a.k.a. Living for the Day After Tomorrow
In her last summer before entering junior high school, Karada lives together with her older brother Hiro, the local pharmacist. The only thing she wishes for is to be older so that she won’t be a burden on her brother. One day, an old friend of Hiro’s named Shoko visits them. She happens to be the young woman who had lived together with him before he took care of Karada. Girl and woman don’t seem to care too much for one another until an incredible miracle turns both their lives upside down.
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: Wonderfully warm storytelling; believable characters; splendid background art
Lows: Slow pacing may put off some; ending twist unnecessary
Every once in a while, an anime series manages to take me completely off-guard and surprise me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Asatte no Houkou is one of those series – not because of its plot and not because of the big twist at the end of its first episode. It’s a beautiful and gripping shojou drama that manages to deliver its story without burying the protagonist girl in a heap of bishounen.
In fact, the entire plot manages to stay far from the usual stereotypes of the genre: no embarrassing “suddenly nude”-situations, no cheesy swooning after girlish boys, no overacted drama. Instead, Asatte no Houkou offers wonderfully warm and peaceful storytelling where the truly dramatic scenes are so rare that each still has the maximum impact. Almost all the characters think and act believably; there are almost no cases of the usual “convenient idiocy” found in lesser productions. The only weak point here is Kotomi, a female side character used almost exclusively for comic relief, but even she has some better moments later on in the series. The character art and animation are rather good – the character designs could have been better – but the background art of Asatte no Houkou is absolutely terrific. Lush watercolors outline the Japanese summer so beautifully that you can almost feel the sun on your skin, not necessarily in a realistic way but capturing the mood of summer perfectly.
Speaking of the mood of summer: summer days are often slow and lazy, and unfortunately, the pacing of Asatte no Houkou is, at times, quite the same. The story doesn’t develop very quickly, and while it still avoids getting boring, a few developments could have been handled more fluidly, maybe giving more time to developing one or two of the relationships better. The series also suffers a little from a final twist at the end that happens only after all conflict is already resolved and everybody is apparently happy with the situation. Looks as though this “summer story” wasn’t meant to last longer than summer.
Asatte no Houkou is no great masterpiece and nothing you’ll think about much after it’s done. However, the series is gripping in its story and powerful in its characters for as long as it lasts, and when it’s over, you’ll still have a little of that summer warmth within your heart. That alone makes it worth watching. If you don’t mind a little change of pace, this one’s for you.
Asatte no Houkou can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.