Waiting in the Summer

By now you know how into anime I am.

But owing to how addictive they are, I set myself the following criterion:
1. Less than 100 episodes.
2. Completed at time I start watching.

Thus, after a couple of animes that I loved so much that I don’t want to review, here’s an anime that I watched that I do want to review (not that I didn’t love it)

The Title Card from CrunchyRoll

The story is, um, well before that, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Kirishima Kaito finds an old video camera and over the summer, he decides to shoot a movie along with his close friends Kanna Tanigawa, Tetsuro Ishigaki and Mio Kitahara. But on the school’s last week before summer, he meets a beautiful girl who enters the class above them. Her name is Ichika Takatsuki. To get closer to her, Kirishima invites her to star in the movie and Ichika’s new friend Remon Yamano also tags along.

But wait, what’s this? Ichika Takatsuki is a lost alien from a different planet who is searching for a place embedded in her genetic memories (a la Assassin’s Creed) but her planet has now sent violent huge robots to bring her back against her wishes!

I know.

But before that, here are the characters:

From left to right: Mio, Ishigaki, Kanna, Kaito, Ichika and Remon and Ichika’s cute Studio Ghibli-esque alien pet.

When I first started watching the show, the premise seemed quite ordinary. Ok sure, so the first scene had the main character dreaming about a big blast which kind of killed him but it was a dream and up until the end of the first episode, nothing really screamed ‘THIS GIRL IS AN ALIEN’. But by the end, she’s using her high-tech stuff to save our Kaito from some medical condition which never really gets explained properly until the last episode.

Ok so by now you may have realized that I have problems with the plot. Huge problems. But then again, it’s really hard to pull off cross-genre material, especially when you’re trying to merge teenage romance and slice of life with sci-fi. It doesn’t really come across well.

And yet, despite my problems with the story, I quite liked the anime. Why? Because the story doesn’t favor one genre over the other. It treats teenage romance and slice of life with the same importance and heavy-handedness (yes, more on that later) as it does all the sci-fi stuff.

So far so good.

But the anime is only 12 episodes long. So the anime only has what, six hours to deal with four intersecting relationships, a mysterious upperclassmen who may or may not have ties with a secret agency along with the whole crisis of the school sweetheart being an alien and her planet violently trying to take her back where she belongs. When you put it that way, there’s a whole lot of potential for one, impossibly huge mess. So all things considered, the anime pulls it off rather well.

But it does so by sacrificing any kind of subtlety and finesse. Confessions literally fall out of the character’s mouths in crude, blunt statements. One moment you’re watching two characters cook each other dinner as friends, and the next, they’re confessing to each other over a bowl of boiled cabbage. It’s kind of haphazard. And don’t get me started on the sci-fi parts. The climax happens in the last part of the last episode. Up until that, we’re led to believe one thing (I could have said what it was but I can’t give away that many spoilers) but then the next, something completely contradictory is shoved down our throats.

Talking about production…

Yes Production. Apt no?

The character animations look good and so do the environments. But then again, which anime produced in recent times contain animation so horrible you can’t stand it? So by that standard, it’s nothing revolutionary or eye-catching.

The same could be said for the sounds. It has good sound effects, crisp clear dialogue and some good tracks popping up occasionally. Add onto this a very good opening theme that fits the storyline and overall plot theme, it’s a good score but again, it’s not big and nothing immensely awesome. It’s there, it sounds nice but that’s it.

And the characters, well, they’re ok.

Stereotypes abound here. You get the geek with the camera, the tall jock, the tomboy girl, the shy quiet girl with some kind of secret and the hot new girl who is really kind and nice. In fact the only non-stereotyped character in this entire anime is possibly the alien pet. And only because alien pets have yet not been seen so much that they are a stereotype. If they were by this point, well then this alien pet would also be a cardboard cutout.

What part of this adorable creature doesn’t scream out ‘meant for plushie franchise product’?

To recap then:

Story: meh. Yes, it has some interesting features but overall, it’s only slightly better than a colossal mess.

Characters: meh. Yes they do some interesting things but overall, they’re mostly cliched, one-dimensional and common.

Production: meh. Yes it has some good parts, like some good tracks occasionally and some nice landscapes here and there but overall, it’s very ordinary.

Note: Much of the production staff of this anime is from the staff that produced Toradora!, an anime I reviewed earlier. I’m only mentioning this now because I tried my best not to hold it up to THAT standard. For the record though, Toradora is a MUCH better anime by miles.

But I wouldn’t call this a bad anime. Cause at the end of the day, I still quite liked it for some inexplicable reason. Huh.

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