Hello again, ladies. You thought that would be it from me? Oh, you know me better than that by now, I hope. I got one more Reverse Harem review for you guys, and I have a feeling you’re going to like it. A relatively new series that came about It’s a unique take on the whole “unrequited love” story. What do you do when the love of your life dies and a new love comes along destined to take his place? And once more, what if the love who you thought died really didn’t, and he is determined to not see you with anyone else? Well, grab a vase and pour those sunflowers some water; I’m Cajun Samurai, and this is my review of “Natsuyuki Rendezvous”.
Warnings and Other Objectionable Content –
Another clean series: No nudity or foul language. If you stretch, you might say that there is a bit of a religious aspect to the series in that one of our main characters is a soul that hasn’t made the transition, but that’s only if you wanna nitpick.
Series Availability –
The series will be available for online purchase on May 7th of this year, based on the info I have at the time of printing. No word yet on an in-store purchase option, though knowing Best Buy, there’s about a 50/50 chance…
|F.Y.E [For Your Entertainment]||
FYE’s website has a launch day of May 7th on their website as of the time of this printing. I’m not sure if you can find this one in-store, though…but I would be willing to bet that you can. FYE is great with getting in new titles…but they suck with regards to pricing.
|Other Purchasing Sites||
Right Stuf International has the Complete Collection available for purchase, as does Amazon and eBay. Once again, be careful when buying physical media over the Interwebz.
CrunchyRoll is currently streaming the series and if you search around, you might find it streaming on other sites. Again, be careful what sites you stream from.
Story Premise – “Natsuyuki Rendezvous” is an 11 episode series based off a manga created by Haruka Kawachi. [And no, before you ask, I’m 99% certain that this is not just a secret pen-name of our favorite bellflower Rin from “Usagi Drop”…would be cool if it was, though…]. The series focuses around the strange relationship between Ryosuke Hazuki and Rokka Shimao. Ryosuke has been harboring a major league crush on the oblivious Rokka for as long as he can remember; so much so that he manages to get her to hire him at her flower shop, which she runs on her own. There’s just one problem; Rokka’s husband Atsushi. Atsushi is fiercely jealous of Ryosuke and can’t stand the idea that he is making eyes towards, and plans to steal, his wife. Sadly, he can’t do anything about it because he is what we in the business like to call “Living Impaired”. Having succumbed to his illness three years before the start of the series, he now follows around Rokka in the flower shop they once ran together. In some cosmic twist of fate, the only person who can see and hear Atsushi is Ryosuke. So the series goes on with Ryosuke trying to advance his relationship with Rokka while dealing with her dearly departed whom, it seems, she’s not 100% over losing. You know, it would be easy to make this into some kind of bubbly, superficial high school/college comedy series, but thankfully, this show tackles the premise in a very adult and somewhat serious manor. If you’re looking for a laugh out loud comedy, this is not for you. However, that’s not saying the series is all drama and no substance. There are a few funny moments that keep this from being a sob-on-the-ground series. This anime tells a great story and it really makes you think and ask questions. It makes you think about how long love lasts and when is the right time to let go…if there is such a thing. The story does get a bit long winded after a while, and I found my attention wondering every so often. It’s like the creators were trying to stretch things out for some reason, but we don’t get the payoff. The ending is passable, but not one that I would’ve went with, had I been given a say. It does stay true to the manga, however, which, while it does count for something, it’s not very much. So yeah, overall, the anime is okay, but you really have to be in a special sort of mood to watch it through to completion. [19.5/25]
|Ryosuke Hazuki||Ryosuke is our series protagonist and Reverse Harem Member #1. He’s a young guy with a very laid back attitude towards many things in life…except the major crush he has on his manager Rokka. He’s not above stating what he wants and making his desires known, which is about the most refreshing thing I’ve seen in an anime and is the main reason why I said that this anime is for grown ups…there’s none of this teetering around “Should I confess to her or not?” crap. It’s just “I love you, I want you, let’s get hitched.” Ryosuke is very cut and dry that way; what is, is and what isn’t, isn’t. He doesn’t waste precious episode time trying to figure out why he’s able to see Atsushi; his attention is and will continue to be on how to get Rokka to forget about her deceased dearest.
Our female lead and owner of the flower shop she once ran with her husband, Atsushi. Though she seemingly functions normally on the outside, inside, she still carries around the pain of losing her husband three years earlier, and she finds a world of confusion and guilt when Ryosuke confesses his love to her and she finds herself wanting to reciprocate. It’s that confusion and guilt that keeps you in the story for 11 episodes. You want to see what decision she makes, but you find yourself questioning what you would do if you were in her position. Her character is about the most realistic one out the bunch. You see how she wants to move on, but the memories of Atsushi keep her tied down in a way. If you’re interested in studying psychology as it relates to the grief process, you can have loads of fun studying Rokka.
Reverse Harem Member #2 [Posthumously] and Rokka’s late husband. He follows Rokka around the flower shop they started together and he tries to get between her and Ryosuke’s slowly budding relationship. Atsushi is a very complex character to find solid feelings for. On the one hand, you feel sorry for him because he still loves his wife and wants to be near her and doesn’t want anyone else to take his place, but on the other hand, you see how he’s interfering with Ryosuke and Rokka’s relationship, and you just want him to back off and leave them be. He’s both a selfless and a selfish character, but it’s that duality that makes the story and the show as a whole interesting.
So as you can see, we have an interesting trinity of characters here, and they all tell their respective tales very well. [25/25]
Animation – Remember when I said earlier how mature and adult this series was? Well, that feeling spreads to the animation as well. All the character designs are very adult and mature; no chibi’s or SD characters here. All the colors, however, are bright and vivid, especially when it comes down to the flowers and other floral arrangements. There are times when the series just pops with beautiful color and shades. This one was animated with love, and it shows. [12.5/12.5]
Music – The opening theme for “Natsuyuki Rendezvous” is “See You” by Yuya Matsushita. It’s a good song, and it plays well over the animation with features our main cast at various stages of their lives, but I found it to be a bit too much like a soap opera…a bad one, at that. The ending theme “Anata ni Deawa Nakereba ~Natsuyuki Fuyuhana~” [“If I Hadn’t Met You ~Winter Flowers in the Summer Snow”] by Aimer is a beautiful ending song, which plays beautifully over the ending credits. The incidental music is nice and easy on the ears while not drowning out the dialogue. [10/12.5]
Performances and Production – “Natsuyuki Rendezvous” was created by Studio Dogakobo with director Ko Matsuo at the helm. Sadly, there is no US dub, though the project was licensed by Sentai Filmworks. Let’s take a look at the cast:
Japanese Voice Actor/Actress
|He is excellent as the lackadaisical yet passionate Ryosuke, and he plays the character with the perfect balance of coolness yet underlying passion.|
|…ara, ara…look who’s back! Ohara-san surprised me this time around! While I’m typically used to hearing her play these older sister-esque characters, this is the first time I recall hearing her playing a young, somewhat immature role. She pulls it off in spades, though!|
|Fukuyama-san is one of those V/A’s who has a resume that’s a mile long, and when you hear him in this role, you know why. He plays the scorned deceased lover very well.|
So overall, this show makes the most of it’s V/A veterans and the end result is a show that is well acted. While I’m sure that you could get decent American V/A’s to play the roles of Ryosuke, Rokka and Atsushi…I find it hard to believe that they would measure up to the same degree as the original Japanese. [25/25]
Story Breakdown – 19.5/25
Characters – 25/25
Animation – 12.5/12.5
Music – 10/12.5
Performance and Production – 25/25
Final Score – 92/100 = 92.0% – (B+)
So where does that leave us? Well, “Natsuyuki Rendezvous” is a love story for grown-ups. While it’s story can, at times, get a little long winded and distracting, the overall plot and the characters are top notch, enhanced by excellent animation, good music, and an awesome acting cast. “Natsuyuki Rendezvous” makes you ask questions of yourself and others about life, love and knowing when to let go. While those questions are never easily answered, “Natsuyuki Rendezvous” allows a peek into the minds of those who have to try to find answers.
And with that, my contributions to Reverse Harem month is over! MAN! This month was rough! What with my work and other obligations I had to see to, I was thinking that I was only going to be able to pop out one review! Now look at me, I got two! Otaku Andrain will close out the month with his review of “Fruits Basket” in the coming days, so please look forward to it! As for me…I’m going back to work! See you on the flip side!