Saku Ooyagi returns to his hometown after seven years and is soon reacquainted with his childhood friend, Mihoshi Akeno. The reunion is far from merry since the last memory they have of each other is of her falling off a tree and him saving her. In any case, Mihoshi is determined to improve their relationship and forces Saku to join the astronomy club she founded.
One of my pet gripes about anime and manga is the over-abundance of school settings used throughout both mediums. Over the last few years there has been an increase in the number of stories that are based in or around a school, and while the majority of them are nothing more than mediocre offerings, some of them turn out to be rather good.
It's unfortunate then that, of the good ones, many don't get the recognition they deserve.
Sora no Manimani (lit. Sport of the Air, not "At the Mercy of the Sky"), is based on the manga by Kashiwabara Mami that began in November 2005 and, at first glance, seems like just another school based comedy in the style of School Rumble, GA, Azumangah Daioh, etc. The story follows a "year" in the life of Ooyagi Saku, a freshmen student at Souei High School, located in the town he and his family lived in 7 years ago. Because of his love for books and reading, he is eager to join the school's famous Literature club, however he is somehow roped into joining the school's newly formed Astronomy club by a girl he hasn't seen for a long time.
As far as stories go, this is a surprisingly simple and straightforward affair. While the concept of childhood friends has been used innumerable times in countless variations, Sora no Manimani is unusual in that the scenario doesn't follow the stereotypical conventions. There is no sudden blossoming of romance, no harem (even though some of the girls in the show are clearly interested in Saku), and mostly importantly, matters are allowed to progress slowly. Unlike many other shows of this type, the honesty of the plot, coupled with a healthy dose of comic relief and pacing that allows a degree of introspection amongst the characters, gives the show the same kind of feel that the original To Heart has.
That's not to say that the plot is perfect though. The series adopts a quasi-educational stance with regards to astronomy, and explanations abound throughout the show. That said, those who have any kind of interest in astronomy or outer space will find these tidbits rather pleasing, and the fact that they are presented in a manner that maintains the flow of the story allows the viewer to absorb the information without disturbing their enjoyment of the show.
Sora no Manimani is a bit of a dichotomy in terms of it's looks. Generally the series adopts a style of presentation and animation that isn't really any different from most other school based shows. The characters are all fairly plain in terms of design (although I did chuckle at the reference to Saku's "Ghibli hairstyle"), and the series makes good use of various comic styles to enhance the viewer's amusement. The backgrounds and backdrops are nicely presented, and are surprisingly detailed in a number of scenes. CG is also well incorporated, and while it's sometimes easy to spot those moments, this doesn't impinge on one's enjoyment of the series.
I will mention one thing that separates Sora no Manimani from the herd though, and that is the numerous, varying, and highly detailed skies that appear throughout the show. Given that there is a heavy emphasis on astronomy, it's to be expected that the sky would appear several times in any one episode. It's to the credit of Studio Comet then, that they have produced some of the best skies to appear in anime over the last few years. They're so good in fact, that the viewer may find themselves wondering if the real thing is just as good, such is the detail and sophistication of their presentation.
One of the things that I liked about this show is that it's easy on the ears. The OP, "Super Noisy Nova" by Sphere, is a nicely choreographed J-Pop track with an upbeat feel. The ED, "Hoshikuzu no Surround" by CooRie, is also pure J-Pop, but has a much more melodic style. Both tracks, surprisingly, maintain the spirit of the show very well, and while I'm not a huge fan of pop in any form, I found that these two tracks worked well with the series proper.
Generally the show doesn't really place great emphasis on the use of mood music, with much of the series having no background accompaniment. That said, the tracks that are present are well used, and lend to the atmosphere of the scene.
In terms of acting, the cast provide a repsectable portrayal of their respective characters, however there are no Oscar winners here. While the cast is able to emote rather well, the type of story, as well as the scripting, precludes the need for any stellar performances.
That said, I have to admit that I did like the characters.
Since the advent of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu there has been a glut of school based slice-of-life comedies involving a selection of odd characters from the annals of anime - Lucky Star, K-On, Seitokai no Ichizon, Geijustuka Art Design Class, Hyakko, etc. The one thing that each of these shows has in common is that character development doesn't really play a big part and the jokes are set to rapid fire. Sora no Manimani bears a striking resemblance to all of these shows in that there is a lot of humour, however this is tempered by some degree of development, especially where Saku is concerned.
While the development of the other characters is sporadic at best, the show does present events in a fairly realistic manner, and although there is some predictability with regards to how the story will go, the show makes good use of what it has. In this respect the characters, while mainly being funny, are also more easily accepted by the viewer, especially when events take a more serious turn.
That said, the characters are generally one dimensional, and while this isn't necessarily abad thing in a comedy, it does sometimes impact on how the viewer perceives any development that occurs.
I will admit that I do like astronomy and comedy, so watching Sora no Manimani was an enjoyable experience for me. Whilst the humour is a tad juvenile at times, there is enough variety in the gags to keep the viewer interested, and the surprisingly detailed explanations of astronomy make a nice counterpoint to all the humour. Also, the characters, especially Mihoshi, radiate an excitement for the subject matter that made me remember what I was like as a kid first looking up at the stars.
All in all, Sora no Manimani is a surprisingly enjoyable series that, while having it's flaws, displays a passion for it's related subject matter that many other shows lack. It's this passion that makes the show far more enjoyable than it would normally be, and while the series may not be to everyone's tastes, the honesty in which the series is presented allows the viewer to relate more with the characters.
After all, sometimes it's nice to watch something that's just.... nice.read more
I’m quite surprised that there have been only a few reviews for this well-made, yet somewhat-underrated series.
If you like astronomy and want to learn more about some stargazing basics, this series “inspires” and is perhaps an anime of choice. (At least for me, I started stargazing using the techniques I learned from the show.) On the other hand, if you are not that into the subject, you may not enjoy it at all.
Sora no Manimani is a romance comedy, slice-of-life anime with an astronomy theme. The story involves a bookworm (Saku Ooyagi) who really hates outdoor activities, but was coerced into follow his hyperactive, childhood friend (Mihoshi Akeno) into the high school astronomy club. At that time, the club was desperately recruiting new members otherwise they will be suspended. Of course, they eventually could manage to find total of 5 members, and the story goes from there.
The main focus and the most enjoyable scene of each episode are the stargazing scene. The series goes over several important patterns and constellations of the northern hemisphere night sky of every season. They cover the basics of how to stargaze with naked eyes, binoculars, and telescopes. You can learn a lot of useful tricks on how to find some important stars as well.
Comedy is another good part of this anime. The humor is generally decent. The series made me laugh out loud several times. The show is overall refreshing to watch, and at least will keep you smile while going over it.
There are also some stories about romantic relationship between each anime characters, especially the love triangle (or perhaps, quadrangle) between club members (Saku, Mihoshi, and Hime). However, in my opinion, the romance part is probably not the strength of this series, and if you are looking into anime with this kind of plot, I would rather recommend other ones.
The character designs are generally adorable. Studio Comet did a nice job with the animation. The animation style is appropriate for this type of series, i.e., pretty easy to digest and simple on the eyes. The animation quality is pretty high.
Interestingly, the details of the night sky (e.g., the position of the stars and constellations) in this anime are quite accurate even in some very minor scenes. I am sure the production team has done a lot of research on this. I can even practice stargazing using some random starry night shots from the anime.
The OP & ED songs are okay. Nothing really stands out, but I think it they fit the genre of the anime well. The background music is good in general. Voice acting is nicely done.
All characters are likable, and most of them are adorable. The interactions between the characters provide several enjoyable comedies and are fun to watch. A few of the characters are quite well-developed especially the main ones, but most of them just come and go. A lot of characters were introduced quite late in the season, so there was not enough time to explore them. The studio claims that there will release some OVA or DVD specials later, which hopefully will focus more on the backgrounds of these people (e.g., the past stories of the President of the Astronomy Club).
Sora no Manimani is one of the most enjoyable series that I have seen. Thanks to lovable characters, nice comedy, great voice acting roles, good quality animation, and most importantly, the astronomy theme.
I would recommend Sora no Manimani to anyone who is interested in a romance comedy, slice-of-life anime with an astronomy theme. It is probably the best series about stargazing that I have seen in the market so far.read more
I love love this new series. You'll laugh out loud 12:00am in the morning watching this, disturbing your sleeping roomates.. well at least i did hahha!!! Very well drawn characters and I look forward to the story line. It's slightly like 'It started with a kiss' told in the guy version, only he is not as mean; with a humor like 'honey to clover' and it's just refreshing watch slice of life story.. I love the main characters they are soooooo funny! You JUST HAVE to watch this!!
Ok. 1st I shall review this anime as an anime lover. I have one word to describe this anime. Underrated. Some people don’t even give a second glance when they hear it is about astronomy. What’s so nice about looking at stars? Boring… However, that is not the case. You DO NOT have to know anything about astronomy or possess any interest about astronomy to enjoy watching Sora no Manimani. (You may just watch it for the comedy).
However, do consider this question. If right now, in the night, there is a telescope placed directly in front of you, pointing towards the moon, would you be interested to take a look through it? If your answer is yes, then chances are you do possess some interest towards astronomy.
Basically, Sora no Manimani is just a slice-of-life and comedy anime, but with an astronomy theme and some light-hearted high school romance. It begins with the quiet and reserved Saku Ooyagi returning to his hometown after many years, reuniting with his ever-energetic and enthusiastic childhood friend Mihoshi Akeno in High School (much to his dismay). There, she literally drags him into the astronomy club where his “misadventures” (in a good way) begins.
Sora no Manimani has the comedic feel of K-ON! and Azumanga Daioh. It’s hilarious and crazy at the same time. With the constant antics of hyper Mihoshi and the constant misunderstandings of her relationship with Saku, you find yourself laughing out loud at every episode.( though it gets lesser near the end).There’s also the Sunohara-alike Edogawa to bring out more laughter.
Romance in Sora no Manimani is light-hearted and forms most of the plot. We get to see some really interesting (and funny) relationships between the characters as the anime progress. Most of the time, the romance isn’t very deep though.
The animation quality is quite amazing. The stars appear blinking and The Milky way and the winter night sky have been drawn beautifully. They’re almost like the real thing outside. The constellation art looks original and grand too. The stars have also been depicted in their correct positions, they're not just randomly scattered across the sky. Just look at how many stars of different brightness there are in the winter night sky and you will know how much effort was put in. Kudos to Studio Comet.
Music is pretty good too. The opening and ending songs may sound quite average at the beginning but I’ve grown to like them. The background music is beautiful too especially in the stargazing scenes and some of the more moving scenes.
Now comes my review as a fellow “astronomer”. (DO NOT read this part if you haven't watched the anime or know little about astronomy.) I was in the astronomy club during my junior college(high school). If there was one thing I learnt from there was that astronomy was not all about stars. Where were the deep-sky objects??? (pardon my ranting). Nebulas? (huge interstellar clouds of gas where stars are born) Globular clusters? (Spherical collection of stars that can contain tens of thousands to millions of stars. It’s really beautiful to view in the telescope). Where were the galaxies? It wasn’t as if they didn’t get the chance to use the telescope. Heck they even had the whole observatory (the gigantic rotating ones) twice to themselves!!! They could have even viewed supernovas with that!! (At least they did show M52, an open cluster). The moon they viewed was also disappointing since it wasn’t the side with most of the craters.(guess that can’t be helped).
Putting those aside, Sora no Manimani is DEFINITELY still a joy to watch. I cannot help but smile and nod in agreement when characters share methods, tips and tricks about stargazing. The methods to identify neighbouring stars and constellations have also been explained very well too.
Let me end my review with a quote from the anime (subbed): “There aren’t very many people who’ll buy a telescope to stargaze even if they’re curious, but given the opportunity, they will choose to. And fortunately, we can create that opportunity. And because we can, we want to share it with everyone.”. I believe this has been the intention of the manga’s author from the start. Sora no Manimani wasn’t meant just for astronomy enthusiasts. It was catered more towards sharing the world of astronomy with an audience who did not know about astronomy or “seemed” uninterested about it. (Maybe that's why deep-sky objects were left out).
I’ve enjoyed watching Sora no Manimani. I’ll recommend this anime to anyone out there, regardless of his or her opinion about astronomy. After watching Sora no Manimani, perhaps you’ll find the “astronomer” in you. (Cheesy, I know). I’ll give Sora no Manimani an 8/10 (very good). Perhaps there’ll be more to watch and “see” if there’s a season 2.
Finally, when you’re out of your house at night, going out with your family or friends… don’t forget to gaze up at the night sky every now and then...
(My 1st review. Any comments/questions you have or wrong facts in my review do PM me!)