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Natsu no Arashi - Reviewed by GaileOxstain
Posted on Saturday, May 28th 2016 by Crawen

Natsu no Arashi Cover


With summer just around the corner, it seems fitting to focus on a series about the magic of our summer youth. “Natsu no Arashi”, while relatively unknown, is appreciated as one of SHAFT’s sleeper hits, though I personally didn’t get as invested as the rest of the fan base.


Plot:

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 1 Hajime is a 13 year old boy who is spending the summer with his grandpa in his quiet coastal town. He ends up lost one day and wonders into a local café where he meets a beautiful 16 year old girl named Arashi who possesses a refined and old-fashioned aura about her. He ends up volunteering at the café as a means to get closer to her and through an accidental encounter discovers that the two of them share an unworldly bond. As it turns out, Arashi is actually a corporeal ghost from WWII era Japan and has the ability to travel back in time, but only if she is bonded with a specific person, in this case it happens to be Hajime. Together, the two of them enjoy their summer days with each other at the café in the present, while also traveling back in time to the mid-1940’s to save civilians from enemy bomb raids.

“Natsu no Arashi” is a rather bizarre series in that it mixes the mundane with the supernatural. In many ways this series is actually quite similar to “Bakemonogatari” because of it. However unlike the Monogatari franchise, “Natsu no Arashi” does not feel quite as compelling or memorable. As far as the story goes it’s pretty simple if not a little straightforward or perhaps straightbackward.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 2 The plot is broken up into two facets: the ordinary day to day activities and conversations between the cast members, and the time-traveling elements between eras. Both sections perform okay, but they don’t really excel either. The normal days and happenings are occasionally really funny what with the plethora of reoccurring gags, but a lot of time the story just feels bland and a tad monotonous, similar to Monogatari’s overly long conversations but with fewer philosophical tidbits. The time-traveling sections to WWII were inversely more serious given that Arashi and Kaya are aware of the disaster that is to befall their hometown and are only trying to save what lives they can from the bomb strikes. The series tries to hammer in emotional moments and significant moments concerning the ghost’s pasts, but it feels like there’s a connection missing at times which keep the feels from flowing efficiently, especially no thanks to the aforementioned peaceful summer days in the other half of the series. Also, the WWII elements do have the potential to open up a controversial can of worms depending on who watches, so be mindful if you had personal stake in the war.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 3 Granted I still think that the way “Natsu no Arashi” handles its time-travel physics is interesting given how unique they are. Apparently, you cannot actually change the past using time travel in this universe because the present is a result of all events that happened in the past, and that includes interference from travelers visiting from another time. Though I suppose by that logic it is the action of NOT traveling back in time that changes the present.

Still, if there’s one thing I can applaud this series for doing it’s taking its viewers on an old-fashioned summer adventure we all used to have in our youths. The joy of first love, the sense of exhilaration going on time-travel rescue missions, and just enjoying the lazy days that pass us by. That, and the fact that the series is riddled with cameos from other anime titles. Just keep a close eye on some of the customers that sit in the café and you might just see the cast of “School Rumble” or “Hidamari Sketch”.

Characters:

The cast members of “Natsu no Arashi” are unique if nothing else, and they all have their own unique little quirks that make them interesting characters to develop. I just wish some of them developed a little better.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 4 Hajime is full to the brim with youthful exuberance. He has a certain level of confidence and bravado you only find in preteens. He falls in love with Arashi at first sight and does his best to always stay in her good graces, and he does so with a surprising level of maturity for his age. Even when tasked with accompanying Arashi on her dangerous jumps into a war-torn period, he does not waver in his dedication to her cause and keeps his “manly” bravado even during times of crisis. Granted he still shows more than his fair share of immaturity concerning his relationships with everyone else in the cast with his tactless and rude commentary.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 5 Arashi on the other hand is completely mature but still lively and full of youthful charm herself. Though burdened by those she lost during the numerous air raids, she remains focused and calm when faced with the struggles of her past. Yet in spite of that and that fact that she died over half a century ago, she still remains optimistic during the present day and has a certain degree of playfulness that makes her amusing to be around. She and Hajime form a surprisingly effective pair and their relationship remains strong from start to finish.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 6 A fellow waiter at the café, Jun serves as the more down to earth and reasonable male member of the wait staff always there to counter Hajime’s manly enthusiasm with more civilized grit. Then again, Jun isn’t even actually a man, but a cross-dressing girl. Her motivations for doing so seem rooted to her disapproval of what modern women have become, and as result finds a closer friend in Arashi and Kaya than in her fellow peers. She ends up bonding with Kaya forming another time-traveling pair and while she lacks the same confidence that Hajime does, Jun still manages to prop up Kaya in her fight to move on from her past regrets.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 7 Kaya, like Arashi, is a corporeal phantom who died sixty years prior but can time-travel with her own bonded partner Jun. While Arashi is lively, the German born Kaya is more serious and refined than her friend but finds herself more burdened by what was left undone in her past than with Arashi. She lived summer after summer unable to put her past behind her, but Jun manages to help her live in the present not just fixate on the past.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 8 We also have the pairing of Kanako and Yayoi, a pair of close friends that transcend the boundaries of time. They have this running gag involving books that Yayoi reads…which turn out to actually be manga titles, but they don’t really appear until later in the series, and as a result the two of them don’t get a whole lot of time to develop past what they endured in the past.

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 9 And rounding out the supporting cast are Sayaka and Hideo. Sayaka is the owner of the café where the cast works, but it turns out that she’s actually a professional con artist only using the café as a springboard until her next big scheme. But despite that she manages to maintain a good relationship with her employees and manages to incorporate her own pragmatic advice concerning the lives of the cast members and her own take on the whole time-traveling mechanic. Other than her we have Hideo, a private detective with a burly persona. Granted his role in the series is limited and spends most of it getting jerked around by the other cast members, hilariously so in the encounter with Sayaka.

Setting/Art:

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 10 Given that studio SHAFT ran this little show, I expected a lot of symbolic scene transitions and non-traditional art styles, but oddly the studio toned down their usual approach in favor of a more retro style of art and animation. This works well in the context of the series time-travel theme and does wonders for nostalgia, but at other times the retro style does weigh the series down at times and does damage its attempts to reach out to a wider fan base.

Music/Openings Endings:

Matching the series more retro style is its soundtrack which avoids new century music in favor of the former one. The opening is a retro jazz number wrought with melancholic affection and the ending is an old-timey jazz rock number that makes good use of guitar and brass percussion resulting in a pounding beat.

Final Analysis:

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 11 “Natsu no Arashi” is one of the more unique series I’ve watched. It mixes slice of life shenanigans with time-travel and lamentation with similarly mixed results. The story is okay but has a hard time making the viewer see the wider picture, the cast members have unique and interesting potential though I felt their character growth was somewhat lacking, the art style is purposely retro to evoke nostalgia and fit the theme but may alienate some viewers, and the music grows on you with its timely soundtrack. I’m somewhat torn on my evaluation of “Natsu no Arashi”. Every facet of the series that I liked had an alternate side that I did not like. Perhaps I’m just blind to what the series is really giving us, but I’ll side away from the proponents of the series and just mark my experience as decidedly average. If the series is not happy with my ruling, it can just jump back in time and try to convince me otherwise, provided they haven’t tried already.

That’s why I’m giving “Natsu no Arashi” 6 time jumps out of 10.

Get that man some salt already!

Natsu no Arashi Screenshot 12

- GaileOxstain


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