Time traveling girls in sailor suits seem to be the focus in this poorly laid out first episode by the man responsible for School Rumble.
What They Say
On a very auspicious summer day, first year middle school student Hajime Yasaka was making a small, prank bomb for his school's "research project," and from its appearance it looked very much like an actual piece of strawberry . Hovever inside the cherry bomb, it was filled with a large variety and amount of hot spices to be exploded once lit. Planning to put in on a strawberry cake and giving it to a classmate whom he did not get along with, Yasaka did not keep an eye on the strawberry bomb and the fuse was lit...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While still working on School Rumble, Jin Kobayashi dabbled elsewhere with a series that has continued on in manga form after his big debut with School Rumble finished. Originally beginning its run in Gangan Wing back in the summer of 2006, Natsu no Arashi is now being adapted into anime form. Literally called “Summer Storm,” Natsu no Arashi is a curious series in that they open with an episode that reveals some things but not much and honestly doesn’t give me much call to revisit the second episode. If not for Kobayashi’s name attached to it, I likely wouldn’t give the second episode a chance since I felt his School Rumble manga was weak but really enjoyed the anime. Perhaps it’s the same here?
Natsu no Arashi reveals more in its Wikipedia page about what it’s about than the first episode of the series does by a long stretch. The series revolves around a young teenager named Hajime who is living in a somewhat suburban feeling area where he works in a restaurant. He lives with Arashi it seems like who is a couple of years older than him and nudges him into the things he needs to do, like waking up in the mornings and going to work in the restaurant where she works. Along with a couple of other women and another guy around his age, they spend their days working away in the seemingly relatively quiet place with little going on other than the excitement that they create themselves.
The opening episode revolves around Hajime’s latest creation, a strawberry that’s packed with all sorts of powerful peppers. His goal is to give it to someone in the restaurant that he’s doing battle with. He originally made three but now there is only one and he’s uncertain how it happened. The man he wants to give it to is someone that Arashi is interested in, or perhaps it’s that he’s interested in Arashi, and he wants to embarrass him in front of her by giving him this and watching his mouth explode. Unfortunately, he seems to have a problem finding the strawberry and it ends up in various other places with other meals and deserts and affecting other people.
There’s also the twist that Arashi and at least another waitress there, Kaya, are able to transform from their usual outfits into sailor suits and travel through time. So we see Hajime traveling back in time to earlier that morning to find his missing strawberries. Yes, time travel is reduced to this. And unfortunately, the humor value doesn’t seem to be there either as Hajime is the kind of smallish nerdy male character that begins to grate after a short period of time. Far too hyper, nervous and skittish, he’s always moving about and feeling like he’s in a panic over things, whether it’s the customers he’s trying to annoy or wondering if Arashi or Kaya or the apparent owner Yayoi is going to go after him for something. It has that kind of nervous energy to it that is admittedly rather off-putting in this scenario, especially where some of the basics (which are prominent in the Wikipedia entry) aren’t made clear.
Natsu no Arashi has some nice production values to it at least. The background designs are warm and appealing, particularly in the restaurant with the kind of lighting it has. The house that Hajime lives in has a fairly old feeling to it but with the modern aspects as well so it’s a bit cooler in its feel. The character designs are a bit generic at the moment though Arashi herself stands out a bit as something a little more old school to me. Hajime is a standard character design though, one often relegated to secondary punching bag status in many series, but not an unusual choice for a lead character either. The women here don’t stand out too much and they don’t overdo the fanservice even in the transformation sequences which is a plus, one of the few for the show so far.
Natsu no Arashi is a show that will get me back for a second and third episode probably based on Jin Kobayashi’s name alone. If not for that, this would have been the last one I’d see of it. The use of time travel is always appealing but the first episode doesn’t provide enough of a good hook to come back for more and it’s made its lead character annoying right off the bat. I was amused by the explosive powered strawberry at first, but when it became something the main focus and catalyst for the episode, it makes me wonder if they show can really go anywhere from here other than further down. It’s a quirky comedy series and that’s always hit or miss with people, more so than any other genre, so there’s always the potential that the next episode could be dramatically different. Like, funny.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.