A Bit of Summer to Cure Winter Blues

Somehow Asatte no Houkou keeps me going–it comes to my mind first when I write, even if I am watching plenty of other crap right now.

But here in North America it’s getting cold. Winter has always been a moody season for me and personally I find myself psychologically falling into a cycle. Spring is when I fall in love with new things, and Winter when I celebrate (or lament) on the fleeting days of the year gone by and the memories it carried. Not sure what Summer and Autumn are, yet.

Anyways, it really started with Haibane Renmei. I think when I first caught it as it was airing, it was such a lovely watch that I had to watch it as it was airing. In fact, the first 5 episodes were so good partly because of its timing. It really helps me to savor those episodes because it matched that winterly feeling, transiting from lazy Autumn afternoons into biting, Canadian-like mornings.

What’s odd about Asahou is that right now I can’t imagine watching it during Summer, and have it come off feeling the same way. It’s almost like Haibane Renmei in a way, once I got past the uncertainty of the first 3 episodes. To contrast, Someday’s Dreamers was a similar, slice-of-life show that was very fitting for a Summer viewing. Both, as you may remember, took place during summertime. The seasonal contrast is even a part of Someday’s Dreamers, as it was casually alluded to with Masami Oyamada’s magic powers and past circumstance.

There are other anime with a strong seasonal motif, too, but I think with slice-of-life type shows, it is ever front and center as the most powerful, intangible element to a show. Aria, for example, doesn’t distinguish what season it is even if it’s a visible element to the show–or rather, Summer in Venice is not like Summer in Neo Venezia–because it feels the same no matter what season it is. On the other hand, Kanon does winter right–it has to. There’s an element of play as well an element of sorrow, and I think Kanon captures that dynamic well.

Maybe the real trick is to create your own personal reality in a fantastical setting? I think Azumanga Daioh, which is much more personal to the average Japanese person in Japan than Aria, does a better job at doing seasons and feelings because it is something animation creators can relate to on a first-person basis. Which is to say, Haibane Renmei was all the more amazing as it’s spun only from its creator’s brain? Maybe. Asatte no Houkou could very well be the same, even if the setting is familiar.

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