Saturday, April 25, 2009

Natsu no Arashi! 02-03: Hajime and the Girl

I think I'm blogging this series. It's pretty interesting and, believe it or not, the art actually improved in the later episodes.
EPISODE 02: Girl A
More Screencaps from Natsu no Arashi! 02

One stormy day in Tokyo, a high school girl knocks at the door of Ark Cafe, looking for a job. A few days later, Yasaka Hajime, a 13-year-old boy recently come to Tokyo to live with his grandfather, finds himself at the same cafe and meets the girl. Her name is Arashiyama Sayoko -- "Arashi" for short. Hajime instantly gets smitten with her and praises her beauty in front of another customer, a boy his age named Kamigamo Jun. Not soon after, a private detective enters the cafe, looking for a girl with Arashi's description. The cafe owner denies knowledge of this but Arashi unwittingly reveals herself, prompting Hajime to come to her rescue. But instead of saving her, Hajime ends up being saved by her. Not only that, when Arashi touches his hand, something strange happens and suddenly Hajime finds himself being dragged by her as they travel back in time. There, Arashi reveals that she is a ghost and that she has decided to move in with him. The next day, Hajime and Arashi return to the cafe only to discover that she has been fired from her job. In order to win her job back, Hajime plays dice with the cafe owner, "Master," but only ends up losing his clothes. Later, Master decides to take them back after learning that Arashi knows the location of a secret treasure. But before Arashi could agree to this the private detective appears. He and Master decide to race each other all the way to the cafe, with Arashi as the price. Master, who is revealed to be a con artist, wins because, as per her plan, the private detective gets caught by a traffic enforcer for speeding. However, to her dismay, Arashi's secret treasure turns out to be nothing more than a box of tops.

EPISODE 03: I Will Protect Her
More Screencaps from Natsu no Arashi! 03

Aliens have invaded Tokyo! As superhero Hajime tries to save the day, with a mahou shoujo wand, Arashi arrives to stop him. Then follows a heroic speech, which nevertheless gets interrupted as Hajime forgets the kanji for "come back." Arashi provides him with the right character, much to Hajime's shock as he has not realized she is in the room with him. It turns that the alien invasion is all in his head. On their way to the Ark Cafe later, Hajime asks her to go to the arcade with him that afternoon and Arashi says yes. At the cafe, there seem to be a lot of customers, most of them male university students who all got their eyes on Arashi. Hajime gets jealous but to his relief, Arashi turns down all their offers to ask her out. After work, he offers Jun a ride to the station but ends up racing to the bottom of a hill against Arashi, who is on a skateboard. They do arrive at the station but Jun swears never to ride with him again. Afterwards, Hajime and Arashi head off to the arcade where they both fall trap to the Claw Crane. Never one to give up, Arashi eventually wins and gives the toy to Hajime as a present. Later, while on their way home, Arashi brings up the subject of her being a ghost and then asks him to travel back in time with her. They both end up in 1945 during an air raid where Hajime almost loses her in the crowd. It turns out that Arashi returned to that time specifically to save a kid and his father from death. They eventually return to the present where Arashi explains that her secret is she can't travel through time alone. This means that the only way for her to do it is through Hajime's help. It takes him a long time but he agrees.

I don't really know what it is about Natsu no Arashi! It's a comedy series, I know, but it's not really the LOL sort. The jokes and sly witticism come in so fast that you hardly have time to process one before another comes in. It's a pretty funny series but I think it's more clever than laugh-out-loud funny. Some of the jokes are extremely random ("Anou, pass the salt please.) or parodies of other shows that I'm not familiar with or haven't even seen, so I miss half the experience already. Still, even without the subtext, the situation presents itself well.

But I think what really strikes me about this series is not so much the story but the unconventional camera angles. Some of the shots you never even thought of, let alone seen, and here they are, beautiful. In that aspect, Natsu no Arashi! is a really, really interesting series. Add to that the vastly improved art (if you didn't like how the characters in the first episode, try to watch the subsequent ones), and it's turning out to be one enjoyable series.