「トリノソラネハ」 (Tori no Sorane wa)
“A Bird’s Fake Cry”
Either the producers are aware that Sora’s going to be the hot thing that boosts DVD/BD sales or there’s some serious bust-size discrimination going on with the censoring of her solo bedroom scene. I’m thinking it’s the the former due to the taboo nature of a Haru x Sora pairing, but it’s a lot more fun when I assume it’s the latter and demand that smaller-sized girls receive equal treatment. Anyway, given how Nao’s arc concluded last time, I really don’t see any reason not to be sympathetic towards Sora’s situation anymore. After all, it’s clear now that she’s afraid of losing Haru as a brother more than anything else. Yes, those feelings seem to transcend the boundaries of a sibling relationship to the point that Sora will masturbate while thinking about Haru, but that same raw sexual desire is reciprocated in Haru as well. However, Haru is well aware that an incestuous relationship is wrong to the point that he won’t even joke about it. Sora on the other hand I’m not so sure about, but we’ve already seen three alternate routes where Haru ended up with another girl, and she never once let any feelings of jealousy consume her. In fact, Nao was the only person she even lashed out at in any way, and that was due to what happened in the past. As such, I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt on knowing the moral implications of a relationship with Haru, and cast it off as something that developed innocently during their childhood. By no means does that imply I’m completely supportive of an incestuous relationship between the two of them though. I’m simply understanding of how things may have gotten to this point, especially when the two of them seem to know that this is “socially” unacceptable.
Looking beyond what society has dictated is right and wrong, I really like how this arc is developing from the standpoint of two girls vying for Haru’s affection. As I mentioned last time, I was looking forward to how Haru’s decisions would start tipping in Sora’s favor — after he had already started going out with Nao in their stories’ common second episode — and this episode gave me a few interesting looks in that regard. One of which is seeing how Haru wrestles with thoughts of Sora that have filled his mind when she doesn’t make it easy for him. Another is how he’s torn between the idea that Sora’s simply messing with him and that she actually sees him as something more than a brother. In the latter case, Haru’s lie about going out with Ryouhei instead of going out on a first date with Nao seemed to suggest as much, since it showed that he was worried she may not be able to cope with the idea that he’s seeing someone. That scene also helped reiterate that Haru’s concerned about Sora’s feelings as a girl, which seems to be the key difference that’s preventing things from proceeding down Nao’s route. Surprisingly, none of Haru’s decisions were heavily influenced by Sora in any way, and were simply brought upon by his own thoughts of her as something more than a sister. To that end, I couldn’t help but notice how he used his relationship with Nao as the reason why he can’t consider one with Sora, as if he was trying to justify it to himself. That was a pretty stark difference to Nao’s arc when he didn’t seem to have a care in the world about how Sora felt and just tried to get her to acknowledge his relationship with Nao.
If I were to make one minor complaint about this series’ depiction of multiple endings, it’s that it never really gave a sense that there was a critical branching point from one girl to another. i.e. A “flag” as it’s called in eroge. Instead, the change seems to stem entirely from Haru’s personal interest in each arc, and not really anything that was brought upon by the girls themselves. It’s one aspect that I feel could have been portrayed really well given the overlap between arcs (and provide that game-like feel), so it’s a bit of a shame that the stories proceed along as if there isn’t any to begin with. Instead, Haru is just shown to have Sora on his mind more because of a dream he had, so much that he’ll think about buying her a hairpin during his date with Nao. Incidentally, there was a bit of parallelism going on when Haru decided not to cook curry with Nao after he found Sora crying in bed. The circumstances were different, but it sort of mirrored the alternate route where he didn’t even check up to see if Sora was home, cooked the curry with Nao, and then had sex with her. That sort of reflected a decision point in a way, namely whether to check up on Sora or not when he came home with Nao, and is what I would’ve liked to see more of. On that note, I’m a bit wary that Sora may have been putting up an act to get Haru’s attention, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s the case knowing what I do from Nao’s arc.
More so than Sora, the harder thing to interpret are Haru’s tears when he saw her masturbating while calling out his name. At the moment, I’m thinking it’s because he’s faced with the very real possibility he could be in a sexual relationship with her if he really wanted to be, meaning that he has to make a decision between her and Nao now. In addition, he’s realized that he won’t be able to get away thinking that Sora will be fine on her own anymore, seeing as she feels so strongly about him. Another possibility is that he’s just unsettled by what he’s just witnessed and doesn’t know how to deal with the situation he’s in. It may even be because he feels responsible for it, since he is the one who kissed her when they were younger. Whatever the case, this is some pretty deep stuff, which looks like it’ll get even more complicated next time.