Ryousuke Hazuki is a young man whose heart has been stolen away, stopping by the local floral shop daily in order to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Rokka Shimao, the shop's owner. In hopes of getting close to her, he decides to get a part-time job at the shop, but before he is able to make his move, he runs into a major roadblock: in her apartment dwells a ghost who claims to be Rokka's deceased husband.
Atsushi Shimao has quietly watched over his widowed wife ever since he passed three years ago. However, Hazuki is the first person to ever notice him, and the two quickly find themselves at odds: the jealous Shimao attempts to thwart the suitor's advances and possess his body, while Hazuki simply wants the ghost to pass on for good, allowing Rokka to move on from the past and him to be with the one he loves. As both men refuse to let go of their desires, an unusual relationship forms between a troubled woman, an unrelenting ghost, and a stubborn man in love.
Love. The four letter forbidden word. What is it really? Is it an idea? Is it an expression? Is it a feeling? Perhaps it's something that all of us feel like it must be part of us because it's the central theme of human life. No but, seriously, think about it.
In a nutshell, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a rare romantic josei series presented by Noitamina. In fact, Noitamina is known to present all sorts of unique and strange series that expands beyond the typical male audience such as the original [C], the musical Nodame Cantabile, the horror Shiki, and the ghostly story of Anohana. Ah
yes, speaking of ghost stories, that brings us to Natsuyuki Rendezvous.
The series has three main characters. First, there's a delicate flower named Rokka Shimao who owns a flower shop. She is the manager but more importantly, the widow of the deceased husband of Atsushi Shimao. Then, there's Ryousuke Hazuki who has poor eye sight but knows a delicate flower when he sees one. As one might expect from the pilot episode, he is in love with the flower manager. Last but certainly not least is Atsushi Shimao. He is a ghost who has been haunting the flower shop, or more specifically his wife for the past three years. Talk about stalking on a whole new level.
Three main characters, two of them guys and one of them a gentle flower. What do we get? Well, by common anime logic, a love triangle obviously. It's quite a peculiar love triangle too especially with the given circumstances. Rokka still grieves for the ghostly husband that have continued to haunt her for the past three years without her knowledge. Shimao is there but unable to cope with his former wife either mentally or physically. Hazuki-kun is trying to get the attention of his dream girl but can't seem to do so with his conflicted ideology.
Now, pause and stop reading this review. Do you still want to continue watching the series? That's a tough question to ask especially in the beginning since there's already conflict and animosity between the two main male characters. Ah, love is so damn complicated.
At any rate, this series is lighthearted and presents romance in a more realistic as well as naturalistic way despite the supernatural theme added in. But the real challenge is, can Hazuki-kun flower the pot? It's hard to say especially with interference from a certain ghostly someone. That being, the troll husband Shimao. But more than that, this series seems to have a rather slow pace especially in some of the later episodes. A slow paced romance series is never good especially fans into more intense drama. Bring on the intensity? No. It's more like bring on the slice-of-life feel. So, anyone looking forward to some intense drama in this series might be disappointed.
Despite this though, I do find some aspects of the series to be well executed. The rivalry between Hazuki-kun and ghost Shimao is a dynamic focus in the series. They are like eternal rivals, like cat and mouse, like mongoose and cobra, like ying and yang. Without them, this series would probably make you fall asleep. But with them, realism and amusing twists in the form of supernatural romance comedy is bought forth into the eyes of the viewers presented courtesy of Noitamina.
As being a josei anime, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is crafted out of simple artwork that is expressive and naturalistic like the plants of the flower shop. Life is natural and so is love, so why shouldn't the artwork be of the same? The beautiful flora backgrounds and some of the key visuals maintains that josei and lighthearted feeling that defines the rhythm of the series.
Speaking of rhythm, the music seems to continue with that in the form of a lighthearted soundtrack. The opening song, "See You" by Yuya Matsushita is sung softly but with empathy and with feeling. It presents some of the characters and their ways of struggle in not only life but also in death. The title of the song serves as a form of symbolism as Shimao sees Rokka every day but seems so far away. He's dead but still can't seem to move on to the afterlife to enjoy his days.
In the end, we should look ourselves and treasure every day we breathe in and out. Losing a loved one is never ever easy, more so in this series as the person you once knew still continues to stand besides you but seems so far away. People views it in different ways. Some shed endless tears. Some tries to move on like in Rokka but continues to struggle every day. And some just moves on flawlessly. What binds this emotion is once again the four letter forbidden word, “love”. It might seem normal but not in the case of Natsuyuki Rendezvous as love binds the ghost of tomorrow in the form of Shimao. Love here, love there, but will a viewer love this series?
To me, this series can be enjoyable at a realistic level. It has the soft rhythm and slow pace that can be relaxing to watch. And of course, being dual tagged as supernatural and josei is quite a rare case in today's anime series. Most cases you see these days are series tagged “action, romance”, “ecchi, romance”, “horror, romance”, “school, romance”, dot dot dot. Along with that, lighthearted soundtrack and the simple yet realistic artwork defines Natsuyuki Rendezvous at its finest form. Despite this though, there are flaws in this series. The pacing, conclusion, and focus are a few to name. Along with that, it's painful to watch Hazuki-kun struggle on in the subsequent episodes that may make us facepalm ourselves a few times. But, I hope you don't facepalm yourself and enjoy this series.
All in all, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is an anime that is difficult to be loved. Yet, it has its moments that are enjoyable. Being a ghost is never easy but love is just so damn complicated.
A many handful of religions and beliefs in this world have people under different impressions of the dead. Some believe the dead come back to the world while others believe the dead stay amongst' us due to unjustified deaths or unfinished life works.
The love triangle of Natsuyuki Rendevous left me with a feeling somewhat disappointed, not because of the story, but because of slow progression and lack of fill.
The major problem I saw with the story was how the writers invested so much time into the Shimao and Hazuki body swaps. The first few episodes were fair, but after that
everything went downhill filling viewers minds with a fairy book world and little real world interaction. Even based on the dialog the ending was predictable, and I wasn't even the least bit surprised with Shimao not moving on. The tales of Thumbelina and The Mermaid could have been summed up into a couple episodes without killing half the series. Getting Hazuki to realize how much he wanted "The Manager" could have been done without useless information.
I wasn't too fond of any of the characters. To me, if you believe that you see the dead or follow acts of spirit possession you should be locked up with the white suits. These three were generally cute as you might call it. I feel Hazuki could have confessed much easier without seeming like a stalker however and by stalker I mean being everywhere possible where Rokka was.
The animation was really the only strong point for me, I wasn't happy with the way everything else went. Im a huge fan of non norm animation styles and colorful representations. While not liking what I call the "Fairy-tale Book" arc I kept going because the colorful representations. But josei and shoujo animators aren't far off, the demographic isn't that wide. Typically you see big and bright eyes and over exaggerations of what women should look like in both josei and shoujo genres. On the other side of genders its usually pretty boys.
I have nothing particular to say about the opening and ending themes. They were performed very well, I tend to skip both in everything I watch, I'm just not a fan.
Unfortunately, I lost interest mid way though, I really only found enjoyment out of the first few episodes and Natsuyuki Rendevous ended up being a disappointment.
Now I think this anime is fairly unknown to people- but that is part of the reason i'm writing this to raise it's profile even by just a little.
I won't reveal any spoilers but it is one of the most heart-warming and tear jerking romances I have seen in a long time. And to be honest i'm surprised I enjoyed it as much I did because romance animes aren't really my favourites.
Anyway the story focuses on the relationship between a flower shop owner and her new part-time employee that has been admiring her from afar. If it was just this I myself would
be a little disappointed but then they throw in the fact that the owners late husband is haunting her and her admirer is the only one that can see him, the ghost husband tries everything in his power to keep his wife. (I won't reveal anymore as it will reveal to much about the stories major plot points) .
the music and art work are also extremely beautiful and you are just taken away into a new world. I don't really have any negatives about it but some episodes suffered from a lack of pace which did not bring the story forward. Nut it all pays off in the end of the conclusion leaves no questions unanswered and is one of the most romantically moving endings I have ever seen since I have been watching anime.
Trust me you will need tissues at more than one point during the series.
Anyway just please go and check it out it's one of those amazing underappreciated animes that are the best to watch.
The more I think about this series, the more I'm inclined to believe that Natsuyuki Rendezvous is not a romance.
Sure, it may say romance in the tags. It may be a josei. It may even be billed by the creators themselves as a romantic story. But the way I see it, this series is simply not meant to be a traditional romance, regardless of how it's being sold.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous, simply put, is a story about life and death. Love is used as a theme in order to make the story more understandable and easy to relate to, but at its core this anime focuses on
the aspects of living and dying and loving while living and dying more than anything else.
Although it's easy to interpret this series as the love story between two characters, Hazuki and Rokka, I tend to believe that it is actually more about Shimao and Rokka and their relationship before and after Shimao's death. After all, there are probably more flashbacks shown of Shimao and Rokka's life together than of Hazuki trying to woo Rokka, or even of Hazuki and Rokka spending any time together. When you see this anime as Hazuki's story; told from Hazuki's perspective, it becomes very confusing and at times, uninspired. But it's when you see this as being told from Shimao's point of view that everything begins to make sense. Hazuki is simply the catalyst; Shimao is the one this series really revolves around.
Which brings me to the main point of my review.
At first glance, Shimao is an easy character to dislike, or even hate. He seems selfish and spiteful, only hell-bent on keeping Rokka to himself even after he has died. However, if one looks deeper, Shimao becomes quite complex. No one could possibly know what it feels like to be dead, yet able to watch over the one you love. "Out of sight, out of mind" would probably be the concept one would fear most in a situation like this, yet Shimao refuses to give up on Rokka. This determination comes not out of selfishness, but deep, unconditional, perhaps even irrational love. It's love that made Shimao a little selfish, a little crazy, and a little possessive. But it's also love that made Shimao able to set Rokka free in the end.
Rokka is innocent and naive, not like a child, but in the way that only a young woman who has already gone through so much pain can possibly be. In many ways, the world of love is completely foreign to her. Shimao was like her other half, and they fit together so perfectly and naturally that Rokka wasn't even aware of what they had was half the time. When Hazuki enters her life, Rokka is so unaccustomed to being sought after that she continues to reject his advances, even after she knows she has fallen for him.
And finally, Hazuki, the catalyst. In many ways, Hazuki is not the idealized character we've come to expect in romances. But then again, as I mentioned, this really wasn't a romance in the first place. Hazuki represents a symbol of new found hope in Rokka's life. He's rough and unpolished, but he's enough to make her happy again. In my opinion, Hazuki would never replace Shimao completely in Rokka's heart. Yes, Rokka loves him and cares for him deeply, but he will forever be the reason Rokka was finally able to move past the pain of losing her true love. Hazuki is the catalyst to repairing and concluding the relationship between Rokka and Shimao, and in many ways he "saves" Rokka from despairing for the rest of her life. But he isn't the one who was able to set Rokka "free". Only Shimao had that power, and when he finally uses it, Hazuki is able to support Rokka and get her back on her feet.
What happens after we die? Do we simply close our eyes for the last time and slumber dreamlessly for eternity? Or will we come back to watch over the ones we love? What if the ones we love cannot move past our death? And what if we're the ones who cannot move past our own death?
At the end of the day, those are the questions Natsuyuki Rendezvous tries to answer. It doesn't do this perfectly, nor is it without some flaws. But I'll affirm wholeheartedly that this series made me cry. It made me rethink the meaning of life and death, and life after death.
And perhaps, it also made me wonder about *love* after death.