The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Our last Summer of high school, is spent waiting for that Summer: Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA Review and Reflection

“It’s great to reminisce about good memories of my past. It was enjoyable when it was today. So learning to enjoy today has two benefits: it gives me happiness right now, and it becomes a good memory later.” —George Foreman

Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer, literally Waiting for that Summer) finished airing back in March 2012, a time when I was gearing up for a biochemistry exam, as well as finishing a cell and molecular biology project and a bioinformatics assignment. I did not begin the anime until May 2012; this blog was nearing its 100th post at the time, and I began a physics course. As well, Gundam Unicorn‘s Black Unicorn aired around this time, as well. Over the course of June, amidst studying for physics and the MCAT, I made my way slowly through Ano Natsu de Matteru, and by the time I finished in July, I found an interesting anime that acted as a call-back to Onegai Teacher, while simultaneously providing a different setting to portray how romance and love may play out, whether it be the courage to accept unrequited love, or the courage to start something new. Thus, Ano Natsu de Matteru moved to the back of my mind, and it was only quite recently that I heard about the OVA. Announced back in March 2014, this OVA was released with the Blu-ray volume in August 2014. Viewers were looking for a second season, or an extended episode that would provide closure for the different relationships amongst Kaito’s group of friends. As the OVA progresses, the story materialises into one of reminiscence and nostalgia. Set two years after the final episode, Tetsuro finds one of Kaito’s old film reels, and the latter decides to watch it later that evening. Said reel recounts Ichika’s antics after Remon provides an alcoholic drink to her with the aim of gaining inspiration for their film. After Kanna and Mio accept drinks from Remon, they also succumb to the effects from EtOH, and Remon films the ensuing chaos for their film.

At present, I’m feeling nostalgic about my summer from three years ago, and this OVA seems to capture that spirit exceptionally well. Sitting in their final summer break before graduating from high school, Kaito and company are wondering how to make the most of their summer, all the while gearing up for the journey ahead. This cusp between high school and graduation is a non-trivial transition, and consequently, everyone is seeking out their futures. However, the message here is that those memories from our past are precious; Kaito remarks that Ichika’s presence, and the adventures that they shared, was what drove their group of friends closer together. Watching that film reel would have been like reading an old diary entry, albeit one that also captures the visuals and sounds of a moment- these elements do much to capture the emotions and spirit of one’s memories, more effectively than do words and photographs alone. While the OVA does not introduce anything new to the table, or bring any closure to Kaito’s feelings for Ichika, it does much to invoke memories of what I myself was doing back when I first watched Ano Natsu de Matteru: a well-executed anime that is capable of leading its viewers to empathise with the characters.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Similar to Yosuga no Sora and Onegai TeacherAno Netsu de Matteru is set in the far reaches of rural Japan, a landscape dominated by forest-covered mountains, vast plains and skies of deepest blue. It is, in short, what my vision of a heaven looks like, and I’ve found that in most anime, such settings typically evoke a great sense of longing and is the ideal place for a romance to occur, with the only exception being Non Non Biyori.

  • Set two years after the events of Ano Natsu de Matteru, this OVA deals with Kaito and company as they enter the final summer before their final year of high school. Everyone is studying for entrance exams during this summer, and consequently, the OVA reminds me of my own summer three years ago, when I was gearing up for the MCAT. Perhaps more so than any of my summers spent building physiology simulations, that summer struck a resonant chord with me.

  • Consequently, when I think back to that summer, I recall being filled with longing, as well- I had support from someone special for the MCAT, and I think this is why I managed to perform reasonably well on it, but circumstances have shifted wildly, and this person has become but one of many memories. Returning to Ano Natsu de Matteru, here is Kanna and Mio: their feelings for Kaito and Tetsuro form some of the conflict back in the original TV series, and the OVA shows them as having matured somewhat since those events two years back.

  • Tetsuro finds an old film reel hidden away while hanging out at Kaito’s house, and upon closer examination, discovers Ichika as the subject, evoking memories of two years ago. Blogging, though lacking the audio-visual aspects that film might confer, nonetheless can bring back old memories if the posts are sufficiently well-written. I tend to do this quite frequently, accounting for why I do not consider this to be a proper anime review site: to me, this is a glorified diary where I simultaneously talk about my life as well as anime and games.

  • Mio is a nudist: this was revealed back during the anime, and while she was quite fretful about letting her friends know about this. This acts as the plot point for an arc mid-season, and after it gets resolved (involving a fair bit of sprint specialisation from Tetsuro’s end), Mio comes to terms with her own feelings for Tetsuro and the two have become a couple by the time of the OVA, and the two share a rather interesting conversation via phone.

  • Upon learning about Kaito’s film reel, Kanna takes great interest in knowing its contents, given that 8mm film is a hallmark of an old project the group had undertaken two years ago. During this time, Kanna learnt that her feelings for Kaito were unrequited ever since Ichika arrived, and as such, even if she’s largely accepted Kaito’s love for Ichika, does become agitated when the topic is brought up again.

  • For old times’ sake, Kaito decides to watch this old film, which contains outtakes and other segments filmed while Kaito was getting a feel for filming. I’m actually not too sure as to what led me to pick the anime up: my original impressions state that I wished to see a modern variant of Onegai Teacher (which I have, ironically, yet to watch), but how I came about it is quite unknown.

  • We’re four-fifteenths of our way into the post, and finally, Ichika makes an appearance. She’s presented as being quite camera shy and is unable to act naturally whilst being filmed, suggesting that this particular reel is probably from their earlier days. According to the casting, Ichika is voiced by Haruka Tomatsu, who also supplies the voice to Gundam 00‘s Milena Vashti, a glass factory worker in Sora no Woto, AnoHana‘s Anaru, Asuna Yuki of Sword Art Online, and even Gundam Unicorn‘s Micott Bartsch; that’s a particularly impressive repertoire.

  • Unlike Unreal or Unity, one cannot simply place a directional light to elevate the lighting in a scene at will, hence the use of reflectors. I believe by this time last year, I had successfully implemented a prototype version of the Giant Walkthrough Brain, which allowed the operator to switch between a pre-defined flight path and free-for-all controls, the capacity to pause and play the pre-defined path, reset to the starting position and alter the speed of the free-control camera. At present, I’m a month into using the Unreal Engine, and I’ve built back most of the features from my Unity simulation prototype, so I’m working on my thesis project at a reasonable pace.

  • So, after nearly a year of mentioning I’d do so (in the Non Non Biyori OVA post), I finally went in and finished my exit road test to become a fully qualified driver. Four years have elapsed since I did my GDL license exam: I still remember that on the day of the exam, I passed in one go and proceeded to purchase Chopper 2 for iOS. This year, in a bit of déjà vu, I passed in one go and, noticing that Alto’s Adventure and Monument Valley were on sale, I picked those games up for iOS.

  • Armed with a full license, law now allows me to have a 0.05 percent blood alcohol level before I’m suspended from driving, although with due respect, consuming even a mouthful of beer and taking the wheel is folly. Back in Ano Natsu de Matteru, Remon has spiked a fruit drink with an alcohol of some sort (probably vodka, since Ichika and the others don’t notice anything off about the juice), and with her inhibitions offline, much comedy results.

  • I’ve never really been a fan of alcohol: a single beer or shot gives me a headache and causes me to blush harder than most anime characters (which is no small feat). Strangely enough, I can drink champagne, cocktails without too much difficulty: the Cuba Libre and Cranberry Vodka are my preferences, although given the choice, I’d rather just buy a ginger ale or sprite, and then spend more money on pub food.

  • Ichika takes on a more flirtatious demeanor after the alcohol begins to work its magic, and Kaito wastes no time in filming Ichika. Kanna and Mio attempt to halt Tetsuro and Kaito, respectively, but Kanna soon finds herself at Ichika’s…mercy. I suddenly realise that “flirtatious” is a word that I so rarely use that I couldn’t even spell it correctly on first try.

  • In the three years since I’ve finished Ano Natsu de Matteru‘s anime, some things have differed dramatically, while others have more or less remained the same. I still recall the sunny days in early June of 2012 when I watched this anime, and during this time, I divided my time between studying for classical mechanics and the MCAT, as well as playing through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

  • In the ensuing chaos that follows, Remon finds a great deal of material to work with, and writes it down at breakneck speed. Actually a member of a government agency, Remon transfers into Ichika’s year to monitor her more closely, hence her presence wherever Ichika goes. The subtle presence of aliens and Men in Black provides a unique premise on which to superimpose the familiar notion of a love story, and consequently, anime like Ano Natsu de Matteru and Onegai Teacher wind up being immensely enjoyable to watch.

  • Two years ago, I hit a pub with friends, and after a beer, was promptly wiped out. Fortunately, the pub was quite close to campus, and I returned to the lab with a friend such that I could try and sleep off the headache; there is a meeting area with comfortable chairs, and after an hour, my headache had lessened in magnitude. Since then, I haven’t touched a beer; Ichika is feeling similar effects here, and spends the remainder of the taping session out.

  • Admittedly, finding time to write posts is becoming increasingly difficult, as I do wish to step back and enjoy the summer. It’s nice to be able to have days where I go out and enjoy dim sum with the family on sunny days such as these, where I take things nice and easy. This summer’s a quarter done, and May’s been quite fun so far: with most of my friends back in town now, I foresee numerous events on the horizon.

  • Upon seeing the effects the alcoholic drink has on the others, Remon offers Kanna and Mio a glass, as well, with the intent of triggering another reaction for the purpose of gaining some “inspiration” for the movie. A similar scene occurred in episode two of the anime proper, except Tetsuro and Kaito also get hammered along with Ichika, Kanna and Mio as the group decides on what their movie should be about.

  • The OVA is probably set between episode five and six of the anime, given that the group is performing test shots at this point in time. Back in the anime, Ichika was picked to be the protagonist of their short film, and the test shots here indicate that they’re trying to get Ichika accustomed to being filmed. This would suggest that Remon’s managed to pull off spiking Kaito et al.’s drinks twice.

  • Mio herself gets hammered after downing the spiked drink in the blink of an eye: in a span of seconds, Tetsuro and Kaito find that they’re the only sober people left, which effectively puts an end to any progress Kaito would’ve hoped to make on the movie.

  • Things go south for Kaito after the alcohol kicks in for Kanna: she interrogates him, and with inhibitions off, her jealousy comes out full-force, asking whether or not anything funny has happened between him and Ichika. It seems like Kaito and Tetsuro are unaware of what’s happening with the drinks Remon has provided.

  • The sort of fanservice that occurs in Ano Natsu de Matteru is more frequent than most of the anime I typically watch, although contrasting many other anime that make extensive use of it for comedy, Ano Natsu de Matteru is able to weave it into the story without making it too jarring. Kanna performs some sort of hold here that I’ve seen executed in other anime: the name eludes me, and while trying to escape, he contacts Ichika’s chest, as well, furthering the chaos on their end, and humour on ours.

  • With Tetsuro and Kaito seemingly sober, they’re forced to deal with the sort of chaos that ensues with a drunken Kanna and Mio. Content to film, Remon hangs out in the background to record the events. Presumably, once the day ends, Kaito reviews the footage and decides to archive it, given that what’s transpired probably won’t be too productive to their film. Making OVAs and movies set between events in anime does take a bit of finesse, as continuity may be disrupted if it’s not done properly.

  • Like the K-On! Movie,  Ano Natsu de Matteru handles this element quite well, and as such, none of the events in the OVA contradict what was seen in the anime. At present, the reel comes to an end for Kaito under the dark of a summer’s night. However, Kaito’s friends make a surprise visit for old times’ sake: made possible by the laid-back nature of the countryside, such happenings are rare in my AO.

  • Kanna, Tetsuro and Mio show up with a large quantity of fireworks in tow to liven things up. Since my undergraduate degree started, summers have always been characterised by a sense of longing that I never really could place my finger on, and even though I spent vast quantities of these summers working with game engines for physiology simulations and visualisations, that sort of wistfulness has never really left me.

  • Said wistfulness isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it reminds me of the blue skies of summer, and also the tranquility associated with the season. This is neatly balanced out when I hang out with my friends, and given that this is presumably my last summer break of all time (a year from now, I’ll graduate and will hopefully join the workforce for real), I’m going to capitalise on my unrestricted driving powers now to enjoy things to the fullest of my limits, while simultaneously working towards completing my thesis project.

  • The Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA depicts Kanna as aiming for university admissions, and is willing to put in her fullest efforts to succeed, whether or not a significant other is supporting her. This would imply that Kaito’s heart still belongs to Ichika, and basic deduction would find that Kanna’s unrequited love will remain thus; her determination to move on anyways is most admirable.

  • Meanwhile, Tetsuro and Mio’s relationship has taken off, with Mio resolving to be with Tetsuro regardless of where he chooses to go. Speaking from experience, there is definitely a degree of melancholy in working hard for a future in which there is no one to share it with, but at the same time, I see it as solitude to explore myself fully; a meaningful relationship requires one find themselves first.

  • No one really knows what the future will hold, and this is why the Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA does not really give any insight, or closure, as to whether or not Kaito and Ichika will meet again. This sort of uncertainty reflects on the dynamic nature of life, and from a story-telling perspective, it does leave Ano Natsu de Matteru open to future adaptations, although the lack of news would suggest otherwise: while it would have been nice to see things wrap up decisively, the ending that the OVA leaves viewers with is enjoyable.

  • For the month of June and July, I’ve got a number of posts planned out. Besides the concluding talks to Hello! Kiniro MosaicHibike Euphonium and OreGairu Zoku, as well as a talk on RWBY‘s second season, I’ll also be doing a handful of special topics posts as the summer progresses, time pending. My schedule is going to be packed with much-welcomed events in the near future, so blogging will take a back seat. However, I hate to disappoint those who’d rather see this blog and myself disappear off the internet: there’s a few more things I’d like to write out and finish before that happens.

After the OVA finishes, audiences are left with a warm glow: it was remarkably nice to see all of the characters interacting again. Watching Kaito, Tetsuro, Mio and Kanna recall fond memories of Ichika and Remon speaks volumes to the significance of both characters’ contributions to Ano Natsu de Matteru. From the OVA alone, it would appear that Kanna and Kaito have moved on sufficiently to go on and pursue their own paths, while Tetsuro and Mio begin walking the road together towards the future. This is not an unsatisfactory ending by any means; in the three years that’ve elapsed since I wrote my old review for Ano Natsu de Matteru, I’ve bore witness to many things. Consequently, what’s happened throughout Ano Natsu de Matteru is definitely credible, occurring with the same fluidity and naturalness as one would expect with real people. News of any continuations to Ano Natsu de Matteru has largely been non-existent, and while it would be quite meaningful to see whether or not Kanna and Kaito can respectively find new happiness and reunite with Ichika, it would appear that at present, this outcome is left as an exercise to the audience.

Please provide feedback!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: