I normally try to be spoiler free when I review a series, but I need to put a SPOILER ALERT on “Waiting in the Summer,” a new series from Sentai Filmworks. It’s out this week in a 12-episode, complete-series set.
The packaging makes it sound like your typical coming-of-age story, a nice little high school romance for Valentine’s Day. And it certainly is. But there’s a fun twist. And unless I want this to be just a couple paragraphs, I can’t talk much about the show without revealing that twist.
But I won’t do it quite yet. The set-up is simple. Kaito is your typical first-year high school student. He has a nice group of friends with a little romantic drama on a low simmer — your typical teen (and adult, for that matter) quandary of whether to tell your friend you want to be more.
It gets complicated when a pretty transfer student appears near the end of the semester. Ichika is a third-year student and is quickly befriended by the weird girl Remon.
Fast-forward a bit, and Ichika doesn’t have a place to stay. Since Kaito’s older sister is about to leave on an extended business trip, leaving him alone, Ichika winds up moving in. And starring in his movie.
So, if you want a great teen dramedy about a group of friends (old and new) in high school who decide to make a film during their summer break but don’t want to know the twist, stop here. Get the series. I highly recommend it.
I can see why they didn’t mention the twist. It’s almost inconsequential, at least in the first five episodes I watched. But one of the things I think makes this series so enjoyable is how they integrate it into the show.
Ichika is an alien. She’s come to Earth (without permission, it seems) to visit a spot she saw in an image once. She doesn’t know where it is, but she later describes it to Kaito, who promises to keep his eye out as he’s scouting locations. But something happened to Ichika’s ship, and the crash landing affected Kaito, unbeknownst to him.
But aside from Rinon, the cute little critter that’s really a part of the ship, there’s very little to this sci-fi twist. Ichika is a typical teenager, and she keeps her origin a secret. She’s not on the run from bad guys at home. There’s no big action drama. It’s a simple story with a simple twist.
And it gets a bit more interesting when Remon’s sci-fi script hits suspiciously close to home for Ichika.
Remon is quite the cipher. She may be older than she seems, and her motives are definitely suspect, especially when she gets everyone drunk during a planning meeting. She also has a fun, creepy laugh.
Another highlight is when the scene delves into a character’s imagination. The colors become heightened and saturated to make it clear these are separate pieces, but sometimes they spill over into reality with interesting results.
I know from reading a couple spoilers in researching this review that things do heat up, but I think the series has set the groundwork for keeping it real.
If the show was just about the students making the film and following the cliched storyline of finding more about themselves along the way, this would still be a good show because of the characters. But throw in the little sci-fi twist to make it interesting, and Sentai has a sleeper hit on its hands.