I’m really glad that I ended up picking this show back up, because boy, was this episode awesome! For this episode, I feared a bit for Kanako and Yayoi’s lack of airtime, but this episode worked out really well. This episode was full of nice and clever touches. When I watched Tsukuyomi Moonphase about half a year ago, I really was tired Shinbo’s style, and the subsequent Shaft-series of a tale of Melodies and Maria Holic only made this worse for me. But I really have to say, that with Natsu no Arashi, I’m back to being a Shinbo-fan. Of course, I still believe that the third season of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei is going to suck unless proven otherwise, but I’m also pretty much looking forward to Bakemonogatari.
Anyway, in this episode we really got the chance to get to know some of the characters better. Since Hajime never got to meet the original Arashi, he of course had to use the chance to check up on her. It’s also a nice touch to see before whatever horrible happened to the foursome, they really were trying to live their normal lives as much as possible: Arashi and Kaaja were still trying to cheer up the mood by singing together, and Kanako was simply in the middle of a fight with Yayoi at the time Hajime and her Yayoi’s ghost version popped up.
It really was cute to see that Kanako, who was built up as such an evil-looking character in the past two episodes, was suddenly portrayed as a shy young school girl who regretted having fought with her best friend. I loved how she got all embarrassed when Hajime called out her name at the performance, in order to get her to come in.
What I also loved about this episode is that the creators put some real thought in what the ghost Kanako must have been doing in the meantime. It’s just too easy to make her stand in one place without having her do anything, but even though we never actually saw her through most of this episode, by the time we saw her again we knew exactly that she had been frantically searching for a way to get Yayoi back, and eventually just jumped on Hideo to get a contract with him. Hideo’s reaction to this was of course priceless.
This episode also nicely used a paradox in order to explain why Arashi chose Hajime of all people: because she saw Hajime when she was still alive, he must have seemed like the perfect guy to become friends with when she returned as a ghost. Speaking of paradoxes: why were there pictures of Hajime hanging in the old mansion of Yayoi?
Okay, so now there are two episodes left, and I really wonder what the creators have planned for that ending. In any case, we can expect to see the event that brought everyone back as ghosts. The past few episodes have shown that this story is planned out really well, but endings and finales are always something different, and even the best shows can trip over these unfinished endings. I’m curious to see whether this show can pull it off.
Rating: *** (Awesome)
Clever, subtle and yet packs one hell of a punch as it closes off the Yayoi and Kanako arc.