Ano Natsu de Matteru 10 – Realization and True Friendship
March 15, 2012 4 Comments
Ano Natsu de Matteru has quickly become one of my all-time favourite romance and general anime series, with its brilliant mix of romance, drama, comedy, and a smattering of action. It is a show that places significant emphasis on the relationships individual characters, and how they relate to the group as a whole, it is also one that does not fall into the classic trap of many romance series and get melodramatic.
After last weeks confession that had me gushing, I was wondering what would happen in this episode, and it did not disappoint. Seeing Kaito and Ichika together was a great feeling, and the theatrics and drama from last week had clearly demonstrated to them the importance of acknowledging your own feelings. This was particularly true of Ichika, who has really opened up in, and was interacting, with Kaito in ways that would have been unheard of a few episodes ago. It was as if the mental constraints that she had placed upon herself had vanished, and she was finally capable of admitting her feelings and being open about them. What was so good about this is the way in which Kaito and Ichika got together, not at the end of the series, but in episode nine. Now, for many shows, this would be the end point, the couple are together, and what’s done is done. Ano Natsu de Matteru however, does not do that, and instead acknowledges the trouble that they went through to be together, while showing what happens afterwards.
What was interesting about this element of this weeks episode however was the ways in which Kaito and Ichika acknowledge and continue to think about everyone else in their group. Instead of becoming a couple and forgetting, or worse, ignoring those whose hearts have been broken in the process, both of them are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Ichika acknowledges the effort that Kanna made, and the importance of her words. Kaito, on the other hand, is conscious of Kanna’s current state, and seems to worry if she is still depressed, which of course she is. It’s nice to know that neither Kaito, nor Ichika are ignorant of the emotional turmoil within the other characters, and while they themselves may be happy, they are fully aware that others are not.
This brings us onto the other major focus of this weeks episode, the emotional turmoil within Kanna, Tetsurou and Mio. Now, in many other romances, resolving love triangles, or in this case, a love pentagon is tricky, and will often leave bad feelings, anger, guilt, and possibly even hatred amongst those who have lost out in some way. Ano Natsu de Matteru does not have that though, and the characters all act in a rather mature manner. Tetsurou and Mio are more likely to hurt themselves than they are to hurt anyone else, and Kanna, who spends half the episode crying, at least knows why she lost.
Both Tetsurou and Kanna acknowledge that they waited too long to make their feelings known. Tetsurou, comfortable with his and Kanna’s relationship appears content to be by her side and accompany her through life, unfortunately in doing so she falls in love with Kaito, and he loses his opportunity to admit his true feelings. Kanna faces a similar problem; she may have only known Kaito for three years, but she remained content to be close to him as a friend. When Ichika arrived, she simply allowed things to happen, instead of being more aggressive and confessing to Kaito herself. They had begun to hate themselves for their mistakes, and more than that, were in danger of hating everyone else around them as well. Seeing Tetsurou confess to Kanna, but acknowledge that she still loves Kaito was wonderful, and made even more so when Kanna finally confesses to Kaito.
The catharsis brought on by these two admitting their feelings was brilliant, it was as if a massive weight had been lifted from their shoulders, and allowed them to move on with their life. It also demonstrated how such experiences can be important in life, and that overacting can cause irreparable damage that may destroy friendships and ruin relationships. Their acknowledgment of their own short-comings and mistakes demonstrated a real maturity, not only in the characters, but in the way the script allowed such feelings to be portrayed. Although, Tetsurou was also shown up to be the least mature character in the series, he is angry with himself, and angry at seeing Kanna in such an emotional state. His sister tells him as much, suggesting that not talking to anyone and keeping his feelings bottled up is a sign that he is immature. This was further demonstrated after Kaito calls him, suggesting that they continue with the filming, along with acknowledging that he and Ichika are together. Tetsurou’s immediate response is to ask him how he could do such a thing after knowing Kanna’s feelings, getting increasingly angry. Kaito demonstrates real maturity in opposition to the immaturity of Tetsurou, he knows that he has hurt Kanna’s feelings, but suggests that this is all the more reason to meet up and clear up everything, once and for all.
And behind all of this with had Mio, the quite silent character, who nevertheless hides incredible strength. It is fascinating to see someone who was so timid as to barely speak, become this strong person who berates Tetsurou for simply leaving things and questions his maturity. Her characters evolution has been one of the best things about Ano Natsu de Matteru, and has happened in a very subtle way that makes her current character see entirely natural. Seeing her quietly stalking Tetsurou, and being there when he needs emotional support was great. We also got to see a bolder side to her character in the way she hugs him, something that I could not see her doing at the beginning of the series – further proof of her characters development and maturity. She also demonstrated that even nudists need to wear aprons while in the kitchen, quite apart from the might of the naked apron, it is essential for safety, ovens are hot!
It was fascinating that through all this emotional turmoil, characters recognising their faults and where they went wrong happened in a single episode. What was so brilliant though is how all the characters were able to overcome their individual problems and get back together to work on the film. This demonstrates how strong their bonds of friendship are, and how it is possible to have multiple relationships and love interests within a group, along with emotional turmoil, while still remaining good friends who are capable of working together.
But, this happiness could not last forever, and just as everyone got back together, with one week of the summer holiday remaining, those pesky aliens return. This time it is in the form of Ichika’s older sister, teleporting to earth, and clearly worried about her younger sister, thinking that she may have been hurt. It was obvious that this was going to happen sooner or later, especially after the madness involving the rescue pod a couple of episodes back. Everything is out in the open of course, the characters have come to terms with their feelings and people are starting to change and get on with their lives, but as the narration suggests, nothing lasts forever. I still think that someone is going to get hurt in this series, in potentially a major way. Judging from previous works by Kuroda Yousuke, such as Onegai Teacher, there is the possibility that Ichika may be forced to return to space, this is however pure speculation, and anything could happen. What this episode did demonstrate however is that whatever happens, and whoever is hurt, the group will help them reconcile and move on with their life. Ano Natsu de Matteru is a great example of how to write a mature and engrossing romance, one that allows the character to learn from their mistakes and pain, and live a life without regrets. I am truly looking forward, not only to next week, but the series finale.