Category Archives: Ano Natsu de Matteru

I’ve Waited Like, 10 Years, Since That Summer

There’s something nostalgic about Ano Natsu de Matteru. You know, Tommy Lee Jones is in a bunch of Japanese ads. Even a series of ads about him being an alien. So what’s stopping them from adding him to the series finale?

Spoilers, incoming.

I think it’s safe to say that ultimately NatsuMachi is the distilled essence of the contribution to Toradora from the team that brought you both. Does that mean it is better? Or worse? It depends if you like Toradora for what it is–a light novel adaptation into 26-episode anime-ness. I am inclined to say that the reason why you ought to like NatsuMachi is because of the parts of NatsuMachi that isn’t Toradora–a lovingly crafted tribute to Ano Sensei from 10 years ago. I think that is what is great about NatsuMachi; it’s about a part of my memories from DAT SUMMER. It’s, yes, about I’ve Sounds, about that quaint Japanese rural area with DAT LAKE and seeing various spellings of POCKY on the screen, snickering at the canned romance/magical girlfriend trope playing out, before such a thing as TV Tropes.

This is not even to mention that an original tribute is probably more whole-heartedly wholesome than a reboot or a sequel. We can use more of these things.

The question, then: is there anything else like to love about Ano Natsu de Matteru if you take all of that away? Probably; it’s an enjoyable romcom romp, but in this aspect I think the original two series had it slightly better. I still expected that at least one pair of the dominoes that made up the romantic polygon would’ve matched and made it official, other than the main pair. I wonder whose idea was that originally? The good girl was great, the sidekicks are amusing and enjoyable. The hijinks are appropriately over the top–but only if you were in on the joke. I suspect if you weren’t, the whole Ichigo/Remon aspect would not be nearly as fun.

I think the reverse is also true; I’ll confess yet again that I am no fan of Toradora; I think it’s a great show but it was nowhere near as enjoyable as the hype was. In that sense, what was a  distill of Toradora in NatsuMachi felt and taste just as, well, distilled. I guess I can run with that analogy. It’s like vodka, in that it may be fine in a mixed drink (eg., what we got in Toradora) but I doubt anyone would order a screwdriver just because they enjoy the subtlety between different top-shelf vodka. I think for the handful of people who truly enjoy anime like this, are so starved that we don’t really let the little details bother us. For the rest of us, those of us who are less committed to this sub-category of romantic comedies, well, the mileage will vary on how much you like watching the distilled essence of Toradora.

In case it isn’t clear to you–by distilled I mean it is filtered out of certain, more fruity flavors.

And for me, unfortunately, it remains a curious execution on subtle twists and turns, in plotting the characters, and in the application of wit. On those grounds I find NatsuMachi inspired, but still well short of excellent. Much like it is comfortable to wrap yourself around Taiga and Yuuji’s embrace like a comfortable blanket on a chilly afternoon, you probably won’t wear it, or likewise Ichika and Kaito’s fantasy, to the prom.

I mean, after all, who brings a warm and fuzzy romantic relationship to a fight against aliens? At least bring a robotic van.

What Ends Well

Anime and ending is a tough topic, because in order to talk about it to people who speak English you have to first talk about eastern and western storytelling modes, just in case. But I can talk about something about endings that ought to be universal–or rather, the opposite of judging a book by the cover: judging a book by almost the entire thing except the very, very end.

I think there are a lot of wasted ink spilled on why it is okay to justify crapping on a show with only the first, second or all three of the first three episodes. To be honest I don’t care; fact remains you are making a call with just (at most) three episodes, and I’m hoping your wager is equally tempered with how you’re rolling your odds against the other 9 or whatever episodes that you haven’t seen yet. That’s not my business, anyway. However I think the equal if not much stronger argument can be made with the last, next-to-last, or three episodes from the end (or any 1-3 episodes in the middle, for that matter). Some shows, rather, really need to end on a strong note in order to have a shot at being “good.” I’m thinking we have at least a couple this season, for various reasons.

Take Another for starters. [I totally picked it first so I can avoid making another pun.] It is more or less a classic Hollywood-styled and paced horror anime. It’s also the kind of horror anime that wants to play the entire spectrum of happy and sad scares. Its final-destination-esqe deaths are one of the biggest booms. I can’t help but to compare it with Angel Beats. I think all the Angel Beats naysayers would have had a great time if the cast in that show actually died in those comedic ways. Too bad they were already dead.

Anyway. I think a show like Another really, really needs to end on a strong note. It’s that sort of poetic/thematic redemption that can make or break a show where it bankais on all the emotional chips it built up over the season. So it had to end well. Or else all that emotional ride comes crashing down, and people will leave the theater with a bad impression. I’d say it’s because this precise thing that made Shiki at all a bearable show (I didn’t think it was very good, except for the climax and the end), so I have high hopes, given how it’s written by the woman’s husband.

The other big one riding on the end is Lagrange ~ The Flower of Rin-ne. Technically Lag-Rin (or Kamojo or w/e) is a Fate/Zero-style hack–it is doing just the first half this season and I’m assuming it’ll get a break and resume in the summer. But for people to care about this show, it has to go all-in with this ending. This week’s build-up was beyond expectation in terms of quality, so hopefully we’ll go into the break with some positive feeling about this show, despite how it really tried to squander all that good will by its lackadaisical character development.

Not as dire as the previous two, but the romantic throwback Ano Natsu de Matteru also needs a very strong ending. The biggest reason why would be that it already has expended most of its chips; it may be safe to say the emotional climax has come and gone. What remains is largely people’s expired expectations. If it were to merely meet these low hanging fruits it would have made the show unremarkable on its own. But given how people lowered those expectations it is precisely the time to strike. It would be easy to surprise us with something clever when we’re least expecting it. I think a car chase is a good beginning to the end! Actually, given how close Natsumachi is to filmmaking in general, I’m not going to be surprised if it makes a real push at the end. It would be a pleasant thing.

Among these, however, the show that really, really needs a good ending is Guilty Crown. It hasn’t quite lost the audience it picked up from the very beginning, but it’s beginning to thin. We’ve had a good run of the show as a joke but if it can’t cap the dramatic climatic turns that this high-energy, high-budget formula has typically provided in times past, it will soon be forgotten. Maybe it’ll get as much creds as Star Driver?

As for what I’m watching…that might be it. Or at least I’ve come to expect these handful, for better or worse. I guess if a show is really dire I probably wouldn’t think a great ending could do much for it, so maybe there is something to be said about that.

Ano Taiga de Matteru

The only thing that reminds me of Toradora, from chara designer Tanaka and director Nagai’s Ano Natsu de Matteru, is the ever-present Remon Yamano. Or as I sometimes call her Lemon Ichigo–she is sweet-sour and ever-refreshing. She also looks like Taiga from Toradora, shedding just a little of her blonde-ish sheen from OneTi and OneTwi.

I think in a nutshell that is the problem I have with Ano Natsu–there’s just not enough of the pin-pointed hooks that distinguished Toradora from many other light novel romance drivel for boys. Let’s get it on the record that I definitely adore the show thus far, and find it entertaining enough to watch it twice a week, once fansubbed and a second time on CR (not to mention the exercise is a good way to hammer out the nuances in the translations; there’s a fair amount of word play in the script). In terms of my time commitment I’m spending 2x more time on this show than any other this season. Well, maybe except Mouretsu Pirates.

Oh, right, my problem: the show is lacking a lot of key things that catch people’s attention. Granted at episode 6 we’re still half way in the climatic vacation arc. If you think Taiga and Yuusaku Kitamura’s confession in episode 2 of Toradora was pretty neat, remember that a couple has already got together and done it by episode 7 of OneTi. That’s the kind of things I’m looking for. (No, not the “doing it” part although I’m all about Mio dialing up her game, coincidentally. Go for it!) Of course, none of this stuff happened yet. Yet. Is it yet too late?

In a nutshell, it’s fair to say that Kuroda’s writing has improved by this much since Onegai Teacher. One could say the handling of romantic frustration in AnoNatsu is pretty slick. I’m not here to disagree with any of that. I’m just waiting on the payoff. The Minori Kushieda moment. The Ami-awakening moment. The cut of Yamada sulking in the rain. None of that has much to do with Kuroda I think.

Oh right, Nagai also worked on Honey & Clover, in case you didn’t read about it in the links earlier. So then, when will it happen? It has to, right?

I’m patient, however. I think it would be ironic to say the least that I can handle 5 episodes of Marika getting to learn the ropes of being a pirate, versus six episodes of romantic frustration build up like a bottle rocket, waiting to shoot into the skies. But I think I can only take so much of this sophomoric teasing for so long. [Nagi’s vocals is excellent aural sex, by the way; fits a dirty label like I’ve Sounds to a tee.]

I remember Onegai Twins. There was something similar–more like a bottle rocket of awkwardness in which results in that cute, dark-hared girl with glasses taking the short end of the stick. She was a champ, I thought, but it brought only short-term relief and a messy out for that character. It’s just like Herikawa’s post-confession wet-rag status. Well, it’s more like she became a defined, determined being and I ended up cheering for them even more. Is this what pushes the buttons for me? Is this moe? At any rate, the confession was just the midway point. The problem maybe is just that.

This is the school of adolescence through hard break hearts, folks. There are already enough tigers (and cougars?) on earth that when you’re orbital bombarding bombshells, the good girls do not stand a chance.

Judge Book by Cover: Winter 2011 Edition

Another year, another season, another activity under the sun. Three-ep test time, right?

Danshi Koukosei no Nichijou – Nichibros is great fun. But I am not compelled. I think Nichijou was more compelling, despite significantly less gut-busting fun. Maybe it will grow on me. Maybe not. It’s still a lot of fun though.

Symphogear – Only if Polyphonica was like this. That said I ought to drop it. Wake me up when Minami Takayama shows up again. What is up with Nana Mizuki and crap anime anyways? At any rate, the weird feeling that I should go suffer through Blood-C first before this prompts me to do that first before watching any more Symphogear. Which is probably unlikely.

Kill Me Baby – It’ll probably be fun to watch at 2x speed. But not for me.

Ano Natsu de Matteru – Probably my most anticipated anime coming out of the first 3 episodes. There is a warmth to the characters and the animation radiates love. Kind of like how iM@S was. And believe it or not, Ichigo Morino (kind of wondering what would go with Umino) takes the spot of the first fixed pose PVC moe girl figure I ever owned. But actually, even if none of what I said just now is true, I would’ve put AnoNatsu in the #1 spot on the strength of episode 3 alone. It’s just a terrific piece of witty rom-com in the span of 23 minutes. It’s this kind of stuff that elevates late-night otaku fantasy into the realm of something that can be taken seriously as entertainment.

Mouretsu Pirates – Definitely my most anticipated anime going into this season. Does not disappoint. I am fine with the slow pace.

Rinne no Lagrange – This and Aquarion fight a bitter fight to see if it can fit into my even more restricted anime viewing time. It has an edge because it is on Hulu.

Aquarion EVOL – Just like the old series. But unfortunately I didn’t like the old show that much. I get the feeling it will be a mid-season call for this one, or will it have more staying power than Gundam AGE? One weird thing I noticed is how watching the OP and ED without any subtitles drastically improved my viewing experience. It’s like there is a saturation point in terms of what happens on every cut at any given time. The credits actually reduces the load on my sensory organs, but the subtitles (especially my favorite Karaoke subs) pushes it way over the edge and you missout that immersive experience as your eyes begin to ignore the stuff the subs breaks out from one moving frame to the other. Or at least it was for me.

High School DxD – Boobs are great, aren’t they?

Nisemonogatari – I wish I could just say “Boobs are great, aren’t they?” Definitely will finish it, simply because despite how much I find Nisioisin’s tricks worthless, they are quite entertaining. Also, at this point how can anyone take this show beyond pure fanservice? I have a hard time taking it seriously at all, maybe at the most as a funny word problem.

Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai! – Better known as Papakiki or “Listen to Me Girls, I Am Your Father!” it is more like, well, a planewreck than a train wreck. The first two episodes does a great job making a serious matter serious in this heavily saturated genre of man meets loli. The only question left is will the man meats loli? Also, the sempai character is kind of interesting.

Knight in the Area – Sums up why I have a hard time embracing shows like Cross Game, which I further contemplate if it has to do with why sports manga will never fly in America. Also, carwreck lol.

Another – I generally dislike horror as a genre, but this show is so gorgeous I don’t know if I can drop it. Also, Chihiro vibes where? Episode 3 ends with a very nice punch. Too bad she was my favorite moe character in the show; also makes a great first target.

Amagami SS+ – Glad it only has 2-ep arcs. First arc was kind of dreadful actually. But at this point I might as well finish. Good thing about 2-ep arcs is that any bad stuff only lasts for so long before another two reroll. Rihoko arc has proved to capture a bit more of the charm from the first series already!

Inu x Boku SS – I’m blogging it over at Jtor, and so far it is a deviation from what we typically expect out of David Pro. While I’m not holding my breath on it I expect it to be actually entertaining enough along the lines of, say, Maid-sama. Except instead of the annoying feminist blunders, it’ll have a lot of fujoshi baits. Or I hope. Ending is a great little nod.

Thermae Romae – It’s short and sweet. Being educational is a bonus. Also I’m really happy that it is only 6 eps long, because I’m not sure how much more of this I can handle.

Poyopoyo – It’s short and sweet and I can handle cats like this.

Recorder and Randsell – It’s short. Watching this on CR makes me wonder why am I not watching Morita-san or GDGT Fairies instead? But being on CR and being short means I can watch it on the commute.

Power Word: Please!

I’ve been looking at some of the blog posts and online reactions to Ano Natsu de Matteru. The general concensus can be categorized into three bins: 1) those who has seen and enjoyed the Onegai Teacher and Onegai Twins series, 2) those who did not enjoy those two shows, and 3) those who knew nothing about them until recently.

I find the general concept of AnoNatsu intriguing, coming from a reboot perspective. I think this guy kind of points out the problem–or better put, the trick. Does AnoNatsu stand on its own? I think that isn’t a question that those in groups one and two can truly answer, and Chris B. is firmly in that category. Actually, he kind of comes off clueless there, but that’s not the point I want to get at.

The general reaction among the 3 groups are:

Group one typically loves AnoNatsu just purely running on nostalgia alone. To use a sweet analogy, it’s like Peanut M&Ms, but now you have Almond M&Ms. And typically people who like nuts like both. We’re (because that’s who I am) the kind of people who gets excited seeing Ichika wearing something like Mizuho’s negligee or understand the secret behind Remon’s identity (as oppose to merely having knowledge of who she is). We are, I guess, Hayama. Actually, it’s more than just that. Some people get really into it and there’s plenty of Easter eggs in AnoNatsu that you can get tripping with both the new material and the old material and how the old material is in the new material. That’s three-fer-sugar high, to extend the sweet analogy.

Group two are, I hate to say it, made up largely of stereotypical Americans that gets hung up on teenage sex fantasies. Of course there are some legitimate complaints here and the Oneti/Onetwi series is all about adolescent romantic fantasies as a core component of that magic, so invariably some people will have issues with that. It is kind of interesting to see how people react to it now that they’ve been armed with 10 years of fandom vocabulary and development that wasn’t present back when Onetwi was around. I think regardless, AnoNatsu comes off somehow different than the genre tropes people are used to, even for this group, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

Naturally I am most interested in the opinion of people in Group Three. I think what made Oneti and Onetwi fun to watch is present in AnoNatsu so I expect that new viewers to find themselves reacting to it the way we did 10+ years ago. It helps that there’s a good amount of self-selection going on, given AnoNatsu doesn’t beat around the bush and doesn’t distinguish itself beyond that it is the spiritual successor of the Please! franchise. Also I think people prefer that to begin with. For example, like what this ANN reviewer said. I think just like back then, Please Teacher and Twins are romantic comedies for guys that actually walked that really scandalous road where fantasies are fulfilled from the get go, rather than a carrot on a stick form that is way too typical (especially given the constraints of serialized manga publication). From there, the rest of the show is set up to exploit that tension of fantasy being reality, but with a twist. (It slightly deviated from the typical Alien Girlfriend plot generator.)

[Well, If Ah My Goddess can do it, anyone can too. Also if you review anime for $, please do me a favor: Please do not quote from TVTropes unironically.]

I think more importantly it isn’t common to see reboots drag new fans into the fold of old, the original series, in this genre. I mean I can’t remember a single time when people quoted either Oneti or Onetwi in their “must watch” list. But for entertainment, I think they are a good time for everyone. It’s neat to see that some people are really enjoying it today even when they missed out 10 years ago.

PS. There is actually a mysterious fourth group of reactions that I left out: Those people who know about Please Teacher from way back but forgot Please Twins existed. They … are a fun group to watch. A bit of category 1 and 2 in those.