「先輩にライバル。」 (Senpai ni Raibaru.)
“A Rival for Sempai.”
If there’s a series that’s right up there with Rinne no Lagrange in terms of sheer unadulterated entertainment, Ano Natsu de Matteru would be it. The two are quickly becoming some of my all-time favorites in their respective genres — mecha and romantic comedy — which actually says a fair bit in my case since they happen to my two favorite genres too. Suffice to say, it’s been a good season — one that’s made even better by Kayano Ai and Iguchi Yuka joining the cast here and really putting the comedy in the romance. (…or is that the romance in the comedy?) The dialogue continues to be extremely witty and clever, largely from Remon messing with Ichika, and now we’re treated to lots of “interesting looks” that make the series even better.
Looking back, it’s almost as if this series is incapable of missing a beat, as the introduction of Kaito’s childhood friend Kinoshita Kaori not only served as an absolutely hilarious catalyst to the whole love pentagon situation, but also hinted at something deeper, such as the possibility that Kaori’s been recently dumped and using Kaito as a rebound. (A wild hunch of mine based on all the signs.) It also comes with the benefit of hearing Ai use yet another subtly unique and refreshing voice — much like Tomatsu Haruka as Ichika — and provides bundles of cuteness from both past and present, while her friend Arisawa Chiharu really got things going from the Tetsurou/Mio angle. (The girl who’s too good for clothes in bed (bless her soul) is apparently too good for underwear in public too, which surely got Tetsurou’s attention.) The best part of it all? Their sudden arrival and interest in the male leads even surprised Remon, who was quick to reassess the situation and have even more fun playing puppet master. Great for her for me, since moments like these amuse me to no end.
From what I gather, neither Kaori or Chiharu will have any real stake on Kaito and Tetsurou’s hearts, especially since Kaori’s already giving off vibes that her feelings aren’t entirely sincere, but the thought of that doesn’t deter from the experience in any way whatsoever. In fact, I’m really liking how much they can stir things up because they aren’t real candidates for the guys’ affection, as the group was in need of some more outside interference. To me, what constitutes a good old-school romantic comedy is the inherent “teasing” aspect from seeing the characters caught up in various situations and feelt stifled by their inability to get their feelings across. Thus far, this series has done that quite amiably, and in ways that have set a new standard for me to compare future series of this genre against. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that good writing should never be underappreciated in anime. I can’t wait to see more.