Atsushi falls hard for Rokka but there are many hurdles to pass, one of them being her dead husband’s ghost.
|Time for my first First impression of Summer season with one of my most anticipated shows! Natsuyuki Rendezvous obviously has been animated from a manga that luckily hasn’t been translated too far so I can’t completely spoil the anime for myself. However, I have taken a peek at the beginning chapters and can honestly say this first episode has followed up well with the manga. As to whether this will continue, well, we’ll just have to find out~!|
|This is probably the summer romance that’s going to heat up lots of audience this season. I’m pretty excited about it because of the big names that are taking care of this show, especially the seiyuu. Seriously, FukuJun and Sugitan’s heterosexual life partner aka Nakamura Yuichi? SQUEEAALLL. EARGASM IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Ehm, I’ll be talking about this anime with Hoshi ad Kyokai too, but EARGASM.|
|It’s typical for us to not blog Moyashimon but how can we leave out the other star of noitaminA this season: Natsuyuki Rendezvous? Out of all Summer titles, I have been particularly looking forward to this because of its Josei tag with promise of a unique romance. I know the ghost element has been done before but I’m sure the accomplished crew will give us a good ride this season. For the first impressions we have a girls’ party to entertain you.|
//Introducing the Main Cast
//hoshi – Meet Ryuusuke
The silent type, who has difficulty expressing himself. Being in love with an older woman was not enough but he gets embroiled in the situation where, her dead husband’s ghost is mostly likely going to try and get in his way. Sounds rough, but Ryuusuke takes it lightly while at the same time acting in a childish manner. He becomes childishly rash in his inner thoughts when it concerns Atushi, even more so when he gets defensive over Rokka (almost like a child to a mother). Ryuusuke truly does have a pure heart with his intentions for Rokka that of an innocent nature. It’s a total contrast to his appearance, which threw me off when seeing the first few minutes of the episode. He looks very indifferent, even a little grumpy with his droopy eyes and tone of voice, like he could be a really crude person. However, seeing more of his character and listening to his inner thoughts, Ryuusuke turns out to be a good guy. He has such sweet thoughts of Rokka and the little he mentions of what he loves about her was just the innocence overkill. Ryuusuke so far is a protagonist I’m unexpectedly coming to like. I don’t know if my heart will be able to handle this competition between him and Atushi.~
//anaaga – Meet Atsushi
A mystery in himself. Unlike Ryuusuke, Atsushi is not an open book. He has a poker face, and his voice is flat most of the times. He can’t be read. To make it harder, he’s a ghost. As something that can do nothing, it’s hard to guess what kind of role he’s going to play in this anime. Thank god for Ryuusuke’s and Rokka’s existences and Rokka’s description, due to which we all know what kind of a person Atsushi was. Even if he told Rokka to move on, he loved her dearly enough to still stick around after death. Since Ryuusuke’s a potential lover for Rokka, I’m sure Atsushi is going to become the Cupid somehow but not gladly. As Atsushi can only talk to Ryuusuke, so I’m going to expect lots of bromance conversation between the two. Also, I am sure Ryuusuke and Atsushi’s characters will develop by interacting with each other.
//kyokai – Meet Rokka
A 1000 watt smile is the first thing that you notice about Rokka. Her humbleness won me over from the first scene so there’s no surprise that Ryuusuke is head over heels in love with her. She is so oblivious to her surrounding, almost living in the world of her flower plants, spending the days in a haze of flowers and working hard for the shop she built with Atsushi. From a bystander’s perspective, she’s a graceful woman, who’s getting by with her own terms. She’s hard working and dedicated with a very good nature. But if you look long enough, there’s something sad about the smile she rewards her customers and colleagues with along with her demeanor. It seems she has accepted her husband’s death but really hasn’t gotten over it. Will Ryuusuke cure of her sadness and whisk her off her feet? Will she finally move on just as Atsushi wants? Won’t we like to know? Of course, the reason we are watching this series.
//The Story so far…
//hoshi - Ryuusuke’s Naivete
Despite his somewhat sloppy appearance, our protagonist Ryuusuke ends up being a pretty naive character in the face of love. He hardly knows how to go about his crush for Rokka in the beginning as he kept buying plants from her even when he hardly had room for them only to feel her hand when she gave him back change. When the opportunity arose, he took a part-time job at her flower shop just to get closer to her, only to have an even more bittersweet feeling than being a frequent buyer. We see multiple instances of his naivete, like his lack of experience with being in love when he thought of giving a florist flowers as a birthday gift, soon realizing it’s pointless and when he first encounters Atushi’s ghost, he automatically thinks the worst, giving up on quick assumptions.
In a way, encountering Atushi is turning out to be a good thing for Ryuusuke. Because of his constant appearance around Rokka and the flower shop, he becomes bolder, taking the opportunity with his sudden confession to Rokka at the mention of her husband wishing for her to move on. Meeting Atushi’s ghost has given him that push to go after her and now he wants to beat Atushi right in front of him. That drive to beat him despite the obvious feelings Rokka still has for her deceased husband gives Ryuusuke this childish vibe, as if he’s blindly fighting against him at the playground to see who will get her. Because of his naivete, I don’t think Ryuusuke knows fully what he’s getting himself into, but it seems he will continue on no matter what.~
//anaaga – Ghostly Connection
Watching the first episode, it’s not hard to find out why our ghost
with nggghh voice stays in this world as a ghost. Atsushi wants to see Rokka move on, because he feels guilty in leaving her alone; the reason he hasn’t been able to die in peace… Or is it, really? Even if it’s just a little, I was able to sense some hostility during the conversation between the lovely ghost and potential love rival. Ninety-nine percent of the hostility came from Ryuusuke, but I am pretty sure Atsushi showed some jealousy as well. So even though Atsushi genuinely wants to see Rokka moving on, he is still possessive about her. It is pretty understandable though. Atsushi was her husband and loved her deeply after all. But his lingering feeling conflicts with his wish to see Rokka moving on.
This is turning into such an ugly situation for the ghost. Will Atshushi able to overcome his feeling and let Rokka move on? That’s probably what interests me the most right now. What is Atsushi going to do? Acually, what can Atsushi do, really? He is what I call a realistic ghost. He is just a ghost, and nothing else. He can’t touch anybody nor talk to anybody (until Ryuusuke appears of course). He’s just been an observer who can do nothing, except giving Ryuusuke some info here and there about Rokka. Heck, how his existence came about is also a mystery. Did he exist because of his wish, or is it Rokka’s attachment to her dead husband? I guess, we’ll find out.
//kyokai – Rokka’s Struggle
From whatever has been revealed, Rokka and Atsushi married early on, knowing fully well that he won’t be living for too many years. This in itself is a very hard decision. Even if life and death are fleeting; imagine, the one you love deeply will not be with you for many years to come. Rather you have to ration your time with the sacrifice of willingly loving that person and wait with bated breath for the moments to end unexpectedly and without warning. Breaks my heart just to think about it and what Rokka has went through. From the hints provided by Atsushi’s sister, it’s clear that the illness was long and there were many sleepless nights lying near the hospital bed, holding his hand.
Rokka’s life has been full of struggles, not only because she loved and married someone who couldn’t be with her for long but to live her life alone and do everything herself. Just look at the independent way she runs her shop. She has just one helper in her shop, while she does most of the gardening and taking care of the plants she sells off. I’m sure hooking up with someone is the last thing in her mind but Ryuusuke has come up with an honest proposal and I’m sure even if she’s not really ready to deal with it, she would with time let him in. But before that, she needs to get over Atsushi and her sadness of him not understanding her feelings. I think Ryuusuke will be the communicator between the two to clear the unsaid between each other: Rokka to get Atsushi’s breadth of love and attachment to her, and the reason for Atsushi’s wish for her to move on.
//Meet the Crew
//hoshi – Production & Music
Personally, I’m not familiar with Dogakabo (though those of you who watch Yuri Yuri might); this is the first time I’ve heard of them actually. The studio mainly does in-between animation and assists in other productions but from what I’ve seen in Natsuyuki so far, they definitely do some quality work! The animation keeps to the manga’s art style and is quite smooth. Oddly, I’m in love with the background work, especially in the Ramen and Rokka’s flower shop. So far they look sharp, lacking any sloppy quality. The colorful flowers that sit idle in Rokka’s flowers shop however are especially well done (obviously since they are one of the main points of the anime) and bring out a bright yet mature aura that perfectly befits this josei. I also particularly liked the work into the facial expressions and other movements details. It feels quite realistic, as if I’m watching an OVA or movie. I notice a lot of small details in character animations and seeing such care going into those small details has me swooning over the animation. I wouldn’t mind at all if Dogakabo took to producing more of their own series, or taking on other Josei titles, if they keep up this kind of animation.
Music-wise, it’s overall very subtle, going from some light jazzy tunes to more bright, ‘pop’ sounds that fit well with the relaxed, slightly off-beat tone of the show. As for the opening and endings songs, I was incredibly happy to let my ears be graced with Yuya Matsushita’s sweet voice for the opening, ‘See You’. His voice combined with the bittersweet scenes of the past and present moments of Rokka’s life had me ready to let my eyes run the waterworks (but I pulled through). The ending, ‘Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Natsuyuki Fuyuhana~’ by Aimer, was lovely as well, and while I love her vocals, my fangirl heart goes out to Yuya. All in all, both songs are my absolute favorites out of Summer season so far.~
//anaaga – Staff & Seiyuu
Natsuyuki Rendezvous had a strong start. Beautiful animation, great VA cast, production quality, etc. As hoshi has already talked about the latter, let me talk about Taniguchi Junichiro who is the Chief Animation/Art Director along with responsible for character designs, which perfectly fit the manga style. Previously, he took care of Pokemon’s animation. Yeah. But wait! He took care of Puella Madoka too! I wasn’t sure whether I can trust this guy, but now I’m assured that Natsuyuki Rendezvous is in safe hands. Muramatsu Ken hasn’t done that many titles (except Kurenai), but maybe this might be the ultimate life-changing anime every anime crew has? On the seiyuu front, we have a strong voice cast with Fukuyama Jun as Atsushi perfectly playful but mysterious. As for Nakamua Yuuichi, he’s perfect for the silent and shy characters, so Ryuusuke’s closed personality was really shown by his voice. Me gusta. Ohara Sayaka did a splendid job voicing Rokka since her energetic-but-graceful nature can be recognized just from her voice. Overall the seiyuu cast has done a fabulous job and even if the supporting cast doesn’t have much screen time, they are keeping up well with the stars.
//kyokai: Direction & noitaminA
Matsuo Kou has really taken this anime seriously since he filled every position he could to be involved in this project. It’s understandable though, since everybody’s expecting a lot from this anime. What he did with Yozakura Quartet wasn’t nice, but I really liked Kurenai and I was amazed find out that he was the Unit Director for two Satoshi Kon movies: The Millennium Actress and Perfect Blue (both of which are quite classics). That gives me assurance that things will go smoothly for this Josei anime, which might just be the Summer love series as anaaga already said. Being part of the noitaminA block helps too because even if it has seen some ups and downs in the past (oh the nightmares of Fractale!), it has righted itself with Tsuritama (too promising for it’s own good and was a good Spring surprise) and Sakamichi no Apollon (not as promising as I thought but still okay) last season.
//hoshi: Natsuyuki Rendezvous is definitely my favorite type of romance from the love at first sight aspect that has me swooning to the tragic love triangle and deceased boyfriend aspect has me ready to let out buckets of tears. I can sense things will get a tad bit more dramatic as the episodes pass by. The overall tone of the show seems quite calm so I doubt there will be a huge blop of drama. Anyway, the pacing seems PERFECT (not too slow, yet not too fast) and I’m already genuinely entertained by this first episode. I’m excited to continue watching Natsuyuki Rendezvous and see what unfolds with this complicated love triangle.~
//anaaga: Personally, I find this show to be too romantic for me. A stalker suddenly has a chance to get closer to his crush, but a dead ghost is in the way. Sounds interesting, but the triangle love element is still there. It’s a fact that I’m not into love triangle BUUUTTTT there’s something in this show that makes me want to watch it. I don’t know what it is, but I’ll continue watching it to find out what makes me feel so attracted. And hey, I’m liking the first episode already. Maybe this anime can help me stop hating love triangles.
//kyokai: This was sweeter than my initial expectations. I always liked Yuuichi Nakamura’s voice but recently, he has really diversified in roles (Hyouka’s Houtarou comes to mind), and somehow become the expert of deadpan. I mean, when I saw Ryuusuke in trailer, I thought, ‘this guy looks grumpy’ and that is his usual mask, but it does slides off when he’s alone thinking about that cute bandaid on Rokka’s forehead; his voice changes longingly. For Rokka, who is adorable in her tears while slurping ramen and almost clueless about her surroundings except for her precious flowers. Reminding her of the still hanging around dead husband, who can’t let go yet has to because he wants to see a true happy smile on her face. I’m reminded of the feel-good of Honey & Clover with its bittersweetness here. This is definitely going to be one of my favourite Summer series.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed our trio-review. As there’s no preview (it’s available on their site), we’ll leave you with the full version of beautifully sung Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Natsuyuki Fuyuhana~ by Aimer (removed the link as it was removed from youtube).