Picturesque realism in summer’s waiting
Among the recently-aired anime, I’ve really only kept up with Ano Natsu de Matteru. To be quite honest, I did it because I really liked its art; however, I’ve been following it lately because I love how the plot is unfolding. Frankly, I think it’s even better than Ano Hana as of the fifth episode: while extraordinary existences are relied upon to drive the story forward, I like the fact that Ichika isn’t Menma. She doesn’t cry all the time, and is a well-adjusted, human-like alien.
More than that, however, I like the fact that the people in Ano Natsu are more adjusted than the people in Ano Hana. Just because the people in Ano Natsu are more decent does not make them any less realistic is my contention: a lot of people all over the world are decent individuals who, although unremarkable, aren’t excluded from society although they may not be towering examples of humanity. As an observer, one may think that Kaito was slow to pick up on Kanna’s emotions for him, but this is where I think the realism of the series lies: it never really is quite easy, especially when friendship blurs whatever probable hints at romance the lady sends out. First, Kaito is not privy to Kanna’s excursions as we are, and second, it really is difficult to tell whether your lady friend is really interested in you or just treats you as a friend. I myself couldn’t differentiate which was which in the past.
I find it a breath of fresh air that despite their shortcomings and interests in each other there’s really no vitriol towards the other characters. Although Kanna exploded with frustration during the recent episode, she really didn’t hate on Ichika, but on her comfortable and budding relationship with Kai. She then caught herself when she realized she went out of line, and then regretted her actions, striving once more to maintain her friendly relations with both Kai and Ichika.
Do I blame Kai for being indirect with Ichika? On the contrary, while I can’t say I praise him, he’s not being a coward: he’s only protecting himself, just as what Kanna did in the closing minutes of the fifth episode. It’s better to maintain a relationship rather than destroy one altogether by his confession: at least, when the relationship is there, a chance will always be present in contrast to when a confession is made and a rejection is the reply.
Admittedly, Ichika is also out of his league: she’s beautiful, kind, intelligent – and older. I don’t wonder why he doesn’t even try to voice out his feelings, and it will be all the more difficult after the fact that he knew that she would leave later on. Thus, I don’t find his actions contemptible: I find them realistic, and I find his character to be a great example of a human being. Lesser human beings would take advantage of having an extremely attractive lady stay in the same home, but all he does is look at her breasts and ogle.
I can truly put myself in his shoes, because that’s what I would do myself. I’ve grown up to respect women, even the ones with the seductive bodies, and not sully them, even in my mind. It’s not something most men would do, and this idiosyncrasy would sometimes result to people calling me gay because of it, but I find it necessary to respect the women I know not only when they see me, but also when they don’t. I do fail sometimes, however.
The lack of bathos in the series is truly quite pleasing. There aren’t any crybaby ghosts, but only people who are struggling with their emotions toward the people who don’t love them back. I’ve had my share of unrequited love, and to live with such decency as they have is something to truly emulate. I do think that Tetsuro’s brazen honesty at the end of the episode was borne out of his love for Kanna, because had she kept on doing what she did to Kaito, she would inevitably just keep getting hurt, without getting any closure except a dull hope that Kaito will look at her someday. Of course, admixed with this genuine concern is also his hope that she would, in turn, see his feelings for her that have been present for a long time.
Yes, while I do think there will be shed tears as the series comes to a close I also feel that it wouldn’t be as melodramatic as Ano Hana. I really liked Onegai Teacher, and I think this may even be better. Maybe at the end of all this, comparing the series to Ano Hana will be doing it injustice.
I hope this beautiful run continues, because this series is an early candidate for being among the year’s best, and I hope I won’t be wrong.