This review will follow a slightly different format from my previous ones, I’ll still do the episode summary, but after the summary I’ll do a much greater analysis of Sora and the series.

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            This episode begins with Sora arriving at her local airport in Biei, her mother and her neighbor meet her at the airport and take her home. Once Sora gets home she greets her dog then she and her mother share a nice lunch together, Sora talks with her mother about all the things that happened to her in Tokyo. After lunch Sora takes a bike ride to the tree where she made the promise to her dead father at the beginning of the series.

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         At the tree, Sora tells her father that she finally did it and became a mage, and she also tells her father about her love for Gouta. She tells her father that love is painful but it’s also very warming. A few minutes later Sora gets a text message from Gouta, he tells her that he’s at the beach that they went to on their date, and he also asks her if she got the milk that she wanted. Sora then texts Gouta about being home and she sends him a picture of her by the tree and she tells him that she wishes that he could enjoy the view with her.

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          Later, Sora’s mother meets her at the tree, then Sora hands her mother a magical request from her late father. Then we see a flashback from Sora’s youth where she asks her father to make a really difficult magical request for her to perform someday. When her mother opens the request, Sora’s mother sees that he has requested to see Sora in her wedding dress.

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           Once Sora’s mother sees the request, Sora tells her mother that this will be her first official request. Sora then awakens her magic and she conjures a image of herself at her wedding with Gouta at her side, she then thanks her mother and father for loving her and caring for her. When the magical image fades we see Sora’s mother cradling Sora in her arms, it seems that Sora has died in her mothers arms, Sora has a nice calm smile on her face.

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            At that very moment Gouta is walking out of the water after a round of surfing, he looks up to the sky and notices some dark clouds in the sky, and by the sad expression on his face it seems that he knows that Sora has died.

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         Now the series jumps five years into the future with us getting to see what has happened to many of Sora friends and instructors. We see that Hara and Saori are still teaching students, and that Hiyori is now doing the same thing. We see Hiyori using Sora as a example to one of her students, she tells the girl that magic is not all about results, and if you fail it’s OK as long as you learn from it. Hiyori also tells the girl that it’s OK to have feelings involved, and that tears can also be tears of kindness.

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        Then we get to see that Asagi and Kuroda seem to be a couple now, and that they are planing a trip to  Biei, and once that they plan on stopping at a ice cream shop that Sora really liked. Asagi looks wistfully out the window and comments that Sora is really a great mage. Then we see that the singer (Yasuko) that Sora really liked seems to have made it with a major record label, and she is having a CD release event at a tower record shop. She then sings a song for the crowd that she wrote and performed back in the day when she was a roadside musician, it’s called Shimokitazawa and it’s named after the area she started at.

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         Then we see a man riding a motorcycle past Sora’s house heading to the countryside, after a while he asks a woman for directions to a large open space that contains a single tree. After the young man shows the woman a map, she gives him directions to the place and tosses him a tomato telling him that our tomatoes are delicious, it turns out that the young man is Gouta and the woman was Sora’s mother.

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        When he gets there he compares the picture Sora sent him to verify that he has the right spot then he starts talking to Sora. Gouta then tells Sora that he’s glad to have met her again, Gouta asks Sora if she’s lonely, and he tells Sora that he’s fine. He then takes out the precious stone that Sora gave him when they were on their date, and he tells her that he’s always been with her. He then remembers their conversation about tomatoes then he begins to eat the tomato that was given to him, and after taking a bite he breaks out in laughter telling Sora that the tomatoes from Biei are really good.

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         Gouta begins to recall the conversations that he and Sora had while they were together, and he tells her about all the places that he got to see and how he’s taken his surfing to a whole different level. Gouta then tells Sora that he doesn’t know when he’ll see her again but he’ll keep doing his best in this world and he’ll tell her but it again. As darkness begins to fall, Gouta tells Sora that he has to leave but before he goes he summons up a tremendous level of magic from deep with in his heart to show the one he loves all the seas he’s visited from around the world. As the episode ends we get a extended version of the ending song with a montage of images from the series. Well, that’s all for this episode and the series.

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Taking great joy in, and tasting the sadness of a brief life well lived, and why it’s OK cry.

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          After finishing Mahō Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora , I can firmly state that in my opinion that this series is one of the very best anime of the year. I know that this series has gotten little play from the general anime viewing audiences because of it’s slow paced/slice of life format and it’s intensely character driven plot construction (read little or no action) but this series contains one of the best examples of the Japanese/Buddhist concept of Mono no Aware  I’ve seen in anime in the last couple of years.

         Before I continue with my review I’ll briefly cover the concept of Mono no Aware and the symbolism of Sora and the sunflower. The term/concept of Mono no Aware  is an aesthetic principle closely associated with Japanese culture and the Buddhist tradition and a literal translation of this term is “the ahh-ness of things” but this principle has a tremendous amount meanings on many different levels. But the heart of the concept is that all life is transient and impermanent in nature and trying to hold on to something beyond it’s allotted time will lead to suffering, so one must enjoy the beauty and joy of the moment but one will also feel bittersweet in the knowledge to the moment will fade/pass. So, in other words, enjoy each moment of life to it’s fullest even though you might feel sad in it’s passing.

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         Now to the symbolism of Sora and the sunflower, in Japanese writing especially in poetry the use of Kigo (season/seasonal words) is used to help describe the nature of the season your writing about. In the manga every time Sora uses her magic some form of a sunflower is involved in the end result, but in the anime the sunflower is shown at the ending of the opening animation sequence and it appears a few other times, So, one of the Kigo  for natsu  (summer) is the sunflower, so associating Sora with the sunflower kind of means that natsu kinu  (summer has come) to the people that her life touches, she brings a caress of warmth and love to the people she interacts with. I can’t think of a better why to describe Sora’s affects on the people around her.

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          From the very beginning I knew that this would be one of my favorites anime series of this year, but after finishing the last episode this anime touched me more than it thought it would. Mahō Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora  is one example of what a anime can be when it hits all the right emotional connections and makes you really feel something, many of the popular current anime will be forgotten in a few years time when their fans have moved on to the next hot series while this anime will still touch people.

      Like I said in a earlier review from this series, one can’t help but like Sora, she’s one of those perfect girls that can only exist in anime or manga, she’s full of all the love, kindness, and caring one could ever need without the least touch of malice of selfishness. I know this is not realistic but I learned a long time ago to paratice suspension of disbelief to be able to immerse myself in worlds created by novels, film, TV, manga and anime.

         At first, I thought Sora was one of those almost too nice anime girls that while pleasant to think about had no real qualities beyond her goodness, but after completing the series I truly appreciate Sora’s nature for what it is. Sora in knowing that her life would be ending shortly was a girl who was sucking every bit of joy and emotion out of the world around her, and if that made her too emotional than so what. I’ll take a person who really feels over someone who is just walking through life any day.

          One of Sora’s greatest fears other than being scared about dying was that she would be forgotten and that meant that her life would have faded to point where she didn’t even exist at all. But, her caring and loving natured touched many people around her and left impressions that will last a lifetime. Hiyori, Asagi, Kuroda, Hara, and especially Gouta will always carry a part of Sora life with then till their deaths so in effect Sora has achieved a type of immortality.

Why it’s all right to cry.

          While watching this series if you feel the need to cry, go ahead and cry, but cry for the right reasons. If you feel sadness about Sora’s life being cut short, or if you feel sad about thinking about how good Sora and Gouta would have been as a married couple, than go ahead and cry. But, also let those tears be tears of joy for a brief life well lived because Sora’s life was the embodiment of Mono no Aware; short, sweet, beautiful, but also impermanent and fleeting, cry for have been touched by something special.

     At one point Sora told Gouta that she knows that she should tell him should forget her but she did really want him to remember her occasional. I’m sure that Sora wouldn’t want to be remembered in sadness, so in keeping with the Japanese love for poetry I’ve included two poems that I feel expressed Sora’s hopes on how she’ll be remembered.

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

Mary Frye (1932)

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day.
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

By Christina Rosetti (1879)

 

 

 

 

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        This episode picks up right before the end of the last episode with Gouta finding and comforting Sora in her darkest hour, Gouta then calls everyone to let them know that he has found Sora. Hara is relieved to know that Sora has been found and he seems impressed that Gouta used his magic even though he knew he would be punished, then Sora and Gouta walk back towards the dorm holding hands.

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        The next morning everything is back to normal with Gouta cooking the fish and Sora making the miso soup. After their meal, Sora and Gouta head off to school to take their final exams, and while their gone Hara and Saori talk about how quickly their month with Sora has passed. At school the students take their written exams then they take another hands on exam involving turning water into ice for the second time, on this go around everybody’s magic has improved greatly. Later, the instructor announces that everybody has passed their exams, and the graduation ceremony will be at 1310, so don’t be late.

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          At the graduation ceremony everyone gets their diplomas, and it turns out that Gouta’s parents have turned up to watch him graduate. After the ceremony the instructor tells the students to remember that this is not the end but only the beginning for them, then the students get to meet their families and friends that came to see them graduate. It turns out that Gouta’s parents are getting back together again, and Gouta introduces Sora to his parents telling them without her help her he wouldn’t have been able to graduate.

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          Later, back in the classroom the five main students are together again and Sora tells them that she was happy they could graduate together. Afterwards, Hiyori talks about all of them meeting up again in the future and everybody agrees. As Sora and Gouta are walking home she tells Gouta that she doesn’t want him to forget about her even if he gets married and has children, she asks him to think about her every once and a while. Sora is in tears as she asks Gouta to remember her and Gouta takes Sora’s hand in his to comfort her.

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         On their way home Sora and Gouta run into the female street musician, Sora tells her that they just graduated, so she plays a song for Gouta and Sora. Back at the dorm the instructors congratulate both Sora and Gouta. Later, Sora and Hara have a talk outside the house and Hara tells Sora that many people will remember her, and he tells Sora that he wants a daughter just like her, but Sora tells him he needs to get a wife first.

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         The next morning we see Sora walking with her suitcase through the city streets heading to the airport and we hear her call Gouta’s name. At the same time, we see Gouta sitting at the bench where he found Sora the other night, and he seems to be lost in thought. Well, that’s all for this episode.

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        Well, this episode was really bittersweet for me to watch in so many ways. First of all, I was sad to see a series coming to it’s conclusion that I have grown to love. Secondly, we the viewers know that Sora’s life will soon be ending. As we learned in the last episode, Sora has a terminal illness that only mages can contract and it’s incurable, her father died of the same illness one year after his first heart attack, and Sora had her first heart attack just over one year ago. Since this series is about taking life at face value and dealing with it’s ups and downs there will be no deus ex machina  answer to her illness, Sora will die.

        Now that I’ve talked about the bittersweet stuff I’ll move on to the happy stuff, and contrary to the tone of my last couple of reviews this series had plenty of upbeat moments. First of all everybody managed to earn their certification as mages, even Gouta who practically had no magical ability at the beginning of the series. Also, Gouta’s parents decided to reconcile by the end of the series even though it seemed like a lost cause. Overall, the students caused a lot of good to occur through their interactions with their clients, and the main cast learned the value of having friends to talk with and to hangout with.

       So, overall the students learned many valuable life lessons during their one month training program, they lived and learned, experienced life’s ups and downs, and matured into better future adults in the process, making this series a great example of a slice of life series with a little magic thrown in.      

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          This episode begins with Gouta waking up on the couch of the bar he was at the night before, so he decides to head back to the house. Once there, he discovers that Sora and Hara are out on a early magical request, he’s still pissed at Hara for being with Sora. Gouta arrives at the school without Sora and the other kids ask him why she didn’t come to school with and he replies that he didn’t ask her. Everyone can tell that he’s upset, but Asagi is worried about Sora.

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       Later we see Sora resting on a park bench and she seems pretty worn out and tired, and after a while she calls out to her mother. Then we see Sora’s mother getting a phone call from Sora, Sora says that she wants to come back home, and her mother says OK. But after she gets off the phone with Sora she tells a coworker that Sora won’t be coming home yet, she’s much stronger than that.

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        We see that Sora had gone back to the family that she performed the awakening magic on to ask the husband if she can perform her magic on the wife again, Sora was not satisfied with just awakening her from the coma she wants to recover her memories. The husband tells Sora “no” what she did was just fine, and that you shouldn’t ask god for too much. He also tells Sora that they are making new memories every day, and when Sora leaves she sees that they seem happy together.

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        When Gouta returns to the house he sees that everyone is upset because Sora is missing, she left the hospital without permission. Gouta grabs Hara and demands to know what he did to Sora, he starts violently shaking Hara around. Finally, Hara punches Gouta in the face calling him a dumb-ass, he tells Gouta that Sora is dying. He tells Gouta that Sora has a disease that causes her heart to go out of rhythm when she sees extremely bright lights or when she hears extremely loud noises, and yesterday’s thunderstorm triggered an attack. Hara also tells Gouta that Sora’s father died of the same disease, and he tells Gouta that this disease can only be caught by mages. Sora’s father died one year after his first heart attack, and Sora had her first heart attack last summer. He also tells Gouta that when he was checking Sora out Gouta only saw what he wanted to see, and he thought idiotic thoughts.

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         Gouta rushes out of the house to search for Sora while the rest of the adults decide that they must find Sora.  Gouta rushes throughout the local area in a near panic state desperately searching for Sora. As night falls on the town Gouta is still searching for Sora when he runs into the local singer. They strike up a conversation and it turns out that she has seen Sora about 45 minutes ago but can’t remember where she went to. Gouta asks her if he can use memory magic on her to help him locate Sora and she agrees to it. Gouta performs the magic on the singer and a ghostly image of Sora leaves her body and leads Gouta through the city streets towards Sora’s location.

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        Gouta is finally lead to Sora location, a park bench under some lights, and Sora asks Gouta if he can’t use magic for himself, and he says that it was for her, and she tells him that if he uses his magic like this they won’t let him become a mage, he tells her that he doesn’t care. Gouta ask her if she’s dying, and she tells him that he’s found out, she also says that if she dies all that will remain is peoples memories of her, it’s would be like disappearing. He asks her if she hates magic and wants to cry, she says no but he keeps prodding her until she starts hitting him and then she ends up in his arms where she tells him “why her”, and that she wants to live and that she’s really scared. He holds her as she cries and he tells her that he’s glad he found her safe. Well, that’s all for this episode.

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           These types of episodes have always been hard for me to review, most of the time I try to stand back like a impartial reviewer and just discuss the content, but when I become invested in a character this premise quickly falls apart. The ending of this series is going to be quite different than the first Someday’s Dreamers anime series, in that series you had a main character (Yume) that was quite like Sora. Yume due to her cheery and kind nature was able to help her instructor Masami overcome his feelings of guilt and loss over the death of his girlfriend, this series ended on a very hopeful and upbeat feeling, with most of the main characters moving forward toward a hopeful future, but this series will be very different.

          With the approaching death of Sora, the ending will be more about the impact that Sora has had on the people around her. As Sora told Gouta that she fears that if she dies all that will be left of her is memories and that feels like disappearing somehow. But, in the end, Sora will have left much more than that; she’s awaken Gouta’s powers, she’s saved a woman from a coma, and she impacted many other people and their lives will have been better for having meet her.

         But what really got to me was how Sora confessed her inner feelings about dying to Gouta, in too many anime many very young characters go fearlessly to their deaths with nary a thought about wanting to live longer. I, as a older guy might have a different prospective if I was told that I was dying, I’ve lived and experienced a lot of things; love and sex, meeting a lot of people, traveling to many countries, and thousands of other experiences. But with Sora this totaly diffrent, she’s young and is justing starting experiance the better things in life so I was really touched when she admittes to Gouta things like “why me”, and how she doesn’t want to die and that she wants to live, these are very human emotions that a lot of anime charathers never express. While we may think that we are ready to accept death, I think the following poem by Sri Chinmoy sums up Sora condition better than I ever could.

Our mind thinks of death.
Our heart thinks of life
Our soul thinks of Immortality.