And so, Sola has come to an end. Overall a pleasant and enjoyable ride, albeit it fell short on my expectations during the later part of the series.
The first half of the series shows great promise, with nicely paced interactions between the main characters and nicely portrayed character bonds and developing relationships. Matsuri-Yorito interactions take the cake here, being one of the most genuine and cutest ones i have seen in a good while, and it proves to be the series greatest strength.
Sadly, it proved to be its Achilles heel as well. I can’t help but feel that a good part of the affection i had towards the series kinda disappeared once these interactions were cut short. I blame this on rather poor character development and lack of sympathetic characters up to this point. We really hadn’t learned enough to truly care about the characters and hardly had any background information on them at all. Meaning that when the breeze of fresh air that was the Yorito – Matsuri interactions went away, the series didn’t have any other truly solid base to stand upon.
Pacing issues become apparent, and the perception of passing time is very poorly portrayed. One month has supposedly passed, yet we don’t feel that – they could have placed “one day” instead of “one month” and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Sola is by far at its best when it moves slowly, and i couldn’t help but feel that it hurt itself every time the pacing went up.
My second beef with the story are the characters – by the later half of the series you can hardly recognize them as the ones from the first half. And this is not due to character development (because if there was one, i sure missed it), but because of inconsistencies in their actions and personalities. There was hardly anything to justify these changes, and we still didn’t have any relevant background information on the characters, so all that was left is guesswork as to why such changes happened. In short – the series lost itself past the midway point.
The music in Sola is quite notable though – it has one of the best background musics i have heard recently. The voice acting is rather top-notch as well, with the jarring exception that is Yorito’s VA, and his inability to deliver even a decent performance during emotional scenes. He is a new VA, and it shows.
What Sola excels at is the mystery part though. It has been a while since series has managed to keep me completely in the dark about the future happenings, and my speculation hit-rate hasn’t been so low since… forever. I truly didn’t expect that from the series, especially considering its genre. A very refreshing dose of unpredictability. Lots of time i found myself thinking: “I didn’t seem that coming at all !”. You never knew when the next curveball will come flying towards you. Nicely done.
Sadly, i feel that a part of the mystery came from the lack of knowledge about character background and past relationships, so while this helped the mystery aspect quite a bit, i feel it came at the expense of some character development and depth.
The battle scenes are nicely done. Especially Takeshi / Matsuri battles- these provided a true sense of tension and danger in the air. You could feel the desperation and emotions of the characters. Sadly, i can not give the same kudos to Aono / Matsuri battles, which managed to lack tension and sense of urgency for the most part. Aono’s hax powers near the end proved a very good challenge for my suspension of disbelief.
Thankfully Sola managed to provide a very satisfying and fitting ending, so i think the show managed to pull itself together in the end in a good way, so that raised my opinion of it by a good margin, despite the inconsistencies in character (especially Yorito’s) thought process.
The series has its share of small inconsistencies and technical flaws, but most of them can be easily overlooked. The show had an excellent start that managed to get my hopes up very high, only to slowly keep trashing them along the way. It pulled itself together for a nicely done ending, but the damage had been done, and connection with the characters had been lost somewhere along the way.
In the end the show is a good watch and remains as one of my favorite series of the spring season, but i am disappointed because “good” is not doing any justice to something that had the potential to be “great”.