First Impressions: Ano Natsu de Matteru

When I first saw the announcement of Ano Natsu de Matteru, of course I was anticipating Nagai Tatsuyuki’s experience in directing the fantastic Ano Hana series to pull out a similar romantic comedy, but I was shocked to see just how similar the latter is to the prior. The obvious tip-off would be the character design, but even the lead—wild hair, brown eyes—possesses an uncanny similarity to Ano Hana’s male lead, Jintan (minus the pitiful attitude and wielding a classic 8mm film camera). In fact, I’m thrilled with the unique initial basis of the story’s plot, namely a group of friends interested in creating a film headed by lead Kirishima Kaito and his new ‘alien’ acquaintance, Takatsuki Ichika. With the artistic premise of using an old conventional camera somewhat reminds me of the first-time Fall series, Tamayura ~hitotose~ (though I never made it past episode 1), and I like what I’ve seen so far—though I have to wonder if the sub plot of making Ichika an ‘alien’ was really necessary seeing as the plot appeared to progress perfectly fine without that small caveat.

Going back in detail into the great new cast, I’ll again mention the male lead Kaito, who thankfully despite his similar looks is a near opposite in personality to socially inept Jintan. And instead of waiting until episode 6 to finally meet the egocentric cast, Kaito keeps his best friends close—studly and intelligent Ishigaki Tetsuro; the appropriately named Kitahara Mio (personality is uncannily similar to K-ON!’s Mio); and close friend with an obvious crush on Kaito, Tanigawa Kanna—all of which fill out a surprisingly well-rounded cast. And throw in tag-along third-year with a dark side, Yamano Remon, and we have all the basis for a romantic comedy I can see myself getting into. However, let us not forget the real star of the first episode, Ichika, tied into the story by Kaito’s intrigue and again by his love for film, who in a single episode made her way from an outsider (alien even) to my favorite character in the group, alongside Kaito.

Undoubtedly, the comedy has already won me over—where Ano Hana excelled in employing emotion, Ano Natsu wins hands down with humor with Kanna’s transparent self-conflict to retain friendship status while pushing the envelope on a full-hearted crush and Kaito’s fantasizing coming back to bite him. Even considering Ichika’s unusual alien background, I can’t help but notice her timid behavior perfectly compliments her notably good looks, which only accentuate the ambient scenery with her pronounced ‘mountain peaks’ (to use some no-so-discreet Zero F terminology :) ). And last but not least is Kaito’s older sister, Nanami, who’s active participation in the plot really made that final scene the hilarious and awkward conclusion that it was.

From now on I’ll make sure to provide the OP video in each first impressions post for your enjoyment—the OP for Ano Natsu, “Sign” by Ray, is definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while and it gives plenty of attention to Ichika and her odd hamster/Pikmin-looking pet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnmiKpsW01k