Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 09

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It’s probably too late for persuasion – either mine, or the series itself – to make any new converts to Natsuyuki Rendezvous.  Either you’re emotionally invested by now or you’re not.

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.42_[2012.08.30_15.21.32]For me, the question isn’t of emotional investment, as I’ve been there for a while.  But Natsuyuki is doing as good a job as any show for a while in twisting those emotions painfully, and (as most everything with this series does) Shimao is at the very heart of that.  He was a strange man in life and even more so in death, but I find his story absolutely heartbreaking.  Yet I also find his actions absolutely infuriating, and while I suspect it’s a feint, this episode seemed to plant a seed (pun intended) for a surprising turn in the last two episodes that I would consider both surprising and entirely unwelcome.

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.22_[2012.08.30_15.22.12]I think we can safely say we now understand the reason for Shimao’s morbid – and undelivered – request for Rokka to “eat a little of his bones” after his death.  The story of her mother’s that she related to him was seemingly full of implications for the current situation.  A girl eats the poisoned roots of a tree she loves that’s become sick, and dies as a result.  This comes on the heels of Rokka’s declaration that she’d like to “eat the bad cells” in Shimao – to which he declares that she shouldn’t, as they would metastasize (if there were any doubt as to Atsushi’s illness, that too is settled).  What’s interesting to me is that Rokka declares the ending – the girl becomes a root of the tree herself – a happy one, while Shimao finds it most unhappy indeed. 

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.52_[2012.08.30_15.22.42]Once again I find it quite unmistakable that Shimao is conflicted in every way, as he was in life.  He wanted to release Rokka from being imprisoned by his memory, yet wanted her to always be part of him.  There’s no question that he’s fully aware that what he’s doing now is wrong – it’s selfish and he’s being a “coward”, by his own admission.  It’s my belief that he fully expected Rokka to follow him and find him on that hilltop, though he isn’t prepared to admit that even to himself.  And I think he surely relished the notion that he might have Rokka recognize him and be able to openly interact with him as himself, even as part of him knows that in doing so, he would be causing her a great deal of pain and reopening all her wounds.  And to what end?  What’s to be served by perpetuating this situation any further?

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.40_[2012.08.30_15.24.30]The possibility that this situation might become permanent – or that Shimao would even want it to – really didn’t seem realistic to me until this week, but now I’m not 100% sure.  There can be no question that fairy Rokka – this time in the guise of Snow White – finally referred to Hazuki as “Prince”.  Or that when he caught a reflection of himself, he was wearing Shimao’s face.  Every fiber of my being screams out that for this situation to continue would be wrong, both in moral and dramatic/poetic terms.  The key line of dialogue in the episode comes when Snow Rokka says to Hazuki, simply, “You have a future.”  This is the inescapable fact of his existence – no matter how depressed he might feel about his prospects or how lost or directionless to thinks he is, he has a future.  He has health.  He has something that Shimao not only doesn’t have know, but never had, not even in life.  Is that fair?  No, of course not – but it’s real, and it’s a fact.  Can things possibly be turned on their ear, with Hazuki being trapped forever in Shimao’s fairy tale purgatory?

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.15_[2012.08.30_15.27.05]I don’t think so – I think we’re being led down the garden path (pun intended) by the writer here.  We’re at the point now where the body-switch scenario has gone on long enough to where I consider it a flaw in the narrative – Hazuki has been on the sidelines for too long, and as powerful as it is to watch Shimao and Rokka experiencing what they are I think the story would have been better served if Hazuki had reclaimed his life sooner.  Now that Rokka knows the basic truth, I hope the whole truth comes out next – that it really was Hazuki that loved her and courted her, and that Shimao as good as stole his body for his own purposes.  I believe Hazuki has made the decision that he wants to reclaim his life and return to it, whether he can be with Rokka forever or not.  And I choose the believe that Shimao, for all his selfishness, isn’t the sort of man who would steal another man’s life against his will when all is said and done – or that Rokka is the sort of woman who would want to be with him if he did.

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.44_[2012.08.30_15.27.34]With that said, we’re only two episodes away from the finish and as much as with any serious anime this year, I have no idea how this one is going to end.  When Atsushi was lying in that hospital bed near the end of his life, he told Rokka that if he had the ability to choose, he would choose to be with her until he was a “decrepit old man”.  Well in a way, he does have a sort of choice now – and for the ending to have real power, perhaps he has to choose voluntarily to move on rather than have Hazuki rip his body back from him forcefully.  Shimao, Rokka, Hazuki – each in their own way, they’re going to be tested, and their choices will determine where this difficult but powerful series finally lands.

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  1. d

    If Shimao does not deposses and does not get out of the home by the end, this series is gonna be a bad one in my books. Whtas the point of keeping Hazu all along if he was just gonna be trap? And if he were to suddenly pop back up and reclaim his body in a surprise and sudden twist in the span of the final 2 ep… where's the proper build up??
    And if Shimao and Hazu were to do a dragon ball type Merge… This series is gonna burn!

    A proper ending… Probably requires Shimao to.. i dunno! There can be no proper ending… And I do not condone suicide in case anyone's wondering.

  2. Well, Shimao can't commit suicide. He's dead.

    I think an ending where Shimao accepts what's happened, says his goodbyes and moves on is the most likely scenario still. And if it's well executed, I'd certainly have no issues with it.

  3. I

    First off, greetings, Enzo, I stumbled upon your lovely blog during Random Curiosity's downtime, and now I've taken to casually reading your blog posts which are all very well-written by the way. 🙂

    We’re at the point now where the body-switch scenario has gone on long enough to where I consider it a flaw in the narrative.

    I'll have to agree with you here, but I feel that it seems like a flaw probably since I was expecting Hazuki to be the main character and this story to be told through his eyes.

    After watching the previous episode and this episode, it seems that the story that Natsuyuki Rendezvous wishes to tell is not about a young man falling in love with a widow, but a widow reuniting and coming to terms with her late husband and he with him. And the young man is just there as the observer and catalyst. I even noticed for the first time that the series' title seems to point this way, "natsuyuki" being the plant that symbolizes Rokka and Shimao and "rendezvous" meaning a meeting, in my eyes, their long awaited reunion.

    Apologies if I'm rehashing something that was mentioned, just thought it might be interesting to share. Ending scenario I see: Rokka and Shimao exchange their last words before Shimao willingly leaves, Hazuki returns to his body and finds Rokka in tears…Some time later, he learns about what happened from her while they're still working together. Rokka is more at peace with herself now, but decides not to jump into a relationship yet. Hazuki still loves Rokka and decides that he has a future ahead of him so he'll wait a little bit longer for Rokka to fully heal first. Perhaps, it's a bit too bittersweet?

  4. I

    For some reason my comment never published or got deleted, so here goes me retyping from memory:

    Greetings, Enzo, I happened to stumble upon your lovely blog during Random Curiosity's downtime, so now I'm a casual reader of your wonderfully written posts. 🙂

    I agree with you with regards to how Hazuki being trapped seems to be a flaw in the narrative. I think I see it as a flaw probably since I've thought Hazuki would be the main character and that the story we're seeing would be told through his eyes. However, since the previous few episodes, I've been thinking that the main characters are actually Rokka and Shimao.

    So, perhaps this untraditional love story is about a widow coming to terms with her late husband and he with her, and not the story about the young man who falls in love with the widow. I suspected it but previous episode sold me on that belief. The anime's title is "Natsuyuki Rendezvous", and seems to hint at this too. "Natsuyuki" representing the plant symbolizing the bond between Rokka and Shimao, and "rendezvous" meaning an "arranged meeting" (in my imagination, I saw it to mean as "long awaited reunion" for some reason). This is what we saw in the previous episode and here, what with Rokka and Shimao meeting at that mountain spot again.

    Possible ending scenario I see: Shimao leave after exchanging his last words to Rokka "to live on and be happy". Hazuki returns back to his body after hearing some words of wisdom from Shimao as he does so and finds Rokka in tears. Some time later, Rokka has finally found peace within herself, but has decided to withhold dating for now. Hazuki realizes that he has a long future ahead of him and is willing to wait for Rokka to heal before moving forward. Perhaps, this is too bittersweet?

  5. Welcome, Isabel. I definitely feel that Hazuki is a false MC here, and I've said so a few times. Even so, though, it's my view that he's been sidelined from the story for a little longer that would be ideal from a dramatic standpoint.

    Your ending could easily happen – I might even say it's the most likely. We'll just have to see if they can pull it off and make it feel fresh.

  6. L

    I find Shimao to be easily the best character in the show, maybe of all the shows this season. The reason for this is because he feels real. He feels human. He's a person with flaws, a person who is inherently kind but still has a selfish side. He's not fully in control of his emotions or actions and despises himself for it. I thought Shimao's thoughts and expressions showed this masterfully in this episode.

    I can understand if people think the body-switch scenario is a flaw in the narrative but I don't agree with it. This show is pretty much about Shimao and his story, though the first episodes were mostly about Hazuki. When Shimao finally disappears, the show will most likely end. Hazuki is an important part of the story, but Shimao is still the main character and this body-switch arc seems to be the main arc of the show.

    Like Isabel mentioned, the title Natsuyuki Rendezvous pretty much tells us what this anime is about. I don't mind Hazuki being sidelined at all because Shimao is, in my opinion, hundred times more interesting than him.

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