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Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 11 (END)

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This series may have been a fairytale romance in more of the literal sense than metaphorical, but there’s no doubt that the ending was a storybook one through and through. Although Natsuyuki has been one of the most unpredictable and unconventional love stories in recent memory, it remains faithful and traditional where it matters: delivering a wonderful and satisfying conclusion for an audience that would love nothing more than for their one true pairing to become a reality.

To that end, the series returns to the theme of flowers and plants that has served it so well by crafting an ending to the story that can be appropriately summarized by Shimao’s expression: “When it’s time for flowers to bloom, they’ll bloom. When it’s time for spring to come, it’ll come.” It’s a simple phrase that holds a lot of meaning when it comes to matters of love, and it’s one that also holds quite a bit of personal meaning as well, being a phrase that a girl once told me one warm August evening. Above all, it harkens back to that timeless saying – if it is meant to be, it will be. Leaving love to the hands of fate and destiny can be a double-edged sword, dependent on which side of the coin you land on, but at the same time it also allows for us to let go and cease dwelling on what might have been. This is likely the reason why Shimao was so annoyed by his expression; he felt the weight of inevitability surrounding the relationship between Rokka and Hazuki ever since the beginning, but could not bite his tongue in order to let her go.

Shimao might have been the only one who felt that Hazuki and Rokka’s pairing was a foregone conclusion. Natsuyuki was for the longest time nearly impossible to predict which of its pairings, if any, would be realized. Even halfway through the final episode it was hard to divine whether the ending would be reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy or a Victorian-era romance. For weeks it felt that Shimao was leading this story down a dark path – we may not have known where the road would end up, but it surely didn’t look like a place that would be all sunshine and rainbows like the ones in his sketchbook world. He seldom showed any hesitation or remorse in the past when it came to being selfish in regards to Rokka, and it was hard to expect that even her sudden change of heart would do anything to change his course of action. Shimao had forgotten his own saying, and only after Rokka reminded him of his own words he was finally able to let go – although not before almost taking her with him back to the land of the dead.

It can be difficult to remember the last time the level of tension about the fate of a romance was so high late in the story, something Natsuyuki played to near perfection. Killing Rokka was a very real and distinct possibility as far as one could surmise, and it was exacerbated by how fickle and vulnerable she was up to that point. One moment it dawns on her that it is Hazuki whom she fell in love with and that Shimao was no longer the same man she married, the next moment she’s searching for an ending where her husband doesn’t suffer. It all makes it hard for me to think too highly of her, especially when she goes as far as suggesting they pull a Romeo and Juliet of sorts. Fortunately, I think both she and Shimao were saved by the words of wisdom she loved so much that even in her inebriated state they made an indelible mark on her. It may have come down to the wire for them to take Shimao’s saying to heart, but by doing so, the former lovers avoided a tragedy that no viewer wants to see.

As for the man who best represents the ‘flower’ and ‘spring’ in Shimao’s expression, Hazuki was at his best in this finale. He rose up to the occasion in a way that left no doubt that it was his turn to shine, that he was the one who cared about her happiness more than anyone else, and that he was the one destined to be with Rokka. Coming to the maiden’s rescue was something I would have never expected to be in this unconventional love story, but it was quite a welcome sight and came at the perfect moment as well. It’s a definite possibility that Hazuki firmly believed from the very beginning that Shimao’s time was over, which led to a confidence that at times appeared to cross the line into arrogance and insensitivity. Nonetheless, I found myself rooting for him every step of the way, and even more so after the time in the fairy tale world forced him to contemplate and reevaluate his emotions and those of Rokka and Shimao as well. The one at the end of this journey was the new and improved Hazuki, one who still possessed the smooth and confident charm that Rokka probably fell for, but also armed with the knowledge of her and Shimao’s past and the pain and suffering that filled so much of their hearts.

In seeing this theme of inevitability to its conclusion, Natsuyuki gave us the emotionally satisfying ending that many had hoped for. When it comes to love stories, I can probably speak for most people when I say that although I do appreciate and enjoy the journey leading up to the conclusion, a depressing or non-ideal ending can temper my enjoyment of the series as a whole. Fortunately, this was not the case for Natsuyuki. Almost everything about this finale wrapped up the loose threads and answered the remaining questions, save for the scene when Hazuki finds himself in Wonderland with Rokka playing the Queen of Hearts. It was simply a little too brief and jarring for any emotional or intellectual significance to develop, in my opinion. A look beyond the montage of photographs depicting Hazuki and Rokka’s marriage and their life together with their funny-faced daughter would have made a great addition as well. That said, the conclusion with both the grandson and Shimao opening a literal door and closing a metaphorical one was as good of an ending as any. Natsuyuki Rendezvous may have been an unconventional love story in a myriad of ways, but it knows that the surest way to win the audience’s heart and minds is that there is nothing more conventional than finishing with a storybook ending.

Final Impressions

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September 17, 2012 at 1:20 am
36 comments »
  • September 17, 2012 at 1:30 ambanzemanga

    It was a good ending. But if my memory serves me right, the manga ended differently. Didn’t it?

    • September 19, 2012 at 12:27 amverdant

      Sorry, I purposely didn’t read the manga so that I could try and get a better perspective on the show itself and to view it on its own terms and merits.

  • September 17, 2012 at 1:38 amFT5Havok

    HAHAHAHA THEIR DAUGHTER LOOKS LIKE HAZUKI ! -^-

  • September 17, 2012 at 1:48 amewok40k

    Great end to great romance series, and no school uniform in sight!
    Hazuki manning up, Rokka finally realising its him she loves now, and stubborn ghost finally finding peace all make almost perfect ending.

  • September 17, 2012 at 1:56 amAnima

    so its was the grandson in the OP planting the snow in summer perhaps that shimao will always be integral in their lives and found closure funny he only went to the gandson cos he looks like rokka. he will forever have a grudge on hazuki.

    • September 17, 2012 at 2:18 amNaYa

      I guess it was as if Shimao was haunting Hazuki all his life… that’s one hell of a grudge. D:

    • September 17, 2012 at 6:52 amzleihsh

      That guy is really stubborn, hope he found peace in the end, seriously!

  • September 17, 2012 at 2:12 amNaYa

    God, this episode was so emotional! And just as they got together, they’re dead?! D:
    I must say though I laughed when I saw their daughter had Hazuki’s face. XD

    I admit it was painful to watch once Shimao took over Hazuki’s body and it was so darn frustrating, but I’m glad it came around to a satisfying ending.
    It’s quite incredible to think that Shimao just floated around all those years even after all that… for what, around 40 years? Was he like the family guardian spirit or something? o_O Also the fact that he was able to pass on only after Hazuki’s death and not Rokka’s is interesting.

  • September 17, 2012 at 4:21 amjreding

    Thank you so much for blogging this series, Verdant! Your posts encouraged me to continue and discover it’s charms as I at first thought of dropping this series being super annoyed by Shimao. Now I think that Shimao is actually a character well done – I’ve seen quite a few deadly ill anime characters who were almost saints. Shimao, though, was (understandably) frustrated w/ his fate and it’s just “realistic” that he became such a resentful ghost!

    Hazuki’s character imo is a major weakness of this series, though. He appears out of nowhere and starts working for and aggressively courting Rokka – where does he come from? What’s his story? We only learn that he lives in an apartment which is empty except for lots of flowers pots he bought from Rokka’s shop. If I were Rokka I’d wonder what this guy is truly like.

    The production values were excellent indeed. In particular, they had some awesome flower drawings (e.g. the ED) but I also appreciated that the creators didn’t overdo the flowers. Thumbelina Rokka in any case was super cute!

    There’s one major flaw for me in this series, though: For most of the time it was dragging on. Maybe I’m not the type for josei series but the first half was plain boring for me. And also in the second half the fairytale world part seemed to just drag on w/ incomprehensible dialogue and fairy tale references w/ no relation to the plot (or did I miss something?). Only the last eps – which had a much darker mood and indeed some threat appearing – were truly captivating me.

    • September 17, 2012 at 4:38 amStats

      “He appears out of nowhere and starts working for and aggressively courting Rokka – where does he come from? What’s his story? We only learn that he lives in an apartment which is empty except for lots of flowers pots he bought from Rokka’s shop. If I were Rokka I’d wonder what this guy is truly like.”

      You weren’t paying attention to the time lapse between scenes and episodes. A LOT of time was passing by. He constantly visited her shop for months on end. When he worked for her, it was the same thing. I’d have to go back to the eps to give you an exact number. But it wasn’t like Wham Bham Thank you ma’am I want you. It was a painstakingly long amount of time. And the moment she showed even a hint of the same feeling, all the feelings he pent up for so long started to let loose.

      • September 17, 2012 at 3:19 pmjreding

        Stats, you are right – Hazuki had been visiting Rokka’s shop for a long while and finally started working there. I tried to express something different, though: Deciding to leave behind whatever life you have and start working as a flower shop assistant b/c you fell in love w/ the owner seems like a drastic decision to me, almost desperate to be honest. So while watching this story I expected to learn something about Hazuki’s story, as well, to be able to emphasize w/ him.

    • September 19, 2012 at 12:29 amverdant

      You’re welcome, I’m always very happy when my posts can help people appreciate a series more, or just view it in a new light.

  • September 17, 2012 at 4:34 amStats

    Um… Show Spoiler ▼

    … anyway, I still think it’s a great story. Will definitely watch it again sometime.

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:49 pmomeganx

      I’m glad someone said it! lol
      I thought there was gonna be some drama between him and Rokka after he witnessed her just kinda say, “Okay Shimao, I’ll spend eternity with you.”
      I was like, “wait what!?”
      I found that one part leaving a nasty taste in my mouth regarding the whole series because this was such a crucial scene and she kinda just flip-flopped out of nowhere. Still enjoyed the series.

  • September 17, 2012 at 5:42 amIsabel

    It was a good ending, just not the ending I expected though. The art/animation/production were done well, and the flowers were beautiful to look at without being too exaggerated. The music was beautiful; I have the opening and ending themes on my mp3 player.

    As someone who’s experiencing what Shimao went through (minus the ghost part), I just wish Shimao had found peace afterwards and not had to linger around for another 40 years watching someone else do things with the love of his life that he wish he could’ve done if only he had the chance…It surely wouldn’t have been easy for him, even if he had resigned to sacrifice his happiness for Rokka’s. I hope that he found rest at the epilogue, because the writers/animators seemed to leave that open-ended.

    That aside, the storybook arc dragged the later half of the story down, and I began to lose interest in the series because of its sluggish pace. Although I got a good sense of Hazuki’s/Shimao’s feelings, I never quite understood Rokka. So while I felt a little happy that Hazuki ended up with Rokka, it didn’t feel “right” to me. One minute, she’s declared her love for Hazuki and the next she’s willing to sacrifice herself because of her guilt. I always felt that she was very ambivalent, and the ending painfully highlighted that, whereas Hazuki and Shimao were shown to be quite resolute in their feelings. It makes me think that Rokka would’ve fallen for anyone who happened to come along and expressed some mild interest. After all Hazuki went through, I just wished that he would’ve ended up with someone who felt as strongly about him as he did about them.

    I personally loved Honey and Clover for its subplot about everyone deciding their future over the romance, so while Natsuyuki Rendezvous was good, I don’t think it’ll be one of those fond anime series that I’ll think about and remember many years later.

    • September 19, 2012 at 12:42 amverdant

      I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing what Shimao went through. I’ve kind of been down a similar road myself, so at times this series really resonated with me on a personal level.

  • September 17, 2012 at 6:47 amYes!@

    I’m glad Hazuki and Rokka ended together. However I’m not glad Shimao kept lurking around for that many years. Guess that was his “punishment” for what he did to them. He had to watch them together, also both died and moved on while he stayed behind again. It sounds horrible, still I had preferred to see him move on. This continuation of his existence felt more like a reward to him. Guess I hate him so much that wanted something more “painful”. Why Hazuki and Rokka kept his room is beyond me. As gratitude for him for letting them be together? There’s a line from the Stand: “Oh how much I love to love Nadine” Well for me is: “Oh how much I love to hate Shimao” He just pushed all the wrong buttoms in me.
    Finally, even with my tiny gripe, I’ll sure will recommend this series to my mature friends. It really makes you wonder about love, relationships and what ifs.

  • September 17, 2012 at 7:44 amb.i.t.w.

    so in the end ghost husband decide time to move on let rokka go with hazuki give one last kiss bite & cheek grab as a farewell.

    now still wander at least me meet their grandkid 65 yrs later.

  • September 17, 2012 at 7:57 amjunglepenguin

    Sigh… Shimao-kun, hated and doubted to the end. That was no happy ending. It’s like seeing waifu Minorin at the end of Toradora!. Its k, Shimao. You have my respect for holding out against the haters for as long as you did.

  • September 17, 2012 at 9:24 amYukie

    I think Rokka felt that she hurt the two men in her life far too much, so she decided to let Shimao kill her…yeah it’s pretty selfish and stupid honestly, but I guess that’s what makes her human.

  • September 17, 2012 at 11:02 amTorami

    Whoa, just realized that the boy in the OP is actually Hazuki’s grandson ^^
    This was a good way to end the series, I think. The characters stayed true to themselves, and I’m glad they made it this way.

  • September 17, 2012 at 1:36 pmBio D

    So Shimao stalks the couple till the end of their days. Nope, not creepy at all.

  • September 17, 2012 at 2:14 pmGhost Power

    Shimao was handed a bad deck of cards from the beginning. He was always going to lose his wife. So if you’re damned if you do (…try to fight) and damned if you don’t (..fight) then I say Fight! Shimao-kun Fight! BTW wasn’t the hippie’s daughter conceived when Shimao banged Rokka for the last time… Shimao FTW!

    • September 17, 2012 at 2:22 pmNaYa

      But… even if she was conceived then, she still carries Hazuki’s genes…
      OMG now that I think of the possibility, that’s so messed up!

  • September 17, 2012 at 2:48 pmrandom viewer

    Really close call for Rokka, but all’s well that ends well. Nice to see Hazuki grew out his hair for his wedding. (And Rokka did too). Did they actually eat Shimao’s bones? Rest in peace Shimao, you deserve it after watching over the couple’s family. This anime was really a last entry for me to watch, and that was only because I heard about it in the podcast which got me interested. Glad I did watch it and was it a fun ride. The music is one of my favorites this year and the story/characters won’t be forgotten as it is unique and captivating. Hope there will be more anime like this series. Good show!

  • September 17, 2012 at 7:06 pmJel

    It was a great ride, Verdant.

    I loved this series from start to finish, but it really started speeding up for me when the body-switch happened. I must not think it through very much, but the body-switch didn’t really bother me and I thought it was an interesting development/plot twist. I didn’t see that coming, and was always on the edge about what was going to happen next and who was really going to end up with Rokka.

    This episode had me going for a sec when Rokka said that she would go to the other side with Shimao. It just wouldn’t be too out of left-field to do so, yet Shimao rethinks it and lets her continue living and be happy, just like what he used to say when he was at the hospital.

  • September 17, 2012 at 11:11 pmAllen Walker

    Thank you for blogging this man i loved this anime.

    • September 19, 2012 at 12:43 amverdant

      You’re welcome, thanks for reading my long posts!

  • September 18, 2012 at 2:05 amLeticia

    Ok, I loved this final episode, but I have to say that I think they spent so much freakin’ time with Shimao being inside of Hazuki, because I would’ve loved to see more RokkaXHazuki moments, and of course I woudl’ve enjoyed a lot watching them together AFTER all this senseless ride. Don’t know, I guess I’ve got contradictory feelings…

    • September 18, 2012 at 11:16 pmtrailblazer

      I agree … throughout the entire series, I kept hoping for more of Hazuki and Rokka moments. Shimao put a sour note in the series for me. But I suppose that was the point.

  • September 18, 2012 at 11:11 pmtrailblazer

    Hmmm … its interesting how so many comments here and other places tend to portray Rokka as fickle, and the guys as committed.

    Lets take a look at the scenario, two guys – who ONLY have Rokka in their eyes. Well, you can only go one way there.

    Then there is Rokka, who very clearly hasn’t moved past her husband’s death – made clear in every episode. But then a younger man comes in and gets past her shell. But wait! Now the husband she loved enough to not move on for the past 3 years pops up – who DIDNT think to let her in on the secret till he spent time with her and slept with her. Yes … leaning towards WHICH guy would make her look more committed?

    And ah … I really wish people would consider the last two episodes and the anime as a whole before saying Rokka initiated the last Romeo and Juliet moment. She found that note from Shimao saying “eat my bones” after he died. Practically telling her to come join him – on the other side. (The fact that she didn’t tells me a lot) And then Shimao tells Rokka in the middle of the last episode, I quote “…Maybe I am suffering from root decay…” – BEFORE Rokka says anything about joining him on the otherside. Does one recall from which story that came from, and how that story ends? So what choices does she have left at that point. It’s her feelings that Shimao did a number on by stating the root decay bit; feelings, last I checked, are not the most rational of things.

    Not saying that the dumb double suicide was a great idea to along with in the first place, but I do wish people would stop saying she had initiated it, or that it was a ‘selfish’ reason. Her husband who she clearly was devoted to heart and soul – died and came back, and he just told her he can’t move on without her. The decision she makes, isn’t about being selfish, not really. Its about making one in a situation where loss is inevitable.

    I generally hate watching romantic animes, but I liked this one. Hazuki and Rokkas characters were so very refreshing. Shimao’s, I’m really ambivalent about. More so, as he obviously didn’t MOVE ON even after all the things that happened. Some will argue that he came back in the end in an effort to cut off the ties to this world, but I found the ending sequence still driven by the most selfish of reasons.

  • September 19, 2012 at 7:44 amMomo

    A very cute moment when Hazuki reminds the boy to knock first. ^_^
    Silly question & Spoiler alert:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    • September 20, 2012 at 2:39 pmLivingood

      I think it’s safe to assume that he was able to finally rest in peace

  • September 21, 2012 at 4:42 pmJ Jay

    I’m going to disagree with most of you re:Rokka, the flip-flop-flipping can be excused when your long-dead husband has somehow been resurrected, but in the body of the only other man you have ever had feelings for!

    This last episode was a bit hurried though (‘spose it was to get the ending in), but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this show. A fine addition to Noitamina.

  • October 6, 2012 at 9:17 amColonelMiim

    I hope someone still reads the commentary here lol I’m wondering though, what did the ending signify?

    Did it signify that Shimao never left their side since they never cleaned this room? or is he passing on his legacy lol I’m terribly confused whether he passed on or was always stuck..

  • October 7, 2012 at 11:34 pmColonelMiiM

    I think Shimao from the begining didn’t want Rocka to his side or to steal Hazuki’s body, as much as he wished to, he wasn’t going to do it. Up until the last minute a part of me hoped that’s how it was and glad it was that way. It is sad to have someone wish you to stay with him and watches you later fall for someone else. I understand how Shimao feels, but well, sooner or later he is still dead. I shed tears that episode when he repeatedly said her name and the last episode. Though, knowing Hazuki, Shimao always asked for his things to be removed but they always kept it, could it be Hazuki’s revenge? XD, altho he would be probably glad to have Shimao gone.

    Anyway, liked the series, they made us hate Shimao too much though, didn’t like it, because to me he had the rough end: he was dead, watched her move on, throughout the story whenever Roka spoke about Shimao he wasn’t there to know it anyway, and even in the end he lied that he doesn’t remember even though he does. Didn’t like it lol gbah this agravates me! Thank you for the blog posts though, good series :)….