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Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu - Reviewed by GaileOxstain
Posted on Monday, May 30th 2016 by Crawen

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Cover


The summer is just starting to heat up. Can the same be said for the second season of “Natsu no Arashi”? Yes, in the sense that it still feels like it’s trying to heat itself up.


Plot:

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 1 Hajime has settled into his young summer life alongside his friends at the café where he helps out. He still only has eyes for the beautiful maiden Arashi with whom they share a special bond, for together they are able to jump backwards into time due to the fact that Arashi is actually a decades old ghost from the second world war. Together they all pass the summer days with a variety of antics both comical and extraordinary.

I really have to applaud the second season of “Natsu no Arashi” on one particular facet: it finally feels comfortable in its own skin. In between seasons the series cut out much of its WWII content as well as the often time out of place drama. As a result, we get a series more fixated on delivering humor with a greater degree of success.

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 2 The sight gags come across better and in general it’s just easier to go with the flow this time around as far as the comical content is concerned. Be it Hajime’s bravado, Arashi’s increasing mischievous behavior, Kaya and Kanako’s moral shock, or perhaps most notably the gender mishaps with Jun, the series knows how to keep things lively so as not to bore the viewer.

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 3 However, therein lies the biggest problem with “Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu”, it feels too comfortable in its own skin and ventures a little too far outside of the lines in order to keep things interesting. Time-traveling and summer time antics are one thing, but over half of the episodes were spent on strange, somewhat out of place, and just plain ridiculous gag episodes that did nothing to develop the plot of characters and frankly tried too hard to be weird in a way that only SHAFT titles can be. The series wanders too far away from its time-traveling source themes that it feels like a completely different series than its first season, for better or for worse.

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 4 However the second season does bring up an important question concerning the future of Hajime and Arashi’s relationship. As a summer ghost, she disappears when the seasons cool and Hajime will likely be doomed to forget his memories of Arashi despite his love for her because of her ethereal presence. So how does Hajime plan to make this bond last when it is so intermittent yet unchanging? While an episode is spent addressing these doubts, the fundamental question is still left unanswered by the end of the series, leaving the story of the series more or less trapped in the summer heat.

Characters:

The full cast remains the same in between seasons with few changes in the player’s personalities.

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 5 Hajime is still full of preteen confidence and determination but still acts like an inconsiderate jerk befitting of his youth, Arashi has become more mischievous and begins to take after Hajime more now that she has put her past behind her, Kaya and Kanako still serve as the cast’s old-fashioned modesty thermometers, Yayoi is still her curious self, and Mr. Glasses and Sayaka are still as “adult” as they always were. I just wish more effort could have gone into each cast members past, especially the latter two “adults”.

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 6 However I honestly feel as though Jun got the most character development this season as the first few episodes as a well as another isolated one are centered around his, or rather her, struggle with keeping her crossdressing secret under the rug. While it is hilarious to see her hectic attempts to keep her gender under wraps from Hajime, she also grows quite a bit in the second season, learning to feel more confident in herself as well as more comfortable with who she is as a person. And by the end, her relationship with Hajime has even improved to the point where they act more respectful to each other…just so long as Hajime isn’t unintentionally groping her.

Setting/Art:

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 7 SHAFT really took full control this time around. The art has become much more bold and modern, and the studio’s artistic presence is felt much more strongly thanks to their improved use of lighting, symbolism, and character format. While they do overplay their usual techniques, even incorporating some live-action diorama modelling at certain points, I find that they still work better than the previous season’s more retro art style.

Music/Openings Endings:

However the series does still preserve some of its retro appeal through its choice of opening and ending themes but with a modern tech twist. The choice of opening was…odd, given that it’s a techno bass song with a strange mystery vibe to it. In some ways I think this would have been a better choice for the first season’s opening, but the music is interesting to say the least. The ending also borrows themes from retro tech only this time it utilizes chiptune tones that evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Final Analysis:

“Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu” takes a step back from a lot of the roots it laid down in season one, and while it gave the series new life, the newfound gains were cancelled out by various other losses. The plot drifts from its usual time-travel narrative in favor of better comedy but in an effort to do so also create weird gag stories. The characters are more of less the same with a few addendums adding better character growth for Jun but lackluster growth for shades and Sayaka. The art has improved by moving away from its retro style in favor of SHAFT’s usual fare, and the music still manages to hold onto the series old-fashioned charm in spite of the new changes. I could think of worse ways to start a summer, but “Natsu no Arashi” has at least opened the door to the season with the childhood adventures and laughter we all used to have. So let the heat and warmth of the summer sun embrace us. A magical season is about to begin, and we shouldn’t waste it. Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 8

That’s why I’m giving “Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu” 6 spicy prank fruits out of 10.

He finally…GOT HIS SALT!!

Natsu no Arashi: Akinai-chuu Screenshot 9

- GaileOxstain


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