Natsuyuki Rendezvous Review

You know, taking a list of shows from someone who is hardly even close enough to call a friend and scheduling to watch all of them through, wasn’t the best idea.  I bring this up because I would not end up watching this show otherwise.  Part of ti is due to how it is a romance, and I am the kind of guy who never had and has no real desire to obtain a Girlfriend.  However, I loved ToraDora, and that was a romance, so let’s see if I found this to be a gem in the rough, or more of the same.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous Review
Length: 11 Episodes
Studio: Dogakobo and Sentai FIlmworks
Available in Subtitles

The show follows a very odd love triangle of sorts.  The first being Hazuki, a shaggy 22 year old who lacks any real ambition in life.  After stumbling into adulthood, he encounters a woman who he is rather smitten by Rokka, the owner of a local flower shop.  Now, I do need to give the creators props for making her look like a tall middle schooler boy due to her inch long hair and thin build, although there is one thing that really bothers me about her design.

And that is the very sizable blue eyeballs, which look a bit unsettling, since everyone else has far smaller eyes with far smaller pupils.  It just looks kind of off since the this show is trying to be as grounded in reality as it can be, well except for Atsushi, Rokka’s husband who died three years ago.  He’s now a ghost who is bound to his house, which is also the flower shop, and he is determined to prevent his wife from forming a relationship with Hazuki, because he views him as unworthy.

However, only Hazuki can see Atsushi, where he is trying to make Hazuki look like an ass by making him laugh, or stumble around.  However, these actions don’t make a lot of sense.  Just so you know, I will spoil some things, but the plot could be described in three sentences, so I don‘t feel that bad about it.  You see, upon Atsushi’s death, he said that he wanted all his possessions destroyed and for his wife to move on.  She didn’t do it, and let his stuff untouched.  So, he responded to this by not wanting anyone to form a romantic relationship with.  And he then proceeds to look for a window where Hazuki will give up his body, so he can possess it and dispose of his stuff properly… What?

Now, this might have been explained, but the story goes on for so long, is filled with so much that is not needed, and a good amount of things that are just awkward sounding.  Now, I understand that translation is hard, and the original plot was four light novel volumes, and they had a minimum length of 11 episodes.  Still, I just went through this plot without any real explanation for the weird story book Hazuki gets stuck in for half the show, why Atsushi would be the one person on the planet who could communicate from the grave, or even the characters actions.  I am aware of the cultural gap between the US and Japan, but this just bugs me from a human reaction level.

You see, if I realized that my favorite person in the world who died of cancer, they never call it, but why would he wear a wool cap in a hospital?  I would be ecstatic about the fact that they possessed someone who I was falling in love with.  And since I have a long lasting relationship with them, I would not even think about returning the possessed body to its original owner.  Yes, it is selfish, but the entire show centers around selfish desires that are hidden under the guise of love, which is apparently something that this show can’t explain, along with logic.  None of these characters feel like they have a designated goal, sure they want to get a relationship built, but Hazuki comes off pretty rapey most of the time, and Atsushi only has one real redeeming factor, he can arrange flowers like a boss.

While this show does have among the best looking environments that I’ve seen, along with the lavish looking flowers, the entire plot feels like its centered around showing them off.  You see, I like shows where something is gained, or the ride is just fun.  However, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a dramatic romance, where there is not an ounce of levity, so I spent the entire show just staring at the screen.  Plotting my problems and trying to get through it as fast as possible, to the point where I just marathoned half of it.  Yes, I am not the target audience of the 15-45 year old woman this show is aiming for, and do not understand the type of relationship it is talking about, but that is because it didn’t really try that.

I like characters who are people I’d want to be with, but as stated before, Hazuki is kind of rapey, along with being a massive underachiever who I never feel like had a life before this.  Rokka is pretty passive and not all that interesting aside from the fact that she is 30 and considers that to be 40 if you wanted to compare it to the Western views of age.  She really just reacts to the actions of Hazuki’s body, while missing her husband and loving Hazuki’s “youth”.  If you like youth so much, why not aim for a fresh one right from High School?  Yeah, you are pretty while not being as sexually appealing as a damp dish rag, but you already own a well known shop that is only open 60% of the time.

Then with Atsushi, we have a conflicting personality, where I would understand if he just wanted to have a few final words with his wife, maybe finally go to a vacation spot with her, but I’m not sure what, or even how he’s doing all of this.  Again, Rokka really has nothing but his youth to find Hazuki attractive, and Hazuki mostly just talks about Rokka’s round head and big blue eyes, never really commenting on her nature.  The don’t really have a lot of chemistry together, while Atsushi has an established relationship, which has about as many flashback scenes as Hazuki has with Rokka in the present.  None of them really fit together in what might be an attempt at realism, but I cannot see these characters as people, because of how rarely they laugh or smile a smile of true glee.

Here’s Rokka’s chubby cheeks! So cute!

I admit to being bias towards happier shows, but Berserk is one of the most miserable pieces of work that I’ve ever had the privilege to read, and the sheer anguish and distraught brought by the character creates for one damn depressing story.  But at the same time, it was not one dimensional.  Sure the fairies did kind of mess with the whole realistic vibe, but hit me with a banana truck if I wasn’t in tears when I saw the climax of the first arc.  Or the fabled image that encompasses all of art in one fell swoop, creating an entire spectrum of emotions with one still, where a show like this just does one.  YuruYuri was pretty one note, but characters were not always happy, they were just always cute, which only amplified their emotions.  Here, they can’t really even get emotions right, let alone amplify them.  Well, there are a few times where they do emote properly, like when Rokka gets sick, but then she is really, really sick after sleeping at a table without a blanket… Wasn’t Atsushi the one who was frail due to intensive Chemotherapy?

As stated earlier, the flowers and backgrounds are simply wonderful with their detail and color.  The background artists and inkers certainly deserve a good deal of praise for making something that makes regular nature look like a big old poo.  And while the effects with lighting are also very nice, the actual characters aren’t very interesting from a visual perspective.  I understand this was a light novel, but there is only one other character in this show, she didn’t do much in the grand scheme of things, so it is not very wrong of me to expect them all to look better than slightly stylized regular people.  Sure, Atsushi has reddish hair, big whoop.  I am indeed a big snob about this, but when paired with lovely backdrops, I gloss over these relatively plain, although well animated when the characters aren’t trying to be intimate, which is sadly all the time.

In the end, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a show that was not made for me, but even then I have some major problems with it beyond not being my thing.  From characters who aren’t endearing, lore that makes no sense, a plot that literally amounts to nothing, and some purely illogical behavior.  The answer for the later is just an excuse, I understand things being about the journey, or people in love being irrational, or even magic not being needed to be explained, and just addressed, but they just don’t work here.  The show does host some truly lovely scenery, but it is hardly worth watching for that.  A show needs to have a good plot or characters, and this has neither.  Just a series of uninteresting events that squander potential with the only excuse being how, “That’s what they like in Japan!”

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