After watching 7 episodes of ‘Ano Natsu de Matteru’ I’m bound to say that this is a damn fine show considering its genre and the studio. I can’t say that I’m an avid fan of romantic comedies or that I like J.C. STAFF‘s usual output. Actually, the last J.C. STAFF series I’ve watched in its fullness was ‘Toaru Kagaku no Railgun’, which happens to be one of the previous works of Tatsuyuki Nagai, the director of ‘Ano Natsu’. He is one of the few directors who do decent work at J.C. STAFF these days. J.C. STAFF‘s glorious days where Kunihiko Ikuhara, Fumihiko Takayama and Akiyuki Shinbo were active there are long gone, nowadays it’s just the embodiment of the copy-and-paste approach and stagnation in the industry. While ‘Ano Natsu’ doesn’t deviate from the usual J.C. STAFF formula, it’s a surprisingly well-executed and fun show for the most part. Director Tatsuyuki Nagai and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka have already proved several times that they are a good team that knows how to make enjoyable anime, and ‘Ano Natsu’ is no exception. Once again Masayoshi Tanaka‘s excellent animation backs up Nagai‘s skillful directing, and fortunately their work isn’t dragged down by Mari Okada‘s writing this time.
What I particularly enjoy about Nagai‘s directing is his clever visual language. He’s good at getting something across to the viewers with inconspicuous means and at telling the story on a visual level. Sometimes he conveys a lot with just one cut/image or the way he connects different cuts. He pays a lot of attention to the character acting as well by laying the foundation for the characters’ liveliness and the amusing character interplay in his detailed storyboards. One thing I’ve repeatedly found quite conspicuous is Nagai sharing some characteristics regarding his visual language with Mamoru Hosoda or the ‘Ikuhara school‘ as a whole. I think there has definitely been influence on Nagai coming from this direction, with some of his work featuring (visual) traits I usually associate with the ‘Ikuhara school’. By way of illustration, some examples: