A solid end to a really fascinating series. Ano Natsu, along with Natsume, are the first series that I have blogged completely from start to finish, an achievement I didn’t think could happen. But weeks and weeks later, I find myself very lucky to have watched this series, because the synopsis didn’t do much to get me excited to see this show.
One of the major reasons why I think this show really excelled was the rock solid staff, especially the director Tatsuyuki Nagai. His resume includes some of the best J.C. Staff series (Toradora, Railgun, Honey and Clover) and the best (imo) noitaminA series, Ano Hana. In particular both Ano Natsu and Ano Hana involve a group of friends searching for ‘something’, a new person enters, both take place in summer and both have very bittersweet endings. What I really like about the director is that all of his shows involve really well developed characters with emotionally driven storylines, in particular both “Ano” series were quite short and at the same time the character development for both was massive and didn’t feel rushed at all. His style of direction is quite similar to that of Takahiro Omori, the director of Natsume Yuujinchou, Durarara!! and a long list of others and my all time favorite director. But the other big name in this series is Yousuke Kuroda. A lengthy resume that involves screenwriting such varied series like Highschool of the Dead, Gundam 00 and Ookiku Furikabutte. He’s not only screenwriting for this series but is also the co-creator of this show and two other series that people will know quite well, Onegai Teacher and Onegai Twins. These three series all share very similar characters, settings and plotlines (if you’ve been on the MAL forums, expect to see comparisons with all three quite frequently).
But moving on to the finale: As I said last week, the alien business felt like the weakest link of the series because it was repeatedly pushed away in favor of character development and relationship building. Here, that still is the case but it was really heartwarming to see everyone pitch in and stop the escort pods from taking Ichika. On a much lighter note, Remon was confirmed to be working for the MIB! I wasn’t expecting that, and I thought she was joking (protip: Remon’s snarky voice =/=snarky comments). But it was the right amount of humor to keep this ending from being too melodramatic (a big problem that Ano Hana’s ending faced). Having reached “that place”, Kaito and Ichika suddenly are engulfed in a bright light, inside the vision of what Ichika saw. Suddenly the escort pods come and take Ichika, a tearful and forceful separation of the two lovers. After everything that’s happened, Remon gives the gang the film for the movie they made and quickly disappears. While viewing the film the gang is overcome with emotions of all the times they spent together. In the epilogue, Remon is seen in the Japanese division of the MIB working on a way to gain intergalactic recognition from Ichika’s home planet. The gang’s film project is always shown every year to thunderous applause.
It was a really nice ending, better than Ano Hana’s by far. But it’s a bit underwhelming to spend most of the series just on Kaito and Ichika (I get it, they’re the main love interest) and leave Tetsurou and Mio’s relationship a mystery along with Kanna. Kaito started to get a little annoying towards the end (Kaito, please call Ichika by her name. ‘Senpai’ was cute for a while, now it’s just..drink everytime you hear Kaito say senpai.”). I think one more episode spent on exploring Tetsurou and Mio a bit more would bump my score up higher, but regardless this was a really enjoyable series all-around. I’m glad I stuck with this show, because in 12 episodes a whole lot happened that all came together nicely.
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Screenplay: Yousuke Kuroda
Character Designs: Masayoshi Tanaka
Music: I’ve Sound
Animation Production: J.C. Staff
Animation: 8/10 (B)
Story: 12/15 (B-)
Characters: 17/20 (B+)
Sound: 8/10 (B-)
Enjoyment: 39/45 (B+)
Total Score: 84/100