Natsuyuki Rendezvous episodes 01-03: Mai Dead Husbando Can’t Be This Cute…

…and by ‘Cute’, I mean ‘Annoying’.

While the angsty, serial-plant-buying bishie and the slow start were negatives, once you get past the first ten minutes, this new josei show from the noitaminA time-slot with its pretty art and gentle humour really grows on you. Plus, it gets bonus points for an early confession and its frank, grown up discussion of feelings and sex. And, as if all that wasn’t enough, you get an entertainingly poltergeist-y dead husband who keeps cock-blocking the afore-mentioned angsty bishie from making a move on his sad waifu. Josei/ noitaminA/ dodgy love-triangle fans, rejoice!

(Epi 01) Firstly, as mentioned, epi one introduces us to 22 years old Hazuki (the angsty bishie), who is in love with and ends up working for the older and very pretty Rokka, the manager of a local flower shop… whose place turns out to be haunted by the petulant ghost of her dead husband, Shimao. Cue endless fun with yaoi over-undertones as said ghosty wishes firstly to drive his young rival away, and then to ‘borrow’ his body. Moving on. While the declaration of war between Hazuki and Shimao is entertaining enough and will no doubt involve many more moments of friction to come, I enjoyed the themes of loss/ parting and new beginnings that were introduced in this opening episode, and also the idea that it might not always be easy or appropriate to move on from one relationship to the next, despite the complicated wisdom of all parties involved…

The many faces of Shimao.

(Epi 02:) …and if that last sentence didn’t make sense, then I should now add that the second epi does well to flesh out the hitherto thin characterisation of Shimao, who, it turns out, was not such a tantrum-y guy when he was alive. Rather, being a cancer victim with an increasingly shortening life-span, we find out through the use of flashbacks that Shimao wanted to divoce Rokka and allow her to have another chance at the getting-married-and-having-kids-and-living-happily-ever-after thing. It also turns out, of course, that the loyal and strong-willed Rokka shoots down such an idea (the torn up divorce papers/ falling flower petals imagery while recalling the wedding vows was also a nice touch here), and thus the juxtaposition between the two rather different versions of Shimao becomes a little more interesting, as we find out that he ‘stayed’ because of Rokka’s cry, while finally breaking down and weeping over his dead body, for him not to ‘leave’ her…

Of course, you can’t have such dorama without some comedy to habitually lighten the mood, and I thought that this epi did well to develop Hazuki’s feelings for Rokka, and her apparent willingness to open up to another man and at least ‘try again’, as it were. Moreover, her interior monologues in this episode were particularly interesting, perfectly capturing her lingering feelings for her husband, while also portraying her simmering desire to be with another man, even if it’s simply in the form of a brief ‘affair’… Which brings us to the question: should Rokka remain loyal to her husband and his memory if she still loves him, or genuinely try and make a proper go of it with Hazuki/ someone else, or is it okay (or not) for her to sleep with another man just for the sake of it? And if so, does this mean she’s just stringing along the new guy, or is it okay if he’s cool with it? Hrrmm…

Atta boy, Hazuki! Wait.

(Epi 03:) So, now we get to the latest episode… Firstly, while the foot-stamping and the poltergeist-y-flying-objects shenanigans were amusing, I thought that the most memorable and moving moment in this episode is when Hazuki comments, ‘I don’t mind being the second choice all my life’. ‘Aww…’ is not even the word. Moving on. Rokka’s conflicted feelings again made for some interesting viewing, as we watched her desire battle with how much she misses her hubby which in turn battled with her feeling of guilt… Clearly, none of us would want to be in Rokka’s shoes. Finally, I wasn’t sure what to make of Hazuki’s chat with meddling Miho (not sure I liked her wanting to set Rokka up with another guy in order to close down the flower shop, no matter how good her intentions may be) and then his gamble with the amusement park tickets. While I commend him for stepping up and wanting to sweep Rokka off her feet and make her happy again, his method (taking her to the last place that her husband took her to before he died) seems rather insensitive, to say the least…

In short: I like the ages, backgrounds and dynamics of the central characters and the whole thing is very pretty and rather funny so far, in a low-key kinda way, and I look forward to following more of the story as it develops.

P.S.: In case anyone was wondering, I haven’t forgotten about Mutta and friends, but I did fall behind, so I hope to catch up with and write about Space Brothers too, at some point soon (schedule yet to be worked out)… thanks!

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15 Comments

  1. ectholion
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    part of me wants to watch this show since alot of the manga im reading have either ended are on hiatus or months away from publishing the next chapter or volume. It looks interesting but then again so does space brothers and ive still yet to watch even the first episode of that.. but then again its been a hell a long time since a josei with an adult romance plot has come out. Plus hana may blog portions or all of it. Im sold! marathoning the first three episodes tonight after work. :)

    • Posted July 29, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Space Brothers is great, but a bit slow pace-wise in parts, so might be one to watch in batches at some point, whereas (as you say) N.R. promises to give us something that’s been a long time coming in terms of genre and plot, so I have high hopes for it. Plus, ectho may comment on portions or all of it, so I’m sold in terms of regularly blogging it! ;) Hope you enjoyed/ enjoy it when you do try it out!

      • ectholion
        Posted July 30, 2012 at 4:32 am | Permalink

        my god this show…. where do i even begin. and oh yes im enjoying it soooo much. im loving all the characters. Hazuki i root for you but i fear you will be hurt the worst by all of this, i do hope you are strong and lucky enough to pull through it but man your 22 moving into a relationship with a grieving widow. As for Rokka what i think she needs badly is an affair or 3 and to move out of that house and sell the flower shop. it binds her to her past, in my opinion

        • Posted July 31, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          Ooh, so you want her to move out and sell the flower shop, eh… interesting. Clearly, if she’s to have a relationship with Hazuki, then the haunted abode of your dead rival ain’t gonna work for our hero. However, if flowers are her thing and if she loves working there, then… Well, tbh, I dunno (lol), but I agree that she needs to move on, so hopefully she’ll be ready to do so soon…

          • ectholion
            Posted July 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            its not that i want her to do that, but the show give off the appearance that she stuck in the past unable to move forward, she is living in the apartment of her and her late husband, she still has his stuff, she works the shop the had together. its kind like she still there waiting for him to come back from some long trip or something. she need distance and her family seems out of the picture, so is she to move on surrounded by all those memories. as for the moving on a fling or 3 seems to be the way to go after every serious relationship. being intimate with someone would do her good i think, it doesnt have to be serious, its just so the last person she had sex with isnt her late husband.

  2. hipster
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Jinrui is the sleeper hit of the season, I say… :P

    Cock-blocking, petulant ghost husband is getting bit annoying… but I guess things can’t be resolved so soon or else we won’t have a story.

    • Posted July 29, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Hmm, looks like I should check that one out…

      And indeed, he’s alright so far in terms of providing conflict, but (as you suggest), hopefully he’ll become even more interesting in the future…

  3. Dein
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Well, this was certainly unxepected. Putting aside the fact that this was a “why not” fallback show I picked out for the season that turned out to be quite fun, this is, perhaps, the first time I ever watch an anime story that I can relate to. Especially the age difference thing, since I myself was at one point involved with a woman 10 years older than me. Overall I’m digging the characters, especially the hypocritical and confused dead husband, who is surprisingly believable. The main guy, who, at first, seemed kinda superficial actually began to feel more alive and complex. Not sure if that’s the intent of the show, or if I’m just guessing what he’s thinking about through the prism of a similar experience, but I genuinely empathize with him. Even with the really stupid crap that he does.

    All in all, I found the show to be excellent so far, with a solid balance between drama and squeel-inducing moments that are my personal guilty pleasure. Looking forward to the rest of it as well as your posts on it. Thanks for blogging it.

    P.S. On a separate note, I think this is the first time I’ve heard sex being mentioned in an anime without hints, innuendos or waving hands. It was practically surreal.

    • Posted July 29, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Wow, thanks for sharing your experiences, Dein… Although I’m closer to Rokka’s age than Hazuki’s, I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be in either of their pairs of shoes, so it’s interesting that other people irl can indeed relate to at least some of these characters. Overall, I think I had a similar first impression of it; I mean, I knew it might be my kind of thing anyway in terms of genre/ plot/ artwork, but the treatment of these elements was certainly a pleasant surprise. And you’re very welcome, I hope to carry on watching and blogging this one too. :) Finally, re: the sexual referrences – inorite?! What a refreshingly normal way of incorporating it all – perhaps ‘surreal’ in a way because it was precisely the opposite, haha!

  4. Ashley
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    glad you guys are reviewing this anime. good mix of romance, comedy (big lol at the montage of funny shimao faces), and unique story.

    Are you guys also going to be reviewing Binbougami Ga! ?

    • Posted July 29, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      The funny faces were indeed lol-worthy, not least of all because they were just so ridiculously childish that you couldn’t help but laugh even more at them. Re: B.G., I’ve no plans to review it and I haven’t heard the others mention it, so (unless J.Y. or R.V. pick it up) I don’t think we’ll be covering that one. Cheers!

  5. MAR-KLAC_VELOUS
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    saw 3eps of this really turned to be hmm interest give lots of drama on it.

    give been like ghost of watanuki vs tomoya winner get the wife of watanuki aka yuko? (could not resist seiyu va joke)

    • Posted July 29, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Glad you’re finding it interesting. And lol, I hadn’t realised – thanks for pointing out the Seiyu/ V.A. links!

  6. Crusader
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s a damn fine show, I am very happy that Hazuki is pursuing Rokka with CONVICTION. He will never be able to wipe her memory but he can make new memories that are just as precious.

    • Posted July 29, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      And here’s me thinking you’d find Hazuki’s less sensitive/ considerate moments worthy of your haterade… I guess when you put it like that, I can see why you’d find him kinda admirable. I think I’ll be rooting for him to. After all, Shimao can’t have it both ways; in the end, I’m sure he just wants Rokka to be happy, whoever she ends up with…

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