Sakurasou is another series that probably had one more week to make up my mind for me one way or the other – and darned if it didn’t do a pretty good job of it. Considering how faithfully this series has indulged its sentimental side at almost every turn so far, there wasn’t all that much suspense to how things were going to turn out – either with Nyaboron or between Mashiro and Sorata – but nevertheless, I confess I was biting my nails all through the first act. Especially when Nanami was out there an island, twisting in the wind.
Generally speaking, I think the whole Nyaboron arc was fertile ground for Sakurasou. The general tone of the series is well matched with the concept, and the anime within an anime was executed very well. It was just good enough to be a really good student film by really talented kids – but not too good. They got it just right – over the top, enthusiastic, bright, too loud and too corny but well-done and likeable in spite of that (have there been any real anime like that this season? Hmm…) It was believable, in other words – as was the idea that Sorata had flown a little too close to the sun with his final directorial decision, to make the whole finale dependent on the audience standing up and shouting their love. And it was Aoyama that was really paying the price.
Was it cheating that it took insider help to get the audience to buy in? Sure – but at least the sentiment was genuine. In the final analysis “Thank you!” was a pretty tame thing for Mashiro and Sorata to be shouting out (he made up for that at the airport, though (and Misaki certainly did her part during the performance). The other positive development that’s happened mostly as a result of Nyaboron is that it’s brought Sakurasou’s secret weapon, Ryuunosuke, out of hibernation. It’s a shame he wasn’t used for the first eight episodes but he’s added a much-needed boost of cynicism and snark (loved the e-mail troll with Maria) to a series that can be altogether too rosy-cheeked and sentimental in its less stellar moments.
As for the second act, again no major surprises – it never really seemed like a possibility that Mashiro would go back to Blighty – but it was just so gosh-darned sincere that it was hard to resist. This was, in effect, the second finale episode and the series is only half-over – but hey, Sakurasou is good with finales and this one at least makes sense with the break coming up. There are a lot of interesting questions set up for us to ponder. Has Nanami seen the handwriting on the wall and given up (at least she has “forever alone” insurance now)? Will Ryuunosuke go back into hiding now that Nyaboron is done? And was that an out-and-out confession from Sorata – and an admission of love from Mashiro? Might we actually get a second cour that focuses on what happens after the preamble, and gets into the actual relationship?
If I were to try and summarize my status with Sakurasou at the moment, it would be “on the fence”. I like what the show can be when it gets its act together, and there are things about it (mostly absent the last couple of weeks) that drive me crazy. We’ll have to see how the new crop of shows is looking before I make a final decision on whether to stick with it on a regular basis – but if it’s able to maintain this level of quality for most of the second cour, it’s going to be very difficult to resist staying with the series.