Ano Natsu de Matteru and Strangers from a Distant Shore

With the exception of Nisemonogatari (which after episode 8 has now maybe hit that point of crossing the line for me), there was no series I was looking forward to more this season than Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer).  But I was let down by the first episode and dropped the show.  After recently reading two wonderful posts (“That Summer, I Waited” and “The Childhood Friendzone“) by the incomparable Mike Huang, I decided to give it another shot.  The verdict is still out, but at the very least, the show has given me pause for thought.

The main female character in the show is Ichika Takatsuki, a life form from another planet.  She immediately starts school and finds her niche, but her life outside of school is abnormal.  She camps out in a temporary shelter and gladly accepts the hospitality Kaito and his sister.  More akin to Tenchi Muyo’s Ryoko and Ayeka than, say, a humanoid interface like Yuki Nagato, Ichika is an alien that has no permanent home on earth.

She’s a stranger from a distant shore.*

Ano Natsu de Matteru

Just passing through. (Art by r*nine)

The comparability to Christian life is quite obvious, as we, too, are aliens:

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

- 2 Peter 2:11

Christians are often criticized for their criticisms of many things secular.  This is perhaps a fair condemnation of the culture, particularly in light of those who rail on and on about morality, seemingly forgetting about the planks in their own eyes (a certain Georgian named Newt comes to mind).  But more than that, I think it provides an insight into why we are the way we are.

Christians have a foot each in different worlds.  While these worlds are one both physically and in terms of how we live our lives (we are Christian no matter the situation and our faith should inform all that we do and all that we are), they are also separate in this way: our lives in this world are part of journey – they are not the destination.  We are sojourners traveling this life on the way to our homes.

As a temporary part of life, we often abstain from the culture around us, because sometimes it is not part of who we are (or else it influences us to be something we are not).  We might absorb, enjoy, and partake in much of what the world offers (anime certainly included), but we also don’t fully embrace it all.

If you’re a Christian, thinking in terms of being an alien is a good frame of mind to be in (I certainly lack this point of view most of the time).  If you’re not a Christian, perhaps this will help you understand the limits we sometimes put on ourselves.

Like Ichika, Christians only set up temporary quarters here, with a mind to eventually continue on.  This culture, this life, is not home.  It’s the journey.

If we seem strange, there’s a reason. We are strangers.

*I took this line from the significant and groundbreaking work on Asian Americans, Ronald Takaki’s book of the same name.  It is a major part of the reason I became a historian.

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Posted on 02.27.2012, in Anime, Christianity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I’m glad to hear that you were convinced to give this show a second shot. I’ll be honest, I was very close to dropping AnoNatsu after the first episode. While there were elements I liked about it, there was several things that turned me away. However, I’m glad I stuck with it because after the rocky start it has settled in as a enjoyable romantic comedy.

    Also, I like the comparison you make about Christians being “aliens” in the world. It goes back to the idea of the “line” that you mentioned in the beginning. As Christians we have to avoid certain things that we may want to do (or enjoy doing) because it may influence us. The quote is also very appropriate.

    • Thanks for the kind words, my friend.

      I’m through episode 3 now, and each one is better than the last. I think I’ll continue the show.

  2. Nisemonogatari ep 08 also sort of crossed the line for me. Sure it was funny in a way but it’s not something that I would want in a show that I like. It could have been ok if it wasn’t that long and drawn out. I don’t know if that was what happened in the light novels, maybe I’d read it one of these days (if there’s a translation). I will probably finish the show though, but delete the episodes afterwards.

    It was quite a disappointment because I liked the conclusion in the previous arc.

    re: Ano Natsu

    I see you’re still on ep 3 so I won’t comment yet.

    • For me, I enjoyed that episode of Nisemonogatari TOO much. That was the problem. What Shinbo did with the toothbrush scene was more erotic and depraved (<– considering the "incestory") than simple fanservice. Powerful and sneaky temptation.

  3. >>Christians are often criticized for their criticisms of many things secular. This is perhaps a fair condemnation of the culture, particularly in light of those who rail on and on about morality, seemingly forgetting about the planks in their own eyes

    Sometimes I do roll my eyes every time I hear or read pronouncements from clergy (or supposedly religious people) that feel like hypocrisy. I then remember what Jesus says about the Pharisees.

    • This reminds me of a friend I had growing up. We had a pastor who temporarily preached at our church after the former retired, and during one sermon he off-handedly mentioned that he disliked a lot of secular rock music (he was a very old man). My friend became very perturbed because that music was very important to him. He never gave the pastor another chance, basically refusing to listen to his sermons.

      I think that in this day and age, it’s important that pastors be open to the media – television and film, anime, young adult novels, the Internet, etc. – if they want to reach out and teach young people. In this way, they would be no different from Paul when he spoke about the Greek gods when talking to the Greeks – open yourself up to a culture you may have problems with to engage people in the truth.

  4. Aww, I’m glad my posts inspired you to do something, though to be fair they were probably more about me than they were about the show itself. :) Seriously, while admittedly Ano Natsu is not the most original of premises, but writing and execution is overall excellent. In fact, it sometimes almost feels wasted. Odd numbered episodes (3, 5, 7) so far seem to be the best ones.

    If I had to describe what Ano Natsu is, it’s basically Onegai Teacher but with a skill upgrade by Team Toradora. I think the standards for writing in the best anime romances have risen since 2002, and most of it was done by JC Staff’s A-team and its spiritual offshoots (A-1 Pictures’ Ano Hana, Production IG’s Kimi ni Todoke). This is Yousuke Kuroda catching up with the times, and paired with Nagai, it just works.

    • Mike, I’m sure your writing inspires a lot of people (I’m reminded that I need to go through your Art and Soul column). The posts I linked above were wonderful and just go to show that oftentimes the best anime blog posts are barely about anime at all!

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