When it comes to an anime series, I am used to reaching the halfway point before the intense emotional stuff starts to happen. Celestial Method made me Feel Things from the very first episode which in my book is always a good thing.
As a child, Nonoka had a tight knit group of friends, so much so she couldn’t bear to tell them that she had to move away. In a last ditch attempt at bonding, she suggests they call down a magic saucer together. Unbeknownst to her, the saucer’s arrival and her leaving has a strong emotional impact on her friends which is still in effect when she moves back to the area many years later.
The arrival of the saucer also brings with it a mysterious blue haired girl named Noel. Noel acts much like a puppy in human form, and her innocent nature helps prevent the anime from becoming too emotionally heavy all the time and brings a sweet touch to significant moments. It soon emerges Noel is the saucer in human form, something I expect will come into play towards the finale.
Don’t let these supernatural elements fool you, this is a relationship drama anime through and through – the opening titles alone look like a trailer for an emotional high school dating sim. There’s plenty of wide eyed gazing and dramatic tension between the female high schoolers to keep yuri fans satisfied, but whether you see friendship or hints to something more these relationships are well realised. I particularly enjoyed that while the central characters have base archetypes – the quiet one, the aloof one, the passionate one – they never felt like clichés.
That may be the key drawing point of Celestial Method. It renders Nonoka and each of her friends as three dimensional human beings, portraying their pain, fear and hope with a gentle sensitivity. This is aided by a simple but effective soundtrack that underlines each mood and moment without being obtrusive. This one might be too slow for some, but for me it’s a reminder that what good anime does well is understated character development and emotional honesty, and Celestial Method offers us both.