Review for Waiting In The Summer: Complete Collection
I love romantic comedy anime, which is easy to get confused with the harem genre. The difference is a small one, in that the two protagonists are pretty clear at first and the story actually develops the relationship, while the harem is about surrounding an ineffectual male protagonist with a bevy of beauties and always keeping the audience guessing as to which he will end up with, and usually never actually resolving the question. There is plenty of the latter, but the romantic comedy is under-represented in UK anime, where usually shelf space is taken up with giant robots and supernatural terrors, or ninja and samurai.
Two of my favourite romantic comedy anime I actually had to import. Let’s face it, the likelihood of them ever being released here was so low that importing was no risk at all, as they were shows whose premises would just ring alarm bells for the UK industry, regardless of how wholesome the content actually was. Please Teacher was a show where a beautiful alien woman came to Earth on an observation mission, going undercover as a high school teacher, and winding up marrying one of her 15-year-old students. Its sequel was Please Twins, where a boy winds up living with two girls, one of whom he is destined to fall in love with, the other being his long-lost twin sister. The problem is that no-one knows which is which, and he’s too poor to afford a DNA test. They both are brilliant, funny and inoffensive shows, but just envisage trying to market them...
Fortunately Yousuke Kuroda, the writer of both of these stories came up with a third romantic comedy anime last year, and thankfully for UK marketing sensibilities, it has an nice innocuous title and a premise that doesn’t set off any alarms, not at all loaded in any way. MVM are now releasing Waiting in the Summer.
It looks to be an unforgettable summer for high school student Kaito Kirishima, but it comes very close to not happening at all. Kaito is a film buff, and can’t be parted from his 8mm camera. He’s out looking for likely locations one night, when suddenly a light appears in the sky, a light that gets closer until he’s hit by a force that knocks him off the bridge that he’s on. The last thing he remembers is being caught by the hand...
And he wakes up in his own bed, ready for another day at school. Summer holidays are impending, and although final exams are in the way, he and his friends have plans to make a movie over the holidays. It’s a weird time for a new transfer student to start school, but Ichika Takatsuki stands out due to her bright red hair. She also seems oddly familiar to Kaito. It’s about to get a whole lot more familiar when Kaito learns that she’s actually camping out with no place to stay. Confusing his daydream fantasies with reality, he invites her home before he even realises it. At the same time, his older sister Nanami is leaving for a business trip, and she decides that Ichika being older and more responsible than Kaito, as well as needing a roof over her head, can stay and keep an eye on him while she’s out of the country. Ichika’s also happy to star in Kaito’s movie. Things are about to get a whole lot more interesting, especially as Ichika is no ordinary transfer student.
Twelve episodes of Waiting in the Summer are presented across 2 discs.
1. I Can’t Senpai
2. Together with Senpai...
3. Senpai Says...
4. Senpai was Amazing
5. Senpai is a Heroine
6. Senpai’s Rival
7. Senpai’s Feelings
8. Senpai in Trouble
10. Senpai’s and Ours
11. Don’t Leave, Senpai
12. Waiting in the Summer
Waiting in the Summer gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, given a native PAL conversion thanks to Australia’s Madman Entertainment. If you’ve seen the Please duology, then you’ll know that they feature idyllic locations and balmy summer rural settings, usually with a beach episode in Okinawa. Waiting in the Summer is no exception, although as it’s a much more recent show, the animation is a lot sharper, the character designs more polished, and the locations in the show more detailed and atmospheric. Waiting in the Summer looks absolutely gorgeous on DVD, with rich, vibrant and warm colours, capturing a very specific feel that suits the story well. The only shame is that there’s no English territory Blu-ray for the show. It’s one of the first shows that Sentai licensed when they rose from the ashes, budget was a concern and they chose not to dub it. Their policy is to not release sub only shows on Blu-ray, and quite naturally that decision has filtered through as each territory has licensed it.
Waiting in the Summer gets a DD 2.0 Japanese stereo track, with optional translated English subtitles. There is no dub track with this release, something of a shame as the show’s quality certainly warrants it. But it’s certainly very enjoyable in its subtitle only form, and you shouldn’t let a dub only preference limit you from taking in the show. The dialogue is clear throughout, and the stereo does a good job in getting the atmosphere of the show across. The music suits the story well, and maintaining the continuity with Please Teacher, and Please Twins, Kotoko provides the vocals once more for the show’s opening theme. The subtitles are accurately timed and free of error. The one disappointment is that there are no subtitles for the theme songs.
Both discs get static menus and jacket pictures. The only extras are on disc 2, and are your standard textless credit sequences. You’ll also find trailers for Ga-Rei Zero, Mayo Chiki!, and Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls.
Sentai releases in the US tend to keep the original credit sequences to their anime, and add a translated English language credit scroll after each episode. It’s a matter of pot luck as to whether Madman Entertainment will maintain this credit scroll. Waiting in the Summer is one of the unlucky ones.
Why not call it Please Senpai? We could have had the trilogy right there. It’s understandable that Senpai offers a less elegant translation into English, but even in Japan, rather than calling this show Onegai Senpai, it was called Anno Natsu de Matteru, Waiting in the Summer. If you have seen Please Teacher and Please Twins, then there will be some very comfortable points of familiarity in the show, the genre, the setting, the gentle comedy and character drama, the romance, and the style. But having seen all three, I have to say that Waiting in the Summer is my favourite, and that’s not just because of the greater production values and animation quality. Waiting in the Summer is a more heartfelt story, it’s easier to empathise with the characters, and there is nowhere near as much silliness.
At face value, it almost feels like a retread of Please Teacher, with a red-haired alien girl, who wears glasses, and has a mascot character at her side, arrives on Earth and falls for a somewhat non-descript and some might say unimpressive boy. The first difference is that the controversy element is removed by making Ichika closer to Kaito’s age, and making her his upperclassman in school. The second difference is in how Waiting in the Summer handles its characters. Please Teacher was about the central pairing of Kei and Mizuho, and the rest of the cast were there as support. There were subplots regarding other characters, but there was no doubt who would end up with who. Please Twins added a little complexity to its character dynamic by introducing two potential love interests for central male Maiku, in Karen and Miina. There was a supporting cast, but once again, the story centred on the main three.
Waiting in the Summer does it differently. It’s an ensemble piece with five main characters representing the romantic angle in the show, and a sixth main character who serves as an enigmatic, and Machiavellian matchmaker. While there is an overall arc, and some idea of who will end up with whom, it never feels set in stone. It’s also as much drama as it is comedy this time around. Kaito and his friends Kanna, Mio, and Tetsuro aim to make a movie over the summer, indulging in his passion for 8mm film. When Ichika literally falls out of the sky where Kaito is location scouting, and winds up having to save his life, it establishes a connection between them. When Ichika appears at school the next day, Kaito’s attraction to her is confirmed. So it is that his friend Tetsuro asks her to be in the movie as well, and Ichika brings along another student from her class, Remon.
Once the summer holidays start, it’s this group of six who wind up making the movie together. But while Kaito is increasingly attracted to Ichika, she’s uncertain about her own emotions, and well aware that she won’t be able to stay long term, making her more hesitant in facing her feelings. But there’s enough of a mutual attraction obvious to others, which causes problems as Kanna is in love with Kaito, and has been ever since he started school. On the other hand, Tetsuro and Kanna grew up together and have been friends since childhood, but now Tetsuro wants to be more than just friends with Kanna. If things couldn’t get more complicated, Mio’s in love with Tetsuro. The mathematics just doesn’t add up to a happy ending. And while this might be Kaito’s movie that they are making, Remon pretty much supplants him as director, even providing her own script. It turns out that she’s directing more than just the film, and she’s trying to script a happy ending for the five friends, in her own twisted manipulative way.
If there is a single analogue between this and Please Teacher and Please Twins, it would be the character of Remon, who in manner and action is almost identical to Ichigo from the first two series. I thought I had pretty much figured her out in the first few episodes, and was quietly waiting for the big reveal close to the end of the show. To its credit, Waiting in the Summer didn’t go in the direction I expected, and instead offered an even better twist to explain Remon’s character.
Waiting in the Summer just works. It all comes together to form a perfect rom-com-sci-fi-drama package. It makes you laugh, it makes you care about the characters, despite its out of this world premise, and it maintains a realism about the way the characters act and feel. When push comes to shove, and the final will-they won’t they questions are asked, you’ll be invested enough to have a lump in your throat at the uncertainty, and your eyes just might suffer from some unexpected ‘hay fever’ at the ending. I loved Please Teacher, and I enjoyed Please Twins. Waiting in the Summer is the best yet, and it’s one anime show that you should definitely have on your shelf. And Mio has the best line in the whole series!