Okay, it’s time to make up the balance. With these two episodes we’re probably done with the heaviest romantic stuff, and it’s time to see whether this series ended up delivering on the things it promised.
Ichika, Mio and Tetsuro: these are for me the strongest characters. Mio is the one who changed the most as a character, and especially came to her right in this episode. Her back-story was really weird and bordering on fanservice, but I can’t deny that I like her growth a lot. Ichika meanwhile rocks in how she subtly gotten used to her life on earth. Her story is no nonsense: she’s not wrapped up in complicated love triangles: she likes Kaitou, it took her a while to confess, but when she did it was great. She finally has someone to confide in. I also like her portrayal as a real character, rather than just another romantic interest. Tetsurou meanwhile mostly rocked for being so direct and eloquent in the first half of the series. I’m not a big fan that he turned this show in something resembling a love tree (Tetsuro has Mio and that beach slut who are into him, he himself is in love with Kanna, Kanna is in love with Kaito, just like Ichika and that random childhood friend; the only exception to this is Kaito liking Ichika back). Still, looking back I like his character development and place in the story here.
Kaito… is a bit of a tough one. He’s got his good points, but also his lesser. On one hand, he actually knows what he wants. Thank GOD, he knows what he wants. As for his portrayal, though… I’ve got to confess something I realized when typing up this entry. I keep confusing his name with Senkawa. Yes, the lead for Birdy the Mighty. I really have to force myself to get his name right. It’s not a matter of the characters being too similar. Heck, Senkawa was far more annoying than Kaito in the first half of Birdy the Mighty Decode, and far more interesting in the second half. However, even in his annoying phase, he stood out. Kaito doesn’t. In the end he just didn’t escape his generic bland stereotype for me.
Then there are Kanna and Remon. Remon is just a walking catalyst: she’s got no character out of her usual snark, just acts there to spark up the romance between the other characters, and provide a light-hearted tune, but I can’t think of any scene where she really caught my attention. Kanna did have those scenes, most notably last episode. However, beyond that she disappointed a bit. In the end, she too isn’t really a character. Her only purpose in this series is to spice up the love triangles. On one side it’s to add tension for Kaito and Ichika, on the other hand it’s for the Mio and Tetsuro story. Beyond that, I don’t think that this series put any effort in giving her an actual character. The rest of the cast of this series can work when you subtract the romance. She can’t. She isn’t the worst character of this series.
The worst character of this series? That honour goes by far to that mascot.
So yeah, it turned out a bit of a mixed bag, but in the end the pros outweigh the cons. Romance series are something bizarre to me. A lot of the romance shows I like have huge flaws and annoyances to counteract some parts that they do incredibly well, and Ano Natsu fits that pretty well. The solid execution doesn’t make it a stand-out and I do feel that it could have tried more to set itself apart from its cliches (especially during that horrid beach arc) but I enjoyed it so far.
Rating: * (Good)