Natsu no Arashi
Also known as: Summer Storm
In Hajime's thirteenth summer, he moved to a small town to live with his grandfather. Stopping at a local cafe, he met the girl of his dreams. She was a 16 year old beauty for sure... but also dead. Arashi was killed in WWII air raids, and now returns each summer as a ghost. She and Hajime form a bond allowing them to travel into the past. Arashi wants to save people from the same tragedy that claimed her life, but time travel has other uses too. A few other ghosts also find employment at the cafe and it's never a dull moment.
Will Arashi find peace? Will Hajime's crush on her work out? Can time travel save expired milk?
Anyone into sci-fi (or even those who aren't) has endured the bane of intelligent writing: time travel. Every few years Hollywood rediscovers time travel paradox and thinks they've come up with something new and clever. Enter an anime which not only tackles time travel head on, it doesn't dance away from the topic when thinking will be involved. Natsu no Arashi utilizes time travel as a core series element, and often for comedic effect. It brings a tear to my eye thinking humanity may have enough intelligence to create a real time travel comedy. That aside, Natsu no Arashi has a fairly good story behind it for what's told thus far.
I worried a little with the WWII topic coming from a Japanese perspective, as it's become fashionable to demonize the U.S. Natsu no Arashi takes a thoughtful neutral approach I appreciated. The firebombing of Japan was a horrible thing, but this anime doesn't take favorable view of Imperial Japan either. War is the horrible thing causing suffering, not who won or lost. While a major point of the show, the WWII content is in the minority. Most stories deal with other hijinx surrounding the cafe.
The historical base adds another nice feature: characters from a bygone era. WWII Japan was almost like another planet from a modern perspective, and characters from that era offer a unique an interesting mix. It's a refreshing change from the usual stock personalities seen in anime. The character designs are true to their manga counterparts. This gives them an usual look I wasn't sure I liked at first, but really grew on me. The comedy will be a matter of taste, because sometimes it's very brainy (especially for modern anime). Some will enjoy the time travel plots and jokes, some won't. You'll have to decide if that applies to you.
There are many good things about this one, so why not rate it better? It's a matter of direction and focus. The basis is good, but it increasingly spends a lot of time goofing off. That's fun for a while, but it seems like the anime has already covered what it can with the characters and needs to move forward. The base story and setup are in a great spot for a memorable conclusion (keep in mind the story is supposed to take place over one summer). It may instead run around in circles and wear out its welcome. I'll wait to see where it goes before I give a final verdict, but as it stands now it's an enjoyable watch.
Hajime: Women older than me are so great... Their adult ways and words stimulate the imagination and reveal an almost indescribable divinity.
Jun: Yeah... you're just looking at her boobs.
Kaja: What truth and joy is there in a love that can be redone?
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