This is our protagonist. Yup. Looks like a real stand-up guy.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous is part of one of my favorite genres of anime to watch, but unfortunately one of the hardest (for me, at least) to review: josei. I like josei so much because it doesn’t rely on the same tropes that shoujo and shounen often do, and while I love slice of life anime, I sometimes need something a bit more organic and grown-up. Natsuyuki has a very lazy feel to it that I could just casually watch the episode without feeling any sort of demand on my attention, which is great for viewing, but not so much on critiquing characters and plot.
The plot is not a remarkable one. There’s been tons of manga that follow the romance of two people kept apart at least some of the way by one of their deceased spouses. Hazuki, our narrow-eyed protagonist, is the only person who can see Atsushi, the deceased guy he first encounters naked in his manager’s apartment.
Although Hazuki looks rather rough around the edges, we find out he’s been pining for Rokka (the short haired flower store manager) for months, and goes to her shop every evening to buy flowers. Hazuki’s predicament would grate on my nerves, because he could very easily turn into the character who doesn’t want to admit his feelings because Rokka’s husband is still lurking around. But he doesn’t. By the end of the episode, he’s already confessed his feelings for her, and I find that absolutely magnificent. I don’t want to watch Hazuki mope and pine away for the entire anime; this is a refreshing change that I’m looking forward to.
Most of our focus this episode was setting up the plot, and most of the attention was on Hazuki and Atsushi. Their personalities clash, and Hazuki is trying to get with Rokka, Atsushi’s widow. It makes their interactions pretty funny, and the way Atsushi floats around everywhere is really quite funny. In a lot of anime, ghosts tend to just walk around like normal people if they’re focus character, but after his initial scenes with Hazuki, Atsushi spends almost no time on the ground.
I haven’t gotten to see much of Rokka’s character, but she’s obviously a very strong woman to have continued running an independent business after her husband passed away. Same goes for Miho (who bears a striking resemblance to Makinami Mari in Evangelion), and I’m looking forward to getting to pick her brain a bit as we get further into the series.
It’s tough to call Natsuyuki Rendezvous a feel-good anime because it has some pretty heavy themes, but it was a lot like a refreshing drink after a hot day. The art and animation are absolutely incredible, the story is unoriginal but well executed, and the characters are both believable and fun. I’m genuinely looking forward to what the season is going to offer.
GO Rating: 4/5
Continue To Watch? - Yes.
Continue To Review? - Yes.