Hiroshima, summer of 1945. A young girl named Nobuko saves a starving kitten from crows. She wants to keep the kitten, but her parents dismiss the idea. Nobuko eventually convinces them to let her keep it. She and her brother Makoto name the cat Kuro. Kuro quickly brings joy and laughter to the family. As World War II takes its toll on Japan, it becomes harder for Nobuko and her family to care for Kuro. One August morning, Kuro begins acting strangely...
From Nakazawa Keiji, the creator of Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen) and Kuroi Ame ni Utarete (Beaten by the Black Rain). Kuro ga Ita Natsu (Summer with Kuro) aired in June of 1990, making it the last movie made by GEN Productions. It’s a strange movie to end on. Summer with Kuro is a simplistic movie that I can safely assume is targeted at younger kids. This one isn't as impactful or memorable, which is probably why hardly anyone has seen it.
Summary of the premise:
In the summer of 1945, a schoolgirl named Nobuko saves a malnourished kitten from being eaten by crows. She takes the
kitten home, but her parents don't want her to keep it. After sneaking the kitten back in the house, feeding the kitten, being discovered, and running away with the kitten in the middle of a thunderstorm, Nobuko manages to convince her parents to allow her to keep the kitten. Nobuko and her brother name it Kuro. Nobuko catches fish for Kuro to eat and plays with Kuro frequently. The cat grows bigger, stronger, and smarter. It eventually becomes cat-Jesus. Kuro saves Nobuko's life on several occasions and sacrifices itself so that she may survive the Hiroshima atom-bombing. You may think I’m joking, but I’m not. That actually happens. After Kuro saves Nobuko, he dies in a bomb shelter. It’s very sad, I guess. Considering her cat and her house were the only losses, I’d say Nobuko made it out of Hiroshima in fairly good condition.
Silly? Yes. It's very silly. Parts of it are quite endearing, as well. It’s similar to Hadashi no Gen in the sense that the tone can be kind of inconsistent. Unlike Hadashi no Gen this movie isn’t semi-biographical in nature, so the tone shifts don’t feel natural. Hadashi no Gen, its sequel, and Kuroi Ame ni Utarete are all interesting, relevant, and worth watching if you’re interested in Hiroshima pieces, but you can skip Kuro ga Ita Natsu. Of all the anime released by GEN Productions, this one is the strangest. Why did Nakazawa Keiji feel the need to adapt this story to film? I don’t know, it’s a very ill-fitting choice. I wouldn’t call it a waste of time, just time better spent watching more culturally and/or historically relevant pieces.