Ano Natsu de Matteru 05 – Rain To Wash Away The Tears
February 9, 2012 Leave a comment
If the first four episodes of Ano Natsu de Matteru were the build up, introducing the characters, their relationships and feelings, then this episode marked the proper start of the emotional battle that is this series. Since episode one, this series has had excellent pacing, with a good balance of both comedy and drama, allowing for an entertaining show. This episode further demonstrated just how complex and complicated the relationships amongst this group of friends really are. What is so interesting about the series, is that while the story is partly focussing on the relationship between Kaito and Ichika, the other characters are never completely left out, although I feel Mio is long overdue some screen time where she should basically push Tetsurou down and have her way with him. Rinon got some great parts as well, being more of a character that Marie (Onegai Teacher) ever was, such a great mascot and seems to love pickles as well as Ramen.
The relationship between Kaito and Ichika has been steadily growing and strengthening as the show has progressed. This week demonstrated how at ease they were in each other’s presences, and while Kaito may notice Ichika’s sex appeal – perfectly demonstrated him glancing at Ichika in her rather sexy summer clothes. It’s really quite fascinating to see how they can interact on a far more intimate basis than Kanna is capable of. Part of this is clearly them living together, but as the series progresses it is becoming ever clear that they both share mutual feelings of love for one another, they have just yet to fully realise this. Seeing them both happily chatting away about silly little things clearly upsets, annoys and frustrates Kanna. She loves Kaito, but seems unable, or perhaps incapable of telling him, and actually there in lies her major flaw. For myself I personally prefer Ichika, I just like the alien red head – shades of Mizuho Kazami – and Kanna, while a brilliant character doesn’t seem to have the ability to properly admit her feelings to Kaito himself. It is as if she has been content with their life up till now, happy to be around Kaito as a friend, thinking, perhaps, that their feelings will naturally become mutual at some point. The introduction of Ichika, the beautiful and sexy girl with mysterious origins has upset that balance, but Kanna is still incapable of coming out and telling Kaito.
Kanna is frustrated with Kaito and incredibly annoyed at how he interacts with Ichika, almost as if they are already going out. This is clearly demonstrated when she visits Kaito’s house only to sit there and have Kaito and Ichika happily chatting away, she feels as if she cannot come between them. To me it is this indecision that is ruining her chances, hurting her and importantly hurting Tetsurou, since she lashes out at him when he tries to push her forward. Kanna interestingly enough is not childhood friends with Kaito, but with Tetsurou, which gives an interesting twist to the much used – some may argued overused – childhood friend in harem anime. And, while in many other series the childhood friend is left out, often because of a slightly dense male protagonist, I don’t think that’s the case this time around. Kanna has yet to really give any hint or indication to Kaito from what I have seen that she is in love with him, if anything she acts more like a very close friend. I love Kanna, she is a brilliant character, with a lot going for her, but right now she is her won worst enemy.
Furthermore, seeing the close relationship that Kaito and Ichika now have, rather than say anything she just walks off and essentially admits defeat. To see her lashing out at Tetsurou, not knowing his feelings for her, and then attempting to become the ‘usual Kanna’ once again is a sad scene, further spurring Tetsurou on. Tetsurou himself is a complicated character who dearly loves Kanna, but appears to believe that by telling Kaito Kanna’s feelings for him things will get better. He puts others feelings before his own, only to end up being hurt in the process, further hurting and potentially angering Mio. Mio herself has been an underused character I feel, and deserves more screen time. I also have to wonder if she wanders around her house with nothing on, since we seem to only see her at home naked, while cuddling one massive Panda plushie. I did however like her questioning of Ichika, attempting to find out how she feels about Kaito, and almost implying that she has more of a claim to him.
It is clearer this week, more so than the previous episodes that Ichika loves Kaito. She can talk and interact with him in such an intimate way – from them joking about the kind of food she cooks, to mentioning that they need to stop by a convenience store for ingredients. From Kanna’s probing it is quite clear that she thinks of Kaito in a far more intimate way than perhaps she is willing to admit, however Kanna’s questions also bring up a bit of a thorny and complicated issue – how long Ichika will be around for. Ichika has feelings for Kaito, but knows that she cannot stay on the planet, and must eventually leave Earth and return to her own world. We see Kaito at the end of the episode musing on the idea that Ichika will not be around forever, along with Ichika checking her suitcase-computer, possibly looking at the repairs on her ship or some other gismo. I particularly liked the idea of Kaito filming Ichika – apparently Lemon suggested it – to get more footage for the film. This provides the viewers with a wonderfully intimate look at Ichika’s and Kaito’s feelings for each other. Seeing Ichika get all shy and embarrassed at the idea of being filmed right after getting a bath, or even when Kanna came around is great. I like the idea of using a film camera to demonstrate how Kaito is entirely focussed on Ichika, showing how he is utterly captivated by her presence. It also helps to demonstrate how he essentially has blinkers on, being unable to notice others around him, although I do think Kanna has yet to really show how she feels for him.
This week also saw the start of the film that Kaito and his friends are meant to be filming over the summer holidays, along with the triumphant return of Lemon in all her crazy glory. Lemon has to be an alien, maybe an observer like Mizuho Kazami was, either that or incredibly intelligent. The ‘script’ she has written for this film is a brilliant of example of Lemon saying to Ichika ‘ I know exactly who you are and where you’re from’. We have Ichika as an alien just arrived on earth and having a sudden meeting with a boy, and ends up staying in the spare room at his house, Rinon is also cast as the bio computer for the aliens ship. This may seem quite familiar, and I hope it does because it is the exact circumstances of Ichika, right down to Rinon being her ships main computer. Lemon is an enigma, she clearly knows a lot about the group’s current circumstances, but we know nothing about her. She is there as a character that pokes, prods and makes people uncomfortable, along with revealing hidden feelings and desires that they themselves may not fully realise as yet. It’s also great seeing her take over the entire producing and directing jobs of the film, pushing Kaito from behind the camera to in front of it – although I question her work ethic of writing that days script each morning.
The script for this series is excellently written, providing us with witty dialogue, great one-liners and the ever-present ‘Men In Black’ jokes that appear to have become a staple of this series. Kuroda Yousuke is also not afraid of putting characters on the spot, unlikely many other romantic comedies that often shy away from those life and series changing moments and decisions until the very end. It is nice to see Tetsurou come out and tell Kaito and Kanna’s feelings, along with having Ichika listening in on the conversation, which adds another element of depth to an already brilliant story. One thing I particularly like about the script are the silences, those moments where it is left to the characters facial expressions to show us what is going on or what they are thinking. We don’t need Kanna to tell the world that she is sad and does not know what to do; her tears in the rain demonstrate that better than a thousand words.
On a stylistic note, again I like the use of a camera lens to frame the drama and emotions in the series; it is a nice little touch. I also like the narration, with Kaito providing bits of narration at key moments, usually at the end of an episode in past tense. Now in recent weeks it has suggested that Ichika has left the Earth, thus leaving Kaito behind potentially heart broken. However, Kuroda Yousuke has used this before in both Onegai series to great effect. To me it is the main character looking back at this moment in time and reflecting on what happened, wondering about whether or not he could have changed things, made them better, stopped heartbreak, tears and pain. I very much like this way of narration, giving the viewers some potential ideas as to what may happen towards the end of the series.
Overall it was a great little episode, pushing the story forward and throwing a spanner of two into the works. I am more in the Ichika camp right now, since, while Kanna is a great character, Ichika just has a little more going for her and is more interesting from my perspective – plus you cant argue with a shy red-head alien in what appears to be a tight black leather jump suit. It was also a treat to see the look on Ichika’s face when she asked Kaito whether how he would react if she was an alien, only to see the glorious look on her face when he answers that it would be fine. A great hypothetical question if there was ever one. I’m interested to see what happens in next weeks ‘beach episode’, and how much Tetsurou’s comment has affected both Kaito and Ichika, there is sure to be fireworks. I also want to see more Rinon madness, she (according to the show) has been a great so far considering she only says ‘no’.