Happy summer everyone! To celebrate the official start of the season earlier this week (at least in my neck of the woods), I will be writing about the theme songs of one of my personal favorites, Ano Natsu de Matteru, or Waiting in the Summer. For this post, I will be reviewing each theme, and discussing how they look at ideas involving youth and memories through celebration and reflection. As I relate the songs to the show itself, there will be major SPOILERS ahead. Definitely check out our review of Ano Natsu as well!
Ano Natsu de Matteru was an anime that I first watched a year ago, and I hold it in very high regards. Its themes, visuals, and characters really struck a chord with me when I first watched it, and rewatching the series this summer has given me the same feeling. It’s a very nice love story with plenty of funny moments, emotional moments, and beautiful moments. It can be a bit cheesey at times, and definitely isn’t the best anime series, but it somehow ended up really connecting with me. I loved watching the character relationships develop, and its theme of making memories and creating something to remember them with really resonated with me. A lot of people would probably consider this series to be very escapist in nature. The beautiful and inviting setting and sparse but cool sci-fi elements meant to make the viewer forget about their troubles for a while and enjoy something, and I do agree with that idea. However through this story about a group of teens making a movie with an alien that falls into a love polygon, to me the anime is much more of a celebration than an escape. It looks at and celebrates youth (and the good and bad with it), memories, and of course summer.
Personally, I see the opening and closing themes of Ano Natsu as perfect illustrations of this reflection and celebration. The opening is called “Sign” by Ray, and the closing is “Vidro Moyou” (or Glass Pattern) by Nagi Yanagi. The opening and closing make quite the interesting pair, and do an overall great job at setting up and closing down this anime. Let’s start by looking at Sign.
Right away, the opening showcases the film aspect of the show, with Ichika moving in frames. We’re also treated to the second half of the “Sign” intro, with its bright keyboard melody, what sounds like light midi orchestral sounds, and really cool ascending little blips. It’s a bit abrupt, since I know the full song has a longer intro, but it works really well directly following an intro scene from the episode. Right from the get-go, the setting with all of its greens and blues really pops out at me. Ano Natsu may have one of my favorite settings in an anime. A beautiful rural area with gorgeous mountain shots, a train station that makes it easy to go to really cool looking towns, and a beach that is close enough to plan to go there on a last minute trip? If this setting is inspired by a real place, I would honestly consider living there. It checks off pretty much everything I would be looking for in a place to live. Sorry for the side track, but my point is that the amazing setting is well used in this opening, which makes the opening much better than it should be. There’s also some cool shots and imagery, such as Kaito’s world turning blue until his friends appear and the color comes back. Other than that, the opening doesn’t try to achieve too much depth visually. It stays rather grounded, and focuses on the group of friends filming and having fun. It’s not a mind blowing opening, but with help from its setting it achieves a great tone and feeling that sets up the show.
Now let’s focus more on “Sign” itself. As I mentioned before, the instrumentation is very bright and fun. Props to them for having a song that perfectly fits the gorgeous scenery and the feeling of having a good time. The verse and chorus melodies are very memorable, and are pleasant to listen to. Ray also just has a very beautiful voice, which is made more apparent when the harmonies kick in. That ending harmony is definitely a moment of goosebumps for me. It’s a bit different in the full song though (there’s an instrumental break between the last chorus and the final notes with that last held out harmony). I really enjoy the way Sign in ends in the opening, but perhaps it would be a bit too abrupt to end the full song in the same manner, so I was eventually okay with the full song ending differently. The full song also has a bridge that isn’t heard in the opening that is pretty good, followed by the tried and true method of soft half of chorus then normal volume chorus. I’m not gonna be that guy who faults this because it’s somewhat of a pop cliché, and they honestly do a very good job with the formula.
You could argue that the song is a bit too bright and clean. And yes, I can’t say I’m always in the mood for something this happy sounding. I have a bad habit of automatically assuming that something fun and poppy is also cheesy or shallow, but that predisposition is getting much better thanks to songs like this. “Sign” manages to be fun, but also interesting. When I listen to it, I don’t focus on how sugar coated and upbeat the song is, rather I hear the interesting instrumentation and mix. It’s a very thoughtful production that impresses me more and more as I listen to it and makes the hyper joyful nature feel genuine and real, which makes me able to truly appreciate it. Once I looked past the extremely shiny exterior of “Sign”, I found a happy song that has too much going on with it to be considered shallow.
The summer influence in this opening is definitely worn on its sleeve (and rightfully so), but perhaps the most interesting thing about the opening to me is how it invokes feelings of youth and nostalgia through celebration. This is aided by its film theme. There are moments where the visuals get rather grainy, making it seem like we are looking at footage from Kaito’s camera. This gives me two different reactions:
- It illustrates looking back at good times with a sense of nostalgia
- It gives the impression that what is happening is something the characters will remember later in life
This fits along quite well with some of the show’s themes. Here we see the characters having good times that will become good memories, and making this film to remember them by. It ends up celebrating youthful enjoyment, and the nostalgia that comes with looking back on it. I can’t help but think about my past summers when I watch this opening. Past relationships, road trips, late nights, all good times. It’s easy to look back and feel sorrow or regret that these times are long gone, but this opening is a reminder that looking back can bring forth much more positive emotions depending on how you look at it. This isn’t a melancholic look back at bygone days, but rather a happy and inspiring recollection. The idea of making something to remember these memories by is what really connected with me as a musician. I wish to cement these memories and this feeling into music, just as the characters did with their film. With these reminders of me enjoying myself, I can’t help but be excited for the present and future (which is something that doesn’t always happen for me), where new memories can be made. This makes me glad that “Sign” is so bright and upbeat. It’s as if the song is that way to ensure that you look at these memories as a source of happy inspiration rather than sadness. This motivation and celebration has to be my favorite part of Sign and the opening.
Now let’s talk about the ending. The visual and audio tone differs greatly from the opening, and really ends up being the better of the two. We see much less color here, most of it being single color shadows and outlines for the characters. The expressions differ slightly for each character, but each appears to be in a state of reflection. I find Ichika’s expressions to be the most interesting. Her first shot is of her sitting down naked, (which I’d like to think is the case in order to represent her being in an introspective/honest state of mind) holding a mini version of the ship. You can see her acknowledging how she is different from her new friends, and wondering about her situation. For the second one, her eyes are downcast, but she still has a smile. Her expression to me is that of someone who knows that these days are limited, but is still glad everything happened. It’s interesting watching the ending again now that I know how the plot of the show concludes (though the very end of the series shows that the conclusion is much more joyful). The background that alternates from white to a night sky and the scattered star shapes are simple components that end up adding a lot. It’s simple, but inspired, and absolutely gorgeous. While I am glad that the opening is loud and colorful visually, it’s interesting how the more minimal ending manages to say more and leave a deeper impression.
Of course, the visuals wouldn’t be so memorable if it weren’t for the song. “Vidro Moyou” as a standalone song is one of my favorites. I love the instrumentation, from the way the various keyboard tracks add flavor to the song, to the piano that gracefully goes along with the programmed drums, to that beautiful guitar (probably with a chorus effect) that adds a dreaminess to the song without overstaying its welcome. Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds somewhat Dream Pop inspired. I mostly get that feeling from the guitar and the vocals. Nagi Yanagi’s voice is very calm and wispy here. I don’t know if it’s the effect used on her voice, but it almost sounds like there’s a quiet vocal track of her whispering the words as another track sings them. It makes the song very calming and pleasant to listen to. The harmonies are also very welcome to the ears. Even in the chorus, where there is some dynamic contrast and Nagi Yanagi somewhat belts a few notes, there is still an underlying delicacy, making it heartfelt, graceful, and all the more emotional.
While a lot of the mix is very dreamy in nature, the drums do a great job at bringing just the right amount of liveliness to the song. This is still a pop song after all, and can’t drag its feet too much. The verse for example has a constant quarter note bass drum thud keeping the song on track. It keeps the heart of the song beating steadily while its head is in the clouds. There are also a lot of interesting rhythms programmed in, but they’re never too in your face. It makes for a lovely contrast with the more dreamy parts of the instrumentation. The tempo is just right as well. Any faster, and it would’ve lost the delicate nature of its arrangement. Any slower, and it would’ve felt a bit bogged down. The creative minds behind this ending marry the music and visuals perfectly from a tonal perspective. It makes me feel like they were made for each other in a way that feels very natural.
Outside of the ending, “Vidro Moyou”’s intro features more of Nagi Yanagi’s beautiful harmonies, a bridge that features some extremely awesome guitar tones, and an instrumental outro. Just like with “Sign”, I like how the ending concludes with the last words of the chorus, but for the full song I definitely prefer the actual outro. It’s a stellar end to a stellar song.
I would describe myself as rather introverted. Though I love spending time with people I care about, I like (and often need) some alone time. I recently discovered that taking walks makes for some great alone time, especially at night (shocking idea, is it not?). Well, the first time I saw the closing, I instantly connected what the song made me feel with the feeling I would get walking alone under the stars. The simple yet beautiful animation leaves a lot of room for thoughts to fill in one’s head, and the atmosphere created by the music can make one’s mind wander as well. There is this mix of introspection and calmness, while also facing insecurities and accepting one’s place in the world. All of the main characters in Ano Natsu (except Remon) are kids, still growing and still learning more about the world and themselves. Each character seems to be struggling with something in the closing, and in the shot with all of them you can see them looking up, deep in thought. It shows a time when one just looks to the sky, remembering the past and wondering about life. Will things work out? Will I be okay? I know I face this feeling a lot, even as a young adult. I will always be growing as a person, and I’m sure I’ll continue to ask myself these things. That’s where the song comes in. The delicacy of “Vidro Moyou” fits in very well with these moments of vulnerability, and the beautiful atmosphere it creates seems to say that yes, things will be okay. Look at the sky, look at how beautiful the stars are. There is beauty in the world, and there is beauty in your life. It’s a feeling of acceptance similar to what each character eventually finds in Ano Natsu, despite all of the relationship struggles. An acceptance of past events, one’s current standing, and the potential to do even more in the future. It’s a very beautiful realization, and is largely why I hold this ending and “Vidro Moyou” in such high regards.
When most people think of summer songs, they may think of The Beach Boys, or Jimmy Buffett, or Reggae type music. All of this is rightfully so, and I do greatly enjoy all of the above. However when I think about the true essence of summer for me, this opening and closing in conjunction fit my idea perfectly. The opening feels like a song for daytime adventures, and the closing feels like a song for nighttime wanderings. Both themes look at youth and memories alongside the summer theme, but in very different ways. “Sign” celebrates that youthful feeling and looking to the past with a smile while still living in the now. “Vidro Moyou” reflects upon the aspect of youth that involves growing as a person. Looking at one’s past and present, how it will relate to the future, and eventually accepting and seeing the beauty of it all with a feeling of comfort. Both of these ways of thinking are very important, and are very present in Ano Natsu de Matteru itself. The different approaches also feel very holistic, and as I have said before really describes how I feel in the summertime. Perhaps this is why these songs and this anime really connect with me, and why I hold it in such high regards. I only hope that I remember these things down the line, and hopefully they’ll continue to inspire me.
So, what did you think about Ano Natsu de Matteru? What music (or anime) fits your idea of summer? I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for reading! I know it was a rather long post, but there was a lot to be said about this one. Let me know what you think, and hope to see you next time! My favorite Ed post will be coming soon, as well many other posts from the RishRaff team. Thanks!
I have to mention the following song: “Flicker” by Porter Robinson. Why? Because it features a sample of Remon’s laugh! It’s a really great song, and also sounds very summery. Enjoy!