I cannot remember the last time I stumbled upon an anime whose female lead was a thirty-something widow. Come to think of it, Natsuyuki Rendezvous was almost devoid of scenes in high school. It was a breath of fresh air, indeed.
Classic love triangle with some twists
Natsuyuki Rendezvous was quite bold in several ways. The show followed Rokka, a widow who took over a small flower shop from her recently deceased husband. One day, Hazuki, a much younger man, asked Rokka for a part time job at her shop. He soon confessed his love to Rokka in a very blunt manner. But there was one complication; Atsushi, Rokka’s late husband, still remained in the flower shop and would not let Rokka go. The first one-third of the series mostly dealt with Hazuki’s attempt to win Rokka over despite dramatic protest of Atsushi. And the rest of the series focused on Rokka’s sorting out her own feelings and Hazuki’s learning more about Atsushi and Rokka’s past. What an intriguing premise! This was a classic love triangle with serious twists.
As expected, the three characters were the anchor of the show. In my opinion, Natsuyuki Rendezvous portrayed Rokka’s internal conflicts quite effectively. We saw her slowly falling for Natsuyuki and starting to leave mourning period. But then, we saw she become overwhelmed by guilt and shame. She was struggling to be free from the bond she didn’t want to break. There were times when I wasn’t sure if Rokka was showing affection to her new boyfriend or the old one. Flashback scenes showing Rokka’s time with Atsushi were heavily used throughout the series.
For Atsushi’s character arch, pencil-drawn fairy tale world based on Atsushi’s sketch book was used. Apparently, Atsushi suffered from some kind of chronic debilitating illness (leukemia possibly?). He spent most of his time indoor or in bed and dreamt of the world outside. As a result, he left behind tons of drawings after his untimely death. When Atsushi possessed Hazuki, the viewers got to see Hazuki’s soul exploring the world the Atsushi created and along the way, we learned more about both characters. I thought the three characters were well-portrayed and realistic despite the use of fantastic imagery. And the series took its time to let these characters’ emotion reach out to the viewers.
However, this was where the weakness of Natsuyuki Rendezvous became more obvious. The anime was very slow and, at some point, failed to make satisfactory development. I felt like the series tried to stretch a two-hour worth of materials to make a twelve-episode series. The flashback scenes that appeared consecutively in every episode more or less delivered the same message that could have been delivered in half an hour with tighter screenplay. There was too much repetitiveness. We saw Atsushi’s struggle with his illness and Rokka’s struggle to keep their relationship over and over again. The only changes were that these events happened at the hospital, at home, at the shop or while they went hiking. But the key point was the same. Similar scenario could also be said about the fairy tale sequences that stretched for about half of the series but the key message had already been conveyed in the first episode that the sequence was used.
I loved the background artwork for Natsuyuki Rendezvous; lots of beautiful flower arrangements. Though the character movement could have been better animated, I thought it was adequate.
In conclusion, Natsuyuki Rendezvous was an interesting watch. I liked how the anime put some twists into the familiar story. It was possible that the show was meant to be leisurely ‘experienced’ rather than critically watched. For me, I believed that Natsuyuki Rendezvous would have been better if it was made as an anime movie.
Title: Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Genre: drama, romance, fantasy
Released date: July 6, 2012 – September 14, 2012
Animated by: Dogakobo