The interesting thing about Waiting in the Summer is that it started airing during the winter, despite the fact that it’s a story set in the summertime. I think creators were playing the audience there; the harshness of the winter makes you crave for the warm, soothing, relaxing environment that you can only experience during summer, thus making the series feel more nostalgic to an extent. The basic plot is about some high-school kids who are making a film for fun during their summer break, and the way that their relationships grow and change during that time. With everyone spending too much time together, things begin to heat up between Kaito and Ichika and this stirs up some feeling amongst the group and love is in the air, rivalries start to rear their heads. Underneath it all, there is still the secret of Ichika’s alien identity.
This series can basically be summed up as “a more light-hearted Super 8 with slightly older characters” and I really liked the parts it did differently from Super 8. No giant militaries chasing the characters around and providing a convenient antagonist to move the plot around and causing the plot to forget it started off as a story about kids making a movie, nope Kaito is still filming even when things get heated towards the end. There are a few subtle hints throughout the series, mostly in visual details, that the story isn’t set in the modern day and it was fun to see how the kids were making their movie with all the cheesy special effects (and probably much more romantic than watching them sit around a computer and carefully time noises to video sequences).
Even though this is set up as a Sci Fi story, I can say it knew its real purpose and ran us through the gauntlet superbly. I almost feel like the Sci Fi aspect of it was a minor plot device even though it plays a larger role as we wind down to the end. The characters are put together with a masterful development and slow played at just the right times. As a guy, I found myself identifying with both of the male leads and finding them both very likable, in fact, I found all of the characters likable in a way that made me look back at my group of friends during those years with a honest fondness that had escaped me for many years. Super 8 is a self-referential homage to filmmaking that’s about memories of our past and how we have the tendency to long for and capture those memories. Basically, the two stories (Ano Natsu and Super 8) focus on the idea of certain “normal periods” that feel, or felt, like a movie. In that context, both are Spielbergian, considering how they’re about normal people being caught in extraordinary situations.
The characters in the show deal a lot with the concept of not being able to pin down their ideals on what it is to truly have a relationship with another person. While looking at the story as the series goes on, it may first come off as a knock off of one of those overblown dramas revolving around teenage angst, but the series really makes the whole thing work by balancing the more delicate parts with some well placed humor here and there. Personally, I felt the story would’ve been better told without the other fairly ridiculous plot quirks and revelations, but I guess those were inevitable anyway since they do come within the territory of science fiction.
The development and ability to provide a completely satisfying series in 12 episodes speaks volumes to the fine workmanship that went into creating this piece. Recommended definitely! The penultimate episode left hope for the characters, as Ichika learns she might not have to go home, but the finale finished in a bittersweet tone, in which the efforts of the main characters weren’t paid off. Suffice to say I was surprised several times – and that’s a hard thing to do to me these days.