AKA New Kimagure Orange Road: And Then, The Beginning of That Summer
Starring Tohru Furuya, Hiromi Tsuru, Eriko Hara, Kenichi Ogata
Directed by Kunihiko Yuyama
I’ve never been a huge fan of Kimagure. Its humor always struck me as bland and uninspired, but its first movie, I Want to Return to That Day, was such an odd and compelling title that I have wanted to delve into the series more. Summer’s Beginning tries to do what IWTRTTD did by losing the comedic tone and making it a more straight-up romance. But it doesn’t really have the nerve to go all the way with it, and it leaves in a lot of the sillier elements of the series. I’m not too fond of this approach as it only serves to dilute both aspects of the story without achieving the depth of emotion that IWTRTTD had. This may just be that I never really did care for the humor of Kimagure, but hey, at least it’s still better than an American sitcom.
Summer’s Beginning is not a sequel to IWTRTTD; it’s actually a sequel to the later series New Kimagure Orange Road, though I’m not exactly sure whether the second series is a sequel, a remake, or something else entirely. Summer’s Beginning starts off after IWTRTTD ends, and as far as my fading memories go, there are no contradictions to the story. There are even several flashbacks to events that happened in IWTRTTD, making it seem like Summer’s Beginning might well be a sequel to it. What Summer’s Beginning does differently, however, is keep all the psychic powers that IWTRTTD conveniently forgot about. In fact, those powers form the crux of the entire plot in Summer’s Beginning.
So now 1991 Kyosuke is lost in 1994 and has no idea what’s going on. His family has moved and the coffee shop where he used to hang out with his buddies was sold to some creepy old guy. The film is filled with other shallow plot contrivances that conspire to keep Kyousuke from actually talking with the people who could just explain everything to him, because that would end the movie right there. Instead, Kyosuke conveniently (for the plot) runs into his ex-girlfriend who has been living in New York, and just came back to Japan for a short visit. This gives him a chance to completely second guess all the romantic decisions he made before.
If there is any saving grace in this film it is that it was put together with a fair amount of competence. The film flows well. It’s only when you look back and think about the plot that it all starts to fall apart. Summer’s Beginning is really just a poor attempt to revisit characters and situations that were already dealt with more effectively elsewhere. Namely in I Want to Return to That Day. Track that one down if you really want to see what makes Kimagure Orange Road special.