Lake Kiriya City, a seemingly ordinary small town… well, ordinary except that it has a strangely beautiful, mysterious saucer hovering atop it. The saucer appeared 7 years ago, and everything changed for this small town. Not only did it suddenly become a tourist trap with all the changes that come with that, but they also had to deal with having a saucer over the lake: certain areas were labeled as ‘unsafe’, their annual fireworks shows ended, and just… life changed for everyone. Some people adapted, some resisted; some loved it, some hated it…
Our protagonist, Nonoka Komiya, lived here back before the saucer appeared but has repressed most of her memories of that time after her mother passed away. The first episode shows her moving back after around 7 years and being reintroduced to her childhood home and those who were her childhood friends – Yuzuki Mizusaka, Souta Mizusaka, Shione Togawa, and Koharu Shiihara. Will they recognize her? Will she remember? But, beyond just her own personal struggles… what is this saucer and where did it come from? And who is Noel, the strange blue haired girl who suddenly shows up uninvited in Nonoka’s new house?
There’s an old saying along the lines of ‘you can’t go back home’, which implies that if you spend time away from your home and return… it will no longer feel like the place you left because you will not be the same person who left. Celestial Method explores this concept, but also explores the impacts that sudden changes can have on small communities. It’s interesting to see this all from the perspective of this show’s five middle school students.
Our cast is comprised of a group of childhood friends who have drifted apart over the 7 years leading up to our story… currently, they’re basically not even on speaking terms and Nonoka’s inability to remember the past only makes matters worse at first. Nonoka is a friendly and cheerful girl who always seems to be kind of holding herself back. The rest of the cast all have their own struggles as well. For example, Yuzuki and Souta seem to be desperately running away from each other. They’re siblings who couldn’t be further apart – Yuzuki is outgoing, vocal to a fault, and quick to jump to conclusions while Souta is much more patient and reliable, with a bit more reserved of a personality – but as children they were the closest of friends, and now they act like they hate each other.
Each of these characters have their own personal struggles that intertwine and all spawn from that fateful day 7 years ago… the day where they all got together and tried to have their wishes granted. That is the central event of this show’s backstory. You gradually find out more about it over the course of the series so I won’t spoil it here, but it spirals out into all facets of the show in some rather interesting ways. And Noel is central to it all, this innocent and adorable girl who just wants to make everyone happy. What is her secret?
Celestial Method’s weakness is that its cast is not particularly memorable, except for Nonoka and Noel. The characters are pretty standard, and their struggles seem almost contrived at times. Most of the side characters’ story arcs end in very predictable ways, and it seems like they felt the need to create dramatic backstories for some of them simply to make them feel more impactful. Fortunately the core story arc doesn’t suffer from this.
But, as a flipside to that, the art direction is one of this show’s greatest strengths. Beyond the simple fact that the characters, especially Noel, are adorable, the imagery is simply beautiful. A gorgeous saucer floats over an overgrown observatory amid a clear, pristine lake… a field of blooming sunflowers with petals floating in the air… stars projected around the walls simulating a meteor shower… it’s amazing. There are moments where you will want to go back and rewatch what you just saw… simply to see it again.
It all adds up to a fairly unique slice of life show. It’s far from the best I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely a fascinating one, exploring some unique concepts in ways that you might not expect. The exploration of the town’s changes is just the start, and the concept of life moving on… it of course touches on the more common ideas of betrayal and friendship but more interestingly a unexpected intriguing take on ‘be careful what you wish for’.
The show has a strange, yet effective, ending. It escalates to a rather impressive climax, offering a rollercoaster of emotions over the few episodes leading up to it… then it ‘resets’ and you get two rather mysterious episodes that, at first, don’t make sense but culminate in the show’s most incredible moment. It all wraps up nicely… and it’s a show that will certainly stick with me for a long time to come.