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.
AnoNatsu is a strange case: a competent JC Staff romance anime, that works as an installment to an old series (the Onegai series), dealing with filmmaking, sci-fi, and summer holidays despite being a Winter 2012 anime.
Directed by Nagai Tatsuyuki (Ano Hana, Toradora!), this anime is a mix of the new and old conventions of romance anime: love triangles, genre fusion, and more. Kirishima Kaito (Shimazaki Nobunaga), who looks awfully a lot like Jintan from AnoHana, is your average geek interested in using an old film camera he found in the attic. Equipped with various ISO films, he practices cinematography along with his friend, Ishigaki Tetsurou (Ogihara Hideki). Tanigawa Kanna (Ishihara Kaori), a blue-haired Chie from Persona 4, joins to be closer with Kaito while Kitahara Mio (Asumi Kana), a quiet girl, helps out. Looking through the viewfinder, Kaito looks at the running field from his classroom and sees a girl with red hair, Takatsuki Ichika (Tomatsu Haruka), looking lost; his face blushes and we find ourselves watching a silly case of ‘love at first sight.’
I did not expect much from the work at first: anything by JC Staff, especially the art, these days frightens me. Yet, Nagai’s success in AnoHana shows no declining in this work; the animation quality does not falter below acceptable levels and sometimes astound me in the most dramatic episodes. Its art style is a rehash of AnoHana and yet, I don’t mind; it looks too beautiful. Does this work stop the negative perception of JC Staff? Of course not, but AnoNatsu is undeniably pretty; warm, saturated colors blossom everywhere and the summer season seems almost touchable.
Nagai shows his directing skills in AnoNatsu and excels in developing romances. What amazes me is how he puts all those boring, corny romantic scenes and twist it around into something different. Episode 3’s ending features the leads in a train station leaving; the sequence at the end may send Michael Curtiz, the director of the classic film Casablanca, packing. The editing and directing in most episodes are worthy of analysis; Kanna’s subtle gestures, like twiddling her hair, is a curious artistic touch. Anyone who enjoys observing the artistic subtle choices of directors and editors will have a fun time watching Ano Natsu.
AnoNatsu pays homage to the old romance works, especially its parent series: the Onegai franchise. If AnoNatsu goes to a cheese shop, it will be hard to differentiate parmesan and the work; it is after all a tribute to previous works. Romance can be as melodramatic as the ef series or cheesy as seen here. I admire its cheesiness; it’s honest and proud of it. I’d rather see a corny work once in a while than see the same ten melodramatic romance works. While I have not watched any of the Onegai works, it is worth pointing out that there are huge similarities: Yamano Remon (Tamura Yukari) is an almost direct copy of Morino Ichigo and some of the locations are a nod to the previous work too. There is something admirable about the cheesiness and homages AnoNatsu has.
Speaking of Remon, she and Kanna steal the show. Enigmatic Remon, a senior student, helps out filming and her antics are outrageous. Functioning both as comic relief and supporting character, Remon is an example of how smart a comic relief character can be. She can be seen as the mastermind behind the romances while having fun dipping her toes in the murky waters of love. Kanna, on the other hand, is how tsundere characters should act. Kanna steps beyond the stereotype and her character develops and hardens as the show goes on; she is someone you want to give a hug to. Kanna’s problems is woven inside the love triangles and her frustration and sadness show by the voice actress; I thought this was voiced by a professional, but she is voiced by Ishihara Kaori -- a singer in YuiKaori and somewhat new to the voice acting arena. She is one of the best finds in the anime industry and Nagai uses her skills wisely.
“sign” by Ray shows KOTOKO’s songwriting skills in full blast. As any KOTOKO song goes, the sounds of synthesizers undulate their way to your ears. The animation that goes with it doesn’t feel right; at the beginning of the OP, there are some great directing choices: a film reel shows Ichika smiling and cuts off while the title fades into view. As it goes on though, the animators get lazier and show the characters without inspiration: we see them sitting down, standing, turning around, and a close-up of Ichika’s breasts. It is disconcerting to see a KOTOKO song -- hyper, romantic -- accompany a botched work; this is the only sequence of animation that you can say, “Ah, it’s JC Staff.”
“Vidro Moyou” by Nagi Yanagi -- yes, she’s from supercell -- does a whole lot better. Copying AnoHana, the minimalist ED is beautiful, dancing gracefully with its bittersweet, soothing music. I’m in love with the ED and it ranks up there in my top ten favorite EDs. It’s hard to say much because it’s so perfect. Just watch the damn ED.
In defense of AnoNatsu, I think it is fair to argue against other reviewers and viewers for one thing: AnoNatsu is not AnoHana; stop comparing them. After hearing talk from both sides of the spectrum, I’ve been raising my eyebrows on any mention of AnoHana when it comes to plot; both works look similar aesthetically, but that’s as far as that path goes. AnoHana is a bittersweet dramatic work that focuses on the aftermath of losing someone precious to you; AnoNatsu is a romance anime. See the difference? A more logical approach: compare AnoNatsu to Toradora!. I’m not a big fan of Toradora!, so I will not go on that route; nevertheless, it is frustrating to see stupid comments on how much “AnoHana is better omfg >:(“
What I cannot defend is AnoNatsu’s numerous flaws. People can get irate from the cheesiness; this is, of course, caused by difference in taste and opinion; I think it’s rational to argue in that perspective even if I disagree with it. What I can get behind is the talk on the personalities of the two leading characters: Kaito and Ichika. Their romance is genuine, but they themselves make me yawn. There are so many things going on outside the leading characters’ reach that we don’t really get to know them; instead, we know more about Kanna, Tetsurou, Mio, and even Remon. When problems between the two leads do exist, they aren’t interesting at all -- they bore me. Most of their scenes are lackluster. I was more emotionally invested into Kanna than anyone else. What I say previously is true: Remon and Kanna steal the show.
There is also an exhausting episode dealing with the most pressing problem in summer: which sexy bras should the girls wear? This episode comes out from nowhere and you ask, “Do you really need a beach episode?” It also introduces other female characters that distract the deeply stemmed love decahedron. While its next episode saves AnoNatsu from being a harem show through Nagai’s ever creative decisions as director, I find the setting of that episode pointless. Most, if not all, beach episodes should just die.
The last three episodes feel rushed, giving negative vibes to anyone who has watched Angel Beats!. There is a huge amount of compression; AnoNatsu is a work that should have given itself more leeway and needs a few more episodes to make sure its ending makes sense. Episode 11 suddenly speeds up the pacing and it makes you wonder, “Am I watching a different show?” Some of the events presented in the final episodes are unbelievable because of the lack of buildup. For a cheesy straightforward romance show, it has one hell of a time confusing me.
AnoNatsu is imperfect, but it adds to the charm when I think about it. I’m a filmmaker and I know most student films suck. There are lovely shots, but everything else like story is terrible. There is beauty in creating imperfection though; the strengths are worth remembering for and we make nostalgic memories out of filming. We brush away the bad spots and think about the good things that happen; for example, there are scenes that has Kaito filming Tetsurou parodying Ultraman and Godzilla. They know it’s fun and games. There is something magical with the camera rolling when you see your friends acting; the fun of that is presented in the smiling faces of the characters.
Those smiles are the purest, untarnished forms of memories.read more
"A picture is worth a thousand words"; I've never quite believed that saying as much as I did after seeing the last scene of this anime.
Ano Natsu de Matteru is an anime about a group of friends spending their summer vacation hanging out and filming a movie. Sounds simple, yes? Not quite. It doesn't take very long for the romance and the drama to kick in, where Ano Natsu is most focused. In fact, that STILL might be an understatement. Within the first 4 episodes, all of the love interests of the main characters are well established and/or heavily hinted at, and there is indeed one hell of a messy love polygon. However, this love polygon is not like most; there is actually a couple that is established (pretty much from the beginning), which ends up leaving every other character stuck in a rut.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Ano Natsu de Matteru is the fact that the creator seemed to ship his own characters, while disregarding the feelings of everyone else. That leaves a disgusting feeling in many viewers' mouths, including mine. Why establish a love polygon if it is not going to contribute to the plot at all? Honestly, most of Ano Natsu de Matteru was slice of life, more so than romance, and even when there was romance, you were never really in doubt as to who was going to get together. That lack of suspense (especially for a romance drama) is puzzling, to say the least.
With that out of the way, I must say that both the art and sound of Ano Natsu are two highly redeeming qualities. Really vivid colors to truly capture the essence of an anime about summer, and a great opening/ending to match the mood throughout the series. The characters themselves are actually really great (especially Remon-senpai, oh that rascal). They'll seemingly always put a smile on your face, no matter who it is.
A respectable romantic drama that is unfortunately kept from greatness by the aforementioned problems, Ano Natsu de Matteru is also plagued with an awkward Sci-fi element that derailed my interest. I think most would agree that including heavy amounts of aliens/robots/lasers in a slice-of-life anime is quite contradictory. That element certainly turned me off, as it made a lot of the scenarios seem so unrealistic. Towards the end of Ano Natsu, I was getting really afraid that the anime was going to have an open ending. Thankfully, that was not the case, and this brings me back to my original point.
That final scene provided all of the closure in the world to secure a solid rating for Ano Natsu. Up to that point, I was a bit disappointed with how the plot turned out (to say the least), and it left a sour taste in my mouth. The producers completely saved this anime by including those last few seconds. All in all, despite its various shortcomings, Ano Natsu de Matteru is a solid member of the romance drama genre, and gets a recommendation from me for its great characters, art, sound, and satisfying ending. read more
After the tearjerker that was Anohana, I was excited about a new show that its director was producing, named Ano Natsu de Matteru. The concept seemed pretty boring, but so did the idea of following five teenagers and a dead girl around, so I decided to give the show a chance.
Unfortunately, after eight episodes of "giving it a chance", I have yet to find any point where I can say that I like this show.
The story itself is pretty lackluster, unexplained, and overall poorly developed. The whole of it is centered around this girl, we shall call her Ichika-senpai, who's an alien from outer space and has come to find something on Earth. We're never really told what that something is, but I assume it's done to fill in some kind of suspense or drama, which is unfortunate because I found that I didn't really care what Ichika-senpai was looking for. In Anohana, the main character Menma, also had a wish and was looking for something, but the audience was so much more involved in that wish. The reason is because it actually meant something. Menma's wish was intricately tied with the friendships that all of her friends seemed to have forgotten, and there was also the ultimate question of: what happens when Menma gets her wish?
There's never that kind of a feeling in Ano Natsu, and the reason is because there's never a point where that wish matters at all. Sure there's the feeling that Ichika-senpai might leave, but considering that Ichika is a cardboard cut out of a very boring archetype, there's no reason for me to care if she's leaving. Maybe I should be happy?
Instead, the show replaces that plot point with a boring drama/romance/slice of life atmosphere whose only saving grace is Lemon, the scheming loli that always seems to know what's going on. Unfortunately, Lemon's the only good entertainment in the show because everyone else is just clueless and too filled with romantic thoughts to be involved in anything else.
And that's why the story in Ano Natsu is disappointing. The concept is these kids are filming a movie and that's supposed to build on some sort of complex/intimate relationship as these characters mature and grow. But nothing's really that complex. It's just a huge web of love pentagons that's only appealing because the characters are hot and romance is cool. It's almost as if the director thought that people liked the small little romantic aspects of Anohana more than the actual show, and decided to dedicate all the small drama he put in Anohana into an entire show. The movie idea could even be thrown out the window, because the movie really does nothing to build on any of the characters other than putting them in situations where they can flash their hot bodies. You might as well have just put them in school and done the same thing...kind of like Toradora, except Toradora was actually interesting.
I might've forgiven the poor implementation of story and the boring romance if the characters were good. With good enough characters, one might feel involved in the romance, and the story might be less important than how these characters are growing and maturing. But yet again, I have to say that the characters were no more than either just cardboard cut outs of random archetypes or just really really boring. These characters don't grow, nor do they mature, nor do they confront any problems other than romantic ones. By the end of the eighth episode, if I had to say anything about how these characters changed it would be that they started realizing that they're caught up in a cluster of paltry romances.
In my opinion, a good character is a character that you can talk about for a good period of time. His traits, his motivations, his personality, aspirations, etc. etc. What can you say about Kaito? Well, he's a decent guy who's honest and true to his feelings, but if we're basing Kaito's character quality on that, I'd have to say that's pretty pathetic. The same can be said for Ichika-senpai, who is just some shy beautiful girl that we don't really get to know about other than her struggling coping with love. Same with Kanna, Testurou. Mio might be the only exception to the rule, ironically, because the things that she's done reveal a lot more about her character than people give her credit for.
So, in other words, the story is way too focused on romance for me to really like it. I can understand why people think romance is cool, but even the romance in this show is pretty lackluster and shallow, on top of the characters not being able to make me get involved in said romance because they're only focused on romance too.
Maybe I'll finish the show in the near future, but falling asleep and slapping my forehead has become a common act whenever I watch it, so maybe I won't.read more
Considering how Onegai! Sensei went, I was expecting the same because it is of the same author however, I am honestly surprised by this anime.
What surprised me was that I was expecting it to be yet another anime close to the harem line where none of the characters will actually get to confess to anybody and the plot will be left hanging at the end of the series. But no. It didn't go that way.
For a 12 episode series, the anime covered the storyline pretty well despite the short episode allocation and not only that, it wrapped up the relationships between all the characters very well. Also, I have noticed that recent romance animes will have some (excuse the use of the word, but there are no others to describe it) bullshit like "Oh out pops a childhood friend from thin air that transfers to the school to complicate matters." but for this anime, it surprisingly stuck to it's small cast and developed the relationships between the characters very well.
In summary, the anime is short, sweet and it was a good one with a well rounded ending which is left for the viewers to develop their own opinions of. As for myself, I would say the ending was well-done with the tiniest of hints that the protagonist and the female lead did end up together in the end albeit the events that happened. This is indeed a definite must watch for viewers who want to break away from the general Japanese romance animes where nothing ever gets to anywhere.
For the ratings, here are my reasons:
8/10 for the Story. Why? Simply because it was pretty much similar to Onegai! Sensei. Normally I would give it a lower rating because of it's lack of originality, however, it was good and sweet until the end that I gave it the rating that it is due.
8/10 for the Art. Why? The art was good. However, the lack of originality yet again by the author by making the characters look almost the same from both series force me to give it an 8 instead of a well deserved 9 or even a 10.
9/10 for the Sound. Why? This is to my own bias. I love piano music. The anime lacked enough music that could have pulled on our heart strings more but since it included piano music, my bias tells me to put a 9 instead of an 8 or 7.
8/10 for Character. Why? The plot was well done and the characters elaborated enough. Should the anime have been a 25 episode series, I'm sure character development would have been much better and would have earned a 9 or a 10.
7/10 for Enjoyment. Why? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the anime very much. However, I despise endings that does your head in and lets you imagine for yourself. I like definite HAPPY endings. Period. The ending dropped a hint of a happy one at the very end and that's what bumped up my rating to a 7 otherwise I would have given it a 5 or a 6 because... I hate endings that are sad/let's the viewers imagine what it should end like.
Overall, apart from the lack of the character design originality and initial story from the author including the "It's up to you to imagine what happened if I drop this scene here." ending, the anime was indeed a very good one and it's an enjoyable watch. Short, sweet and nice. Definitely something worth to give a watch.read more
If you ask the general public to name anyone associated with anime, they’re almost certain to name a certain director – Miyazaki Hayao. But for anime fans themselves, the director is a crucial component of anime success that’s too often overlooked.