Waiting in the Summer/Ano Natsu De Matteru (Anime Series)--First Impressions

I have a brand, spanking new one for you today, Dear Readers, Ano Natsu De Matteru, or Waiting in the Summer, first aired just a few weeks ago in Japan (on January 10th). Already sites like Crunchyroll are airing the first episodes.

Waiting in the Summer begins with the protagonist, Kaito, filming at night. As he records the night landscape around him, he has an internal monologue in which he discusses his theory of life after death, and its relationship to memory. He believes that the dead live on by entering our hearts, essentially making homes there, and only fading when they are forgotten. At this point, Dear Readers, I am hooked. In those opening scenes as Kai stands on an empty bridge at night looking down into the darkness (an old Super 8 clicking and whirring in his hands) he thinks of not only the mother and father he lost so tragically, but the end of the school year and the life-lessons and changes it implies, and as a result I sort of fall in love with this introspective and odd character.

Then BLAMMO--Alien ships, explosions, a shock wave that tosses Kai's shattered and bloody body from the bridge into the abyss below.

Good thing it was a dream...or was it? (DUN-dun-dunnnn! That's a dramatic bit of old timey music and I wish you could hear it, but you cannot...DUN!)

Kai is starting up his Junior year, and heading into summer break*--he's at a crossroads of sorts, not yet an adult, and certainly no longer a child.  He is a filmmaker, and as such records the dramas he claims to "already see in motion" around him.

This is drama I am familiar with.
My friends cockblock me all the time.
Shakespeare may be cockblocking me as you read this.
Many of these "dramas" take place between his group of friends and Ichika, the new Senior in school, who volunteers on her first day (and out of the blue) to star in Kai's recent film. Her inclusion into the group puts a strange spin on the group's dynamics as they begin their Summer film project.

One of my strongest first impressions of this series is that it is beautiful. I've never heard the illustrator's name, Pepako Dokuta, before in anime or manga, but wow, just WOW! And the writer, who goes only by Ichika (incidentally the same name as our female protagonist), seems unfamiliar as well, but WOW! So far, so good, Waiting on the Summer. Now, just keep it up.

Kai and Kanna (one of the group) walk home at night.
Look at that scenery? 
I like Kai, he seems like a lonely, artistic boy whose imagination and emotions often get the best of him. As viewers we often get ringside seats to his neurotic fantasies. His parents are deceased, and his sister is going abroad over the summer so, on an impulse, he invites the homeless, awkward and buxom Ichika to move in with him for the duration of the break.  
Ichika being filmed on the train platform.
SPOILER ALERT: She's an alien! 
In a wholly predictable plot twist (I'm not spoiling anything you couldn't figure out in like two seconds on your own, Dear Readers) it turns out Ichika is an alien. 
Agreed, friend of Kai's whose name I cannot remember at the moment!
Aliens ARE usually a huge plot twist.
Very M. Night Shalyman (except not at all)!
Takasuki Ichika accidentally crashed to earth with her friend/pilot named Rinon who looks like a peach/hamster hybrid thingamahoozit. Man, it just got silly, didn't it?

Magical Space Thingamahoozit, Rinon
is perhaps the unlikely product of an illicit hamster/peach love affair.
Ichika is hiding her identity and searching for someplace she's dreamed about, an imagined landscape she believes exists on earth. Kai wants to help her find it as they complete their film.

Despite the somewhat silliness of aliens and peachy/hamsters, this is a complex story about love, although it doesn't seem like a romance.  This story is instead about the sometimes fuzzy borders between love and affection and friendship and attraction.  As young adults at a crossroads of sort, these characters must navigate through these new and troublesome, and sometimes non-distinct, emotions. So, yes, on the surface the premise seems predictably silly, but the silliness should not dissuade you, Dear Readers. I'm looking forward to learning more about each of the group members as I watch their dramas unfold. And I'm hoping the silliness is kept to a minimum. I like silly too, but it seems unnecessary in such a beautifully illustrated and emotionally complex series.

*The traditional Japanese school system graduates students between grades in the Spring, before Summer break.

1 comment:

Jen Chough said...

this is being simultaneously broadcast in korea as well. just caught ep.4 and am intrigued, even though i'm not really into straight up romance. the animation is lush and it's refreshing that the main male protagonist is kinda quirky/nerdy but cute in his own way. will keep watching to see who he ends up with...if anyone at all.