Late last year, I was getting caught up on one of the Summer’s better anime titles: We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower we Saw that Day (or Ano Hana if you like fake Japanese shorthand). At 11 episodes total, I was able to plow through the episodes in less than a week. The series was about a group of estranged friends trying to get over their differences after the ghost of one of their other childhood friends comes back in hopes of fulfilling a wish in order to cross over. While the death of their friend left the rest of the cast with some obvious flaws character-wise, you were still able to care about each of them, having been shown what their friendship used to be like oh so many years ago.
Not true for We’ll Be Waiting that Summer.
We’ll Be Waiting that Summer (or Ano Natsu in fake Japanese shorthand) is a short 12-episode series about a group of teens, and shares the same director as Ano Hana. Sadly the list of similarities stops there.
The main protagonist is Kaito, who essentially looks and acts exactly like Kensuke from Evangelion. For reasons initially not explained, he has an obsession with recording everything on an 8mm handheld camera. He’s out recording one day when, in a plot twist similar to that of a certain Abrams/Spielberg movie, he happens to be caught in the middle of an alien ship crash landing to Earth. He wakes up the next day at home with no recollection of the crash, and heads to school where he’s introduced to a foxy new transfer student. In an attempt to get closer to the student, Kaito’s friend asks some upperclassmen (new transfer student included) if they’d like to make a film with them over break.
Up until this point, the series does a good job of setting up the cast of characters and how the viewers expect them to act. However, things take a turn for the trite when the gang conveniently wins a vacation to Okinawa, where the majority of the series’ love triangle nonsense happens. This, not-so-coincidentally enough, is also where the series begins to falter and I immediately start to lose interest in any of the characters. Normally when it comes to character A liking B, but B liking C, types of stories, even in the case that the ship you support fails, the story is still able to make it up to you by having the unpaired character finish their character arc in a way that isn’t just essentially saying “deal with it.” Not true for Ano Natsu. Once hints of characters showing an interest in other characters show up, the entire cast begins to act frustratingly irrationally to the point that you’re not just questioning their actions—you’re completely in opposition to them. With three episodes to go, I could barely stand where the plot has brought the characters, and things were only made worse when I was reminded that the series was also part sci-fi.
By the end of the series, there’s something that some people might suggest resemble a conclusion in which focus goes to neither character A ending up with character B, or A with C, but the entire cast as a whole, with all loose ends tied up as the credits roll. It’s one of those series I would recommend if there wasn’t any other series that did a better job with the same theme, but since there are then I’ll just say skip this and watch Ano Hana instead. At least then you’ll cry for all the right reasons.