Ano Natsu de Matteru 03 – Kaito, Ichika and Rinon’s cup ramen

I love how Ichika's realisation is framed within a film lens.

Ano Natsu is quickly becoming a firm favourite for this season, managing to blend romance and comedy into a brilliant mix of errors, unsaid feelings and emotional turmoil, coupled with witty dialogue and excellent characters.

If last weeks drunken antics, brought on by Lemons wondrous ‘dynamite drink’ were anything to go by this week would really push forward the romantic interests and further the characters relationships, at least that is what I hoped. Ano Natsu didn’t let me down in that respect, with some very tender scenes brought on by a monumental comedy of errors involving Ichika and Kaito. What has impressed me a well is that the show is no longer feeding on the nostalgia trip, and scenes clearly taken from Onegai Teacher. While the setting helped, we are now being shown a different show that is standing up on its own merits and working rather well. This episode treat us to some brilliant wild fantasies on the parts of Ichika and Kaito, along with Lemon apparently driving everything forward for her own personal amusement, or perhaps simple curiosity as to what will happen when unrequited loves are revealed. We also had some rather witty dialogue, and not one, but two Men in Black jokes that served to enhance already brilliant scenes.

The mighty cougar pose picture appears to have Kanna a bit embarrassed.

This episode presented the audience with a complex web of relationships and feelings that overlap and contradict one another. Interestingly, the episode didn’t entirely focus on one pair or small group; rather we had various scenes, each with a different perspective on the group as a whole. Kaito and Ichika both misinterpret what the other wants to say, either believing that they have found out some big secret or being rejected. This relationship is a fascinating one for me since it shows how naïve Ichika really is, not only in the ways of love, but also about the Earth in general. While Kaito has developed a crush on her she seems oblivious of this, and importantly, does not appear to understand the eccentricities and nuances of romance on earth at the moment. However, she is clearly worried by Kaito being with Kanna, partly out of fear that her secret has been revealed, but also appears a little jealous in the episode. It was a wonderful little moment when she accurately guesses who Kaito is in love with however and I think she as a character has a lot of potential for growth throughout the series.

Rinon clearly loves cup ramen.

It was nice to see the relationship develop between Kanna and Kaito, especially when she is the clear love rival to Ichika and a very interesting character. Kanna in particular is wonderful in this episode, with a brilliant expression when she is handed what must now be the famous ‘cougar pose’. Ishihara Kaori is doing an excellent job this season portraying Kanna, and Madoka from Rinne no Lagrange. It was brilliant to watch Kanna almost confess to Kaito, only to be interrupted by Lemon who let her curiosity get the better of her. Kanna’s facial expressions and brilliantly over-the-top reaction, not only to Lemon being there, but also when she almost lets who she loves is in stark contrast to the presence of Mio and Tetsurou. That we have characters who are keeping their feelings hidden, although still aware of others is set in opposition to the obvious comedy entailed by Kanna being utterly embarrassed at her almost confession.

Such an unbelievably cute face here, Kanna is easily the most expressive character in the entire series.

What was so nice about this episode, is that while the it focussed in part on the relationship between Kaito, Kanna and Ichika, it is very clear that they are not the only characters in the series. Mio for example appears to be in love with Tetsurou, who in turn is in love with Kanna, but is putting her feelings before his own. While Kanna, Kaito, and Ichika are oblivious of other people’s feelings – especially Kaito, who flatly rejects Ichika’s idea that he is in love with Kanna – both Tetsurou and Mio are fully aware of the current state of things. Ano Natsu isn’t afraid to display romance, but importantly, has yet to go into the realms of melodrama. As a high-school romance it works exceptionally, and even with the alien aspect we never get the sense that this is in any way a sci-fi drama – clearly shown by Ichika’s inability to teleport since Rinon her ships computer is having a nap.

Mio is a character who seems to take a backseat role, however she seems to be very perceptive, and can see when people are hurting themselves.

At the moment it appears to me that Lemon is in the show for comic effect, along with being this all-knowing being, someone clearly wise beyond her years. Lemon seems entirely aware of everyone’s feelings within the group, and plays upon them, clearly shown as she stalks Kanna and Kaito, only to get too close just as Kanna is about the confess. Lemon, as a character appears to be there as a means with which to move the relationships forward, pushing where needed, or holding people back. She is also one of the primary sources of comedy within the show, such as showing Kanna the picture of her doing the cougar pose from last week’s drunken revelries. As such, I feel that Lemon, and also Rinon are central to the story, providing a slightly lighter set of dialogue – or simple, if cute gestures on Rinon’s part – allowing the romance to drive the story, without it deteriorating into overblown high-school melodrama. Also, from a stylistic point of view, I very much like how the drama, and important plot points, such as Ichika guessing who Kaito loves use the idea of these characters talking into the camera. We see far more emotion from Kanna when Kaito is filming her while on their ‘date’, she shows her feelings in a way that does not happen when she isn t being filmed. There camera as such, is an external viewer that is seeing everything taking place, much like Lemon, only disembodied. It is a nice use of video cameras within the series, and I think provides another, far more interesting way to tell the story and to show how people react depending on the situation and who is watching them.

Another one of Kanna's many facial expressions.

An excellent episode that further pushed forward the drama and romance without getting into the realms of melodrama. We also had a nice little scene with Rinon, who has taken the position of show mascot, and apparently loves pot noodles, and naturally, a nice long afternoon nap. The episode ends on an interesting note when Ichika jokingly guesses that she is the person Kaito is in love with. We already know the ending of the show – unless anime convention is ignored – and while it seems obvious that Kaito will end up with Ichika, it is the process and how we get there that most interests me. I want to see how the characters relationships plays out, and also get some clue about who Lemon is, because she is far more than she seems, and appears to know an awful lot. I also hope that relationships start to be formed sooner rather than later. The worst thing for me that this show could do now is drag out the drama, especially after Ichika now knows who Kaito loves. We need relationships developed further, but, they need to happen without destroying the current group of friends, but instead making the overall unit far stronger and more interesting to watch.

The backgrounds, although not fully shown in this shot are beautifully animated. Also, we see a nice tender, but also comedic moment between Ichika and Kaito as the realise their mistakes.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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