Natsuyuki Rendezvous First Impressions
July 10, 2012 4 Comments
Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a curious twist on the idea of a love triangle; it has everything a normal romance anime might have, except for one small thing, the rival happens to be a ghost. The story focuses on Hazuki Ryuusuke, a fairly normal person who happens to have poor eyesight and a constant glaring expression. He falls in love with a flower shop owner called Rokka, but due to his inability to approach her normally appears to content himself with buying flowers and other plants from her shop on a regular basis. He does of course get a chance when Rokka hires him as part-time staff, only to discover that Rokka is in fact a widow and that her husband’s spirit still inhabits their apartment that is above the shop.
While there is a lot of emotion in this series it is all very delicately portrayed, with very little angst or melodrama so far. The strangest thing about the series is of course that Rokka’s now dead husband Atsushi is still around her as a spirit but it appears that only Hazuki can see him. This leads to a fascinating dynamic within the first episode were we see Atsushi clearly still in love with his wife talking to Hazuki as if a ghost talking to a human is perfectly normal. The problem is of course that Hazuk is the only one who can see him, and much like in Tasogare Otome x Amnesia we get and are likely to get even more strange occurrences where other customers and employees will catch Hazuki apparently talking to himself when Atsushi is near. The idea that Hazuki almost gave up on his love for Rokka when seeing Atsushi and mistaking him for her boy friend shows us how complicated this situation could get between them.
It is clear that Rokka cannot truly forget about Atsushi, and the idea that they registered their marriage on her birthday seems to bring up complicated feelings within her, as if she is celebrating while at the same time mourning. As such Rokka is an incredibly complex character, someone who has a very cheerful and bright personality, but is nevertheless hiding a darker ore sorrowful side deep with in her. This side appears when Hazuki finally confesses to her during this first episode, and the tears that Rokka sheds while they eat ramen could mean any number of things. There is the suggestion then that she wishes to move on from Atsushi, but at the same time she cannot forget about him. Hazuki’s confession, while badly timed may therefore have brought up these complex feelings of regret but also joy and happiness at the knowledge that there is someone else near her who cares for Rokka.
The series looks to be about the complexities of relationships, with Rokka and Hazuki working together while knowing that there are potentially romantic feelings between them. The reason for Atsushi still being around is particularly interesting since we are told that he wanted Rokka to move on when he died. This then suggests that he, as all ghosts, has some unfinished business involving Rokka, and while he may threaten Hazuki it seems clear that he wants Rokka to be happy. The major draw of the series so far has been the snarky comments and interjections between Hazuki and Atsushi, with both clearly annoyed by the others presence. This only gets more complicated when you think that Hazuki is the only one who Atsushi, so in a very real way Hazuki is almost having a conversation with himself. The writing in this first episode was wonderful, with brilliant one-liners and simple venomous remarks from both Hazuki and Atsushi. It manages to maintain this tension while also giving us some back-story to Rokka, while allowing the rest to remain a secret for now.
The only real problem is that this series is very slow, and in terms of animation, while beautifully coloured and in places quite stylised, it is also very basic. For many this slow pace may put them off watching Natsuyuki Rendezvous, however it also fits the story rather well. This is not a series about the melodrama of high school, but rather one about an adult relationship, one that is as complex as it is simple. It will be interesting to see how the story progresses from here, and in particular how the relationship between Rokka and Hazuki develops, all the while watched over by a rather petty and quite jealous Atsushi. While I do love my high school romance anime, there are times when a more mature series is appreciated, one that focuses a little less on harem of high school melodrama and teen angst, but only slightly older people with different things to think and worry about. Still, Natsuyuki Rendezvous has me very interested from the start and I hope it continues this way.