Summer is here and for many of us that means so are the bugs! Whether it’s mosquitoes buzzing around your head, crickets chirping into the wee hours of the morning or ants invading your picnic, Summer bugs can be a real pest! But not everyone feels that way. Due to the warm, humid air and the late Spring/early Summer rainy season, bug sightings are quite common in Japan. Not only are they common, these encounters are often seen with a kind of nostalgic charm. Dragonflies are often featured on light weight Summer kimono or yukata. Small children will go stag beetle hunting in the forest. And spotting fireflies at night is seen as a special treat. Not surprisingly, bugs also have a special place in the hearts of anime characters too. In fact, many Summer arcs of anime feature at least one episode with bugs.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Cicadas
The anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is about, a high school girl (Haruhi) that is obsessed with the paranormal. The anime is narrated by Kyon, a high school boy that just wants the quiet life and to be left alone. At the beginning of the school year Kyon makes the mistake of talking to the class weirdo (Haruhi) and gets dragged her new club to investigate paranormal stuff. But there’s just one little problem with this situation (besides the fact that Kyon doesn’t want to be in the club) Haruhi is a god and doesn’t know it. The other club members are all paranormal beings, but they can never tell Haruhi what they are and what she is, because at the moment the world is stable-ish and they don’t know what would happen if Haruhi knew about the power she held.
In the Summer arc (Endless Eight) of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, one of the activities that Haruhi insisted that her brigade participate in is a cicada hunting competition in the nearby forest. The winner of the challenge would be granted one day as the head of the SOS brigade, a prize that no one was really interested in. The narrator of the series Kyon was less than enthusiastic about this activity because in Japan bug hunting is usually a hobby for little kids, so as a high school student, it was a bit childish for him. Not to mention that the entire group was getting pretty worn down from the time loop that they were trapped in. Regardless of the group’s misgivings, everyone went anyway. What was kind of interesting about this element of the story arc was that though the whole arc is a time loop, and in each rendition of the cicada hunt Huruhi wins, but with every new version of the hunt the brigade members find different bugs.
Tactics – Cicadas
The anime Tactics is set in the Taisho era and it’s main character, Kantaro Ichinomiya, is a young “folklorist” author that researches Japanese legends. Kantaro has been able to see monsters and ghosts since he was a child, unfortunately that also means that Kantaro has been treated pretty badly by humans. So instead of trying to fit in, he just made friends with the monsters. With the help of his yokai friends, like Yoko the fox yokai and Haruka the tengu, Kantaro travels Japan solving mysterious events, saving yokai, and trying to make a buck on the side.
Tactics’ Summer episode featuring cicadas (The Fading Song of Summer Cicadas) is a lot more psychological than the MHS episode. The group takes a trip to a lakeside cabin, the sounds of cicadas fill the air and Suzu starts feeling a bit nostalgic about her own past at Summer cabins. But at a certain point Suzu wanders into a dream world of the past and finds that everyone else in the group has disappeared! Whiles she’s looking for her friends and tries to find her way out of the dream, she meets a nanny who teaches her how to use a blade of grass as a whistle and learns the tragedy of the cabin. After Suzu wakes up and finds that it was all a dream, oddly enough she still knows how to whistle with a blade of grass.
Card Captor Sakura – Fireflies
As a quick reminder the anime Card Captor Sakura is a classic maho shojo by Clamp about a 4th grader that finds a magical book in her dad’s library. When she opens the book the magical cards that were sealed inside burst out and disappear! The guardian of the book (an adorable floating critter named Kero) says that if Sakura doesn’t find the cards and seal them back into the book again, they will run a muck in her home town.
One night Sakura has a dream about glowing snow falling in Summer. The very next day Sakura goes to visit a Summer festival at a shrine with Yuki, Sakura’s brother, and Tomoyo. There’s plenty of really cute scenes with Sakura and friends enjoying the traditional Summer event. As the festival starts to wind down, Sakura and Yuki go exploring on their own and find a secluded field behind the shrine. Considering how often Sakura’s dreams come true, it’s not surprising that Sakura finds the glowing snow from her dream in the form of fireflies dancing in the field. Sakura might have had a really romantic moment with Yuki, but that was quickly quashed when the rest of the group catches up to the two. Though Sakura might have been a little disappointed at the interruption, thankfully with some helpful distractions from Tomoyo, Sakura is given a moment to secretly captor the Glow card!