The plot of an alien coming to Earth, integrating into a school setting, falling in love…we all know it. Tenchi Muyo exemplifies this plot but Ano Natsu de Matteru refines it to a sharp point. Don’t get me wrong, Ano Natsu has its faults, but it is an overall heart-felt and well executed experience. There are a lot of parts that are kind of stupid or are a bit too much, but if you can block out all of the crap happening on the side and all of the rather stupid plot twists (especially toward the end) and focus more so on the romance between Ichika and Kaito, then you’ll probably enjoy yourself.
Ichika is an alien from some unnamed planet who crashes into Earth, more specifically, Japan. Her crash severely injures Kaito, who is filming a movie at the time. Kaito is saved by her kissing him and putting healing nanomachines inside of him through the kiss. And after that she integrates into school life, she lives with Kaito, and she joins in on a summer of movie making magic.
The movie making part of the plot is integral, but it is pushed to the side usually to make room for the romance. This is a romance and drama heavy series, and romance and drama comes aplenty. There are two love triangles going on, one of which becomes a love rhombus at one point. The love rhombus has a single guy at the apex, Kaito. The girl who is closest to him and you probably can figure out he’s going to get with is Ichika. The other characters, especially Kanna, you just don’t care about. There’s so much crying going on and loves being admitted, yet you just don’t care about anything but the developing romance between Kaito and Ichika because it’s the only cute romance, and they are the only two characters with any substance, albeit not a lot.
There are three phases to Ano Natsu. The explanatory, unexciting first phase is the school phase. In this Ichika and Kaito live together, go to school, decide to make a movie with their friends. The second phase is the start of summer, where they make the movie and the puppy love starts to come out. The third, and dumbest, phase is the space phase, where Ichika’s sister comes to save her because the Federation has a search party and wants to take her back. I’m going to get a little deeper into this last phase because it’s a very weak set up to a decent finale.
There’s all this space stuff going on. There’s a Federation and these stupid bio-organic spaceship things (that look like futuristic Pokemon) that come to take Ichika back to her planet. And nobody wants her to go, especially not Kaito because he loves her and wants to be with her forever and all that cute crap. Her sister comes and they figure out that they might be able to find some proof an alien has been to the planet and that would show the Federation that Earth is not a grade F planet which means it’d be okay for Ichika to live there. There’s a long, drawn out part where the friends all branch off and try to take some of the heat off Ichika and Kaito as they find this random place in her memory where her ancestor was at. The friendship bullshit train rides for a whole episode, and is only broken up by one of the friends, the tiny and likeable Remon, using her pedo-van’s missiles and grappler arms.
This part goes pretty fast and it’s not a particularly well done section until the end. There’s a lot of stuff being thrown at you, and the idea of Earth being an F rated planet and Ichika needing to leave it because it has never had alien contact makes no sense…She’s an alien. Alien…contact! She’s made the contact! Boom! Earth is a D rated planet! We’ve gone up in the universe! Thanks Ichika, now let Kaito bang you and start populating the world with half human, half human-looking-alien babies!
Now to the very ending. This means spoilers, though that should be a given for my reviews.
The ending genuinely surprised me. Now, this had nothing to do with the idiotic Men in Black bullshit. That went beyond stupid. I mean, I’m okay with aliens and all that, but the Men in Black? Rocket launchers? Using sniper rifles to shoot at an alien thingy from two feet away? It was funny in that unexpected way, but it was pretty stupid nonetheless. Ichika gets captured and goes to space and loses out on being with her love, which is a really ballsy move for the writer. That made me genuinely care about the epilogue. Usually an anime would come up with some stupid way of getting out of that bad ending, but Ano Natsu enjoys it and might actually get some tears out of it. When the cast gets together to watch the movie that they have produced (courtesy of Remon), it is a pretty good tear-jerker. It puts the stupid stuff in and the emotional stuff in and that blend really brings the anime together. But the very, very end is where I want to commend this anime the most.
It’s not a lot, but it does have an impact, especially on me, and does work so much better because of this. Now, you have this niggling sensation for the six or seven minutes of the last episode that someway, somehow, Ichika is going to appear in some fashion and a happy ending will be achieved. But the final few seconds of the show, when it’s a future class at the high school watching Kaito’s movie, is amazingly effective in closing the anime. You hear the old footage, you get sad, but then that new clip shows up with Ichika back from space. And the series ends.
This is a perfect example of ending an anime on a good note, but not being too overt about it. It’s a lesson that some writers could take to heart. Ending a series like this, a series that has something bad happen that pulls the lovers apart, and then having a long-ass epilogue where they get back together and you feel good is not as effective as that final few seconds.
The sense of helplessness and sadness that takes place over the seven minutes between Ichika’s going back to space and that clip in the movie makes that single clip, maybe four seconds long, just that much more effective. It leaves you, the viewer, to fill in the blanks. It makes you so much more happy because you can interpret the ending however you want to and say that Ichika and Kaito are happily together, or maybe she just came back on vacation. Having a bit of a concrete answer to our questions about if she comes back is good, and allowing the viewer to fill in the rest is even better.
So anyway, let’s talk a bit about the characters. Kaito is a likeable male lead. There’s not a lot to say about him because he’s kind of your generic lead where he has very little personality beside his love of a hobby (filming) and his love for a heroine (Ichika). And Ichika is kind of the same, she’s not got a lot of character to her, but she’s got enough that you can feel good about the romance that she develops with Kaito.
Kanna is the annoying bitch who loves Kaito but Kaito doesn’t love her and she cries a lot because of that. I hated her. She wasn’t a character. She was an angsty waterfall.
Mio is moe and useless. Her love for Tetsurou is cute, I guess, but the fact she is a nudist is weird and doesn’t really provide any laughs. Especially because we see her naked with a panda bear plush before she reveals herself as a nudist. This is something that can come across as a little bit weird…I assumed she liked banging panda plushes.
Remon is badass. She’s screwing with everyone, keeping a chart of the romances so that she can manipulate them, takes over as director of the film, and is a Man in Black. Now, this last one is kind of dumb, but it still cements the fact she’s amazing. While Ichika is the alien, not a lot of mystery surrounds her. Remon is the opposite, even at the end you don’t really understand what the hell her intentions are. They’re good, but they aren’t defined at all. She’s my favorite character.
Tetsurou is…well, he’s not bad. He’s just kind of there.
Ano Natsu de Matteru is a good romance and does a lot of things right, but there are some silly portions and a lot of side story that takes away from everything. A lot of the characters are lame and uninteresting, while a few are good and maybe memorable. The romance is cute and might stick with you for a bit. It is the kind of show that you’ll wish could focus on what’s good, and give up on all the side stuff that doesn’t matter. Because you don’t care about that, you care about seeing Ichika and Kaito develop.