Ano Natsu de Matteru (a.k.a. Waiting in the Summer) is a 12 episode anime produced by J.C. Staff and aired during the Winter 2012 season. It was directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (Ano Hana, Toradora), with script by Yousuke Kuroda (Onegai Teacher, Onegai Twins) and original character designs by Taraku Uon (Onegai Teacher, Onegai Twins). With three heavyweights in the romantic comedy genre running the show, Ano Natsu de Matteru was expected to be a hit with romantic comedy anime fans, so did it live up to its expectations?
During summer vacation, high school friends Kaito, Tetsurou, Kanna, Mio, Ichika, and Remon decide to film a movie using Kaito’s old film recorder. While filming, tensions between them start to grow as secret crushes are revealed and each of the characters are torn between seeking love or friendship. Things are made even more complicated with Ichika trying to hide the fact that she’s actually an alien that flew to Earth to find something.
The series hit the ground running, with several major revelations made during the first episode, such as who like whom and Ichika being “caught in the act” during a hilarious ending scene. The first episode gives a good first impression of the series and shows what you should expect. Unlike a lot of romantic comedies where the characters question whether or not they love someone, Ano Natsu is clear-cut from the beginning. The complexity doesn’t come from wishy-washy characters, but from desires that conflict with morals and friendship. Would it be better to pursue the one you love, or to keep everyone happy? That is perhaps one of the greatest questions that is answered in this anime.
Like with the Onegai series, Ano Natsu comes with its own alien mascot in the form of a pudgy hamster-like being called Rinon. Moments with Rinon and the mystery surrounding Remon’s true identity and her ability to seemingly appear out of nowhere add a great deal to the humour in the series. The scenes delving into Kaito and Ichika’s imaginations are funny too, with Ichika constantly fearful that she’ll be found out and taken away by the Men in Black (yes, you read that right) for questioning. Of course, if you mention Men in Black in Japan, you always have to include Tommy Lee Jones, who makes several cameos in the anime.
Perhaps the greatest parts of Ano Natsu are the heartbreaks, and how they’re dealt with. Not everyone can be happy when interests don’t line up, and Ano Natsu tries to stay as realistic as possible. Just because the one you like is going out with someone else doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop liking them or end up with a new person, like many romance stories. The comedy tends to mask the sadness that some of the characters experience, but you would have to be pretty emotionless to not feel anything after seeing what happens.
I wouldn’t call Ano Natsu de Matteru a masterpiece, but a good balance of romance, comedy, and believable emotions make it a strong series. It doesn’t quite compare to Toradora, however, I found it an improvement over the Onegai series and definitely worth the time to watch.