Wow. Talk about blowing me away, because if there’s one show I know I’m going to be blogging about, it’s Natsuyuki Rendezvous, a show that’s all about subtlety. Mixing elements from AnoHana and Natsume Yuujinchou (and what should have been the great potential of Sakamichi no Apollon) here’s a show that relies primarily on dialogue and facial/body movements. From the very beginning, to where Hazuki asks “Should I buy flowers…for a florist?” to the very end, where he confronts that fear and simply tells Shimao, “I’m going to steal your wife” shows that we’re dealing with a show that may have a light and still meaningful complex, but underneath the simplicity lies some very mature and heartbreaking currents.
We’re introduced to Ryusuke Hazuki, a man who could be noted for his gangly hair and rather demeaning looks. Obsessed with the charming florist near his apartment, he even buys plants- 5 of them a week- just to see her face, but is unable to bring himself to actually say anything. It’s the sense of embarrassment we’re all familiar with in trying to confess to someone we love, but feel like we’re not worth the attempt. For Ryusuke, a man who thinks more than he speaks, Rokka Shimao is a girl who makes his tongue stick to his throat. This all changes when he signs up to work at the florist shop, hoping to get a good chance to speak to Rokka. Does it work? Of course not. As humans, we are bound by the limitations we impose upon ourselves. For Ryusuke, it’s the feeling of worthlessness; of being ashamed, of self pity and of being confused. It’s no doubt that these are the same emotions that hold him back even after he takes up the job and manages to have a good reason to actually be near Rokka. Just when things can change though, fate turns the wheels again and Rokka finds out that he’s the only one who can see Shimao; a rather “clumsy” man as described by Rokka, whose lingering attachment to Rokka despite him being dead is what keeps him in the living world. Dealing with this new factor in his life, Hazuki stumbles, but nevertheless confesses to Rokka and tells Shimao straight up that despite this tragedy hovering around in gloom around him, he’s still going to try his hardest to win over Rokka’s heart.
While this may sound like something of a love competition at first, what I found was more of a sincere slice of life tale about people learning how to get over their mistakes – the ones they’ve made and the ones they’ve thought they made. But first, we must ask: why flowers? Flowers appear everywhere in the show; even in the opening, we have our cast nurturing them and watering them. Why is Rokka a florist? Take us back to last season Tsuritama, where Keiko herself is a florist of sorts, and tells Haru one very important lesson. Flowers are short lived, but they are precious and beautiful. We do our best to make sure they don’t wilt, even though eventually, every flower must droop and die. It was this sort of inner sheen that made Tsuritama shine, and it’s the same brilliance that makes Natsuyuki Rendezvous bittersweet and yet so endearing to watch. Rokka herself is a flower, struggling with her roots, trying to move on from her past. While she won’t admit it, she’s wilting at the ends too; imposing her husband’s limits on her life. The irony of it all is that despite Rokka not being able to see Shimao, she is still very much haunted by his presence. He is all around her- in the life she lives, the rules she sets herself to follow, the shop and flowers she sells, and even in the soup she eats. I’m sure (based on the OP scenes) that she even cut her hair for him when he died. She is fragile, she is beautiful and most of all, she has taken root in Hazuki’s life. Hazuki, who is also trying to understand how his relationship will progress with a widow- something that no doubt, is considered taboo in Japanese society. He’s struggling to find his roots, to lie down and settle into the soil and make a life worth living for himself. I liked that he was able to get over his fear of being unable to win Rokka’s heart, but that’s just the start of his insecurity in love. How can he take a step forward with Shimao around? Does Rokka have feelings for him? Is he still worth taking that chance? I’m sure these are all questions (except for the first) that we’ve asked ourselves when trying to reach out for the person we love, but in Hazuki’s situation, the very thing stopping him has taken ‘physical’ form. In essence, Hazuki is a flower himself, though he probably won’t admit it. So when we have two wilted flowers struggling to get past their mistakes and focus on the “what now?” instead of “what could have I done?”, how will this ‘romantic’ relationship prosper?
Hazuki himself intrigues me- the fact that only he can see Shimao is worth mentioning. Is it because he’s a guy who has feelings for Rokka? Or there something more to this as well?
Another thing: a show that implies as much in a inverbal discussion as it does in a verbal discussion is something that strikes me as powerful. Here, we are dealing with adults- people who are much more aware of how to speak in public, who understand general customs and rules of courtesy. Thus, what I found as the best aspect of Natsuyuki Rendezvous is how the characters were defined by their expressions and movements rather than just dialogue. From the way Hazuki always looks down whenever Rokka is around, to the way Rokka cries and says it’s just the “hot soup” to the way her house is barely decorated; these all show more about this cast more than anything. Rokka and Hazuki talk very little so far, so their traits are shown from the way they react to things rather than just talking about them. That’s something I love seeing in a show. So am I going to see this? Yes. Am I going to blog about it? You bet. I gotta have one noitaminA show in my blog a year, no?
(I also do award Rokka extra points because her situation reminds me a lot like Allison Cameron from House; a widow herself who married a terminally ill man. Interesting parallels here and there too.)
Enjoyment Level: 9/10