Well, YnS finally has run its last, and we definitely got the trainwreck, nobody-lives-happily-ever-afterward ending. It’s not “Nice Boat” but it’s sure as hell not rainbows and unicorns, either. However, there are some serious disputes on various blogs over exactly what the ending meant, and I’m going to opine on that, so what’s below the fold is massive spoilers. I can’t put them behind tags, because they compromise the whole article. I can burn a little space with a picture, but if you’re on RSS and haven’t seen it yet, bail now, or you’ll see the fate of the Kasugano siblings.
At 10:14, just as he realizes Sora is missing, Haruka gets a message from her, which tells him she’s either committing suicide or running away. He rushes out madly, but it isn’t clear as to whether he takes his cell phone. From the fact that he and Nao (who helps) have to touch base rather than phone each other, it seems unlikely that he took it. As Haruka is searching for Sora, he remembers:
“The lake near the restricted buildings of Sayori-hime’s shrine is said to be the place where everything began. It’s believed to be the birthplace of humanity, even before Onogoro Island. If you go there, you’ll get a chance to be reborn… and redo your life!”
Haruka correctly deduces that Sora is going there to commit suicide, and he rushes there to save her. But at 13:00, he stops at the gate next to Akira’s house. He has a flashback to Akira and himself as children, and several other memories from the last day, where he confronted or was confronted by, classmates in regards to Sora.
At 13:48, Haruka has a vision of a sad Akira and jerks in reaction. Inside the house, Akira seems to feel something, and comes out to find the gate open, but no one in sight.
Haruka runs to the lake and finds Sora wading out. Just as he reaches her, Sora steps off into very deep water. Neither can swim, and after a struggle, the usual fate of multiple persons in that situation occurs — they end up drowning each other in their struggles. The last we see is them sinking into the depths, Haruka thinking “…if we can go to a world far away, alone…”
Yet seconds later, we see Haruka waking up with Sora on the temple steps, wet, but none the worse for the wear. Bear in mind that Sora is a slight girl and physically weak. She’s not rescuing him from as deep as they went. They talk, tears are shed, and it’s strongly hinted that they remain there until dawn, making love.
Later, Akria, Kazuha, Kozue, Ryohei, and Nao meet while walking to school. Kazuha looks unhappy to meet the others; cold and distant. It’s soon evident that it’s the first time all five of them have gotten together since Haruka and Sora disappeared.
At 17:39 Akia cheerfully asks Kazuha if there have been any texts since “that one.” Kazuha looks sad, turns away and answers in the negative. We are then treated to a flashback of her reading a message (presumably from Haruka) in class It’s… remarkably specifics-free, when you get down to it, although it states that they just reached their destination. It talks about being taken care of by a friend of their father’s. I can’t read Japanese, but I note that the “From” line is different from the email that Haruka got from Sora. (Meaning it’s from Haruka’s phone, not Sora’s).
At 18:13 Akira still looks a bit sad but in an “I’m OK with it” manner as they walk.
At 18:15 the gang decides to stop by Haruka and Sora’s house for some reason.
At 18:23 Kazuha is passing by the patio doors, and gives a very understated bow, like one might towards a shrine…or grave. She’s alone, no one else notices.
At 18:28 Akira is passing by the broken window to Sora’s room — and sees Sora’s rabbit is shredded, lying on the bed. Akira looks very surprised — shocked, even.
At 18:35, which is on the walk afterward, Akia looks very pensive, in thought. Nao still has an expression much like Akira’s at 18:13.
From there through the next minute, Nao is being wistful and understanding, while Kozue is being very not understanding and tearfully angry. (Although she didn’t get an arc, she was one of the routes in the game. Earlier in the episode she confesses she was in love with Haruka.)
We then switch to the final scenes of Haruka and Sora, dressed as we first saw them. They’re on a train (not at their destination) which is passing through darkness, as if in a tunnel. Only one small suitcase is with them — and Sora is holding her rabbit. They talk a bit. As the train suddenly emerges into the light (with nothing visible through the windows but sky and clouds), Sora moves to Haruka’s seat to passionately kiss him. No one else is visible on the train, though we see something like a roadbed barely visible through the window, from the vertical angle.
Conclusion: Haruka and Sora are dead, drowned in the lake and since no one knows they were there, the bodies will never be recovered. What Akira felt at 13:50 was Haruka’s decision that if Sora couldn’t be stopped, or was already dead, he would also suicide, as the world wasn’t going to let them stay together.
Later on, Kazuha broke into their house, and found Haruka’s cell phone with the final message from Sora. When they didn’t turn up after several days, she deduced that they’d died in a lover’s pact, or had fled. So to give everyone else closure, she used Haruka’s phone to send a fake message to her own. After seeing the broken window and destroyed bunny, Akira (the person closest to Kazuha) guessed what her half-sister had done. Note that Kazuha was the only one that bowed towards the house — because she knows they’re dead.
The bunny is just evidence for slow people like me. The empty train moving from darkness into light, and everything else point to Haruka and Sora being “reborn” into some sort of afterlife together. I suppose that’s the happiest possible ending for them, but Kozue is still shattered by it all, and Kazuha feels guilt for dishonesty with her friends. Akira naturally feels upset because she knows of her friends’ fate and the deception. If she’s connected it with her premonition, she probably feels more guilt for not following up on it.
Edit: This show was not the usual fluff and fun harem; notwithstanding the meido arc told in shorts at the end of every episode, it was a serious drama, with consequences for everyone, depending on the girl chosen. This show wasn’t easy to watch to the bitter end, but it was a hell of a lot better than I expected it to be. I think a lot of folks (including me) were expecting the usual comedy, and that’s not what the writers aimed for. The final arc treated the subject of incest not as a bit of fluff, fun, and excitement; it gave it all the serious weight it was due. Society sees it as wrong, and there will be little understanding to be found for those transgressing on its taboos.
Final note: the shows tag line is “In solitude where we
can be alone.” (corrected) Yes, indeed. Haruka and Sora are somewhere else, reborn into their own magical afterlife with just the two of them, where they can share their love without shame or disapproval.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find something less depressing to think about. This show didn’t get me to Misaki Chronicles level of emotion, but it’s affected me harder than anything since.