When I say slice-of-life in anime, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is completely grounded in reality. In fact, I found that most of the so-called slice-of-life series out there features at least a bit of unrealistic aspect within them, whether it be talking animals, magical elements or alien settings. While the fantastic parts aren’t the focus of those other examples, here in Natsuiro Kiseki, the magic is front-and-center. We are transported into a world where mysterious rocks can actually make wishes come true. It did initially throw me off somewhat because of the odd premise in an otherwise normal world – I didn’t like what I saw at first. But because of the wonderful characters, coupled with surprisingly excellent performances from the voice actors, Natsuiro Kiseki’s world is somewhere I can totally immerse my slice-of-life enjoyments into.
We have four close friends in middle school… and a wishing rock. Natsuki is the leader, Saki is the tsundere-inclined girl, Yuka is the fun and energy of the group, and Rinko provides the cuteness in being laid back. They are so close that whenever they think of the same thing to wish for, this mysterious rock somehow grants them. Problem is, it’s not granting them figuratively or emotionally, it’s “literal”. Somehow this rock has a sense of humor off its own, as whenever the group has some thought in mind, it grants their wishes in weird ways. The first example is when there’s some sort of petty fight between Natsuki and Saki. When the four girls’ minds became in sync when they wanted the two to reconcile and be “together” as friends again… well… the magic rock reacted and forced Natsuki and Saki together indeed… as in “stuck together”, body-wise. Heh.
This formula extends for the entire anime like some slapstick episodic series about magic gone terribly wrong. If there were nothing else interesting about it, this alone would never pique my interest at all. Thankfully, it wasn’t the case with Natsuiro Kiseki, as it features great characterization and rapport between these four main girls. Having them together as a group in many situations, like between petty fights, travel and adventure, or even just walking or lazing around the various places in their town, the girls have total chemistry towards each other. In particular, you could couple them up as Natsuki X Saki and Yuka X Rinko. Yuri implications aside, you could tell they are as close friends as if they never wanted to be apart from each other. And indeed, one of the main arching themes of the series is how Saki is actually going to transfer away to another town. How they handle this friendship rift is certainly a sight to see.
It’s not just all school and town life for them though, as there’s also an idol theme to this show as well, seemingly trendy in anime lately. There’s a in-anime idol group called Four Season, and our four girls are totally rabid fans of them, even performing a song themselves during a local festival when they were young. The girls certainly seem to want to follow in their idols’ footsteps. Four Season’s songs provide the backdrop of the anime music, typical-anisong as it may sound to me. But this leads us to the force that I think drove the show for me… the anime voice actors. The seiyuu of the four-girl group in Natsuiro Kiseki is composed of Sphere, a four-girl seiyuu group. This anime is basically made for them it seems. I’m not sure if their characters match them in real life, I’m not following Sphere that closely, but their performances are certainly spot-on. Minako Kotobuki as Natsuki really brings a main-character vibe. Ayahi Takagaki as Saki tries to break some tsundere rules by being genuine. Haruka Tomatsu is my standout personal favorite, as Yuka is being extremely trollish but still extremely funny. Aki Toyosaki is arguably the most popular of the four, yet Rinko isn’t actually a front-row character in this piece, but she did the job well.
You could say that the voice acting is the strongest part of the show, because the rest of the technicals totally reek of medium-to-low budget. The animation is horribly fluctuating at times with inconsistent character designs. The backgrounds look quite good though, and I particularly like their bright summer color palette. Lastly, the music and songs are average as previously mentioned, only being saved by Sphere which are actually good singers as well. The OP and ED will have places in my music playlist.
It may not be the teary-fest that some slice-of-life anime usually are, but it certainly delivered on the warm and fuzzy feelings. Natsuiro Kiseki is indeed a miracle of my summer anime viewing. With effective characters and a wonderful seiyuu cast, this is overall decent entertainment worthy of at least a watch. Never noticed or cared about Sphere before, but I’m close to being a fan of one or two of them, so maybe I could give them a second look after this.