Saturday, May 9, 2009

Natsu no Arashi 04-05: Kaja and Jun!

I've made the decision: I am blogging this series. This probably means that Ristorante Paradiso will be dropped from my summer line-up. It all really depends on how well an episode the 4th installment of the series is going to be. On the other hand, Natsu no Arashi! is now on its fifth episode and so far, the entertainment factor is still pretty high.
More Screencaps from Natsu no Arashi 04

The episode begins with a flashback of two high school girls -- who are obviously Kaja and Arashi -- standing on top of the stairs near the window. Back to the present, Arashi's popularity with the customers continues to grow. This time, they want her to star in a period film that they are making. Coincidentally, the setting for the movie is Arashi's old high school and once there, Arashi drops by the library where she found an old photograph of her and Kaja between the pages of a book. At first, Jun wouldn't believe Hajime's story about Arashi being a ghost, not even when she spoke with the photographer (now an old man) who took the very picture that Arashi found. However, once Jun sees Arashi act out the part of a cultivated lady from that era, Jun starts to believe. After the shoot, Arashi with Hajime and Jun return to the cafe. Not long after that, a familiar white-haired girl arrives. Kaja, like Arashi, has not aged a day since that photograph was taken. After introductions are made, Kaja proceeds to admonish Arashi for losing Kaja's diary. Arashi denies this, saying that someone took the diary. To prove this, she travels back in time with Hajime. After finding the diary on Arashi's desk, they both return to the present with the diary, thus, explaining why the diary was lost in the first place (it's because the Arashi from the present took it). On one of the pages of said diary was a message for Arashi, saying that in case something happens to both of them, they hoped to meet each other at the Ark. After all, Arashi does keep her promise.

EPISODE 05: Secret Garden
More Screencaps from Natsu no Arashi 05

Jun has a secret and no one at the Ark knows about it. But today, that secret is going to be severely tested. The episode begins with Jun oversleeping and thus late for work. She quickly goes to the dressing room to change into her uniform only to find Hajime and Arashi appear out of nowhere. Horrified at being seen by him, Jun knocks Hajime out. After some mishaps involving a cockroach, Jun ends up soaked in milk so has to shower again and change into a fresh set of uniform. Unfortunately, the only uniform left is one that is for girls. Hajime makes a crack about her looking like a girl despite having a flat chest. Of course, this earns him another knockout punch from a very angry Jun. Another accident later -- this time, involving a rat -- Jun once more finds herself in the shower. But even worse than before, now she has to go around in a maid outfit. Master quickly catches on to the outfit's appeal and has everyone, including herself and Hajime, dressing up the same way. Although he looks hideous in his costume, Hajime has a lot of fun and challenges Jun to a contest as to who between them can act more feminine. Meanwhile, Master teaches a reluctant Kaja the art of seducing costumers with little success. Kaja wouldn't even step out from behind the counter or touch a male customer's hand while handing him his change. During their break, Hajime, still believing that Jun is a boy, suggests that he (Jun) try to connect with Arashi, to no avail. After giving him yet another knockout punch, Jun storms off. Kaja follows her and the two of them bond a little. But just when they think that nothing worse is going to happen, the Ark's coffee machine breaks down and who else is there to get soaked in all that coffee but Jun.


Right. Character introductions. I suppose this is how the series will play out: one episode per character. I'm not complaining though. For a character-driven series like Natsu no Arashi!, I think this is the best way to do it. Each one of the characters, and not just the main one, must have their own little share of the limelight.

To be honest, Arashi is not that interesting a character. I mean, she is appealing (in that airheaded sort of way) but Jun and Master have more going on -- Jun with her insistence at keeping her true gender secret, and Master with her dirty con artist tricks (plus, she remains nameless still). On the other hand, Hajime is a fun character. He has lots of personality though as the narrator of the story, the focus is less about him and more about the people he meets, so naturally our interest would be on the latter.

The time travel aspect is becoming less of a factor now. I thought perhaps, after Episode 3, the series is going to indulge heavily on the juxtaposition between the past and the present, which is what makes this series slightly different from all other boy-meets-girls anime out there. But that doesn't seem to be even the case. In Episode 4, there was that very short scene of Arashi returning to her old classroom, but in Episode 5, there was not even a hint of it. Then again, Episode 5 was really just about Jun so maybe that's why. And besides, as we all know from Episode 1 that Jun is going to end up connecting with Kaja so maybe Episode 5 is just there to explain how they first bonded.

In my last post, I mentioned about the unconventional camera angles. This too is not a major factor in these last two episodes. The art is still pretty good though, and as always the colors are wild.

Kanako and Yayoi make their cameos again. Their scenes are recycled, even their dialogue, with only a minor alteration at the end of each exchange. They're supposed to be discussing some popular manga or other but aside from that one about Rurouni Kenshin and Prince of Tennis, I didn't really get most of it.


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