Coming hot off my first review of the year, I thought I’d follow up with another show that really caught my attention. Admittedly my interest was piqued by a rather lewd GIF on social media, but I must thank the good people at J-List for it. Had they not appealed to my lecherous nature, I would have completely missed this show in Crunchyroll’s vast library of anime I need to watch. With much gratitude towards my favorite purveyors of perversity, I turn your attention to the focus of this latest anime review…
Waiting in Summer
Director: Nagai, Tatsuyuki
Aired: Jan 10, 2012 – Mar 27, 2012
Episode Count: 12
Languages: Japanese with English subtitles
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romanced
Price: $37.49 (DVD) / $44.99 (Blu-Ray)
Going into Waiting in Summer I really wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, this show came out in the winter of 2012, well before I had gotten full re-invested in anime. I hadn’t read the genre list for it, so with only the J-List GIF to guide me I naturally thought it was a harem. Coming out on the other side I couldn’t be happier that I was wrong, and this is coming from a guy who likes harem anime. The director of this work (Nagai Tatsuyuki) has an impressive collection of anime achievements under his belt, and Waiting in Summer certainly shows some of his personal flair. Still, no matter who the Director, striking a balance between comedy, romance, and drama can be tricky in a 12 episode format. Thus my lingering question up until the last episode was, “Will this anime be able to tell a compelling story that leaves viewers like me satisfied?” The short answer is yes, but please stick around for the long answer.
Ano Natsu de Matteru‘s plot begins with a bang… literally. A young man (Kaito Kirishima) is out filming the stars when a spacecraft crash lands near him. Miraculously he wakes up safe in his bed the next morning, with the belief that his close encounter was merely a dream. When he goes to school he meets Ichika Takatsuki, a transfer student with red hair, who is the very alien that nearly killed / saved him. With no memory of their disastrous first meeting, Kaito befriends Ichicka, and the two (along with Kaito’s friends and the mysterious Remon Senpai) begin creating an amature movie (ironically about an alien). From this point Kaito develops feelings for Ichicka, but this infatuation creates tension between Kaito and his friends who all have their own love interests. From this point the audience is left wondering what will happen to Ichicka as an extraterrestrial, and whether or not the love octagon will be resolved by the end of the series.
To my delight this J.C. Staff affair does a fairly decent job setting up, and delivering a compelling story. At first I had my doubts with the number of characters and romance plots, but the ending was well above my expectations. Each character is given a decent amount of screentime, and their characters progress surprisingly well over the 12 episodes. Like any story involving aliens the questions of how the extraterrestrial are able to speak human language is present. However, I didn’t find it enough of an annoyance to really register as a debilitating irritation in the narrative. The only real issues I had with this anime story wise was the slightly convenient way plot points are delivered (which I’ll spoil below), but overall it’s a well delivered story in a one season package.
[Spoilers] To explain some of my issues with the story, I must first explain Remon-senpai. Remon is introduced as a 3rd year girl who befriends Ichicka, and constantly pushes her into scenarios (romantic or otherwise) with Kaito. She is mysterious, and at times it seems she knows exactly who Ichicka is. Well it turns out she does know because she is a literal Man In Black (yes like the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones movie), and she’s apparently older than she looks. At the end of the show she’s the one who attempts to save Ichicka from having to leave earth, and she’s the MIB agent who uses Ichicka’s crashed ship to give humanity the ability to travel faster than light (thus allowing Ichicka to return to Earth). She’s by no means a bad character, but her introduction, her all-knowing persona, and her ability to show up out of thin air at crucial plot moments seemed a bit like ham-fisted storytelling. Still, I’ll take the slightly forced character if it’s Remon with her van that turns into a mech (pic below).
Aside from the Remon-senpai, the rest of the cast are fairly standard anime teenage character types. That may sound like a disparaging remark, but I honestly think that those standard anime teenage were explored and developed well. Kaito himself begins as an indecisive young man, but becomes a more resolute character in the second half of the show. I was pleasantly surprised to see his romance sorted out, as his character went beyond his dithering fellow anime protagonists to actually decide on a love interest. He’s certainly not the strongest character ever written, but in terms of a romance anime he does fairly well. Similarly Ichicka makes for a decent love interest/heroine, and her semi-tragic nature creates an emotional attachment to the audience. It’s worth noting that she’s not a terribly believable alien, so for those anime fans that have issues suspending disbelief Ichicka (and this anime by proxy) might not be for them. Then again, if you have trouble suspending disbelief, I question why you enjoy anime in the first place.
[Spoiler] Moving on through the characters, the remaining three are involved in a fairly tragic love triangle. Kanna loves Kaito, Tetsurou loves Kanna, and Mio loves Tetsurou. These three spend the majority of the anime attempting to set up their rivals with other people, while simultaneously getting closer to their own love interest. In most other anime these three would fail, and the anime would conclude with unfulfilling uncertainty over their future love lives. As it stands I was left with surprisingly fulfilling uncertainty over the love lives of these three characters. While none of the three actually become romantically involved, they each grow as people, and realize the errors they made while pursuing love. The bittersweet lessons these teens experience is truer to life than most anime usually get, and their continued friendship in the end was quite heartwarming in my opinion. Overall I was exceedingly happy with the character development in this Waiting in Summer.
Visuals and Music
While not the most stunningly beautiful art I’ve seen in anime, Ano Natsu de Matteru does deliver an eye pleasing 12 episodes. What really stood out to me were the gorgeous backgrounds in the show. Some areas of the story are reused, but there were also plenty of unique areas that the characters visit to satisfy your need for variety. The lighting and the way it moves with the characters is also quite well done, and this is highlighted in the night scenes of the show. Another interesting aspect of the visuals was the way in which they mimicked old film cameras when Kaito was filming their movie. The only place I can think of where this show didn’t do at least moderately well was in some of the far away action shots. However, this is a minor issue, as many of anime suffer from a loss of animation when attempting to capture distant characters or action.
The soundtrack of this J.C. Staff anime does a fair job setting the mood for the scene, and while not distracting from the audience too much. It certainly doesn’t stand out from the crowd in any sense, but for a comedy/romance soundtrack it gets the job done. I truly enjoyed the opening theme for the show (“sign” by Ray). It’s a mellow and soothing melody that kind of gets you equally ready for the lightheartedness and the drama to come. The ending theme almost sounds like it could have been from the same artist (it’s not), but it is just as calming as the OP is. I look forward to owning both themes very soon.
Romance might not usually be my forte, but when I find one I like I am eternally grateful to the creators (go read the My Little Monster manga). After watching Waiting in Summer I must thank Mr. Nagai again for another fantastic romance, while in the same breath offering my profuse apologies for not having watched Anohaha yet. I was skeptical at the beginning about whether or not this show would have any resolution, and I was pleasantly surprised when it concluded well above my expectations. Shows that defy expectations are always a joy to find, and this one was no different in that respect. Once again I must thank the social-media-machine that is J-list for turning my attention to this anime with a lewd GIF. If not for their love for sharing ecchi scenes, I might have missed out on a truly touching show. I hope you take my advice on this one, and enjoy this amazing show. Cheers!
TL;DR: Waiting in Summer is an extremely enjoyable romance anime with comedic elements. The cast start out as seemingly bland teenage types, but develop into interesting characters. A sci-fi element keeps the stakes for the main characters high, and keeps the audience on their toes for the next plot point. While some of the plot seems a little forced, the overall story mixed with the fantastic visuals will keep you invested until the amazing conclusion. If you’re a fan of romance, definitely give this one a shot.
Recommended Audiences: The theme of this show is pretty heavy on romance, and most of the scenes involve heavy emotion. Added to this are a couple of slightly risque scenes in the mix that lend flavor to all the drama. Given these factors, it would be best for mid-teens and up to view this. In terms of what interests this show appeals to, fans of romance/comedy/drama/and maybe even sci-fi will find a home here.
Waiting in Summer crash lands, but heals back up with a kiss for 4/5 HP