All throughout Ano Natsu De Matteru, I have been stunned speechless by how easily it’s able to turn me into a crazy puddle of rose colored goo. I didn’t have many expectations for it in the beginning despite how much I enjoyed the first episode. Honestly, at that time I still had more hopes for Inu x Boku SS, but as the weeks passed it became increasingly clearer as to what show was the superior romance title. Part of the reason why I think it’s got me tightly secured around its little finger is how it’s able to portray a perfectly believable blossoming relationship and that the show is able to do that in the time allotted while other shows struggle to do that same thing within twenty four episodes
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m all for that realistically paced romance show that follows the more traditional steps of love (i.e. confessing to holding hands and then kissing. . . you get where I’m going with this) but there are times when I can’t help but sigh, exasperated. What I feel makes Ano Nastu de Matteru able to half the time it takes usual anime to develop a relationship is its colorful cast of side characters.
I was firmly planted on the Ichika/Kaito ship from the get go, so, as a result, Kanna really didn’t stand a chance in my shipping eyes since Mio and Tetsurou was the other obvious pair to me. At first I naively thought that the writing team would put Kanna in the rather antagonistic role romantically since she does have feelings for our MC and I was fully prepared to dislike her for it (after all I hate characters that are there simply for the sake of causing doubt between two people that are obviously (your mileage may vary) suppose to be together). However, not only does she completely avoid that pitfall, despite that little slip she had in episode four which wasn’t really her fault, she’s the one that pushes our to main characters together at the cost of her own feelings. That’s one of the most selfless acts I’ve seen in any romance anime. Sure, she called Ichika an idiot but you can’t really expect her to be happy about it, she is in love with Kaito and nothing’s going to change that. What I appluad her for is being able to recognize that Kaito and Ichika both have feelings for each other and that she really has no place to butt in, as sad as that is. The only other character that’s in the same field is Mio, but she’s more likely to keep her feelings bottled up inside now that she’s already confessed.
Anyway, what I originally wanted to talk about before I went off like that was how slow Japanese romances are. Perhaps I’ve just been watching and reading all the wrong things, but it’s something which Ano Natsu De Matteru made me recognize. We’re nine episodes in and the characters have already confessed and skipped right over the holding hands step (something which took Kimi ni Todoke light years to do) to share their first kiss. Well, technically it was their fourth . . . and fifth. I wonder if that’s why I went looking for romance media in all the wrong places, which brings me to the topic for the second part of this post: Nozoki Ana.
Don’t be fooled by the above picture, this manga is anything but chaste, so beware if you ever decide you want to check it out. Part of it was due to my curiosity for manga of this type (something which I previously wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole) but I wanted to see how the concept of romance was handled in a story driven borderline H manga. I probably wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the recently retired 2DT, who wrote a post (possibly not safe for work) on this manga some time ago. The art and character design piqued my interest and just recently I finally decided to give it a try. Basically what I found was the same, but instead of holding hands, they skip right to sex – for the most part anyway.
As luck would have it though, our main character Kido would go on to have sexual relationships with two other women (Which was actually done rather well, I have to admit. He’s no playa, he just doesn’t have luck with love) and not our female lead, Emiru. You could make the argument that they are in a ‘sexual relationship’ based upon the circumstances that surround their rather unusual predicament, but in the most literal sense they are not, which is quite odd, considering the type of manga this is.
Actually that got me thinking. In the spectrum of love in romance anime, this would be on the terribly slow side. Sure there’s quite of bit of sexual promiscuity, but if you think about it in the terms of the steps of romance (confession, holding hands, etc) it’s quite the same. It’s just the genre messes with those steps a little bit. In H manga the steps follow a more hands on approach. Kissing is like a confession, fondling is like holding hands, which makes sex more on same wavelength as a kiss. Make sense? Our pair, seen in the pictures above, skip over the kissing step (cause our main girl is quite odd) and go right to step two, only for him to lose the trust he has in her, which sends them spiraling back to the starting point – step zero (acquaintances). I was actually quite surprised that they decided to build up their relationship as ‘friends’ before becoming something more. It was quite nice, considering the genre. If this manga wasn’t so focused on sex it would have been ten – no, twenty times better, but we can’t always have nice things.
(See the previously mentioned Kimi ni Todoke for a more family friendly version of spectrum one)
So, I’ve talked about two of the three spectrums of love in romance anime, now it’s time for the worse offender, one that doesn’t even deserve a picture. The “I’m too good to build up any relationship, everyone’s just going to love everyone for no reason” also known as the Speedy Gonzales Love Approach or spectrum three. Our offenders are most often than not found in harem anime, Asobi ni Ikuyo and Dragon Crisis are the first to pop to mind. Typically that unrealistic love is one sided usually by the haremettes, though the ‘childhood fiend’ usually does have a legitimate reason. I’m always so confused as to why these haremettes are so hung up on this absolutely bland guy. It baffles me.
In the end, if I had my say I’d prefer it if more romance anime found themselves in the second ‘Ano Natsu de Matteru’ spectrum, but hey I have nothing wrong with a slow simmering pot of romance if it delivers a satisfactory conclusion in the end. Usually the reward is worth the wait in that case. However, I never want to see the third spectrum as the norm in romance anime. No, Thank You.