Posted on 5 October 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi, Some Quick First Impressions

Sora no Otoshimono

Short Synopsis: Our lead character gets his own god-mode android angel servant.
Well hello… fanservice. Well, at least this shows knows its target audience, but it still puzzles me why they don’t just turn these concepts into hentai-series. Here we have a series in which an android angel servant falls from the sky, and the lead character just happens to be at the right time and place to have her bump into him so that she makes a contract with him and fulfills every of his wishes. The guy is your typical teenager, so you can imagine how he ends up abusing these powers. The series has the typical flaws of a harem-series: lots of clichés (he gets woken up by a cute childhood friend, there’s a huge magical sakura tree near where they live, et cetera), pointless fanservice and a male lead of who you wonder why he’s even popular with girls. I think the biggest flaw of this series is the lead character himself. Sure, there have certainly been worse versions of him, but his attempts at being funny just end up as annoying and his voice-acting is pretty annoying to listen to. I liked the white-haired guy, but overall this is just a waste of a perfectly good budget.
ED: I presume that the animation is going to be filled in the next episode. The song is nothing special, but not particularly bad.
Potential: 10%

Miracle Train

Short Synopsis: Our lead character tries to help troubled ladies along with his team of bishies.
Aha, Iyashi-kei! It’s been a while since we had one of those. This episode really had that typical calming atmosphere of the Iyashi-kei series, but at the same time it also has a lot of issues. Most notably, the bishies. I like the idea of personified subway stations helping passengers through their worries, but did they really have to look like a bunch of ugly bishies with ridiculous hairstyles? Most of the time they’re acting like stereotypes as well, especially that yellow-haired guy was obnoxious. Especially the scenes in which they talk to each other are cringe-worthy. Nevertheless, when push comes to shove it does manage to pull off a nice down-to-earth story for the troubled passengers. If the future episodes can focus more on those passengers and less on the bishies, we could have something very interesting here.
OP: Cheesy J-rock. Move on.
ED: Slightly better, but still generic J-rock
Potential: 50%

Natsu no Arashi! Akinai-Chuu

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is surrounded by lots of cute girls.
Like White Album, I’ve been heavily debating whether or not to blog the second season of Natsu no Arashi. Sure, the first season was very good, but this is Shinbo, after all. No matter how good the source material, I have this feeling that he’s going to take its style to extremes again while forgetting what’s really important. And really, it didn’t help that this episode was probably the worst of the entire series. It was a beach-episode, but the thing is that it just wasn’t funny. The whole episode was just a string of random fanservice-jokes, and lacked the wit or subtlety from the first season. Among the rest of the jokes were also lots of recycled ones (the creators are still going on about Hajime vs Jun, the salmon-thing returned yet again and the creators were even desperate enough to recycle a joke from Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei and the Samurai-Jokes from Pani Poni Dash!). Sure, this series might pick back up, but this episode just showed too many signs that the creativity of Shinbo has run out, and I don’t want to blog this series just for the sake of finding out whether I’m right or not in this. Also, why the heck are the creators hinting at a romance between Jun and Hajime?!
OP: Like expected from Shaft, at least it has a pretty good OP. Creative visuals and nice music.
Potential: 30%

Posted on 29 June 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Natsu no Arashi



After all of the shows that he’s been directing and will be directing in 2009, it’s safe to say that Akiyuki Shinbo has been the most prolific director of the past decade: I can’t think of anyone who directed as much series as he did, especially in the past five years. Natsu no Arashi started out as one of the many dark horses of the past Spring Season. At first sight it looked to be full of your usual shounen clichés and all, but it turned into a very interesting and engaging series.

At first sight it’s easy to label Natsu no Arashi as one of those moe comedies around high-school girls, but that’s only half of the series. The other half is a surprisingly serious and deep storyline about time travel, World War II and people who are deeply affected by the past. For once in one of Shinbo’s series, the characters have strong personalities and yet are more than a bunch of paper bags. Hajime may seem like a bit of an oddball here, but his purpose in the series really is to act as the straight man, compared to the issues and stories that the rest of the cast has, and he pulls this off really well as the main character.

On top of that, this series also has a very inspired sense of humour. As this is a series about time-travel, it really makes the most of it by including jokes that can only be shown in this kind of series. This leads to priceless discussions about a rotten fish, among others. It also likes to poke fun at one of its on-going plot threads, in which one of the characters (Jun) is a cross-dresser. A number of absolutely hilarious episodes are centred around all sorts of crazy situations in which she has to try and keep her secret and pretend to be a guy.

Overall, this series is really well balanced, with the serious and silly episodes alternating so that the end result is a very varied series that grabs the best of both. The only downsides are the first and last episode. The first episode really gives a wrong image of what the series is going to be about, while the last is mostly a rehash of jokes (something that the other episodes managed to avoid so well), and carries Shaft’s style a bit too far. nevertheless, if you’re looking for a series that has both light and dark parts with engaging characters, then this is a show you should check out.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on with categories: Natsu no Arashi



Ah, so there’s going to be a second season this fall. That’s a good thing, because this episode pretty much was the weakest episode of this show so far. Especially the first half was just a rehash of already used jokes with all of the characters somehow dressed in swimwear (including Jun in clothing that would obviously reveal her gender to Hajime, yet nobody noticed), while the second half had some new and funny material, it also seemed to be trying too hard.

However, I am also very wary of the “Curse of the Shaft Sequel”. I KNOW Shinbo, and I’m just certain that he’s going to carry this show’s style way beyonds its limits, making it lose its substance like how Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and a tale of melodies were ruined. Especially this episode was a very bad sign, if every episode of he second season is going to end up like that. That’s why I’m not going to guarantee that I’m going to blog season 2 as well. It’s all going to depend on how awesome the rest of the upcoming Fall Season is going to be.

And don’t get me wrong, barring this episode, I really loved Natsu no Arashi. I just feel that it would have been better if everything was wrapped up in just these thirteen episodes. The past two episodes would have been much better if they took the stories from the manga that explained why the ghosts came back, and the part where Jun finally comes out of her shell, and combine those into an anime-original conclusion.

Rating: (Enjoyable)
Enjoyable to watch, but mostly just a rehash of previous jokes with some really un-subtle references to other shows.

Posted on 22 June 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



If you consider this episode as a regular episode, it rocked. It closed off the Yayoi and Kanako arc really nicely: in the end all the conflict came from a simple misunderstanding: the two of them simply didn’t know that they can remain in existence as long as they remain close to a person from the current age, and so they decided to steal Arashi’s existence as a means to keep existing. It then proceeds with a little more Jun-jokes when one of her friends protects her secret by claiming to be her girlfriend, and the rest of the episode develops HajimeXArashi by bringing a bit of tension in their relationship by introducing a guy who turns out to have been saved by a future Arashi in the past. All in all, a pretty good episode.

However, this was supposed to be the semi-final episode, and there was no hint of a conclusion in it, or even a build-up for that conclusion, meaning that either the creators are going to stuff the entire conclusion into just one episode, or simply going to end the show by ending with just another manga-chapter without concluding anything. It’s such a shame, really. This would have been a perfect opportunity for the creators to go with an anime-original ending. I know that Shinbo can do it if he wants to, but to do it all in just one episode is really going to push it.

But ah well, who knows whether or not it’s going to turn out awesome or not. Who knows, Shinbo is so unpredictable that he might actually pull it off. In any case, this episode was heaps of fun as usual, and that ending is going to have to be really bad if it wants to completely ruin this series.

Rating: * (Good)
Not the most perfect semi-final episode, but standalone it rocked.

Posted on 15 June 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



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.

Posted on 8 June 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



Well, so my assumption the last episode was indeed wrong: Kanako was simply one of Arashi and Kaja’s classmates. In this episode, Hajime goes to stalk them inside their house (with a little help from Hideo), after which Yayoi tells him about who the two of them are. I’m not really that much of a fan of the fact that they seemed to be the only cute girls in their entire school, but then again just about every anime suffers from this, and the rest of this episode really was as top-notch as ever.

For as little time that has been devoted to her, I quite like Kanako as a villain. She’s got this evil look on her, she is sure what she wants and makes sure that she gets it. I’m curious to see whether the creators can pull off her defeat well. She has deeply rooted motivations for her actions, so it’s going to be a shame if she’s just going to end up being talked out of her actions.

Speaking of Shinbo, I am getting worried about one thing here. In the next season he’s supposed to come with Bakemonogatari, and while I don’t know and don’t want to know what it’s going to be about, there seems to be a lot of hype around it, and how this can be one of his best series so far. But at the same time he also has a third season of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei slated for the same series, right after a spring-season in which he churned out Natsu no Arashi, which was right after the winter-season in which he had Maria Holic, and don’t forget that Pani Poni Dash OVA that popped up about a month ago. I mean, is it me or doesn’t this just look like overkill? How many series can one guy direct before being completely burnt out? There’s no doubt that Zetsubou-Sensei is going to be rushed as hell, but it’s going to be a shame if Bakemonogatari would also end up suffering from this.

In any case, I’m at least glad that Natsu no Arashi turned out so well. Now if it only can give a nice conclusion I’m really going to be happy.
Rating: ** (Excellent)
This episode again shows that this show rocks when it wants to get serious.

Posted on 1 June 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



I must say that my big fear for this series would be its conclusion. This show has already proven that it’s good, but even good shows have a hard time with their conclusions (take Kurenai for example). This is a series about the past, and how it can influence the present, but that black-haired woman was really being set up as your stereotypical evil villain. This episode only fueled my suspicions when they portrayed her even more like some overused bad guy who was planning to kidnap Arashi and use her powers in order to help a loved one of her. Yawn. Been there, done that, and it completely doesn’t fit in with the rest of the themes.

Or so I thought…

The end of this episode really pleasantly surprised me.I never imagined that that woman would actually be a grown up version of Arashi! Now this really puts things into a different perspective that’s totally in line with what the rest of the series has built up for. Especially this episode spent a lot of time talking about time paradoxes, which is exactly what happened at the end of this episode. It was some clever foreshadowing that at the same time you really recognize unless you’ve seen the rest of the episode. Especially since they used a rotten fish as example.

So yeah, this episode rocked. There was a lot of talking in it, but it did exactly what it was supposed to: delve into the details of time travelling. This really allows the series to go in-depth into its setting, rather than compared to series with relatively little dialogue. This is also why I’m such a big fan of series with lots and lots of dialogue. On top of that, we also got some very nice development between Arashi and Hajime, which is always welcome. That hug/kiss scene worked really well.

I’m also intrigued by that scar on the bar table. It just keeps returning over and over, and there’s always someone who’s trying to clean it. The obvious meaning is symbolism: no matter how hard you try, that past ain’t gonna erase itself. And yet I have a feeling that there’s more to it. I have no bloody idea how the creators are going to do it, but something is telling me that the origin of that scar is going to be central to the plot.

Rating: ** (Excellent)
Great HajimexArashi chemistry, nice surprises, the beginning of the end that is promising to be very exciting.

Posted on 25 May 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



Well, there you have it: another one of those advantages of having a series directed by Shinbo is that he can be really funny when he wants to. Especially with this series, which is just going to last for 13 episodes, has no chance whatsoever of milking itself out, you can be sure that the comedy is going to be really funny, and that’s exactly the case for this episode. I laughed really hard, and I loved how this episode used Jun’s character to draw out every last bit of comedic potential out of her.

Jun really has been a constant source of laughs, and because of this series’ good development it has yet to feel dull at all, and this episode was probably the funniest episode I watched this season. The idea of switching Jun and Hajime’s bodies was pure comedic gold. I especially loved how Hajime believed that he dropped his balls somewhere.

There’s nothing much else to say with such an episode of course, apart from how I’m pleased to see that the creators are also making good use of the running-joke about salt. This really is the kind of episode you need to watch for yourself.

Rating: *** (Awesome)
The funniest episode I have seen this spring season. With a length > 20 minutes in any case.

Posted on 18 May 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



What started out as a seemingly silly episode in which Hajime and Arashi break the metal bird on top of the cafeteria and muscle guy being ordered to buy women’s underwear, it gradually turned out to be an episode that added even more depth to Kaja and Jun’s characters. I really must say that Jun is one of the most convincing cross-dressers out there, because for once she has a very solid reason to act as a boy, compared to most of the other cross-dressers, who seem to be only there for fan-service.

In this episode you could really see that she feels insecure about regular girls: she doesn’t like their style and fears that she might end up as the same. While the source of it is still unknown, but it seems to be strong enough for her have to endure the other side of the coin: Hajime’s abuse. It’s also strange that Jun’s classmates didn’t feel like stereotypes at all.

And at the same time we learn that Kaja is very uncomfortable among men, due to the way she was raised in her time. She’s probably fine with Hajime because he only has eyes for Arashi, but when those students showed up she really came into a situation she never was in before. The episode then continues as she tells how she believes that she appeared in this time for no reason, and that they’re just there to relive their summer. Jun then however, realizes that they’re both just thinking too much of others, and refuse to think about themselves. Basically, what Hajime and Arashi have been doing all along.

There also was a lot of building up in this episode. We now know that Arashi and Kaja died on the same day. It probably was because of a bombing, but I doubt whether it was that simple. We also know now why Kaja came back, but what about Arashi? We have yet to see what her regrets are, and she’s very good in hiding this. On top of that, there has to be some sort of role for the muscle-guy, has there?

This series will probably be only thirteen episodes long, since Shinbo seems to have yet another show scheduled for Summer, plus the original manga only seems to have released three volumes so far. If this is true, then we’ve just passed the halfway point of this series, and there are actually lots of ways for the creators to settle this series. Let’s hope that everything can come together.

Rating: ** (Excellent)
Very nice episode for Jun and Kaja and the visuals still are very good.

Posted on 11 May 2009 with categories: Natsu no Arashi



Okay, that’s it. With this, you can consider Valkyria Chronicles dropped and Natsu no Arashi picked back up. Not only was the past episode of VC incredibly bad, but the current episode of NnA was also incredibly good. We’re really talking about a wolf in sheep’s clothing here: after the silly first episode, did anyone expect that five episodes later, we’d see the characters in the midst of a sea of fire after a bombing in the second world war? Thought so.

And seriously, before this season started I really didn’t expect that I’d like the next series by Shinbo this much. After Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, Maria Holic and watching Tsukuyomi Moon Phase, I really was through with the guy, and especially that announcement of him trying to regurgitate yet another season of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, which really hit its expiration date long ago made me worried. And yet here he comes, picks out a great manga and adapts it really well so far. The storyline has been getting really interesting in its focus of past vs present, and the filler episodes are a lot of fun to watch (like last episode’s cross-dressing bit).

This episode was much more serious, in which we for the first time see Jun and Kaja go back in time for the first time (making interesting use of the fact that Jun’s actually a girl), and we turn to the place in which she herself grew up, and we get to know her first love right before he died in a bombing. Since Kaja is less confident than Arashi, a large par of this episode is spent on her wondering whether or not to change history.

And poor Jun gets dragged around all the way, but we really get more insight into ‘her’ character in this episode as well as she sees Kaja struggle with her past love. I also like the reason she has for cross-dressing, how she holds some sort of grudge against the average female.

Rating: ** (Excellent)
Wonderful art style, a really dark and deep episode for such a seemingly innocent series.

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