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?
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.