Today I'm going to take on Ano Natsu de Matteru. Also known as Waiting in the Summer, this is series about romance, slice of life, and comedy. At least that's what the production company seemed to want us to think.
I initially passed on Ano Natsu last year when I did my big research session on which shows I would be watching. Here's the synopsis that I looked at back then (MyAnimeList):
When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about filmmaking and a lot more about each other and themselves. What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate and revealing, as the maturing relationships between the members of the young cast take on new, and sometimes very unexpected, turns.
It sounds pretty lather, rinse, repeat doesn't it? I thought so too, so I left it off the watch list. When I came back to look at this series though, I was looking at the genres and saw something I missed.
Comedy, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Slice of Life
Wait a second... Sci-Fi? I was instantly curious to know... err... how. Sure enough, that's exactly what the series was. Skillfully played.
It's no secret that a big part of audience retention is going to lie in how the first few minutes of the show are. Ano Natsu de Matteru's first minute and thirty seconds is probably unique in this marathon for how they decided to kick off the series. Considering that it is advertised as a romantic comedy, that was a rather intense start. Plenty of hook potential there, trust me on that one! Wow.
Remon, while a strange character that doesn't get enough development at all, is pretty funny. I've seen her best described as "Taiga from Toradora if she were an incredibly amazing troll". They aren't wrong, she's a huge troll and it's hilarious to watch sometimes.
On another note entirely, I would have to peg the animation as an inhabitant of this section of the review. It channels that feeling of "making a movie" with color saturation and stylizations that really are quite pleasant. It isn't really amazing, but it certainly does the job.
Some of the main characters of the show are really great companions. I single out Kaito, Ichika, and Kanna for this because they get the most mileage out of this series when it comes to character development. The three get a bunch of exploration into their feelings and actions that is sure to lead to a broken base among some viewers over which coupling should be happening.
The whole cast is a complex bunch, even more complex when you add in the love pentagon. The love *insert random polygonal shape here* never fails to impress by making everything dramatic. It manages to juggle its characters well enough to support the weird love *look, I don't know what to call it, just go with it* that would normally collapse because of its convoluted nature.
Luckily, there's at least one romance in this show that actually goes somewhere. I'll label any success in this love line segment as a win for the show. It seemed poised to have nothing happen with a no ending.
Some plot elements and character elements of the series come off as... well weird. I can't really explain it except just saying that it sometimes is just weird. The plot makes at least one weird reveal that leads to nothing and the character development does the same thing. It reveals something weird and then moves on, not really ever making note of it again.
While some of the cast is great, the other part is not. This goes along with the previous point in that while the Kaito, Ichika, and Kanna are well conceived and just work, the other half of the cast just occasionally gets character development (Mio's is perhaps the most significant of the series, but it isn't really explored), usually of the weird variety. They feel like hanging ornaments to fill the screen in between the major moments of the series and it suffers for it.
This is partly due to the fact that, in addition to a romance that actually goes somewhere, there's an overwhelmingly larger amount of nothing in the rest of the love directed acyclic graph. Everything just gets dropped by the end and it's a twinge disappointing.
Ano Natsu de Matteru does some things right and some things wrong like any anime. The main romance is well done and it has some good moments, but the rest of the romantic *I still don't know what to call it* is just undeveloped and unfinished. It's like seeing the Mona Lisa if it was only Mona Lisa with no background. It gets the job done but come on. There's more here.
The plot itself is pretty good for the majority of its run, but it (like the romance) is bumpy. I specifically found that the last couple episodes strayed dangerously into "that was convenient" territory at the expense of the plot (looking at you Remon). Once again, the show is tempered by an equalizing factor that drags it back down.
It's a slow series that knows what it's trying to do and goes out to do it. There's a whole mess of romance, character exploration, and romantic drama in this series and you can tell that was the goal. It has comedy interspersed throughout, but I think it's more leaning in the drama direction, particularly on the tail end of the series.
This is best for someone looking for just that: a slow romantic drama that enjoys a bunch of love polygon drama. Anyone else should probably leave this alone because that's pretty much what the show is. Full stop.
P.S. Using a white sheet to cover her head during the final episode huh guys? Ya'll think you're so clever don't you?
You can watch Ano Natsu de Matteru on Crunchyroll.