Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 9
Secrets are revealed, tears are shed, hearts are shattered; this is the episode we all knew was coming and it was great. I initially thought everyone’s reaction to Ichika’s secret was a little too relaxed, but if you think about it she’s already earned their trust and she always was a little… odd. Maybe it wasn’t that much of a surprise, especially after seeing Rinon. Still, they did teleport inside a spaceship at some point, you’d think one of them would freak out a little. At least their level-headedness gave us some more Men In Black jokes, so that’s something.
With our main couple happily united, what happens next? Well obviously there will be consequences as far as the rest of the cast. I suspect everyone will put on their brave face but things will not be the same. Beyond that though, I’m sure a relationship between a human and an alien is bound to lead to more complications. Ichika seems pretty determined to stay on Earth at this point, but having already experienced one forced “rescue” it’s safe to assume she’ll have to deal with returning home eventually.
This episode had the best of what Ano Natsu has to offer, balancing out your usual anime comedy, romance and weird sci-fi with an unusually healthy dose of realism. As opposed to say Ano Hana etc etc, this particular drama bomb was spread around enough to still feel like a natural progression of the story. That does NOT mean I think it’s a better series overall, but that debate can be had another time. I might not crown it the best show of the season, but I think this episode at least puts Ano Natsu in the discussion. We’ll have to see what they can come up with for the conclusion.
Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 8
Wait, there’s an ACTUAL chart?!
It would seem Remon is the closest thing Ano Natsu has to a villain. Regardless of her intentions, it’s confirmed this episode that she’s not just trolling, she’s manipulating the group to whatever her own ends are. I’m still assuming she has everyone’s best interest in mind, but still, it’s a little morally gray to be pulling strings the way that she is. We’re teased a little more about her background in her conversation with Tetsuro’s sister, making me wonder now if she’s immortal or something. Hey, we’ve got aliens, so why not?
Of course as always, poor Kanna gets the worst of Remon’s machinations. As painful to watch as her scenes were, in a way it’s probably better she understands the Kaito thing is just not happening. I suppose Remon’s little trap might have been better than having Kaito spell it out explicitly, but either way I think everyone should be pretty clear about who’s into who at this point.
OH RIGHT, speaking of topics that had to be addressed at some point, ALIENS. The episode ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I will be curious to see how much Kaito remembers. We’re running out of episodes so I would think it’s about time to get the cat out of the bag. I’m also curious exactly what is Ichika there to do? Study Earth culture? Fall in love? That would seem too easy but who knows at this point. I suppose we will find out in the aftermath next week.
Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 7
… that’s the word I kept exclaiming while watching this week’s Ano Natsu and it continues to be my favorite thing about the series. Sure we’ve seen tons of high school romances, but the rather natural progression of confessions must be some kind of anime record for both quantity and time. I was surprised the most impressive example ended up being the incredibly dense main couple. I haven’t exactly been rooting for those two, neither has much of the community it seems. But I have to admit, what started out as an awkward, forced pairing felt pretty believable by the end of this episode. It’s not a grand, sweeping romance by any means, but if you consider the circumstances (teenage boy tossed in a house with a shy, hot girl) I thought it played out very realistically. And that brings me to a much larger topic that I will now rant about:
In discussing Ano Natsu with some friends, the question came up about what makes a good romance. Personally, I like when both sides are on equal ground and complement each other. They don’t necessarily need each other, but their lives are so much better together. To toss out two of my favorite recent examples, take Spice and Wolf or the currently airing Nisemonogatari. The couples in those shows each have their own strengths and weaknesses that work well with their partner and much of the story is focused on that. I don’t think Ano Natsu is a good romance by that standard, but I also think it’s unfair to expect it to be. In the examples I mentioned, the relationships are essentially between two adults, and yes, that is how Nisemonogatari portrays their older cast. My expectations for the characters in those shows are different.
Ano Natsu is a much more accurate portrayal of what happens when you toss a bunch of teenage friends together on Summer break. I would expect a kid like Kaito to do some ogling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he took an interest in a girl just because she’s hot. It’s true that would make for a pretty lame story by itself, but that would also be assuming his pursuit of Ichika was the only thing the show had going for it. If anything it’s just a catalyst for the rest of the cast. I’ll hold off on ranting further about it for now since we still have five episodes left, but something to think about.
ANYWAY, to reiterate my point in the opening, I love that this show isn’t afraid to move things along and get people’s feelings out in the open. It seems poor Kanna is the only one still in the dark at this point, although maybe that’s for the best. I don’t know if I’m ready to see her heart get officially broken just yet. I have to mention they did a pretty good job avoiding some of the usual Beach episode antics with this arc, we’ll see if they can keep up that up for next week’s Festival episode.
Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 6
I must admit this week’s AnoNatsu had me a little worried. It initially has all the trappings of the “Beach Episode” right down to the Gainax bounce. Add in the fact our boy Kaito is picking up a few too many admirers and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the episode AnoNatsu sinks into mediocrity. Fortunately the ship doesn’t veer too far of course and we’re treated to enough comedic jealousy and awkward-glance-drama to keep things interesting.
Speaking of jealousy, one of the more entertaining parts of this episode was watching Ichika and Kanna sort of team up as new (old?) girl Kaori was steppin’ in on their man. It was funny to see but also hints at how the group is growing closer together despite their romantic entanglements. The fact that they all like each other and we as the audience like them has the potential to make the drama hit SUPER hard once things inevitably go down. Sitting at the halfway point of the series, we’ve already had some time to get a little attached to the cast and I really don’t want to see any of them get hurt. That’s become unavoidable at this point and I’m OK with that, I think it opens up a lot of potential to make the second half something special.
In this week’s “Who/What is Remon?” speculation, I wonder if she’s actually just trying to make an incredible movie. It seems every tug on her puppet strings leads to her getting the candid emotions she’s trying to capture on film. I highly doubt her motives are that simple, but it does seem to be a factor. I suppose anything is still possible at this point, in the meantime I’ll be looking forward to next week’s dose of easy-going heartbreak.
HHNNGGG!! of the Week
I couldn’t decide which moment was more HHNNGGG worthy this week, what do you guys think?
Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 5
Quite a few stand out moments in this weeks AnoNatsu as Summer break officially starts and
Kaito Remon Kaito begins filming his movie. First, we’re now 99% certain Remon knows exactly what’s going on, from Ichika being an alien to who’s got the hots for who. Until now I thought it was at least a little possible she was just a normal student, but that seems even less likely now. I’m still not going guess who or what she is but she does seem to be trying to help untangle the emotional ball everyone is wound up in.
What’s particularly cool is seeing Remon’s strategies actually work. The whole turning the camera on their “fictional” situation seemed a little cheap to me at first, but it actually worked quite well in making everyone examine their feelings. It’s refreshing watching an anime romance where there is actual progress and not just leaping from “ehhhh I don’t know how I feel…” to BOOM, confession! in the last episode or two. It’s so much more believable this way.
No one illustrates this better than Kanna of course. The entire rain scene was simply gorgeous and of course, heartbreaking. All that uncertainty, the desire to push forward but not wanting to jeopardize your friendship, the awkward conversations when you’re trying to be nice to the “other” girl (or guy)… who hasn’t been there? And yet you can’t be mad at anyone since they all seem willing to fall on their sword for each other. It’s quite an intriguing web of relationships and I love that they’re not just standing still.
It would seem like Kaito and Ichika are a foregone conclusion if not for the final moments of this episode. Yes, there was Tetsurou throwing up a Hail Mary pass but there’s also the somewhat wistful, nostalgic-sounding commentary from Kaito that makes you at least think about it. I’m still not anticipating things going well for poor Kanna, but we’re left with enough of a cliffhanger to look forward to next week.
Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 4
A + B - C = Prologue
It didn’t occur to me until the end of this episode that the Summer break the whole series is supposed to revolve around hasn’t even started yet. Between that and the unusual level of finality added to the ending, it almost made these first four episodes feel like a standalone movie; like an introduction to a trilogy. Sure there’s plenty more story to come, but all the characters personalities, motivations and relationships have all been neatly packaged and presented to prepare us for the Act 2.
Beyond that I don’t have too much to add that I haven’t said already. The cast continues to be believable and earnest, the fantasy what-ifs running through everyone’s mind continue to be funny, and Remon is still trollin’. The only new development is gaining a little insight into Ichika’s feelings, thanks in no small part to one hot older woman running interference with Kaito. It’s not to say this episode felt repetitive. Instead it feels like a natural extension of the previous episodes, again making it feel like it’s own contained introductory movie.
The episode ends with Kaito and Ichika each promising a memorable Summer full of happiness, sadness and pain. I think I’ve said this every week but I’ll say it again: THERE WILL BE HEARTBREAK. And I think I’m OK with that. These first few episodes have given us a solid, natural foundation for some good old fashioned drama in addition to the more lighthearted comedy we’ve seen so far, I’m looking forward to it.
Impressed!! Ano Natsu de Matteru 3
A Midsummer Afternoon’s Dream.
With enough unrequited love to fill a Shakespearean comedy, this week’s AnoNatsu playfully navigates a series of misunderstandings without managing to trample on anyone’s feelings… yet. The blows have been softened by the rather frequent dream sequences of both Kaito and Ichika as they try to imagine what’s going on in everyone’s head. Thankfully those little trips into the reasonably dense main characters’ subconscious have been hilarious highlights in the otherwise straightforward storytelling.
Of course not everyone escapes quite as easily as the blue-haired members of the cast seem to have the worst luck. Even the shy girl seems to be getting in on the heartbreak. Making everyone in love with EVERYONE seems like a bit of a stretch but I suppose you toss a bunch of teenagers together and these things could happen. Personally I’d like to see at least some of the drama play out sooner rather than later, so I’m glad Remon seems to be stirring things up to that end. Her well placed trolling has already helped the cast get some stuff out of their system you normally wouldn’t see this early on.
If I had to use one word to describe AnoNatsu three episodes in I’d say it’s comfortable. The not-too-lazy-not-too-hurried pace, warm colors and setting, and characters that feel genuine make it a very inviting watch. We will just have to wait and see how it handles the potential heavier drama, and of course the whole alien business. But I’ve definitely been encouraged by what we’ve seen so far.