「先輩といっしょ…」 (Senpai to Issho…)
“Together with Sempai…”
Judging from her performances in Rinne no Lagrange and Ano Natsu de Matteru this season, Ishihara Kaori will be a seiyuu to watch for in 2012. Here, she’s already provided me with oodles of jealous goodness care of Kanna, and held absolutely nothing back either when some good ‘ol underage drinking came into play. Kudos to Remon — the second coming of Morino Ichigo — for spiking everyone’s drinks and making things interesting. I don’t know if Remon was simply entertaining herself or confirming her suspicions about Ichika, but when it leads to more enjoyable love triangle moments like it did here, I’m willing to chalk it up to showcasing her mischievous personality and portraying her as the catalyst that will make Kaito ultimately choose between Ichika and Kanna.
As for the alien premise with Ichika crash landing on Earth, fatally wounding Kaito (presumably), and now keeping him alive with some intergalactic kissing technology, I’m starting to think that it’ll remain just that — a setup for their fated encounter — much like it was in Onegai Teacher. The alien technology will undoubtedly come up time and time again, but I don’t see it being the focus of this romantic comedy (at least not until the final few episodes anyway). Ichika isn’t exactly doing a stellar job keeping it a secret, often looking like she wanted to tell everyone the truth, so it’s probably only a matter of time before Kaito finds out and accepts her for who she truly is. While I could be completely wrong in thinking that most developments will play out similarly to Onegai Teacher, I honestly wouldn’t be disappointed even they did. After all, Ano Natsu’s been mostly a nostalgia trip like it was advertised to be. Dropping a new cast of characters in a similar setup is fine by me, especially with a cute and nervous heroine like Ichika.
If I were to nitpick about something, it would be Ichika’s dream about some scenery. It comes off as a rather weak reason for her to set off on a journey, plus the scenery she’s looking for will likely be found in the small town of Nagano prefecture where this series takes place; however, I’ll reserve judgement about it until I see how it develops around Kaito’s movie project, and more importantly, how the romantic aspect develops alongside. The end of this episode looked like it was really going to get the ball rolling in that regard, though how much of that was due to the “wonderful” effects of alcohol is another matter.
* Well, at least the series isn’t shy about the Onegai Teacher similarities with the way it bust out Mizuho’s trademark “saiyuusenjikou” (top priority) line in the preview.
* Full-length images: 01, 05, 12, 17, 23.