Natsuyuki Rendezvous starts off simple. A guy falls in love with a widow who is still grieving for the husband she's lost. The only complication is that Hazuki can see the ghost of widow Rokka's husband and the husband isn't ready to move on or give up his former wife.
It's an interesting premise and the series has a charming mellow mood that pulled me into the anime at first. However, that plot is actually a trick and not what the anime is about at all, as at the end of the fifth episode the anime completely shifts gears and is no longer a romance between Hazuki and Rokka but instead about unfinished business. It's at this point where the anime really goes off the rails. The initial plot and set up are good. It does have it's frustrating moments because Hazuki is very immature and the ghost husband is childish himself, but there was plenty of room for all the characters to grow. Instead when the anime suddenly shifts gears Rokka becomes a blank slate, an object for the males to work out their issues on. She's no longer an active participant in the story but a goal for the male characters.
After the change in tone the story is still interesting enough. In fact if they hadn't bothered with the set up and just made the anime about finishing old business and getting to spend just a little more time with the person that the ghost husband loved, I think the anime could have been very sweet. Instead the characters all act very foolish and drag out the second act to the point where there's very little time left when everyone knows what is going on. Instead the series indulges in an Alice in Wonderland style fantasy segment that goes on for far too long and doesn't really develop the character all that much. The character stuck in Wonderland does come to some deeper understand of the situation, but it shouldn't have needed six episodes to get to that point. It's frustrating and annoying because it takes away so much from the drama and emotional impact of the series. The plot ends up being interesting as a story but lack any punch as a dramatic romance, which really sucks for a series that's built on generating emotion from the viewer.
The anime is pretty much all about three characters. However, in practice there's really only Hazuki and Atsushi the dead husband that are allowed to have any agency. The third character Rokka doesn't get to do anything until the very end of the series and even then her choice is overridden by a man. Likely Hazuki and Atsushi will annoy a lot of viewers because they are childish, self centered and boorish. They do have their charm and generate some cute moments with Rokka, but for the most part their actions can be quite frustrating and at times you really just want to punch them in the face and tell them to quit acting like an assholes.
It's Rokka that gets left out in the cold. For whatever reason she never gets to develop as a character. Instead she is repeated used by the two men often in ways she doesn't even understand but they don't bother to talk to her or try to explain what is going on. Instead the men act enigmatic leaving her in a constant state of turmoil that she can't escape by herself because she's never given the agency to demand answers in a situation that calls for her to do so. Her failure to do this drags out the plot for far to long. Instead Rokka acts as a doormat when she could have been an interesting well rounded character. The anime never even explains why she changed her hair style from the past so radically. My interpretation is that she intentionally cut her hair so short as a sign of her grief. She is a woman that has become trapped in her grief for three years, unable to move on with her life. The plot should have been about Rokka letting go of her husband as she falls for Hazuki but the anime avoid this route and instead makes it about the ghost husband letting go of Rokka.
The art and animation for this were nice. I enjoyed the art style and the animation was just fine for a series like this. The OST was solid as were the opening and ending theme. The voice acting was solid with the actors never going too over the top but instead staying subdued to preserve the mellow atmosphere of the series.
Overall this series was okay. It has some very nice moments, but the way it undercuts Rokka also makes it hard for me to recommend to anyone. The series pulls a very serious bait and switch on the viewer, with the second half of the anime becoming something completely unexpected. If the series had taken more care with its characters, especially Rokka this could have been something great. Instead it lacks dramatic punch is likely to make some viewers want to punch their monitor. It's difficult for me to come up with a score because a lot of what this series did was interesting to me, but in the end it's a drama and it comes down to emotional impact, which is what was really lacking in this series.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous was a very enjoyable anime for me. There is not enough josei out there so it was nice to find this gem.
The story follows Hazuki as he falls in love with a widow by the name of Rokka who owns a flower shop. He starts working as a part-timer there and tries to win her over but the spirit of Rokka’s dead husband lingers arounds and tries to scare off any potential suitors of his wife. This is a romantic story with a nice pace to it. There is also some comedy and of course supernatural themes as well.
I understand that the story at a glance is not very original or complex, but I felt that the anime developed this premise so well that it did an amazing job at appealing to the audience with a beautiful love story. I read the reviews here and it appears this story was not well liked. People criticized the love triangle that is explored in the anime as not being credible because it’s not difficult to imagine who Rokka will chose considering her husband is dead. My impressions of the premise are VERY different. I don’t believe the story is meant to revolve around who was a better fit for her or who she should be with at present. I think the story explores a very realistic struggle to let go of a loved one that has passed on and give yourself the chance to fall in love again. Can you imagine how difficult this could be? To have only loved one person for so long, your first love actually, and then that person is gone from this world and as you try to live life again you don’t want to betray that person and those feelings by falling in love once more. I truly believe that this struggle is the most powerful theme that is discussed in the anime and I do not think it’s simple in any way.
Another good point of this anime is the narrative. You see this story from the three main characters points’ of view. This makes it easier for the audience to connect with the characters and understand their underlying feelings at present. Because this anime also shows a lot of scenes from the past, this point is just reinforced.
Likewise, this story is full of symbolism. A lot of people felt that once Hazuki is trapped in the book the story lost focus and seemed very inconsistent with the story thus far. My opinion is that since there was supernatural themes from the beginning, this is not surprising at all. However, I do feel that there were several meanings to the story that Hazuki gets trapped into. The story in the book reflected the deepest feelings that Shimao had for Rokka and how he sees her in a world he was forced to imagine to escape his painful reality. When watching this anime, you must pay attention to all of these details in order to fully understand the story and connect with it.
The animation was okay. There is a lot of color and the graphics are nice but I felt that the character’s design was not as good. I did not like the inconsistency of the characters’ eyes in terms of size or originality. I did like the character of Rokka, I think she is the first female main character that I have seen with short hear and that still looks good so I enjoyed this piece the most.
The sound was good. There are really only two songs in this anime as it’s only 11 episodes long, but the songs were enjoyable and the voices used for the characters were pretty good too.
Characters (some spoilers)
Hazuki is an interesting character. He is not rich, gleeful or talented but he manages to fall in love with Rokka in a very unexpected way. This love brings the best of him and he shows a very romantic and sweet side to him. I actually like him a lot because the fact that he had not any special talents made him more realistic.
Shimao is an enigma. While still alive, he tried to convince his wife to move on from him when he was sure he had not much longer to live. This of course was a struggle in itself and he really did not want to let go of her. While passing on, he decides to continue by her side as he hears her pleas not to leave her. Shimao continues to have conflicting feelings between letting go, allowing someone else to make her happy and the jealous feelings that come along. His story is painful but the ending of the anime hints a happy ending.
Rokka is a very tough woman who decides to focus on her flower shop fully and nothing more after experiencing the loss of her husband. When Hazuki expresses his feelings for her, she is somewhat overwhelmed and without noticing it, she falls in love with him too little by little. She is still hunted however by the feelings she still has for her husband and is unsure if she should be able to love someone else of if that is even right to begin with. During this short journey we see her struggle to come to terms with these feelings but she is able to eventually move on and give herself a chance of happiness. Her character remains consistent throughout the story. She is very sweet and loving.
There used to be a time when the Noitanima timeslot was synonymous to uncommon stories and quality shows but those good times are now over. Even Noitanima succumbed to the stereotypes and fads that plague modern anime, and thus we get this show. Don’t fool yourselves to thing it isn’t because it came out during the ghost/zombie fad and is nothing more than a rehash of the premise of AnoHana, which also aired in the same timeslot half a year ago.
- The animation is also not done by a bigshot studio but rather a minor one called Doga Kobo. These guys haven’t even produced a single above average show in their whole career, so what the hell are they doing here, collaborating with a top tier production?
- The directing is done by Matsuo Kou whose roster is filled with nothing but mediocrities. I sincerely see nothing good coming out of this combo.
The premise is about a guy who wants to have a relationship with a widow but the ghost of her deceased husband is still lingering around her life. And he is not the scary haunting type, since tortured souls and animated rotten corpses are presented as moe in anime. He is a bishonen who occasionally doesn’t wear clothes, or has an open shirt so we can feast on his hairless chest. KYAAA fujoshi service! So this ghost refuses to move along to the afterlife because he doesn’t want to leave his wife behind. So when another man tries to take his place in her heart, he gets annoyed. This new man is the only one who can see the ghost, and constantly has it in his way every time he wants to advance past the safe zone with the widow. Imagine a steamy scene where he is about to kiss her but the bishonen ghost appears in front of him making it look like a gay kiss. KYAAA more fujoshi service. Other than that, a lame cockblocker.
And that is the whole conflict in this show. What do I think about it? It’s totally boring! Aside from being a rehash and a fad chaser, it also lacks any hook to keep the viewer interested. There is no love triangle or dilemma going on in here to spice things up, since one is alive and the other one is dead. How hard is it to tell whom the heroine will choose? There is simply no motivation to keep watching further.
Of course in the minds of the fujoshis there is a lot of interest in how the live dude is going to win the widow’s heart. Maybe the ghost can give him advices on what he knows about her as means to press the proper buttons to win her heart. Maybe it will be somewhat interesting to see how they will open up to each other and reveal… well, hopefully something more than typical stuff. Maybe her grief will come out, the live dude will smile for a few times in his life, and the ghost will move to the afterlife.
Well, you can stop hoping because the plot is running on convenience and not logic or even free will. All you get is a line of asspulls and the characters acting completely out of sync with what is going on. Imagine the woman getting sick out of nowhere and the ghost runs to tell the live dude to go help her. Yeah, how nice to have an asspull of a disease being the only reason the plot can move forward. How about some free will instead? How about hiring an exorcist? How about telling her the truth instead of letting her think he was stalking her all day and night?
For a romance, the story is never character-based and that ruins everything. Every single event is based on the whims of the author and not the will of its characters. For example, while the ghost was still alive, the only reason he proposed to the woman was because he found out about his illness. The only reason he asked for a divorce is because he found out it would be incurable. The only reason the new guy asked her to go steady is because the ghost started getting in his way. Although you can say the characters are simply adjusting to life’s everyday problems instead of acting autistic to their surrounds, it still feels like they are completely passive and weak-willed. The scriptwriters controls them as he likes and not as they should behave.
Even if we put that aside, everything in this show happens without much emotion, since the characters seem to be very cynical about everything. And not just because they are adults who have control over their emotions. They don’t seem to care much even about supernatural stuff like ghosts, or about serious stuff like proposing to marry someone. There is nothing worth anticipating. There is no way to like such passive and weak-willed characters; most people today prefer dynamic and active ones. Not only that, but as the episodes go by the characters become more and more annoying exactly because they don’t care.
- The heroine does ridiculous things such as trusting a guy who knows where she hides the keys to the house and when she is in need of help. What kind of mature woman would tolerate a guy who seems to stalk her and talks to thin air? And for someone who is an expert in decorations, her style in clothes is terrible! What is wrong with that hat of hers?
- The ghost nags all the time, kicks things and acts like a spoiled brat, surely not something a married adult would ever be. Later on he possesses the live dude and tries to seduce his woman again, while the spirit of the live one is in some dreamland. What is this crap? Mature romance my ass.
- And the living dude… well, he doesn’t care or does much; he passively strolls through the events like nothing much matters. Why is he even blocked from kissing the heroine just because a ghost was in the way? Just close your eyes and go for it man.
If there is something nice in this show, that would be its looks. The atmosphere is nice for a josei anime, as it takes place in a flower shop with lots of fancy colours, and the two main males are hairless chest bishonens. Of course even that can only mean it is just tired rehash of the same old stuff we get for over a decade. As for the music part, I found it too soft and unnoticed, while voice acting doesn’t excel anywhere exactly because the characters are so cynical.
The whole thing is basically a ridiculous supernatural ghost romance where common sense flies off the window. I know many who found that awesome in Dusk Maiden of Amnesia but lets be honest here; this is all crap. No sane person would want to spend his life jerking off to hot air… And yes, anti-social otakus are not sane so of course and they would choose hot air as their waifu.
I have seen what those who liked the show have to say in its defence and pretty much they all repeat the same thing. “The mature romance of the summer season”. Meaning, just something to watch for the summer and as soon as fall kicks in they will dump it for the next mature romance that comes out. And wait a second, mature? How the devil is it even mature if it has such a retarded story? Ghost romance? Seriously? Is this the legacy of Twilight? Improbable couplings between a human girl and a random undead creature? What is this, did normal romances all of a sudden got dull and beyond salvation? Or perhaps are all modern romance anime totally crap to the point you grab at straws?
Ok, how about this? The guy is lost in an accident at sea and everybody think he is dead. His wife grieves for a year but eventually moves ahead in her life and gets into a relationship with another man. So the guy finally manages to return and finds her now in love with another man. Wouldn’t THAT be an awesome hook for a show? What is this bullshit with ghosts? There is no room to create any decent plot. Bring an exorcist and move along with your lives dammit!
So in all, it’s a shitty show for fujoshis. The conflict is bollocks, there is no hook to interest you into watching further, the characters are cynical, everything runs on convenience, and the ending is dull and predictable. Go watch Nana instead.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (pretty flowers)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 2/10
Premise 0/2 (boring right away)
Pacing 0/2 (dull)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Presence 0/2 (annoying)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (random)
Catharsis 0/2 (no free will to get any)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too stupid to bother rewatching)
Memorability 1/4 (nothing special to bother remembering)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Art 1/1 (pretty flowers)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 0/3 (feels stupid and does nothing to redeem itself)
Characters 0/4 (they are annoying)
I finished watching Natsuyuki Rendezvous for the second time last night. And after reading some of the other reviews, I felt the need to write one myself. I understand what the other reviewers complain about, but nonetheless I don't agree and I think, instead, that this anime is a good watch. I wanted to watch something nice and romantic, character-based and gentle; so I felt compelled to watch this anime again, which is all of those things. I actually think the first half of the anime, up until when Hazuki gets carried away to fairlyland, is pretty good. I concede that after that plot and execution get a bit messy, but I'm still willing to forgive that. I really like this anime. And one of the reasons I do, is because the protagonists are adults, not schoolkids. A different take on things. Once in a while.
The story starts by showing us Hazuki and his one-room apartment full of plants. He has a crush on the owner of a florist shop and the only way he can think of getting closer to her is by stopping by the shop every day and buying plants. It's a sweet premise: crushes happen, and I think nearly anyone can relate to that. The story kicks in when Hazuki sees an advert at the florist shop for a part-time worker and decides to apply for the job. So Rokka-chan, the manager and owner of the shop, starts to become a real person: I enjoyed watching this part a lot. Hazuki is an amusing character, he's shy and laid-back but with an abrasive personality at the same time: an interesting combination of traits. He works in the shop for months on end, falling ever more in love, but never finding the courage to approach Rokka and tell her his feelings. Once again, an external event sets the ball rolling. Rokka invites Hazuki to her house for some work-related reason and there he finds a man without a shirt going about the house and acting intimately with Rokka. After witnessing this, Hazuki feels enourmously let down and is ready to give up on Rokka and quit the job, but then he finds out that the man in question is none other than the ghost of Rokka's dead husband. This gives rise to all sorts of funny verbal exchanges between Hazuki, who is intent on catching Rokka's attention and wooing her, and Shimao-kun, the ghost, desperately clinging to her, unable to let go, and intent on getting rid of Hazuki by any means. I won't say anything else about the plot to avoid spoilers, but as the story progresses we get to know much more about Rokka and Shimao's past.
As for the characters, it's all about Hazuki, Rokka and Shimao and their relationship. Again, I don't think the characters are badly portrayed. I found Rokka sweet and endearing. Shimao does come across as annoying with regards to his attittude and behaviour towards Hazuki, but when you think of him in relation to Rokka, that feeling of irritation kind of slips away. They're not fantastic characters and there isn't that much development. But they're likeable and nice and you sympathise with their plight.
The animation is good, nice drawings and lively colours. No complaints. I also think the voice-acting is extremely good.
As already mentioned, the second-half of the anime is a bit of a let down if compared to the first half. Hazuki is put in a kind of stand-by situation where he doesn't develop at all while the limelight is all on Shimao - it honestly drags a little bit. But all things and flaws considered, I still like this anime a lot.
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.