Today let's highlight some shows to make up for the summer that never was!
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Why It Works. The summer is basically over at this point, and even moreso than most years, it kind of feels like it was barely here at all. Without the ability to really go out for events or enjoy the beach or whatnot, this summer has largely just been a succession of the same day over and over again. Our conception of a “summer vacation” has been reduced to a trip to the grocery store, and all of the public hallmarks of summer have been canceled for the year. And now we’re expected to have had our fill of summer, and already feel nostalgic for the cold winter ahead?
Boo to that, I say. And while I can’t exactly restore the season we lost, I can at least recommend you all a few anime that encapsulate a certain aspect of summer, and remind us of how nice it is when summers actually exist. So without further ado, I present some of Crunchyroll’s finest summer selections, as we attempt to make up for the season that never was!
Starting off, one of the most undeniably summery anime I’ve seen is Ano Natsu de Matteru. The title itself translates to “Waiting in the Summer,” and the show lives up to that title. Though it’s a vague spiritual successor to the Please Teacher! franchise, Waiting in the Summer feels more like a self-contained John Hughes film, centered on a group of friends who are determined to make a movie over their summer break. The show is a charming romantic drama by any measure, but most importantly, it offers a consistently convincing portrait of lazy summer days in a seaside town and the idle time you share with friends. If you feel like you’re short one summer vacation, Ano Natsu de Matteru offers a fine replacement.
But perhaps you prefer the countryside to the sea? In that case, I’d recommend the deceptively atmosphere-driven Dagashi Kashi, about a young man working in his father’s sweets shop, and the sweets-crazy girl who barrels into his life. Though Dagashi Kashi has plenty of rom-com mishaps and gags about candy, the show also presents a vivid portrait of rural summer life, as its protagonists attempt to beat the heat and keep themselves occupied in their tiny country village. Being bored during summer vacation is its own specific kind of satisfying, and Dagashi Kashi nails the sights, sounds, and feelings of an idle, gleefully misspent youth.
Even sticking to the cities, though, there are plenty of anime that possess an undeniable summer atmosphere. One of them is Arakawa Under the Bridge, about a young corporate heir who finds himself unexpectedly drawn into a society of off-kilter outcasts, all of whom make their home under the bridge over a local canal. Along with plenty of absurdist comedy, Arakawa Under the Bridge nails the experience of lazing around in the margins of your town, with its vintage SHAFT flourishes presenting a unique and satisfying portrait of summer life. Plus, it has the added benefit of presenting a summer experience that doesn’t require any travel — if you can get outside and take a walk, you can still enjoy this flavor of summer.
Lastly, I’d like to recommend one of my own favorite anime, Natsume’s Book of Friends. Centered on a young man who can see spirits, Natsume’s Book of Friends plays something like a modern-day version of Mushishi, with more of a character-focused coming-of-age angle. Of course, this is a list about great summer shows — so along with its strong character work and fascinating supernatural elements, Natsume’s Book of Friends also serves as a warm, inviting portrayal of Natsume’s daily experiences in his beautiful town. Finding hidden shrines in the woods, wandering along the old train tracks, enjoying summer festivals with friends; it’s all here, and all packaged in a narrative that has plenty of fantastical strengths of its own.
I hope my recommendations have helped you all mitigate the pain of having this summer stolen from us, even if only slightly. This is a tough year for everyone, but we’re all in it together, and should do what we can to make our days brighter for each other.
And of course, please let me know all your own favorite summer anime in the comments!
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