First Impressions – Natsuyuki Rendezvous

[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_06.14_[2012.07.05_13.40.04] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_16.45_[2012.07.05_13.50.58] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_21.13_[2012.07.05_13.55.26]

NoitaminA’s opening day is always an important one on any anime calendar.

OP: “Mune Kyun-kei no Ballad (胸キュン系のバラード)” by Yuya Matsushita

[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_01.54_[2012.07.05_13.35.44] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_02.03_[2012.07.05_13.35.53] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_02.14_[2012.07.05_13.36.04]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_02.35_[2012.07.05_13.36.25] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_02.39_[2012.07.05_13.36.29] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_02.47_[2012.07.05_13.36.37]

Without question, Natsuyuki Rendezvous – along with Jinrui was Suitai Shimashita – was the show I most anticipated this season.  At the very least, it seemed one of very few series that had a chance to be great, and one that had almost no chance not to be at least good.  And with my interest in Moyashimon Returns being somewhat modest, this was the show that had to carry the NoitaminA banner for me this Summer.  There’s almost no chance this NoitaminA block is going to be the equal of Spring’s spectacular one, but with Natsuyuki it’s off to a very good start.

This show is very, very familiar and safe territory for the block, right in its Josei sweet spot.  The much-acclaimed original manga by Kawachi Haruka began in 2009 and ended this year, and unlike Sakamichi no Apollon is seemingly short enough to get a proper adaptation in one cour.  There’s a top notch-staff in charge for Dogakobo: Director Matsuo Kuo helmed Kurenai and Rozen MaidenMuramatsu Ken did the music for Kurenai and Sketchbook, and the OP was put together by the stylish and distinctive director/animator Sawa Ryouchimo (“Ryo-timo”).  Throw in a top-notch cast and there really didn’t seem to be much chance this could all go wrong. 

And so far, it doesn’t.  Natsuyuki Rendezvous doesn’t do any one thing in the premiere that will likely blow you away – rather, in classic Josei style, it sort of creeps into your head and builds a nest.  By the end of the episode I was struck by just how much the plot had advanced, considering that the whole venture felt fairly low-key and breezy for the most part.  The story centers around 20-something slacker Hazuki Ryousuke (Nakamura Yuiichi), who passes by the flower shop owned by the slightly-older Shimao Rokka (Ohara Sayaka) every day.  Silently pining for her he buys another potted plant every day, until his tiny apartment is crowded with tiny pots.  One day Rokka-san posts a help wanted notice for a part-timer, and Hazuki decided the take the job so he can be closer to the woman he loves every day.

Now that could skate by as a passable Josei premise, right there.  But there’s a hook, and the story enters magical realism territory when Hazuki goes to Rokka’s apartment above the store to help her prepare for the going-away party for the other part-timer.  He’s greeted by a shirtless young man in boxers (Fukuyama Jun – yes, Grizzly-san and Panda-kun reunited on Thursdays) and assumes it’s Rokka’s subtle way of telling him to forget any thoughts of romance, and leaves in a huff.  But in reality, the man is – or rather was – Shimao Atsushi, the ghost of Rokka’s husband, as Hazuki finds out when Atsushi introduces himself to him at the party.  And for some reason, Hazuki is the only one who can see him…

Again, nothing is flashy or spectacular here – it’s just well-written dialogue delivered by a strong cast (including underrated Touma Yumi as Rokka’s sister-in-law Miho) paired with an intriguing premise and tasteful, colorful and lovely visuals.  I love the character designs here, both classically Josei and quite distinctive, especially that of Rokka-san (beautiful in an unconventional way).  You really get the feeling that you know the characters by the end of the episode.  Hazuki’s deadpan reaction to Atsushi’s appearance might seem strange, but it’s somehow perfectly in character.  He seems to be a very classic case of a young man in love with an older woman (not too much, just a few years) that he idealizes – someone who seems much more grown-up and settled than he is.  It’s clear that Hazuki feels lost in his life, but what he doesn’t realize is that Rokka feels lost too – she just has a more artful way of covering her insecurities than he does.

I love the fact that the series gets right to the point.  Hazuki – with some pushing from Atsushi, intentional or not – confesses to Rokka right in the first episode.  It’s artless but heartfelt – “We could have an affair right now” – and spares us the played-out dance of an unrequited crush for the next xxxxx weeks.  Atsushi also seems like a fascinating character – there are plenty of clues that he was a strange man, even in life, and just what’s keeping him around on Earth and what he wants for Rokka isn’t fully clear.  The way his character is used both visually and narratively hints at a story with a lot of emotional depth and a mix of humor and darkness that could work very well.  If there were any series where I felt I knew what I was going to get this season, Natsuyuki Rendezvous would be the one – and it delivered exactly what I expected. 

[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_05.23_[2012.07.05_13.39.13] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_05.41_[2012.07.05_13.39.31] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_08.16_[2012.07.05_13.42.06]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_09.06_[2012.07.05_13.42.56] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_10.28_[2012.07.05_13.44.18] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_11.44_[2012.07.05_13.45.34]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_12.41_[2012.07.05_13.46.31] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_12.49_[2012.07.05_13.46.38] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_13.09_[2012.07.05_13.46.59]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_13.14_[2012.07.05_13.47.03] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_13.34_[2012.07.05_13.47.48] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_14.24_[2012.07.05_13.48.38]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_14.42_[2012.07.05_13.48.56] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_15.36_[2012.07.05_13.49.50] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_16.33_[2012.07.05_13.50.46]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_17.17_[2012.07.05_13.51.30] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_18.12_[2012.07.05_13.52.25] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_19.30_[2012.07.05_13.53.44]
[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_20.47_[2012.07.05_13.55.01] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_20.57_[2012.07.05_13.55.10] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_21.18_[2012.07.05_13.55.31]

ED: “Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Natsuyuki Fuyuhana~ (あなたに出会わなければ~夏雪冬花~)” by Aimer

[CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_21.31_[2012.07.05_13.55.45] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_21.50_[2012.07.05_13.56.04] [CR] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 01 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_22.17_[2012.07.05_13.56.31]
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

19 comments

  1. I

    I like i but don't love it, yet. It does sort of creep, nothing is overblown so the plot points don't feel like peaks. Everyhings just very smooth and consistent.

    Coming off from Sakamachi, Natsuyuki feels like a little bit of weak summer breeze, pleasant but not particularly noticeable.

    The seiyuu are all very safe choices for their rles and do them well. The art reminds me a bit of Natsume Yuujinchou and the music is a bit forgettable.

    All in all I'm guessing that it'll be a nice short ride with a few laughs and a few good stories but possibly rushed if they try too much.

    GE you asked if I was pumped. I can tell you I'm not anymore, but I'll be back with a glass of wine to wach the next episode, relaxing on my couch.

  2. i

    wow..a confession right in the first episode. rokka's reaction to hazuki's confession was a bit..apathethic? i don't know how to put it, but if someone confesses to me out of the blue, i wouldn't be able to look at them in the eye, let alone eat ramen with them. or maybe i'm still a kid.

    the op and ed are absolutely gorgeous by the way. definitely some of the prettiest i'd seen.

  3. J

    I think it was definitely more of an adult reaction to the situation. Had she been a teenager, yeah, I can see her being weirded out, but she is supposed to be an older woman.

  4. J

    Everything hit the right notes with me, honestly. The way Shimao floated around while people were trying to have a conversation had me cracking up (hopefully this gag won't be too overused). I'm glad we finally have another anime where people don't beat around the bush for too long, so the romance is good too.

    Of course, some people won't like how it's not super exciting, but I feel like that's what the author and/or director were going for, and the anime does it well so far i think

  5. N

    I found that way Shimao floated a bit annoying to be honest.

  6. I confess I quite liked the floating bit – I thought it was used to good effect.

  7. e

    Good start, it grabbed me right away, the minutes flew by. Mr Ghost Hubby seems indeed a peculiar one… but Hazuki is determined enough to stand up.
    Between pacing and premise I agree about this being the right story to pick for a short series as well.
    I hadn't realized the director also took care of Kurenai. That series sans OVAs is one of my favourites both for character interaction and the mix of 'normal' slice of slice with darker undercurrents and related emotional punches. Here it could go either way but it feels like we're in safe and capable hands :).

  8. L

    I liked this first ep quite a bit. Was pretty laid back. Didn't quite give you that fuzzy feeling that Jinrui wa Suitai Shimata did (fairies talking about starvation, head-splitting bread, etc) but it does have it own sort of wholesome-twisted appeal.

    Not judging just yet, but looking forward to the next ep, for sure.

  9. B

    I've yet to watch the first episode but reading the manga when Hatsuki saw the half-naked guy, Hatsuki left taking the "hint" had me laughing. At first, I was like "wow, sucks for you mate" but then we learned the man was a ghost made me think "damn, if only…" XD
    I liked the manga, so I can't wait getting this episode and watching it.

  10. T

    Animation looks crisp but the overall plot bores me. Good post, though.

  11. A

    sounds like you didn't even watch it, but whatever, I guess it's not for everyone haha

  12. A

    I was really looking forward to this, and it did not disappoint. One thing I am curious about though…
    What's your opinion on inner-mind narration with respects to storytelling?

    Looking back at Kasai's other works, most of them (except HnC) seem to have internal narration from only the protagonist.

    Do you think this form of narration intrude into the importance of comtemplative/bittersweet silence in scenes, and do you think multiple internal narration (ie:HnC) may work in more shows without bordering on excessive (ie: Karekano)?

  13. A

    Please GE? I'm really curious about your thoughts on this.

  14. Sorry, just saw this…

    Hmm. I don't have a strong bias either way. For example, the Jormungand manga has a lot of internal narration from Jonah, most of which the anime cuts. And I think it would have helped the anime. But sometimes it's used as a lazy substitute for real exposition and character development.

  15. l

    Based on the preview blog posts, I didn't have strong anticipatory feelings for any of the new shows for this season. This show was the most anticipated on my list, but only weakly. (It was the show I voted for in your poll, by the way.) But after seeing the first episode, I changed my mind. I'm really looking forward to seeing this one now. I like the mix of emotions the show presented: bittersweet unrequited love plus the longing for a past long, tempered by the humor of a ghost's feet hanging between the two would be lovers. I'm not sure where the threesome will go from here, but I'm curious to find out.

  16. Thanks,lkk. This and Jinrui have certainly been my two favorites this far. Natsuyuki didn't do anything flashy, but it was did a lot to draw me into the story.

  17. H

    I thought it was an enjoyable show to watch. I liked the forced unnatural perspective of Atsushi, upside down, sideways, half-in-half-out of field of view stuff. I also liked that Rokka followed up after Hazuki's self-aborted attempt to confess and asked him directly, instead of letting it hang around for a few episodes, and that seemed to steel Hazuki's resolve, where it had been waning since his meeting Atsushi.

    And the show setting is very pretty and easy on the eyes. It's not the super-detailed OMG that I got from Tari Tari, more just "ahhhh", bright colors, nice contrasts, smooth lines.

  18. B

    This show I liked quite a bit, but I'm a fan of this type of show in general so I was pretty much always going to like it. What a difference a season makes though. Last season this show would have barely registered as a blip on the radar, this season I can easily see it making my top 3.

  19. I agree generally speaking, but I think this is the kind of "tortoise vs. hare" show that will sneak up on you. It might just be a genuine classic by the end, worthy of being considered with the likes of Sakamichi or Jormungand if not quite Tsuritama or MGX.

    But yes, as expected, not nearly as much depth or quality at the top this season.

Leave a Comment