gallifreyians: “Wow,” is all I have to say. I am so very disappointed because what easily could’ve easily been the best show of the season has descended into utter stupidity. The downward spiral that this show has been on since episode three has reached a point of no return; the amount of inconsistent characterization, unexamined problematic action, tonal dissonance, and general stupidity has reached a level where I don’t think it can come back from.
The idea of exploring the discrepancies between what different people perceive excites me, and — seeing as that was touched upon in episode two — I had assumed that it would’ve been a central theme to Natsuyuki Rendezvous. That assumption was proven incorrect when episodes three, four, and five did not pick up on that theme, and even now when Rokka’s point of view is finally being given consideration that kind of strong theme isn’t being broached in the least. In fact, the show goes and takes a step further in the wrong direction and uses Rokka’s point of view to continue to push the idea that Hazuki is the man she is should want, and that her feelings for Shimao are something she needs to pack up and never think about again. Specifically, a sequence emotionally twists all of the bullshit that Hazuki has dished out to Rokka — all of the overly sexual, agressive, unwanted advances — to be romantic, and paints Hazuki as some sort of “knight in shining armor” that Rokka has been blind too all this time.
The love triangle is only further confused by the out of character reaction Rokka has to Hazuki-possessed-by-Shimao’s comment that she needs to “Stop using [her] dead husband as an excuse.” Instead of becoming angry like she did with Hazuki when he said “I’m going to make her forget all about her pathetic dead husband,” she reacts passively and, upon reflection, that comment serves as the impetus for Rokka to do a complete turn around and want pursue a relationship with Hazuki. The comment itself could either be a continuation of Shimao’s trend of trying to make Hazuki look bad or a continuation of what Shimao had been trying to do before he died and making Rokka move on; the show conveniently does not delve into Shimao’s point of view for an explanation of his comment and so we are left to examine Rokka’s reaction to find an explanation. The only issue with that is, like I said above, Rokka reacts too passively to get any sort of read off of her, and takes the most confounding course of action of going after Hazuki afterwards.
The characters are stagnant due to their lack of development, and have even devolved into out-of-character shells of what they once were. In addition, since they are supposed to be the core of the show, everything else falls apart because of this; the love triangle story is a mess, and Hazuki’s own experiences in Shimao’s subconscious are nonsensical because of the sloppy allusions and metaphors the writers keep on throwing at us. Natsuyuki has forsaken it’s characters in favor of making a complete mess of things, turing a possible magnum opus into a cheap, shitty, lovestory.
illegenes: I don’t think I’m as bitter toward the recent changes toward Natsuyuki as Steven perhaps, but I am still nevertheless, disappointed, and more importantly, confused.
The show’s composed, quiet, and mature air seems to have dissipated, now replaced with a rather surrealistic and whimsical attitude. I don’t mind atmospheric changes in shows, especially in anime where lackadaisical comedy relief can be suddenly switched to drama (see: xxxHOliC). There does however, have to be an undercurrent of continuity, and it’s here that Natsuyuki seems to be clutching at straws. The halving of the main story into two arcs going on at the same time – Hazuki in Thumbelina/Children Literature world, and Shimao in Hazuki’s body – has for the most part, made the show into a cluttered mess. They both nearly share the same amount of screen time, but the dialogue and script of the show has been twisted into a very emotionally awkward one which makes it hard to get through.
For one thing, the lack of character development has made the show incredibly stagnant. Shimao with his newfound power of being able to physically interact with the world around him, would have been a great way to interpret the struggles Shimao has had, such as his struggle on reality and the concept of existing, or what he really means to Rokka. The later is looked at, of course, it’s emotionally twisted to be some kind of half baked sappy angst story, and if there’s nothing that irritates me more, it’s a manpain story. Which essentially, is what the show has turned into: we have Shimao, who complains that Rokka is over him and has moved on, and then we have Hazuki, who complains that Rokka hasn’t moved on and needs to sort out her priorities. What’s funny is that both men are treating Rokka like some goddamn trophy prize and are fighting over it like a pair of five year olds. Where does Rokka’s say come into this picture? This episode did touch on that, but even that was messy; Rokka punishes herself for denying both men when she’s emotionally confused herself (as she should be) as the topic’s bogging her down greatly. No one has actually progressed in the slightest, and as such, Rokka’s declaration of “I love you too, Hazuki” to a possessed Hazuki doesn’t really make me feel anything or believe her. I’m a big fan of personal conflicts, don’t get me wrong, but when it’s handled in such a messy way, it lands up being a tangled web and everyone is too gray or transparent. In Natsuyuki, it seems like both; it’s obvious that these characters are misled by their feelings and have misled each other and in that way the show has become predictable. At other times, it’s not, as with Rokka having some kind of tongue fetish and licking people’s backs. Uh. (Yeah, you heard that right).
If everyone could just communicate well enough as adults I’m sure I could follow them more easily. But they don’t. Add in some more children literature allusions – now, The Little Mermaid where Ariel (Rokka) must choose to be with her Human Prince or stay underneath the waters with Shimao – and we’ve got, well, I just don’t know. What is the message this show is trying to send here? Stepping back and looking at it all, it just seems so foreign and surreal to me. At least Penguindrum in all of its surreal symbolic glory had clear messages to tell; here, it’s lost under the sea with the rather horrid execution of the whining, confusion and pain of believing in one’s love. Natsuyuki has disappointed me these past episodes, and while I do have hope that things can turn around, I have to remind myself that we’re already more than halfway throughout the show with no sign of emotional progression. The clock is ticking….
gallifreyians: Yes, I am so incredibly bitter. After the disappointing ends that Tsuritama and Lupin had last season I am really sick of having none of my expectations met and all of my hopes dashed.
illegenes: (Welcome to some of anime, Steven!) Let’s just hope that things go up from here….