Natsuiro Kiseski: A Summer-Colored Miracle

aizawa natsumi hanaki yuka mizukoshi saki natsuiro kiseki tamaki rinko tatsuhiko

Two seasons ago was summer—and seeing as the year just ended and that I am behind on most of my backlogs—it seems appropriate to reminisce a bit on the warmer, easier times now. Last summer marked a year I have been in Taiwan since my recent move. Much has happened, and among them is a significant dwindling of my anime-related activities. In fact, I only viewed two series over the summer. One of them included a small, relatively unknown title: Natsuiro Kiseki.

aizawa natsumi hanaki yuka mizukoshi saki natsuiro kiseki tamaki rinko

There was little talk leading up to Natsuiro Kiseki’s release. As another anime that rode the idol train this year, the series is comparably quieter and less glamorous than the other idol-themed anime. Its loose role as a promotion for the popular SPHERE helped little to generate hype. This is surprising, perhaps, but understandable—Natsuiro Kiseki is short, lacks high-quality production values, and sports an unexciting premise: Four young best friends from a beautiful island town strive for their idol dreams before one of them moves to the big city… And miracles happen. It sounded snazzy, but overwrought.

Yet, the execution is stellar!

hanaki yuka mizukoshi saki natsuiro kiseki tamaki rinko

Indeed, Natusiro Kiseki is fantastically nuanced. It details an important transition stage in these young girls’ lives. The anime wastes little time in setting up just the right atmosphere and tone for its themes. The first episode immediately confronts us with a heavy sense of loss. The tight-knit clique find out that one of them, Saki, is moving away at the end of the summer. The ensuing conflicts deal with a genuine frustration, cynicism, but also eventual acceptance of the impending parting. Natsuiro Kiseki captures these emotions so well with the girls’ interactions however mundane they may seem.

aizawa natsumi hanaki yuka hidari mizukoshi saki natsuiro kiseki tamaki rinko

The series can really appreciate the fluidity of clique dynamics of middle school girls. The characters act slightly differently with each member, and with each subset of the group. There is a minor sense of clique within the clique, shifting attitudes, and varying relationships, even with just four people. For example, Saki and Natsumi are the two alpha females of the group, and both often juggle for leadership. Their more dominant personalities also pair them well together. On the other hand, Yuka and Rinko have their own oddball duo routine—the funny one and the mysterious spiritual one. These two are especially well-positioned to contrast the other more serious pair. Individually and within the group, each girl stands out as well. Saki’s future, Natsumi’s worries, Yuka’s antics, and Rinko’s heart are but a few notable elements to what drives this slice-of-life.

aizawa natsumi hanaki yuka mizukoshi saki natsuiro kiseki tamaki rinko miracle

And then, there are the miracles. In a story that is so sincere and that deals with such a real, common part of childhoods, the miracles are still seamlessly integrated. There is an impressive, but relaxing ease to the rocky mysticism that threads the girls’ problems and aspirations. Some may be magnificent—flying and time travel—while others are a bit silly—body switch and body glue—but none feels too extravagant. These impossibilities are kept small, untainted by adult ambitions, and the girls deal with the incredible power with earnest naïveté. Likewise, the idol dream of the four girls comes from a warm, innocent place. They just want to make some memories of their summer.

hidari mizukoshi saki natsuiro kiseki

Perhaps their summer memories and Saki’s relocation resonated with something in me. A little over a year ago, I moved to Taiwan. With the vastly different timezone, I have not had much chance to catch the semi-weekly sporadic gatherings of friends for anime, classic films, and fun chats I once enjoyed so much. This past summer I was able to reconnect a bit with old friends through Natsuiro Kiseki and Skype. I watched the earlier episodes with the folks over at The Untold Story of Altair and Vega, and finished the series with Akira and Ayame. My own little summer-colored miracle.

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26 Responses to Natsuiro Kiseski: A Summer-Colored Miracle

  1. gozieson says:

    Was wondering why you haven’t been posting stuff up lately.

    Your thoughts reminded me of my trip to Perth just last week. We went there cause my dad applied for Permanent Residence there and to fully validate it, we’d have to hang out in Australia for a few days. When we arrived, we learned that Australia Day was coming up and Perth is going to have a huge fireworks display during the night.

    At 8pm, for half an hour straight, there was a magnificent show of colours on that day. We watched the fireworks as they were shot off at the Swan River and it was magnificently accompanied by a soundtrack played over the radio. (Seriously, the radio was a sponsor for the fireworks and provided the accompanying music which was played in sync with the pyrotechnics)

    It was a sight to behold, thousands gathered by the riverside as they watched the whole big bang go off in all its glory. I wish I could have showed you some pictures of the works themselves but I think this might suffice:

    It’s a little shorter than the half an hour show but it is a pretty good review of the fireworks.

    We were really pleasantly surprised that we were able to watch this magnificent show at the very moment we decided to go to Australia to confirm our PR status. It was as if the whole show was the welcome party for our family inviting us to stay Down Under. We really enjoyed the show.

    Maybe later we would be heading off to Australia to stay there, but right now, I’m happy where I currently am, Malaysia.

    • Yi says:

      Oh wow. This is beautiful! I would love to visit Australia and just live there for a few months or so, and enjoy the warm southern continent. I hesitate to move there for longer than that though because I am a little weary of moving so much lately. Still, it sounds like an incredible life experience. If you do move, I wish you the best of luck. And if not for now, the same. Malaysia is another place I’d love to stay for a while too! I have a few friends there that would love to have me over for a few weeks.

      Anyways, thanks for the fireworks, and I always love to hear about others’ adventures. ^ ^

      Cheers, gozieson!

  2. Overlord-G says:

    Good to know you also enjoyed this show. It was not one of the best on my 2012 favs list but it was still a unique enough entry in the SoL genre. It touched everyone who watched it and definitely fulfilled the nation’s quota of being noticed.

    Merry Christmas and Happy new year by the way.

    P.S.: Yuuka X Rin ftw. Natsumi X Saki’s cute as well but the former pleased me more despite the latter being more direct.

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. I think without a personal resonance or any context, Natsuiro Kiseki is simply pretty good. But with those, the anime really hits the right emotional points. I enjoyed it immensely.

      And yes, I loved Yuka and Rin. Their interactions are some of the best moments in the anime.

      p.s. A belated merry Christmas and happy New Year to you too. Oh, and also happy Chinese New Year! ^ ^

  3. ajthefourth says:

    I love your description of the relationship dynamics, not only within the group but the separate friend pairings (I personally loved Yuka and Rinko together above all else). ^ ^ I thoroughly enjoyed watching this with you and wish our schedules matched up more often. Best of luck with everything. ^ ^

    • Yi says:

      Thanks, ajthefourth! I miss watching stuff with you too, and I have so much fun on all our watches. I still remember fondly back on the days of Utena. ^ ^ Thanks and best of luck with everything for you too! Love you, girl~

      p.s. Yuka and Rinko have the best interactions. I loved them as well.

  4. This carried nice memories indeed. We had good times together watching this :3 If I’m not mistaken, you said you resembled Rinko in some ways?
    And the friendship dynamics were truly the ones that made the show special; each of them offered a needed note to the show.

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. I really like watching stuff with you. And we need to get together for another watch again when time permits!

      I think I did indeed say something like that at some point during the show. I also see a little bit of Saki in me, as well as Yuka and Natsume. I suppose that’s the hallmark of well-developed character interactions—that we can see a little bit of ourselves in their characters. Their relationships and personalities are really what drives Natsuiro Kiseki.

  5. chikorita157 says:

    While I had mixed feelings from the first episode, it surprisingly became very enjoyable, especially with the wishes the girls do to each other to create a summer to remember. But yes, I watched it because I am a big fan of Sphere. :p

    • Yi says:

      Yea, this was a surprise hit for me too, and surprisingly warm! I did not watch this because I was a Sphere fan, but this did make me into one. ^ ^

  6. Red says:

    Oh, thank you so much. I’ve mostly only heard people talk about it being bad or mediocre, but it was my favorite 2012 anime and it’s great to see that someone like you also appreciates it.

    • Yi says:

      I could understand if some found this series mediocre, especially if they are not fans of this type of small scale anime. However, for those that do appreciate its themes and moods, this is a treat.

      p.s. Thanks for the visit, Red. I hope you enjoyed your stay. ^ ^

  7. Fencedude says:

    Quite surprised to see a review of this pop up, it is as you say an underrated gem.

    I’m curious, what are your thoughts on Natsumi and Saki’s little scene on the boat? I’ve always wondered how Natsumi would have finished that sentence if Yuka hadn’t interrupted, or if she even could have finished it.

    • Yi says:

      A few years ago, a more yuri-goggled inclined me would have screamed “romance!” Now, I think it’s intentionally left unfinished. Natsumi and Saki are intimate friends certainly, and they are young. How that relationship may develop is up to our interpretations. ^ ^ I enjoy them immensely either way.

      Anyways, thanks for reading, Fencedude. I’m surprised I wrote a review of this too, as I had not planned on talking about this anime at all.

  8. jreding says:

    Hello Yi, I hope you are well; I’ve noticed that you’ve been posting less, lately, but hopefully you’ve been busy enjoying RL. Thus I am pleasantly surprised to find this post which sends some summer warmth just when snow is pouring down the sky endlessly here!

    Actually I’m somewhat torn about Natsuiro Kiseki. There were many things to complain about, like the subpar production quality or the annoying idol group promotion. And is it really possible that girls the same age are at so different levels of maturity? But still, the series indeed had this melancholic late summer feeling when childhood suddenly comes to a close and things have changed irreversibly before you even notice it. My favourite was Saki: She looked awesome (in particular in that witch dress in ep. 3!) and she really grew up during that summer. Recently I begin to appreciate characters who are on the balance between still being an kid and having acquired some level of maturity (Chitanda from Hyouka is another example). Too bad, Saki’s yuri romance ended even before it really started!

    I’ve changed both my job and my location recently, as well, and I also get this melancholic feeling when I visit my old place and meet with friends there. Not sure if it was the right choice. I’m just not cut out for living in big cities. Saki has a better deal in my eyes, as she is moving to a big city (Tokyo) but to a small island (which happens to be administrative part of Tokyo) at the same time!

    PS: Don’t get me wrong, I have no complaints against Sphere and I liked both the EP and the ED songs (the latter in particular together with the simple sequence of a group of friends meeting on a bench outside on a peaceful and sunny day). It’s just that the Sphere promotion felt too forced into the plot.

    • Yi says:

      Real life has been busy, and it has its ups and downs, as it always does. In any case, what better time for summer warmth than in the cold?

      The primary criticism I had with the series is also its subpar animation. While I loved the character designs and liked its general aesthetics, there were moments when the animation is horrid. I remember cringing at that one chase scene in the stuck-together episode (while laughing uncontrollably at the same time). The maturity issue, however, I found to be part of the charm and dimensionality of the casts. Variations in development and growth of kids are most striking around that age, and this anime reflects that. Saki and Yuka’s contrast is one of best relationships.

      Good luck with your move. I always find the transition stages of life to be some of the hardest, loneliest, and most insecure moments. But often, once I am settled down, things look up. I wish you the best with your endeavors and with your move, my darling

      Cheers! ^ ^

      p.s. Saki is also mg favorite. She is adorably serious and seriously adorable.
      p.p.s. I could do without the Sphere association too, but I didn’t mind it either. My feelings are mostly just indifference and, occasionally, amusement.

  9. Nopy says:

    I’m all for miracles, but Natsuiro Kiseki was just a little too much to take in. I prefer anime where a miracle is “built-up” so to speak and comes at just the right time.

    • Yi says:

      The miracles in Natsuiro Kiseki do feel a little more… childish and silly, but within the context, I felt like they worked. Further, although the miracles granted by the rock are literal miracles, the real miracle is much more subtle. I enjoyed that about this series. The revelation about their childhood at the end is especially charming, clever, and poignant. I thought the build up is indeed there to make it work.

  10. ~xxx says:

    Natsuiro Kiseki is an actual stellar show… probably only few had watched and actually got a hold on the miracles this show has. Though underrated, this show actually showed the viewers the magic and the miracles of growing up… Thus the underlying text behind all the miracles in this show is that there can be miracles… but some things can’t change and thus leading ourselves to a path towards maturity.

    (indirect fact: I still love the songs that was used in the show especially NON-Stop Rod)

    • Yi says:

      There are some that feel the miracles in the anime are too silly and childish, and as a consequence, they cannot take the anime seriously. On other hand, I feel that indeed if we had grasped the meaning of the miracles in this show, the magical aspect makes perfect sense as both a plot device, but also as a metaphorical foil to their true everyday miracles. If we approach the mysticism in this way, we see that Natsuiro Kiseki is not silly at all. The miracles are then an indispensable part to add substance and layered meaning to its message on coming-of-age and maturity.

      I loved the music in this anime too!

      p.s. Thanks for the insight, ~xxx. ^ ^

  11. Nuu says:

    This is in no way better than Chu-Bra!!


    No I kid I kid. Hmm I’ve never really liked these sort of shows and I’ve tried many times to be patient and watch but for some reason i can’t make myself 😦 I’m still trying though….I’LL TRY FOR YOU YI!!!!!

    • Yi says:

      Hahaha Nuu. I have not seen Chu-Bra!! But I imagine that this is not the type of anime I’d enjoy. Of course, we all have our own tastes. If Natsuiro Kiseki isn’t the type of show for you, it’s fine. ^ ^ I appreciate the effort, but, darling, spend your time on something you do like!

  12. ninetybeats says:

    As many said before, this is an highly underrated show. I like how you pointed out the different roles of the girls within their own group. I didn’t actually pay a lot of attention to the different roles they had within their own little circle. The light storytelling was more what did it for me.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, that’s another really lovable thing about Natusiro Kiseki. It has this light atmosphere about it—almost reminiscent of the lazy summer days. It was a great way to relax to this over break~

  13. zeta says:

    It´s a nice slice-of-life anime but

    -The uniforms are really ugly (green with white + and red tie)
    -Every girl use different sock lengths
    -Time travels

    • Yi says:

      I admit there’s some fashion faux pas here and there, although I really really enjoyed Saki’s character designs. The time travel bit I loved though. It ties all of it together!

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