The best place to start my fall season anime impressions is with the best new show of the season – Natsu no Arashi! Season 2. Of course there’s still a few series I need to get to; for example, I’d really like to pick up Aoi Bungaku but with the previous great but strange Madhouse show – Mouryou no Hako – still not completely subbed a year later, I don’t want to get attached to a show that I’m not going to be able to finish.
Rating: episode 1 – 11/12 A+
Rating: episode 2 – 10/12 A
Rating: episode 3 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Anticipation Level: 4.5/5 – High
For those that aren’t familiar with this series. The show revolves around a 13 year old boy, Hajime, who’s gone to visit his grandpa out in the country for summer vacation and what happens after he meets a 16 year old young woman, Arashi, and falls in love. She’s not like other woman but that’s to be expected, I guess, because she died in a bombing raid during WW2 and now she’s a ghost that only appears during the warmth of summer in physical human form and then she disappears for the rest of the year. If she can find someone to “connect” to, Arashi and that someone can travel in time. The first season showed that Hajime was able to “connect” with Arashi and this leads Arashi to asking for Hajime’s help with saving people she knew from being killed in the bombing raid; Hajime is more then willing to help and one of the dramatic highlights of the season was when the pair got caught up in an air raid.
Watching the first 3 episodes of the new season, I’m struck with the feeling that Shaft/Shinbou took an already pretty good show and increased the quality by a sizable amount. The animation still doesn’t feel on par with say Bakemonogatari but everything else just feels like it’s operating on a higher level right now.
Take the first episode, for example. Towards the end there was a fabulous example of how Shaft/Shinbou was able to effortlessly shift the show back-n-forth from being comedic to being serious without either feeling wrong or out-of-context. All while taking what had been a running joke from season 1 – that Jun is actually a girl – and turning it into a serious piece of character development and changing how the rest of the series will play out. They also were able to remind the viewer that Arashi comes from an older time period with her observation that Hajime reminds her of the boys from her time (the 1940’s) which hits Hajime’s character right on the head when one thinks about it (and probably explains why he “connects” with her). Even his liking of science feels like a throwback to when people believed that science was going to help bring about a better world and boys (and girls) wanted to be astronauts/rocket scientists.
And the comedy just seems funnier this time around, maybe it’s because the first season laid down a solid foundation to work with. For example, I was literally rolling on the floor when they went back to the first season joke of how the owner of the shop thinks you can de-age things by having it travel into the past but this time instead of milk she asked to be taken back in time so she could become younger and then one of the characters commented that it’s impossible for something that’s expired to become unexpired by time traveling. 🙂 And the start of episode 3 has another great example but I don’t want to spoil that one as well. 🙂
It’s pretty apparent, at this point, that this is a weak season of anime which is disappointing but it doesn’t have to be all bad. Now is a great time to catch some of the great but overlooked shows from the past few seasons, and there’s not better place to start then Natsu no Arashi. (And for those that check out the first season, episode 1 is not the best of first episodes so I’d suggest watching the first 3-4 episodes before making an informed decision about watching the rest of the series.)