Unfortunately, the cohesive-plot element from the previous episode did not stick around for this one. While there was something of a central theme here, it didn’t really reveal itself as a “plot” as much as it did a character history, and that much was only in the second half of the episode.
If you hung around long enough in the previous episode, then you would have seen the previews for this episode, which made it abundantly clear that this would be a beach episode. Well, it is half a beach episode—the other half takes place back in the classroom. Hibiki and company head out to a beach, chaperoned by Yamada’s older brother (who is just as strange as Yamada). They manage to find a beach that is deserted… at least by the living. Of course, this is Re-Kan!, so it wouldn’t make sense for ghostly stuff to not play a role!
To its credit, Re-Kan! does not go out of its way to make the beach scene overly fanservicey. Yes, the girls are shown in their bathing suits, some of which are bikinis, and some of which show cleavage, but that’s about the sum of it. There are no sexual shots or poses, no up-close-and-personal camera angles, or anything of that sort. Of course, the ever-annoying and never-welcome Eroneko makes several appearances throughout this portion of the episode, complete with some lewd comments, but each time a bunch of ghosts try to drown him, so at least he gets his just desserts.
This first portion of the episode lays the groundwork for the second portion, as well. It appears that Esumi has some connection to Yamada’s brother, who turns out to be a cop. As we ultimately find out, Esumi had an encounter with Yamada’s brother back in her gang days, when she was known as the “Flame-Haired Messiah” (am I the only one wondering if this is a Shakugan no Shana reference?). Much of the second half of the episode is devoted to espousing Esumi’s backstory, with some interjections from other characters (for example, Hibiki shares an “embarrassing” story from her past). I suppose it is nice to see some of the side characters getting fleshed out, instead of just being slung around for comedic relief or convenient plot points.
“Summer Means the Beach” may not contain an overly cohesive plot like the previous episode, but it does manage to deliver a fun outing with a few doses of comedy, while also managing to develop some character relations. It may not be heavily plot-driven, but it certainly isn’t the worst way to spend 24(ish) minutes.
A Christian Perspective:
Alright, so I know the vast majority of my perspectives usually draw on a verse of Scripture, but this time it’s just on a facet of being a Christian. That facet is our testimony. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, then you’ve probably heard someone encourage you to share your testimony of how you came to Christ and how He saved you and changed you. This is how we relate to others and how we show them that Christ can change them. Stuff like that.
In this episode, we see something akin to this when Esumi describes a certain encounter she had during her days as the “Flame-Haired Messiah.” Apparently, she herself had a ghostly encounter, and yet she wasn’t scared by it. In fact, her telling this story creates a brief moment between her and Hibiki, presumably because most people can’t relate to Hibiki in the manner of encountering ghosts. Without Esumi sharing her story, though, Hibiki had no way of knowing this particular aspect about her friend. In the end, it creates a common ground between the two of them that may allow them to better relate to one another.
Sharing our testimony with another person may also help them see their need for Christ, or that they can find freedom in Christ. It is one thing for a man behind a pulpit to scream at his congregation about how pornography is a sin. It is quite another for a believer in Christ to come alongside his friend and share his testimony about how Christ freed him from his addiction to pornography. I’m not saying pastors shouldn’t preach against sin, I’m just saying that hearing from someone who has been through the crucible and ultimately brought out by Christ may have a better chance of leading someone to Christ (or at least giving them hope that there is freedom for them) than having a man who you don’t know, and who you may already expect to condemn you, tell you that what you’re doing is wrong.
Spiritual Concerns: As always, Hibiki can see and communicate with ghosts; Esumi is referred to as “Flame-Haired Messiah”; Esumi has a ghostly encounter in a flashback
Language: 1 “j**z”, 1 “h*ll”, 3 “d*mn”, 1 “cr*p”
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The main female cast are all shown in bathing suits—some one pieces, some bikinis—some of which show cleavage; a picture also shows a woman in a cleavage-revealing bikini; Yamada and his brother are both shown shirtless and wearing swim trunks
Violence: Ghosts try to drown Eroneko several times; Esumi puts Yamada in some kind of body hold; Esumi beats up some bullies
Other: Yamada’s brother makes inappropriate comments to the girls; Eroneko makes several inappropriate comments, including it being the “summer of sexual harassment”
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