Waiting in the Summer
One night, Kaito Kirishima (Nobunaga Shimazaki) is out in the countryside trying out an heirloom 8mm motion camera inherited from his grandfather - when suddenly he witnesses a large flash of light, only to sustain fatal injuries as an alien spaceship crash-lands nearby. However, the beautiful female alien piloting the ship resuscitates him using nano-machines ... and then reappears soon afterwards as an "exchange student", calling herself Ichika Takatsuki (Haruka Tomatsu). Through circumstance, Ichika ends up living with Kaito, and she soon joins Kaito and his friends as they spend the following summer on a film project, while their personal relationship slowly begins to blossom.
If this sounds incredibly familiar, then you're not mistaken: this is the same crew that brought us the Please! franchise. Time to go down the list.
Electronica-influenced pop song opening? Check!
It's easy to dismiss Waiting in the Summer as hopelessly derivative, and if you're looking for any great innovation on the seinen romance then you certainly won't find it here. At the same time, though, if another Please! series is what you're looking for, then you should skip the rest of this review, go ahead and queue it up on Crunchyroll right now while you can, because the majority of fans of that franchise are going to eat this up like Pocky.
For the rest of us, there are definitely pros and cons to consider. The nice thing about Waiting in the Summer is that, at just twelve episodes, it's really not a horrible time investment, and given that short time frame, we do get a fairly good bead on our main cast of characters. Of course, this is a high school romance, which means that a lot of the emotions are going to feel fairly overblown and melodramatic for older audiences, and there are times when the characters (particularly the leads) come off as dismayingly clueless. I don't think this is particularly the fault of the voice cast because they pretty much do as they're directed, though I liked Hideki Ogihara as Kaito's seemingly girl-savvy buddy Tetsuro. I was put off by some of the characterization choices, though - the "big secrets" behind innocently oversexed Mio Kitahara (Kana Asumi - yes, that's Working!'s Popura there) as well as instigating loli-sempai Remon Yamano (Yukari Tamura, essentially reprising Ichigo Morino from the Please! series, right down to the laugh) are particularly ridiculous. A lot of people seem to dogpile on stubborn, standoffish Kanna Tanigawa (Kaori Ishihara, sort of contrasting her role as Madoka Kyouno in the concurrent Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne) but compared to the cluelessness of the leads this almost seems like a minor quibble. The addition of two potential love interests in the short "Okinawa arc" (for each boy) seems little more than a superfluous distraction (especially Chiharu, easily my least favorite character in this series).
It's plainly obvious from the get-go that Kaito and Ichika are supposed to end up together, no matter what anyone thinks or says or does, and while the hijinks that ensue are occasionally interesting, there's a certain sense of inevitability that really dulls the dramatic tension here. It's telling that really the only character that undergoes significant change or growth in this entire endeavor is Mio, who starts out as timid but proves to be probably the most level-headed and supportive of the whole cast.
Are there any major improvements over the Please! franchise? Well, the animation, art style, and backgrounds are quite impressive for a television budget: this is absolutely certified "scenery porn" and the character designs are appealing (yep, even Kaito, obviously riffing on a young George Lucas). Rinon is a more dynamic mascot than Marie ever was (coming to the rescue on more than one occasion) and the screenwriters finally ditched those damn "standstills". Plus switching Ichika to being Kaito's "sempai" rather than "teacher" makes the dynamic more palatable.
Unfortunately, that's about it. Ichika's "alien" nature is not really touched upon except as the occasional gimmick, and it doesn't really mesh seamlessly with the whole teenagers-make-a-movie idea. The characters' friendships, paradoxically, seem far more realistic than their romances, which is sort of the opposite of what you'd expect. If anything, the depictions of the platonic aspects of their interactions feel far more genuine than the romance, and may constitute the best aspect of this series outside the art and animation. Nevertheless, the shortness of the series also means that certain aspects of the series seem to pop out completely from left field, especially towards the end when the SF aspects of the show finally come into play (to often jarring effect).
I really wanted to like Waiting in the Summer, and while there were enough aspects of it that I appreciated enough not to sink this into a depths of a lake (or even call this *bad*), this series plays things way too safe and includes elements of other, previous works that ultimately feel more distracting than worthwhile.
You've probably seen this before, and the result this time is a mixed bag of beautiful visuals and trite storytelling. If you obsess over anything Please!-related then this may merit another star, while folks who are done with teenage melodrama should pass on this and move to a different genre of romance. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Like its predecessors, there's a lot of fan-service here, in the form of panty-shots, skimpy swimwear, fun camera angles, and implied nudity, though none of the characters go "all the way" (possibly to be saved for a Very Special OVA later on, if history repeats itself). Some violence, though essentially bloodless. Fine for older teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Waiting in the Summer © 2012 I*Chi*Ka / NatsuMachi Production Committee
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