I know the twist that was coming in the flashback scene from episode 7, but that didn’t totally diminish the impact. This was pretty edgy material even for this series, and it had the sense that things have definitely taken a darker and more serious turn.
I suppose people are divided about what happened between the younger Nao and Haru, but it’s pretty clear from the disturbing aftermath of the event that it was tantamount to rape. I’m not sure exactly how old they were supposed to be – somewhere around 12 or 13 – and there’s no doubt that things appear even worse because Nao just looks so much older than Haru at that age. But whatever her reasons, she clearly took advantage of him – the mere fact that he was helpless to refuse her doesn’t justify her act in any way. It’s clear Haru was bewildered by the entire event and that it deeply impacted both of them forever.
With all that for starters, this couldn’t help but have a much grimmer tone than the Akira or Kazuha arcs. Picking up immediately after episode 1, it was clear from the beginning – playtime is over. The last two arcs now look like light-hearted distractions – what’s happening between Haruka, Sora and Nao is clearly the heart of the story. We can certainly conclude that Sora is intensely jealous of Nao – the scene of her typing “I hate Nao” over and over had the feeling of something from School Days, as much as I loathe to bring that series up when I thought we’d moved past the comparison. But while I don’t expect any nice boats it’s clear that Sora dislikes Nao being with her brother much more than Akira or Kazuha. Is it because of her hatred for Nao, or her lust for Haru? Impossible to say yet with certainty – but based on the early episodes and the fact that Sora is getting by far the longest arc, it seems unavoidable that this series will follow the incest path.
What further gave the impression that the seriousness had been turned up a few notches is that the erotic tension – and nudity – were ramped up right from the beginning this time. What exists between Haru and Nao is is long-standing and powerful, whether for good or ill. He seems to have forgiven her for what she did to him – even justified it in his own mind – though she still seems to hate herself for it (as she should). Has this “broken” Haru – made him a sex addict, or unable to relate to girls without involving sex? Even his sister, perhaps? Those are big conclusions to jump to, and not justified yet. But this was clearly the biggest event in the series so far, and the ripples will still be in the pool all the way to the end.