As excited as I was for this show and at the beginning of it, it ultimately fell short of my expectations for several reasons which are the meat and potatoes of this review. But what are potatoes without a little bit of cheddar cheese and context?
One of the things you may be thinking is that the premise of Natsuyuki Rendezvous is really similar to AnoHana. All I have to say on that subject is that, yes, the premises are essentially the same, but there were things AnoHana did much better than Natsuyuki--another reason why it fell short of my expectations.
Another comment I'd like to air is that a lot of the NoitaminA shows lately have felt thin on content. As in, their beginnings are strong, but then there are these long stretches of deadlock, where the plot isn't really advancing and everything is hanging unresolved, which makes the conclusions happen without any real friction, trials/tribulations, or drama (the good kind).
So, story: That up there ^^^ is exactly where Natsuyuki falls short. I liked the pacing up until Hazuki ends up in bizarro-fairlytale-world, where he learns nothing new about himself and passively flits about while Shimao is pretending to be him. In the middle, the pace plateaus, the plot devolves into a series of flashbacks, and no real development takes place until the last couple of episodes, when all of the characters sort of give in to the inevitable without putting up much of a fight or even putting much thought into it.
Animation: No complaints.
But the characters, on the other hand: This is where things really lose steam. There are four characters, one of whom is a completely forgettable side character. That would be fine, except that none of the characters are well-developed--which could also be fine, except that this is a show whose plot revolves around the relationships between these characters, none of whom are spectacularly interesting. QED, the plot is boring.
Related to this, Rokka is completely personality-less, and in spite of this or perhaps because of it, she attracts not one, but TWO whole males. All of her actions, ambitions, wants, and interests revolve around her relationships to the men in her life. She doesn't seem to have a plan or desires of her own, and although the story ends with her getting over Shimao's death, the plot is centered around her flip-floppiness and inability to communicate her feelings. [This message brought to you by Inner Feminist].
Equally distressing to me was her fashion sense, which ranged from abysmal to non-existant, as evidenced by that truly awful bucket hat which she felt the need to wear on a date. But, even with a bucket on her head, she manages to hold the amorous attentions of both Shimao and Hazuki...will wonders never cease.
Conclusion: Here's what you need to know: the Natsuyuki finale didn't make me cry, but AnoHana's last 2-3 episodes did. Jussayin.