_Summer

November 26, 2009

An anime adapted from a Japanese adult visual novel, check. One main male guy, check. A bevy of cute girls around him, check. One annoying loser guy as his best friend, check. High school teenage drama comedy romance, check. And not forgetting the fanservice, check. You could be forgiven if you don’t know which anime I’m talking about since there are quite a number of them having all of the above. For this particular blog, _Summer (pronounced as Underbar Summer) also fits that bill.
 
With only 2 episodes in this late 2006 OVA series, for those hoping of any serious development should not have their hopes and expectations very high. After all, it is only a couple of episodes, right? And since there isn’t any other releases for the series ever since, in my opinion that this isn’t as popular as many of its counterparts out there. But there is no harm in checking this out, eh?
 
Episode 1
Ah yes. The near arrival of summer. What better way than to spend them by taking a peep at a couple of girls at the hotspring. Okay, maybe at least to some youths who insist on making such memories. You can tell Takumi Kaizu is to be the main male protagonist and he isn’t the perverted kind but is being led by his best buddy-cum-loser Osamu Funade to go take a peep at their classmate girls, Konami Hatano and Shino Ebizuka. Things get even hotter when Shino is going to force shy Konami to get naked. Since the boys are too noisy and pushy to get a better view, they stumbled out and got busted, beaten up and left tied up outside in the freezing cold. Do you think they deserve it?
 
Next morning, Takumi gets up on another school day, cheekily wakes up his younger step sister, Sana Kaizu, while his childhood friend Konami makes breakfast. Which harem series won’t be complete without that ominous-sounding and mysterious loli, Chiwa Amano. She pops into their house and starts chatting about Takumi’s possible imagination on Konami. Then everybody meets up and goes to school together. We see that even if Sana is in high school, she still trips like a toddler while walking. Is that supposed to be moe or what? Furthermore, Shino hints about that peeping incident which confuses Sana so Chiwa explains to her. I’m not sure if she purposely did any miscommunication. Osamu retaliates by showing his naked top since he has seen theirs but Shino beats him up instead. In class, Konami tells Shino not to be too harsh on the guys but she isn’t going to back down and thinks they deserve what they got. I notice that their homeroom teacher, Hinako Nanao, has a strange little chibi girl helping her do classroom chores like dust the blackboard dusters.
 
During recess, Osamu lost a bet so Shino has him treat everyone lunch. Osamu isn’t going to do it alone so he drags Takumi into helping him out. Konami wishes to help out but Shino stops her since those losers needed to be taught a lesson. Hey, what is this?! Hinako is trying to get free food from her students?! WTF?! Popular lady-like senpai, Wakana Shimazu, comes to the cafeteria and several guys try to hit on her. If not for her ever follower-cum-protector friend Yuno Kawakami, those guys wouldn’t have backed off. Don’t want to mess with a girl with a wooden sword in hand, right? Weird part is that Wakana doesn’t know how to use a vending machine. Is this what living a luxurious life is all about? So why eating with everyone else today? Something about oversleeping. Erm… Anyway, Takumi helps her out so she feels grateful and promises to repay him back someday. Helping out at a vending machine can get you a future repayment? Wow. I need to try that too but in Wakana’s case, you can tell it’s because she too has a secret crush on Takumi. After Wakana and Yuno leaves, Osamu teases Takumi for getting too close to Wakana and does some submission move on him. But he gets pounded by Shino who got impatient for waiting for their meal. In class Takumi ponders about the girlfriend thingy while Hinako is too hungry to conduct a proper lesson so it’s a self study period. Some teacher…
 
Takumi, Konami, Shino and Osamu are chatting at a cafe together. Osamu is jealous of Takumi’s ‘gift’, in the sense he has several beautiful girls around him (he names everyone except Shino, much to her dismay). So he is pumped up and determined to get a girlfriend of his own. The cafe owner, whom I shall refer to as Master, suggests that Osamu get Shino as his girlfriend since they’ve been around each other for so long. They both vehemently dismiss the idea. Master continues that their argument is a form of their friendship and to treasure it because even if everything changes in the next 10 or 20 years, that friendship bond will always remain the same. When Takumi and Konami walk home together, he thanks her for everything, making her happy. He reaches home to find Sana wanting to have a gathering next Saturday for the Tanabata festival.
 
The day arrives as everyone goes on an outing together and the girls in their yukata. Chiwa is running some fortune teller stall (looks ominous) while Shino is manning her shrine. She is soon relieved from her shift to join her buddies. Shino gives Osamu a punch in his stomach as a no-peeping warning. But will that guy listen? Yeah, he tries to take one but before he could see anything, he suddenly doesn’t feel good. Courtesy of Chiwa driving a nail into a straw doll. Elsewhere, Hinako is sitting happily on the beach because her stomach is full when her long time pal, Kasumi, meets up with her. Kasumi is getting married soon and she will inform Hinako of the date. Back home, everyone write their wishes on a piece of paper before hanging them up on the bamboo tree. As they watch the beautiful starry night sky, Takumi ponders about the future and the girl who will be by his side. We see his wish is for everybody to stay like this forever. We all know that the only thing permanent is change, right? And if you wait a little after the end credits, you’ll get a little informative details about the Tanabata festival and other trivia like Hinako’s penchant to buy useless mail-order stuff with her pay which results her unable to afford food and thus scouring for free food (she really got her priorities wrong!) and Osamu’s nickname as funamushi which means sea slater.
 
Episode 2
Ah yes. What a way to start another episode with the girls having fun in the pool. But how come Osamu is the only guy there? I know he gets pounded before he could make his perverted move, but where is Takumi? Well, he is seen teaching Wakana and Yuno how to fish. Wakana’s rod starts reeling so Takumi tries to control but ends up falling into the water after Yuno panics and bumps into him. Though they’re sorry about it, Takumi is okay and fine. Back home, the usual stuff. Konami cooks breakfast as Takumi wakes up and does the same cheeky thing on Sana. Chiwa again pops in to warn Takumi about his water-related bad luck but it already happened. When Sana comes down, Takumi surprised that she wants to learn cooking. Konami teaches her and well, she almost destroyed their breakfast. Take it one step at a time, girl. Because of that, during recess, Shino is laughing her ass off when she sees Takumi bento filled with nothing but octopus-shaped meat. By the way, where is Osamu? He is at the rooftop confessing to a girl. But the girl rejects him. Total failure…
 
After class, Shino has something to do and is unable to walk home together with Takumi and Konami. When Konami mentions she has started doing club activities, Takumi gets suspicious and due to the lack of info, he decides to spy on her. On his way, he is being called by Chiwa into her fortune telling club. She gives him a glass to eavesdrop the next room: Girls changing room. When they come out, Takumi sees Shino in a traditional kimono as Chiwa concludes that Shino may have joined the tea ceremony club. The duo take some secret passage to continue their spying, erm, I mean observation. Shino indeed is learning the tea ceremony process and since she is an amateur, she has a long way to go. I can’t believe Hinako is trying to get a taste of the tea too! Thankfully the club president slaps her hand away.
 
Later Takumi tells Master about Sana and Shino’s sudden interest in cooking and making tea respectively while Osamu is lamenting his girlfriendless state. Master replies that it is natural for them since they are becoming adults. When Takumi says that Konami is the only one that hasn’t changed, Master and Osamu say that Konami has been collecting seagull stuff for some time now and it’s a surprise that he never noticed it since he’s always with her. Master continues that because they’ve been so close, he took things for granted and never noticed them. Perhaps it is Takumi himself who has changed without even noticing. Back home, as Konami studies with Sana, Takumi notices all the seagull stuff Konami has from her hairpin to her bag accessories. Sana then asks Takumi to go for next week’s firework festival with everyone. Konami suggests the lighthouse to get a better view since the normal place will be crowded and there is a high chance they’ll get separated. That night, Takumi wakes up from a weird dream whereby he was young and running towards the lighthouse with a girl his age.
 
Next day in class, Hinako seems very happy and she’s bragging about some pleasant ring (hint, hint) but nobody seems interested. Takumi reflects on Master’s words and after class, Konami and Shino go off somewhere as she tells Takumi to head home alone first. Osamu is going to give his love letter to whoever but I know too well of the kind of outcome he’ll get. As Takumi walks by a row of shops, he spots Chiwa there and wonders why she is here. The store lady recognizes Takumi and this surprises him because it has been a long time since he visited this area. He remembers how he and the rest used to frequent this place when they were young and that time he thought things would never change. The lady tells Takumi how Chiwa takes care of the kids who come by here. Chiwa is embarrassed and wants Takumi not to tell anybody else about this and that this would be their secret. He agrees but Chiwa makes double assurance as she warns him if he does so, she’ll curse him. Don’t you dare…
 
The day of the firework festival arrivals as Takumi and the rest make their way to the lighthouse. Wakana and Yuno are also waiting there for them and this prompts the rest to say how beautiful she is. Jealous Shino states how he likes graceful ladies like Konami and Wakana so Osamu cheekily asks her the reason she joins the tea ceremony club, only to be given a swift kick. However everyone already knows of it so Takumi suggests going to watch her gracefulness one day. Shino agrees and will invite them. Except Osamu. Boo hoo. The gang had their fun at the lighthouse area throughout the day and when it is time, they find that the gate is locked. Konami gives Takumi a key to open the padlock as the rest rushes in. Takumi remembers the other girl he was running with to the lighthouse was no other than Konami. He also remembers how this was their secret base and since Konami was a cry-baby, Takumi had to comfort her every time. They frequent the place until their parents found out and got scolded. They then stopped coming here and soon after met with Shino and Osamu. Konami is glad he remembered because it was an important memory for them both. She has also written diaries so that she won’t forget those feelings and thinking in the future. As everyone watches the fireworks display, Takumi narrates that he’ll never forget this moment no matter what happens, their summer that will never return again.
 
Underpar Bummer
Erm… What exactly happened here? Three words. Nothing much happens. It’s like there was no development or whatsoever at the end of it all. I mean, I don’t expect Takumi to choose which of the girls to be his girlfriend in the end but my best bet would be his childhood friend Konami. Don’t forget the gracious and pretty senpai Wakana, the clumsy loli sister Sana, the brute and possible tsundere potential Shino and the mysterious white haired Chiwa. Just short of a megane girl. So the entire series is like just pondering about their possible future and the stuff they do now together. Can you say I’m satisfied with that kind of open ending?
 
To be fair, since there are only 2 episodes, of course there isn’t enough room for development. There are some build-ups in certain areas like Chiwa’s responsibility to whoever those kids are or Sana and Shino wanting to pick up further home economic skills. But that’s about it. Because of that, many of such scenes felt like it was just to introduce or fill up space. And if the producers ever wanted to make a TV series out of it (not likely) they could do so with some of the little developments mentioned here. Even so, some of them are insignificant like Kasumi’s short appearance is left a lot to be desired. I still find Hinako the most amusing one. She should have more screen time. It should be funny to see how she gets her free meals from students.
 
Sure this OVA teaches us to cherish the time spent together because time only moves forward and time wasted will never be redeemed in any way. I just wish that this OVA could be done better since there are too many of such genres out there in the market so it is going to be tough to stand out. Yeah, up the fanservice, that will attract many male otakus to give this one a shot. Summer memories are made of these… Some may call me unproductive for wasting my time watching anime, but hey, as long as I’m happy. Just think back of all those happy moments watching good and bad animes. Worthwhile, don’t you think?
 

_Summer