I firmly believe that erotica in anime can be used to great effect to tell amazing stories. A belief that often seems laughable, considering this medium is often more renowned for its hentai than it is for its storytelling capacities. Natsu e no Tobira—known in English as “The Door Into Summer”—was recommended to me years ago as an example of erotica in anime being done right.
Having now seen finally seen it, I am excited to confirm that this recommendation was entirely on point.
Natsu e no Tobira is set in early 20th century France and concerns the lives of a group of friends who attend an academy together. The “leader” of their dorm is Marion; a bright youth who has impressed peers and seniors alike with his charisma, elegance, and his devotion to the philosophy of rationalism.
Yet, in spite of his unmatched popularity, Marion remains single.
Marion simply does not believe in love. He could have access to any maiden’s pantaloons whenever he so desired, but he is above such base urges. Even the mayor’s daughter, who has suitors fighting over her in the streets, can not conquer his rational heart.
That is until Marion’s life is abruptly changed. He meets an older, married woman called Sara, who immediately breaks through his stoic exterior with her flirtation and fondness for touch. Upon experiencing emotions he thought were below him, Marion spirals into an identity crisis. He tries to confront Sara, but this only intensifies his feelings for her. The infallible Marion has lost all control.
Natsu e no Tobira turns into a fascinating romantic drama as Marion loses himself in this ill-suited romance. He changes drastically in a very short amount of time, which naturally has consequences for how people treat him. Jealousy, disbelief, even disgust for what Marion has become spread across the academy. His friends have the most intense reactions of all, with some refusing to accept the new Marion or hatching schemes to return him to his former self.
For a movie that only clocks in at about an hour, Natsu e no Tobira has an engrossing plot with complex characters to it. There are interesting arguments to be had about which characters are right and wrong. Like whether Sara truly wanted to help Marion find happiness or if she was merely exploiting a vulnerable kid for her own self-gratification.
In terms of presentation, Natsu e no Tobira reminded me of Belladonna of Sadness; incidentally another erotic anime movie about French people. Both films are incredibly stylish, mixing shoujo-esque designs with a painterly artstyle and sense of directing. Quite a few scenes admittedly boil down to dramatic narration set over still images, but these images are gorgeous to look at and never remain on screen for long enough to feel like corners were being cut. There is also more than enough fully animated scenes to balance things out. My only complaint would be that there are a few lines of dialogue in French which feel sudden and rather pointless.
Natsu e no Tobira is a great drama movie. If you’re in the mood for a stylish, older anime, then I’d highly recommend it. Those looking for a more pornographic experience may find the movie too tame, but fortunately there’s no shortage of alternatives populating the MILF tag of your preferred streaming sites.