My VCR still works! And once I replaced what looked like the original batteries, so does the remote!

For the first twenty days of animé movies I decided to follow up on an earlier review of the Kimagure Orange Road OAVs and the first movie by taking another look at the second movie.

The second KOR movie, Summer’s Beginning (1996), is both a direct sequel to and a thematic mirror of I Want To Return To That Day.

Clearly set in the same continuity, Summer’s Beginning shows the results of the emotional slappping Hikaru suffers in the first film.

Well, that and another three years of growth afterwards.

Hikaru was always presented previously as someone attempting to be cute or kawaii, and all too often ended up being annoying.

The Hikaru in Summer’s Beginning on the other hand: Oh. My. God.

Although clearly the same person, she is suddenly presented as an adult, as a woman, and she’s stunning.

But I’m getting ahead of myself as I also need to look at the ways in which is the mirror image of its predecessor.

Specifically, the storyline of I Want To Return To That Day was an entirely mundane plot driven solely by the characters and ordinary events in their lives.

Summer’s Beginning isn’t. The plot entirely depends on the ESP powers of the Kasuga clan, including occasionally accidental time travel, to reverse the age relationships of the main characters.

In essence 19 year old student Kyosuke gets hit by a car in 1991 just before he and Madoka take their relationship to the next level, partly because Kyosuke has won a photography award at college, partly because Madoka has written a song for him.

Three years later 22 year old photo journalist Kyosuke runs into trouble in Bosnia and the 19 year old Kyosuke jumps forward in time. The 22 year old version’s soul kind of goes missing.

Meanwhile Madoka is still in Tokyo and appears to be making some progress in the music industry as a composer.

The three main characters are reunited (sort of) by having Hikaru return to Japan from New York to audition for a musical. It is clearly a professional audition, and Hikaru equally clearly treats it as such. This is despite her being aware of issues with Kyosuke’s appearance in Tokyo that in the earlier incarnations would have resulted in her dropping everything to deal with Kyosuke.

Much of the rest of the movie is the usual KOR blend of romantic comedy tropes such as misunderstandings, failures to communicate, not to mention embarrassing situations that are usually misinterpreted and blown all out of proportion.

Or at least they would have been in the TV series/OAVs/first movie.

This is where Summer’s Beginning rises to its best by presenting a Madoka and Hikaru, who have clealry grown up, dealing with a younger Kyosuke, who hasn’t. The 19 year old Kyosuke does not fare well in comparison.

This is the other way in which Summer’s Beginning is the mirror of the previous film. I Want To Return To That Day is all about Kyosuke getting off the fence and making a decision, in Summer’s Beginning he is essentially a lost observer trying to work out what is going on whilst the older characters are the ones in control.

For the first two thirds, Hikaru basically owns the film but since she still does not know about the Kasuga clan ESP powers she gets written out of the resolution.

This is not to say that Kyosuke is a complete puppet, his full effort and will is needed to retrieve the soul of the 22 year old Kyosuke, but it is definitely a more passive role than the previous film.

The return of the elder Kyosuke from Bosnia is what provides the power to send the younger back to his own time, and the brief glimpse you get shows a man who has also grown up. Mostly. 🙂

The film wraps up with completing the individual storylines of the 19 year old Kyosuke and Madoka in quite a sweet way (although I’m not sure about some of the dialogue) and closes with glimpses of the lives of all three of the elder characters.

Summer’s Beginning, like its predecessor, is a strong character piece but gets there by a different route, and examines a version of the relationships that is only possible by including the SFnal elements.

In conclusion this is a strong film for KOR fans but not one that would work as well for those who are unfamiliar with the background. However it isn’t the only anime movie to suffer from that, and I think it would still be an interesting film to watch anyway.

Day 1 – New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer’s Beginning
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