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The Texture of Friendship in Natsuiro Kiseki

Natsuiro Kiseki

Natsuiro Kiseki is a standard affair in many ways yet intriguing for it’s approach to friendship, a topic Akirascuro wrote about in observation. I raised the point that Hanasaku Iroha may exemplify the kind of frictionship immediately prominent in Natsuiro, but I feel there is more to the texture of friendship which grants Natsuiro Kiseki an appealing stay with the audience.

Natsuiro Kiseki

Saki is, of course, the first impressive aspect, with the conflict between her and Natsumi being featured from the start. Cold, uncaring, and mean; there was a mess of discussion about this character and her personality. Upon reexamining the first episode, I realized that Natsumi and Saki have a short history of beef. Fighting between them is common for reasons I cannot pin solely on Saki’s cold-cat attitude; it’s chemistry. There is a friction between these friends revealing precisely how they are close [1]. Yet Saki happens to be the off element. I find her discontented, jaded with young emotions, and more important than the presence of her curious actions are the motives behind them.

Natsuiro Kiseki

Giving Saki special attention yields two-faced detail: mean-spirited towards her best friends while internally concerned with life’s convention. Her expressions show a dissatisfaction with the present, and we see how she redirects the internal struggle to those around her. She is largely saying, “Fuck it!” to a mundane, changing life she seems to have little control over, and it manifests in a naive attempt at burning bridges. These are moves of an inexperienced rebel on the verge of an important stage. But there is more to Saki beyond her angry pubescent potions: light cynicism.

Natsuiro Kiseki

She holds an air of doubt when wishing upon the rock, and this shows her cynicism towards the extraordinary, a sad embrace of reality and forgone dreams. I believe her need to play the Devil’s advocate enables quarreling among friends she sees as lofty or unrealistic. And when tennis nationals becomes an unattainable dream in Saki’s reality, she becomes pointed at Natsumi’s “unrealistic” goal. Jumping from the bed, I feel Saki is further amusing in that she remains willing to test life’s magic even if she has lost the motivation to consider possibility. She is easy to read in this way and quite charming in her tender complexities.

Natsuiro Kiseki

But beyond Saki and the chemistry of opposition, the characters break a conventional balance of cliche circles. If we notice distinct roles in the friendships of Lucky Star, K-ON!, and arguably Manabi Straight, then by comparison we should see how the girls of Natsuiro have overlapping attributes. Yuka, Rin, Saki, and Natsumi are all instigators to an extent. Natsumi and Saki are sporty, Yuka and Rin think in the clouds, Rin and Natsumi share homely bonds with their mothers, while Yuka and Saki, in my opinion, ready an independence poised for sexuality. The beauty is not that each character brings a single role color to the palette, but the palette they create together is colorful in mixed hues. And no matter how well-written, these characters need not be Faye Valentine for their intricate friendship to be attractive.

Natsuiro Kiseki

Finally, I should mention how the girls are unsettled as a group. We may understand this simply from the opening cat fight or see that each girl is characterized with her own life circumstances. Interests, responsibilities, problems, and relationships vary, and we understand that each carry a selfish wish [2]. How well can we realize life’s magic when surrounded by multifarious desires differing from our own? The power of the wishing rock allows us to believe wishes earnestly shared together shall be granted. Thus the true magic is not only having wishes granted but understanding which wishes are truly shared between friends. And in that light, how their delightful friendship can remain fruitful or fall apart.

Natsuiro Kiseki

[1] – In my experience, it is more difficult to fight with people we don’t care about and easier to butt heads with those extremely close, we’re comfortable like that.
[2] – Or a book of wishes in the case of Yuka.

Categories: Meditation, Spring.

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9 Responses

  1. Hi Ryan, thank you for this very insightful analysis of the girls’ personalities! I agree on all points re Saki and your post in some ways opened my eyes. (Btw, I also commented on Akira’s post).

    “[...] Rin and Natsumi share homely bonds with their mothers, while Yuka and Saki, in my opinion, ready an independence poised for sexuality.” I’m not sure about Yuka in this respect. I mean, she is by far the most immature of all girls, no? She may be quite active, but in a child’s way. She has a book full of wishes but no idea where to go in real life. Rin, on the other hand, looks like a child but actually has a romantic interest (namely Yuka) which is not just a dream. Rin seems to me far more independent than Yuka.

    Can’t say much about Natsumi, in any case. So far imo she has mostly been a foil for Saki’s personality. I hope we learn more about her, as well.

    jredingMay 10, 12 @ 7:01 amReply
    • Hi jreding, yep I’ve seen your comments around. ^ ^

      I agree that Rin’s romantic interest looks to be Yuka (they are such a cute pairing), but it seems Rin looks up to Yuka, though Yuka may not realize she’s in the “lead.” I think the idea of “independence” stems primarily from what we’ve seen of mother-daughter relationship. Not necessarily being an adult but moving on their own accord, so I think free-spirited may be a better term.

      Would love to see more of the girls’ relationships with their mothers, but I think we’ve had a few good scenes among three of them.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. This is a fantastic post. I have a bit of a long response. Hopefully it’s coherent.

    One thing that you didn’t touch upon, which I personally love, about Natsuiro Kiseki is how the series uses romantic conflict to further Yuka and Saki’s understanding of both their friendship, and their selfish desires. Up until this point, we hadn’t really seen Yuka and Saki interact with each other; I had come to the conclusion that Yuka thought that Saki was a bit arrogant, but admirable, and Saki thought that Yuka was hopelessly immature.

    The romantic conflict first, and foremost, shows Yuka out of her friendship characterization, as Yuka had only been seen as the loudmouthed and cheery “glue” that kept the friends together at all costs. By showing Yuka going after her selfish romantic desires, she breaks through the mold of happy-go-lucky friend-at-all-costs. There’s a sense that she’s been *waiting* to be seen as she believes Saki *is* (elegant, mature, stylish, aloof) instead of her dumpy self. Suddenly, she is given the chance to do just that, not by hard work and some Pygmalion-style transformation, but by *becoming* Saki.

    Of course, this hardly works as planned. I loved that, in the end, it certainly strengthened their friendship, but never seemed trite or contrived, and no one “got the boy.” Although he was a catalyst for Yuka’s feelings, it was always about Yuka’s desires (selfish or otherwise) and the girls’ friendship.

  3. Natsuiro Kiseki 4 manages to take a dreadful premise and make it watchable, and at one point, even moving. Yuka has a crush on her cousin Takashi, but he has a crush on Saki. Yuka wishes she could be Yuka–while sitting on the rock. You’d think the girls would have learned by now. By the way, Saki is now in Yuka’s body. And indeed the show does indulge in moments where the two must behave like the other would in front of family, etc. I hate scenes like that. But they don’t go too far with them, instead concentrating on the date between Takashi and Yuka in Saki’s body–and the episode becomes worthwhile. Yuka can’t help but be a doofus, but this seems to delight Takashi. And the moment at the end, when they’re about to kiss (so would this count as Saki’s first kiss, or Yuka’s? The show doesn’t explore this very important question, but probably because there was no time in the episode) Yuka knows that the kiss is meant for Saki, not her, but it’s the only kiss from him she’ll ever get. Thus the episode transcends the crappy premise. Oh, Natsumi and Rinko also switch, but nothing is made of it except for some quick gags. I’d have liked to see multiple switches and lots of gags, but it’s fine the way it is. Surprisingly.

  4. The team grieves after the apparent death of Nanako, while Dojima storms off to Namatame’s room to confront him, but is stopped because of his injuries. After hearing a crash from Namatame’s room, the group enters to find the man, seemingly attempting to escape through a window. Namatame’s Shadow then appears on the Midnight Channel on the room’s TV, boasting that it will never cease its desire to “save” people. Enraged, and faced with the possibility of Namatame being released through lack of solid evidence, the team considers what to do, with Naoto suggesting that he would likely meet his doom if thrown in the TV. Yosuke and Kanji agree with this, while Chie, Yukiko, and Rise attempt to change their minds. Yu begins to drag a helpless Namatame toward the TV and begins to push him in, but then begrudgingly changes his mind, much to the dismay of Yosuke. Yu proclaims that he is not convinced that they have the full story, and he only wants to know the Truth. The team, mostly regaining composure, agrees with his wishes and leaves. They discuss their decision while trying to find Teddie, since he was by Nanako’s side when they left. Outside everyone departs, leaving Yu alone for a moment as snow falls.

  5. Let’s see. A quiet countryside town in Shimoda. A group of cute girls as best friends. One of them is moving away so they are going to spend their last summer together. Sounds pretty normal and nothing extraordinary, eh? Well, not if you include a wishing rock. A wishing what? For Natsuiro Kiseki, the tale of friendship between four friends in a sleepy town in summer may keep many of those who wish to seek blood, violence, action and ecchi fanservice away. To spice things up, that’s why there is this ‘miracle’ in the form of wishes that a certain rock at a shrine grants that it bestows on the girls as their bonds and friendship is tested and strengthened while they spend the remaining summer together. So what kind of ‘miracles’ would you be expecting? Oh, nothing much. Except maybe flying, body magnet, body swapping, cloning, invisibility, the little ghost of your past and yes, Groundhog Day.

  6. Just like the rock in Natsuiro Kiseki, its enchantment isn’t really because it fulfills wishes but rather it sheds the realisations on how these girls can once again stand-up from their trials and regain their control of the situation.

    Freida SargentJanuary 27, 13 @ 8:09 pmReply
  7. Thinking back during the times when the rock was granting wishes, it may seem like it’s just doing a simple act of bestowing wishes upon the girls, however, through experiencing the magic, the girls learned more things about themselves, and those around them. Take a few earlier cases as examples, Yuka switched bodies with Saki at one point, due to the fact that she admired Saki’s maturity, and made a wish subconsciously to the rock. While this garnered her some benefits, she learned the cold, hard truth; no matter what kind of magic she used, Yuka is Yuka and there is no changing that. Even when she switched bodies with Saki, every outsiders only look at the outer shell which now appears as Saki, and not beneath the mask, Yuka.

  8. The laugh-until-your-eyes-bleed yuri goodness is back for a second season, as the members of the unofficial “Fun Club”, Akaza Akari ( Mikami Shiori ), Toshinou Kyouko ( Ootsubo Yuka ), Funami Yui ( Tsuda Minami ), and Yoshikawa Chinatsu ( Ookubo Rumi ) continue to spend their easygoing middle school days with the members of the student council, Matsumoto Rise ( Gotou Saori ), Sugiura Ayano ( Fujita Saki ), Ikeda Chitose ( Toyosaki Aki ), Oomura Sakurako ( Katou Emiri ), and Furutani Himawari ( Mimori Suzuko ). In what appears to be just another slice-of-life comedy starring four girls, Yuruyuri sets itself apart by featuring nine girls with distinct nuances and fully taking their antics to ridiculously idiotic levels. The director and screen writer from season one are back, both of whom also worked on Miname-ke s1 and Mitsudomoe s1/s2 , retaining the formula that worked so well in season one.

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