Not long ago I looked at the first series of Natsu no Arashi. It was okay, suffering quite a bit from tonal problems, repeating an episode basically wholesale and some jokes that didn’t work, but it also had quite a few good points and it was decent overall. So, does the second series improve on any of those aspects? Does it degrade? Let’s take a look and see how it compares.
The story continues with Arashi, Hajime and everyone else working at the cafe. This series does drop the attempts at dramatic stories about their time traveling and goes completely into comedic mode. Which is what the series should have been doing the entire time. Consequently, this one doesn’t have the problem with tonal weirdness. Now we can focus entirely on the comedy. So, is it funny?
Well, the series still has comedy that’s hit and miss. We’ve still got the “jokes” that are just references to something from pop culture without anything funny being done with them. We’ve got a reoccurring joke about one of the cafe’s regular customers wanting salt but not being able to get any. Why is that funny? The short answer is that it’s not. I have no idea why someone not being able to get salt is even supposed to be funny. It’s not like he does anything weird or over the top in an effort to get some. He just asks for it and then doesn’t get it. Some of the jokes don’t even make sense. You’ve got one where the joke is that a girl accidentally puts on a wedding dress without noticing until she’s done. It’s funny because… no one in reality would accidentally put on something as cumbersome as a wedding dress especially when you add in all the accessories? If you got the hyper masculine dude in a wedding dress then that would at least be a funny image, but a girl wearing a wedding dress isn’t funny, even if she is doing it by accident. There are quite a few jokes like that too.
There’s also a problem with the romance. In the first series they had some romance with Kaja’s backstory and they had the implied stuff between Yayoi and Kanako, but most of their attempts at romantic content were pretty downplayed or left as one-sided crushes. In this series, Kobayashi decided that it would be a good idea to develop romance between a girl who’s been a ghost for sixty years and a thirteen year old boy. Even if you only count the summers when calculating her age, since that’s apparently the only time the ghosts wander the Earth, she’s still far too old for him. Why do works of media think it’s a good idea to pair teenagers, young or otherwise, with supernatural beings who are far too old for them anyway? Inukami did that too. As did the infamous Twilight. Now, I will give this series some credit. It doesn’t use such an extreme age difference and it does downplay the content as opposed to putting it front and centre, but it’s still screwed up and it definitely leads to some uncomfortable moments.
To its credit, the series does have some really funny moments scattered throughout. And it does have more jokes that work than jokes that don’t. Even if most episodes are going to have plenty of both. The secondary romance between Yayoi and Kanako is kind of cute too and it does lead to some good moments. It’s almost like romance works a lot better when there isn’t a disturbing age gap.
The cast remains pretty much as they were. Those characters who were pretty fleshed out are still well fleshed out, which is most of the main cast, whereas those who just followed their tropes still follow their tropes. So, it’s still a pretty strong group of characters, particularly for a zany comedy work.
Most of the art problems from the first series are gone or at least minimised in this one. The wonky perspectives are still around, but they aren’t nearly as prevalent. However, that doesn’t mean that the art as a whole has improved. This series has its own major issue. It likes to incorporate ridiculous amounts of fan-service. The first series had a little bit but not so much that it was really a problem. With this one you get a lot. There are various shots animated so that the focus is on a girl’s bosom or bum. There are also a bunch of cases of the girls being shown in states of undress because the series really needed to remind you that they have boobs. That was far more important than keeping things classy. Now, I will still give the series credit for having nicely done character designs, when they aren’t throwing them into random fan-service outfits, and for doing expressions really well.
The performances remain competent. It’s still nothing special nor are there any that stand out, but the actors all do well. Now, I will give this series credit for having slightly better music. Most of it is still pretty standard, but there are some pieces that are actually good and do stand out.
In the last series the ho-yay came exclusively from Yayoi and Kanako. In this one, there’s an episode about a manga artist trying to get Arashi to kiss one of the other girls. It’s a dumb episode, overall, but it still does have near kisses between Arashi and most of the other major girls and it nearly has one between two of the male characters. Yayoi and Kanako are also featured a lot more and they are definitely being portrayed as a couple. Even if the series never comes out and explicitly states it. So, the ho-yay factor on this one is a 5/10.
Natsu no Arashi Akinaichuu definitely improves in some regards. However, it also degrades in a variety of ways. Is it an improvement over the first? Slightly. My final rating for it is going to be a 6.3/10. It’s a decent enough series. If you enjoyed the first series you’ll probably like this one too. There’s no real reason to watch it otherwise. Next week I’ll look at Akuma no Riddle.