Wow, this must be some kind of record... A beach episode as the first instalment of a new series? Oh wait, I've just used that line for Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu - Purezza. Moving swiftly on...
Back in the Spring and early Summer, I had rather mixed feelings about Natsu no Arashi and what it did well and poorly, but come the end of that series (or rather, what turned out to be the first half of the series) I actually found myself missing it somewhat; an emotion which leaves me glad to see its return. Besides which, let's face it - Everything that SHAFT is touching seems to turn into anime gold right now.
So, with the summer in full swing (in Natsu no Arashi's world anyhow), it's perhaps inevitable that a beach episode would come about, although the thought of a day at the beach itself brings forth myriad problems. For starters, our variety of ghost girls from sixty years ago aren't exactly used to wearing skimpy bikinis - Not sure a problem for Arashi, who is hardly a shrinking violet, but quite an issue for Kaya in particular. Then of course there's Jun, and once again it's her problems that come to the fore throughout this episode as she continues her attempts to pass herself off as a boy in the company of her work colleagues. Come the end of this episode Arashi finds out Jun's secret, but Hajime is still clueless about the whole thing, doubtless leaving plenty of room for that particular saga to continue.
I remember that come the end of the first half of this series I was actually getting a little tired of Jun's gender-hiding issues, but I suppose by way of prove that a break from such things can refresh you I actually thoroughly enjoyed this episode. If nothing else, it had a few fantastic lines and laugh out loud moments, and somehow Jun's increased femininity in this particular instalment made her a more interesting character than she arguably was previously, particularly in terms of her relationship with Hajime which throws up all sorts of confusion for her. Besides all that, SHAFT seem to have done a wonderful job with this episode, infusing it with their own unique style arguably more than they did with the first half, complete with what is easily the best opening titles I've seen so far this season. Even despite the rather predictable content, these guys somehow manage to draw something compelling out of it in terms of both visuals and storyline, and at the risk of sounding like a gushing fanboy it seems that they really can't get much wrong in my eyes these days... Long may it continue too, as this fourteenth episode of Natsu no Arashi proved itself to be the best piece of new season anime I've seen thus far (with a few more new shows to come, admittedly).