Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Slice Of Life / Fantasy / Drama
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 13 Feb 2014
The original Japanese subtitle of this series is Natsu no Sora. It was released in the US as Someday’s Dreamers II: Sora.
Slice-of-life perfection. Another case where I prefer the second installment of a series over the first.
Sora Suzuki is a cheerful Hokkaido country girl from Biei. Since she is of magical blood, she must attend formal training upon coming of age in order to become an accredited mage. Sora travels to Tokyo where she will do a home-stay with her instructor and attend classes at the Bureau of Magic. There, she meets Gota, a boy who is also taking courses to become a mage, but he seems to have some issues of his own to overcome. At nearly every turn, Sora’s progress crosses paths with Gota’s, and soon things take a course of their own.
I like everything about Summer Skies more than the original Someday’s Dreamers. This isn’t really a sequel to that series, but rather another story which takes place in the same world. The two series are rather easy to separate as they were produced by entirely different animation studios. Summer Skies has a very distinct visual presentation which is night-and-day compared to the original, but more on that later. The direction and writing are also vastly improved upon over the original, in my opinion.
Summer Skies is slice-of-life done to perfection. The pacing is absolutely perfect; things happen of their own accord. Nothing is rushed or prodded along. There is no strict narrative per se, though the latter half of the series does have a more distinct story arc. Even so, it never feels as if the story is dictating the flow of events. Events seem to dictate the flow of the story. Again, things simply happen, and this makes watching the series very relaxing.
As for the story as it relates to the characters, Sora is a very different lead than Yume from the original Someday’s Dreamers. Yume was a brooding girl smoldering in her own latent angst. Sora is bright, cheery, and exudes innocence and wonder. I found her to be more likable than Yume, which is a large part of why I enjoyed Summer Skies more. This plus the pacing elevated the series to one which turned out to exceed my expectations of it, and those expectations were further blown out of the water when the story arc in the second half of the series crept in.
If there’s one area where Summer Skies falls a bit short, it’s in the animation itself. Character animation is quite simple almost to the point of crude at times, and it hardly resembles Kumichi Yoshizuki’s original concept art. That said, it actually did not detract from the series itself due to the writing and direction being top-notch. (The series is similar to Noein in that respect, though the two series were produced by different studios.) Backgrounds are another matter entirely, as most are actually photographs processed in varying degrees from not at all to enough to make them look like manually painted scenes.
Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ is my favorite kind of series: my expectations going in were modest, and by the end they were far exceeded. Pacing, characterization, and writing are all excellent, and even the simplistic art has its own charm. This is the kind of series which you watch and let it just wash over you; there is absolutely no rush for anything to happen, and yet it doesn’t drag on or feel slow at all. It improves on its predecessor and can easily be watched on its own, as there is no direct link to the original series, nor is it a rehash with new characters. Summer Skies is a shining example of slice-of-life drama.