Ano Natsu de Matteru 12 – Agents Lemon and Rinon at Your Service
March 29, 2012 Leave a comment
Loads of Screenshots this week – I tried to reduce the number, but there were too many.
My god, talk about an emotional overload in this weeks Ano Natsu de Matteru – there were so many changes of direction and pace that it was impossible to work out how things would end. Ano Natsu de Matteru has always been a show with brilliant storytelling, along with great characters that are willing to sacrifice themselves to make sure others are happy. Seeing all those twists and turns in the story was almost too much – as soon as you thought you know what was going to happen – whether it be a beautiful ending, separation, or something in between – something else would happen to send the plot at right-angles are off into the unknown once again.
We saw Tetsurou, Mio, Kanna, Lemon, and even Rinon keeping the pursuers at bay – with a little help from Emika of course. They were quite prepared to help out Ichika and Kaito because they are friends, something that has been underlined throughout this show, and one of the things that has been so great to watch. There was no thought given to letting Ichika be taken away so that Kanna and Kaito could get together anymore, it was something that didn’t even cross their minds. And this has always been one of the strengths of this show, its ability to show a group of friends, who, while having different feelings for each other, many of which are conflicting, will always offer to help when one of them is in trouble.
But, while this self sacrifice was going on, Ichika and Kaito were riding the train, and my god were they throwing out separation flags like there was no tomorrow. During their initial running to the train station, and while on the train, there was a terrible sense of dread hanging over the entire sequence. Ichika was once again convinced that everything was her fault, and that she should have never come to the planet, only to have Kaito chastise her. Seeing him talk about wanting to visit her family, and then even mentioning his own dead parents, and how he wanted to introduce Ichika to them was both beautiful, yet incredibly sad. The idea that he feels the need to record everything so that he can keep those memories, only to record Ichika saying she loves him filled me with dread, and perhaps despair.
But yet again the mood shifted when Ichika and Kaito finally reached the place in her dream – it was a wonderful moment of happiness and joy, only to be utterly shattered when the tree they needed as evidence of alien habitation had gone. This scene was beautiful, but also heartbreaking – to finally discover the place in her dreams, only for her dream of staying on earth to be shattered. But, what was most shocking about this place was the revelation about who had originally come to earth, and whom Ichika, and Emika were descended from. Seeing that crystal appearing from the water, and taking Kaito and Ichika into the dream to show them the scene from the time of recording, along with the tree, that was sadly gone in the present was fascinating.
When Inoue Kikuko began speaking however, it was almost too much to bear, and yet, everything began to make more sense. It had to be a recording of Mizuho Kazami, who had originally been taken away at the end of Onegai Teacher, only to return to earth (that and the lake appears to be directly taken from Onegai Teacher, it being the lake that Mizuho landed in). This was a bittersweet moment, demonstrating that it was always possible to return if you have the will, but also that there will always be memories of your time there. This was all tinged with a hint of sadness and sorrow, knowing that Mizuho, and at that point Ichika would be forced to leave the earth. While it was terrible to see Ichika forced to leave, there was an element of catharsis here, as Ichika finally came to terms with her own guilt, and promised never to forget, since her summer spent on earth would forever remain her precious memory.
It was an evocative scene though, with Ichika and Kaito seemingly communicating with each other through space. There may have been hope, yet you could not escape the sadness and overflowing emotions of Ichika, being torn away form the one she loves almost as soon as she realises her own emotions. That isn’t to say that the mood was erratic of disjointed in this episode, if anything it was perfect, constantly changing, switching, but doing it seamlessly. The mood constantly moved between optimism and despair as all those little conflicts began to come together for the final, glorious conclusion. It was an episode that kept you on your toes, never quite knowing what will happen, right up until the last 30 seconds or so. That Ano Natsu de Matteru was capable of doing this demonstrates superb story telling and characterisation.
Soundtracks can often be overlooked, but they help to provide emotional depth, along with further emphasising specific important elements in the series. The soundtrack helped tremendously, as all good soundtracks should – setting the scene and providing the right mood, with subtle, yet important shifts in tone throughout. That the constant changes in the episodes mood caused so much emotional turmoil was partly due to the soundtrack – ranging from the frenetic chase scenes, to the beautiful, yet sad train ride, right up to the sequence with Ichika and Kaito at the lake. We even had a perfect piece of music during the final sequence that perfectly summed up this show – the soundtrack fit this show and helped to produce very strong emotions during this final episode.
And yet, Ano Natsu de Matteru wasn’t entirely sad there were some great pieces of comedy, and we actually find out who Lemon is at long last. To think that the Men In Black were real, and more than that, Lemon is one of them – although she did give us fair warning, even if it was taken as a joke. This helps to explain why Lemon knew so much about Ichika, along with her ability to appear and disappear at will; and all those ridiculous gadgets that kept popping it. It also helps to explain how Lemon and Manami know each other – they may have gone to school at roughly the same time, but who knew that Manami’s husband was also a MIB agent.
But more than this, we finally found out a little about Lemon’s true objectives, since she has been quite the cool customer throughout this series, giving nothing away. Like Kaito’s friends, Lemon had no ulterior motives; she was selflessly helping Ichika because she saw her as a true friend. She may have had other motives to begin with, but her time with Ichika, along with the group of friends clearly changed them. Ichika was the first alien that she met, and Lemon found her to be so kind that she now views her as a good friend, and someone she is willing to help, no matter what the cost. This has been one of the strengths of Ano Natsu de Matteru – while it may be a wonderful romance, it is also about friendship, and how important it is.
The epilogue to the series was partly similar to the opening, Ichika has gone, and Kaito remains on earth, attending school with his friends as he did before. Lemon leaves quite suddenly, to continue her career as a Men In Black agent (should really be Woman In Black really) – looking badass in her black suit and sunglasses. I loved the MIB Japan Branch, it looked really nice, and there was a little surprise for us as well, seeing Rinon happily sitting eating her fill of pizza and other assorted junk food. But, interestingly enough, there was a display of Ichika’s ship on a screen, yet again giving us hope of things to come.
Nanami Kirishima returns from her trip to Bolivia complete with random gifts for Kaito and Ichika. But, more importantly, we got the first viewing of the incomplete film (according to Lemon) – full of footage taken by Kaito, along with some choice cuts made by Lemon herself. It was a beautiful moment, demonstrating the immense amount of emotions that had been poured into making this film. It was a great little scene, with Yanagi Nagi’s ‘Vidro Moyuo’ playing in the background. The inclusion of this song provided the emotional depth needed, and there was no need for dialogue, instead the focus was on the film and our characters reactions to it. It was a moment where we can remember all those great moments of the series, along with the characters themselves, as if we are watching it together with them.
It was nice seeing them all get back to their lives, with the distinct possibility that Tetsurou and Mio are together, or at least Tetsurou has finally acknowledge his feelings for her. Kanna didn’t really feel left out actually, she may not have become a couple with Kaito, but there is the feeling at the end that this doesn’t necessarily matter in the grand scheme of things. But, most important of all, in the final 30 seconds we got our happy ending – seeing that final scene on the then completed film with Ichika back on earth ad wearing the Bolivian poncho brought by Nanami was beautiful. There was no need to have a kissing scene, we know that Kaito and Ichika love each other, and seeing Ichika finally back on earth made all the emotional turmoil from the episode worthwhile
Due to the nature of the show, along with its title, and not to mention knowing who wrote and directed it, the ending was not necessarily unexpected. Onegai Teacher had a similar ending for example, but it was the way in which this show portrayed the ending, along with the ways in which all our characters had to get on with their lives that made it so great. It might have been nice to have a kissing scene right at the end, and yet it wasn’t necessarily that important. A great ending, to a great series.