Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 05

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.57_[2012.08.02_16.56.12] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.41_[2012.08.02_17.06.59] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.36_[2012.08.02_17.10.56]

Watching Natsuyuki Rendezvous had the same effect that watching Hazuki use Atsushi’s plates & utensils does – it makes me happy and sad.

As I watched the first five episodes of this series, I’ve increasingly felt that the real main character wasn’t Hazuki, or even Rokka.  It’s the ghost that’s the main character here, even if he doesn’t have the most screen time.  Because it’s really his story we’re seeing played out here – his unfinished story – and Rokka and Hazuki are characters in that story. Natsuyuki Rendezvous will likely come to an end when Atsushi’s story does, and perhaps the other two will start one of their own – but for our purposes, it’s Atsushi who drives the narrative.

That’s an interesting proposition, because to judge from viewer reaction Atsushi isn’t an especially well-liked character.  I could always see why, but felt it was a little harsh to judge him by the same standards we’d judge a living person.  No matter how bad things get for a living person, they always have the thing to fall back on that Atsushi never will – they’re alive.  There’ll always be another day, another meal, another kiss, another beautiful sunset.  Whether we choose to appreciate those things is up to us, but at least we have the choice – and this is something that Atsushi will never have again.  If there’s a theme to this show perhaps that’s it – that life is something to be appreciated, and something to be treasured – no matter how mundane or painful or frustrating it is.  This is a lesson that the young usually don’t learn, but the unique circumstances of Atsushi’s life forced it on him all too soon.

And there’s the paradox, in a show that’s full of them.  This was the week I finally crossed over into really disliking Atsushi, and it was seeing what he did with his stolen second chance at life that did it.  In that dark miracle of a moment, his instinct was to try and spoil things for Hazuki with Rokka – cut his hair badly, buy fugly glasses, generally make him unappealing.  But even as I was getting angrier at him, I couldn’t help but empathize with Atsushi – at the way simple things drove him to tears, and at what he did for Rokka in buying a bouquet of flowers so she’d have a chance to design it, only to present it to her as a gift. 

There’s another reason I really feel for Atsushi, and that ties back into his story.  He seems to be reverting to childish emotions as a spirit, but I think that’s because his life was an unfinished tale.  As a child he sat at his hospital window, gazing at his classmates and envying their freedom, and drawing beautiful botanical sketches.  As an adult facing death he was still in the hospital, still sketching, this time scenes from “Jack and the Beanstalk”.  A child’s fairy tale, telling a dark story (as most of them did) – it’s a microcosm of Atsushi’s life.  And given all that, I can understand why seeing how young and healthy Hazuki’s body is would strike him so cruelly.  The wrongness of what’s happening here is obvious, but I can’t help think it’s going to be therapeutic for all concerned at the end.

I saw a lot of concerns among viewers about the concept of body-switching and how it would be used here, but once it became clear just how Hazuki’s experience was being framed any doubts I had were dispelled.  I’m not sure whether the implication is that Atsushi exists in a realm out of his own imagination when he’s not interacting with Hazuki, but it’s certainly the case that Hazuki was in such a place – it was Atsushi’s sketches he was inside, complete with a fairy Rokka as Thumbelina.  As Atsushi learns to empathize with Hazuki by inhabiting his body I suspect this trip inside Atsushi’s pained psyche will do the same for Hazuki.  The lack of panic on his part suggests to me that this is a temporary situation, and he knows it. 

As Hazuki learns the feeling of yearning for something that’s forever beyond his reach, which will prompt him to act of his desires rather than obsess silently over them, I think Atsushi is going to realize that Hazuki can actually make Rokka happy.  It certainly isn’t far-fetched to think that seeing some of her husband’s qualities in Hazuki will actually make him more attractive to her, but what I’m curious to see is whether or not she learns the truth of the body-switching incident at some point.  It’s entirely possible that she and Hazuki won’t end up together in the end – perhaps they simply won’t be right for each other – but I have a high degree of confidence that all three of them will find closure to this story and move on.  For Atsusihi the implications seem obvious – perhaps less so for Rokka and Hazuki.

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[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.55_[2012.08.02_17.09.15] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.17_[2012.08.02_17.10.36] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.50_[2012.08.02_17.12.10]
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6 comments

  1. S

    I laughed so hard at that final scene. That look of displeasure on Atsushi's (Hazuki's) face was priceless.

  2. j

    Looks to me like Hazuki got kind of a hipster makeover, although the glasses might not be ironic enough. It's not like he had much concern with how he looked in the first place (not necessarily a criticism). Just look at that horrible cap. Not that Rokka seems like the kind of person who would be overly concerned about such things.

  3. B

    Luckily for Hazuki young people can get away with looking ridiculous and it just makes them look "hip".

    I still think this body switch is a bad idea, if Rokka learns the truth of it then she'll basically end up having to say goodbye to her husband all over again and I really can't see how that will be good. Hopefully this will end soon before Atsushi does something really stupid that makes Rokka realize what's going on.

  4. a

    Atsushi has always been my favorite character of this series. He's the one who usually brings out the emotional stirrings of this whole anime. His loneliness and longing is so sad that one can't help but empathize. He wants her to be happy but doesn't want to give her up as well. The emptiness of having no body is just frustrating for him. I feel like his childishness is a some sort of coping mechanism. It also shows how time has truly stopped for him. Before he could fully grow and mature, he sadly passed away. That's how I perceive him. Well I felt like that's a weak explanation from me. Atsushi has an appeal that's just hard to explain.

    Anyway, for this particular episode….. I'm quite curious as to why he didn't reveal that he possess Hazuki's body. Is there some kind of rule with regard to that?

  5. H

    I'm very surprised that the body takeover has lasted as long as it has, in show time. I expected their swap to be much shorter, like half an hour, not days-long.

    It's interesting that the things that Atsushi does that he thinks are going to torpedo Hazuki in Rokka's eyes are actually things that seem to make her like Hazuki more. Not because she likes dumb things like getting dorky glasses or hacking off your own hair, but because Atsushi is actually giving Hazuki a personality. Well, a personality besides "fumbling and shy", because fumbling and shy can only get you so far. That's what I think Rokka had been waiting / hoping for: fumbling and shy can get you in the picture, but you have to start being interesting after that. It certainly opens up the question of what will happen when they switch back. Will Hazuki blow it by reverting back? Will Atsushi turn into his supporter and help him out? What will his 'memory loss' look like to Rokka?

  6. S

    This episode was painfully hard to watch and I'm not sure I can stand another week of Shimao being a pathetic manchild :X

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