then leaves. "Are they really father and daughter?". "We felt that something unrecoverable had happened". Later that night while Yorito is soaking in a hotspring outside alone, he gets a surprise visit from Matsuri. Yeah, she’s in a swimsuit. Super kawaii and sexy!!! Because of the way Yorito looked at her, Matsuri asks if he’s thinking of something perverted. Another cheeky comment. When the gang have freshen up and are ready to leave, Mana’s pals are shocked to here that Matsuri introduces herself as Yorito’s guardian. They’re mad at him because they thought he has Mana… Later that night as Aono is posing in her swimsuit on her bed, Yorito comes in to give her a souvenir and spots her… Only silence and staring… Lesson learned is that please keep the door lock always to avoid embarrassing moments or knock whenever you want to come in.
 
Episode 15 feels a little disappointed after that previous funny one. That’s because it has more drama. This episodes serves as a prologue before the series starts. We see Mana chiding Yorito for being obsessed for his usual sky taking obsession. Sae and the other 2 are spying on them and wonders if they’re lovers and that they’re confessing. Since Aono’s birthday is tomorrow, Mana wants Yorito to come help pick out a cake for her. But as usual Yorito gives that promise he’ll come after taking the sky. What are the chances? Sae thinks Mana has been ‘rejected’ and Mana decides to take her frustrations out by kicking a can. It hit Sae right on her forehead. At class, Sae tells Mana that Yorito must’ve been embarrassed that’s why he skipped class, but Mana calmly refutes. I’m not sure what Mana did to teach Sae a lesson when she said Mana was pretty dense. Meanwhile we see Mayuko sleeping in a cardbox while Takeshi experiments with his explosive darts, which didn’t go too well. Also the duo had a chat and Mayuko is still a picky eater as ever. Matsuri is seen wandering around and again that vending machine eats her money. Instead of a kick, she punches it this time. It works! Luckily Mana is around to drag and ‘control’ Yorito before he breaks another promise. He has that urge to buy a new camera. So later they meet Aono and though she chides Yorito’s fault for skipping classes (as reported by Mana), she says the photo he takes aren’t bad. With that, Yorito decides to bring some pictures of the sunrise to her. Back at home after printing some sunrise pics, he feels that they’re not perfect and decides to get one early next dawn. Meanwhile Matsuri is seen writing her particulars at a bookstore and putting her address as the church. It’s early dawn as Yorito rushes on his bicycle to take the sunrise pic while Matsuri is seen wandering through the night (this is the cutest face I’ve seen Matsuri with when she’s enjoying eating a bun) and eventually that vending machine. It ends when they both coincidentally meet the first time, which is exactly how in episode 1.
 
Overall, I’m really glad that I’ve watched this series. For a short series, it was enough to keep me fascinated for the entire watching period and the twist and turns and tying ups are quite neatly done. With the superb art and character designs, it gives viewers an eye candy treat. Also I want to mention that the background sceneries and especially the sky are quite breathtaking. So keep your eyes peeled and behold the magnificent artworks. I also kinda noticed that the characters seem to have a sharp chin. Must be the series’ trademark.
 
Another plus point about this series is the background music. There are a variety of them ranging from slow-paced to lively and fun ones to eerie tunes and to dramatic pieces. But the ones which I prefer most are the soothing acoustic playing. It makes you feel like you want to close your eyes, lie back and enjoy the rest of the day. For a short series to have a soundtrack of over 40 soundtracks, they really put an effort into the quality of the music. The opening theme Colorless Wind by Aira Yuki is quite upbeat and dramatic while the ending theme Mellow Melody by Ceui is slower but still lively. There’s an insert song Binkan No Fuukei, which I thought Mamiko Noto sang it, but actually was done by Ceui, who sounds quite close to her when she sings it.
 
Besides the 2 main protagonists Mamiko Noto and Mai Nakahara, the other voice casts are also excellent. They include Ai Shimizu as Koyori (Mikoto of Mai-HiME, Karen of Onegai Twins), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Yorito (Yasumi of Potemayo, John of Ghost Hunt), Youko Honda as Mana (Igusa of Inukami), Tomoko Kaneda as Mayuko (Chiyo in Azumanga Daioh, Lavie in Keroro Gunso), Keiji Fujiwara as Takeshi (Walcott in Galaxy Angel, Shuuji in Honey And Clover), and Ami Koshimizu as Sae (Tenma of School Rumble).
 
Though the next episode preview only shows the beautiful sky, but you can hear the characters narrate or blab things which is unrelated to the next episode. Like doing some tongue twister or bad Japanese pun. Then some of them have cheeky comments like Matsuri suggesting to use a ragged rabbit sexy pose to ‘knock out’ someone. Hehe. Then another hilarious one is I think Koyori (if not Mana) mentions how she has mastered the chop and then we hear several thuds and the ‘victim’ going ouch. Hahaha. Good one.
 
There are some questions that still puzzles me like if Yorito was made of paper, how come he doesn’t get soaked when he comes into contact with water? Unless it’s due to Aono’s power or she uses high quality waterproof paper. Speaking of which, during the time when Aono was hospitalized, assuming her yaka powers are low, how come Yorito’s form doesn’t partially return to that of a paper? I wonder what Takeshi does for a living because he always has to go buy some food for Mayuko.
 
On a trivial note, I think the name of the series is derived from several words. Firstly, derived from the Spanish word ‘solo’ could mean alone (taken from Wikipedia). Secondly, the English word ‘solar’ which means the sun. Thirdly, from the Japanese word ‘sora’ which means sky. All this somehow fits the supernatural drama theme of the series. Probably in Malaysia for those who don’t like the series much would say and mean ‘so-so lah’. Hahaha. Just kidding. Matsuri’s cheekiness is infectious. Besides, she’s my favourite character as she’s bubbly followed by Aono. I don’t know why many viewers despise Aono. Maybe it’s because of her initial selfish character who wants to keep Yorito all to herself. Koyori and Mayuko does emit lots of loli moe and those who have such fetish would go gaga over them.
 
After watching this series, each time I look at the clear blue sky, I’ve looked at it in a different manner and know how to appreciate it. Yeah, I even caught myself staring and spacing out at the sky at times. Quite calming and soothing actually. It’s really a different feel altogether. Every day is a gift that’s why today is called present. Perhaps I should watch more animes like this. Will there be more animes like this? Well, the sky is the limit.
 
Sola