Ano Natsu de Matteru Group Picture (Waiting in the Summer Group Picture)
This was the surprise of winter 2012 anime for me. I was really skeptical going into this show, because it looked like it could have been quite a boring harem, or just bland overall.
But it didn't; it blew away my expectations for the better. And I'm here to explain why you should give this anime a chance. Here goes:
The story's development is really unique. It starts with a strange occurence: what seems like an alien ship crashes to Earth and the protagonist, Kaito, is of course in the mix of things. With this being said, the show starts out with an air of mystery. Apparently our other main character, Ichika, is from "out of the country" but we all know what's going on here...
The romance is thick in this show. This is evident from the second episode on. Many love triangles ensue. The thing is, this show does them very well. The story so far is paced wonderfully and every episode has a "cliffhanger" type feel to it. It makes you want to see the next episode immediately.
The story's main plot is one that focuses on a couple of friends spending a summer together to film a movie. Through this filming, many relationships are established as well as broken.
Furthermore, the romance is done very well - you won't see characters think only to themselves about loving/liking someone else. Instead, the characters ACTUALLY TAKE ACTION. This is hugely important and unique in a time filled with bland romance shows in which the main character is either in a harem and does not choose a lover at the end - or the romance simply develops in the final episodes of the show, creating a rushed feel.
This show is different BECAUSE it actually pursues each characters' feelings. Confessions actually happen in this show. And they are done fantastically. The story gets a 9 because it delivers romantically as well as comedically. The comedy is absolutely hilarious because of our troll, Remon. She is truly a devil, but more on that in the character section.
The overall feel of the story so far is a comedic, yet VERY serious romance in which each characters' feelings are explored very well. It should also be noted that there is a fair bit of fanservice in here.
Sound - 8/10
The opening to the anime is decent, but I usually skip it because I do not particularly love it. For me to listen to an opening, it has to either be catchy or just plain damn good. I recommend you listen to it though, because I am just too picky with music.
That being said, the music employed throughout the show is not necessarily memorable, but it is there and it can add to the mood (especially the comedy).
** Finally, the ending theme is great, which is a huge bonus. Once the episode ends, you are greeted with a nice soothing ending upon which you can reflect on what you just saw that episode. Typically the ending of each episode is full of romantic suspense and this ending adds to that feeling greatly. I can't say enough about how this ending evokes emotions from you and is REALLY well placed. Great piece of music.
Character - 10/10
The characters are great in this show. All of them are unique, although some can be a bit cliche. However, the fact that they all actually try to pursue their wanted romance really adds to it.
Anyway I digress;
This character is probably one of my favorite just because he is so realistic. He (of course as this is a romance show) loves one of the other characters, a childhood friend, but she is of course oblivious because she is in love with somebody else. He wants nothing for her to be happy, so he actually assists her in her pursuit of love.
What you would call the "protagonist" in this anime. He is a shaggy haired, big glasses, and somewhat awkward fellow - yet you can't help but like him. He is of course caught in a love triangle, but his love for one girl in particular is evident. Kaito turned out to be a fantastic character.
Mio is quiet and is unnoticed by the one she loves. Twists in the plot will frequently pair her up with her lover, yet she is too shy to do anything. She really starts to shine mid way through the anime and grows as a character.
The "other" protagonist of which we are introduced to in the first moments of the show. She is a peculiar character from "out of the country" and is immediately accepted at school. There is a notable shift in her maturity in the sense that she matures (mentally, of course) drastically and realizes that she must take action. She is really a great character as you will see for yourself later down the road.
She is also involved in a love triangle, and she too is a very likable character. At first, she seems to put lots of effort into making the man she loves notice her and to actually see that she loves him. But these are indirect attempts. She realizes this, and claims that she simply has to be herself. Her development as a character was heavy in the first episodes on the anime. She seems to like the spotlight and is always getting herself involved in situations. However, don't take this to mean that she is obnoxious. She is very tolerable and only really tries to take the spotlight so the one she loves actually takes notice of her.
She is the troll of this show and my favorite character. She is a favorite most likely because she is just so devious and hilarious. She is not involved romantically, but she really knows how to be a sort of cupid in this anime. She seems to be omniscient and manipulates all the other characters frequently and hilariously. She rules the comedy department.
Enjoyment - 10/10
I just really have enjoyed this show so far. The characters all seem real and are likable. The situations they find themselves in are also just hilarious. I can't say enough about how much I have actually enjoyed this anime. But I don't want to go crazy and go on a rant. Just know that this anime really is quite enjoyable!
Overall - 9/10
This show gets a 9 because it has delivered pretty well on all fronts and is definitely one of the better anime of the season. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Many compare this to "Onegai Teacher", but I have personally not seen that show. Therefore, my claims that it is unique may be slightly biased in a sense, but it really is refreshing to see a romance done so well and realisitically.
Those coming in expecting a drama similar to AnoHana will be disappointed. This show is a standalone and a whole different anime. AnoHana focused on the drama of letting a loved one go, while also incorporating romantic drama on the side. AnoNatsu is filled with romantic drama and is where it shines. Therefore, it is hard-pressed for one to compare these two anime so closely because they are so vastly different. One key point is that both of these anime incorporate drama heavily and fantastically. All in all, you must go into this show with a clear frame of mind, or at least an open mind to ensure maximum enjoyment.
With all of that said, alll comments, good or bad are appreciated. I'd prefer constructive criticism, but you can't stop the trolls haha.
Hopefully you find this review helpful - if not, be sure to let me know WHY so I can try and clear some things up.
Thanks and enjoy the show folks :)