|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
(All episodes watched):|
By the time the OP sequence music began to play during episode one I was already feeling optimistic about this show. The opening monologue quickly introduces us to the male protagonist and leaves me thinking that he will develop as an interesting and presumably likeable person. I wasn't expecting the bizarre premise, and maybe it wasn't my first choice about how a romance would develop, but it definitely grabbed my attention. Surely a show with such an odd premise has got to go somewhere, right? Natsuyuki Rendezvous was looking like a winner, probably the thoughtful, moving show of the season.
But sadly, NatsRen didn't measure up to the first impressions it left. How do I describe my impressions? It feels as if no clear, obvious main thrust of the plot emerged, at least not until near the end. And how come Hazuki can see Shimao, but his own wife can't? It is never explained. Also, the characters don't develop enough. Early on Hazuki struggles to court Rokka. Sometimes things seem to go well for him, sometimes not; you wonder what Rokka feels, and how loyal to her late-husband she remains. Maybe we never got to know her well enough to be able to tell; or maybe we just don't really care, for the same reason. Things seemed to get interesting when Shimao, Rokka's late husband, possesses Hazuki's body. Ryousuke's mind is sent to some fantasy land, which never makes much sense. But Shimao won't dare to try to convince Rokka that she really is in touch with him (he could ask her to ask him any question which only she and he would know the answer to), instead he just observes, which isn't all that exciting. The story just drags on, and I got bored. I just wish it had been more obvious where the story is going, because things not being clear makes it harder to enjoy the show. It's more difficult to remember what happened last time when whatever happened didn't seem all that critical to the long-term plot. I wondered about things like whether it would ever be explained why Hazuki could see Shimao; since the remainder of the show didn't engage me all that much, I thought about things like that. I couldn't help feeling that an interesting premise wasn't being fully exploited, and instead felt muddled and boring. It got to the point where I just wanted to get the latest episode over with quickly so that I could move on to something better. I was tempted to drop the series altogether near the end, and might have done so if it hadn't been a mere 11 episodes. With hindsight, even that seems like more time than was needed to contain the worthwhile elements of the story.
The conclusion was better than I expected given how fatigued I had become. But it wasn't anything spectacular. Was that the best way things could have worked out for the threesome? Were they really happy afterwards? What the hell was the deal with Hazuki's trip through fantasyland? All sorts of questions remain at the end, but I don't really care much about what the answers might be--I'm just glad that NatsRen is finally over. If I were to summarize it with one word, that word would be 'muddled'. It never seems to focus on what the critical issues are; the viewer can guess that things like which guy Rokka loves most must be important, but the show itself never confirms or denies your guesses. Instead of telling you a story, NatsRen largely leaves it up to you to figure the story out, and hope that you have reached the right conclusions.
Last updated Friday, September 28 2012. Created Sunday, July 08 2012.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://natsuyuki.tv/|