Natsuyuki Rendezvous is an anime based on a manga series by Haruka Kawachi. The series aired on Japanese television from July 5-September 13, 2012. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American license for Natsuyuki Rendezvous.
At the beginning of the series, a young man named Ryosuke Hazuki makes a daily habit of going by a florist shop and buying a small potted plant from the shop’s proprietor, a woman named Rokka Shimao. Ryosuke has fallen in love with Rokka, but does not have the courage to tell her. One day, Rokka posts a help wanted sign for a part-time employee, and Ryosuke applies for the job in order to get closer to Rokka. Ryosuke believes that fortune is smiling on him.
When Ryosuke’s co-worker leaves, Rokka decides to throw a party at her apartment, and invites Ryosuke to come help out. When Ryosuke enters the apartment, he sees a half-naked man there, and thinks that Rokka had invited him to the apartment to tell him without telling him that she’s not available.
When Ryosuke comes back to the apartment for the party, he encounters the man again when he goes out to the veranda to smoke. It turns out the man is the ghost of Atsushi Shimao, Rokka’s deceased husband. Ryosuke is the first person to be able to see Atsushi, and the ghost is possessive of his wife. Atsushi’s spirit lingers around the apartment and the shop, which causes torment for Ryosuke.
But just at it seems that Ryosuke is starting to win over Rokka, he encounters a disappointment when Rokka laughs off the idea of having sex with him. Ryosuke gets drunk, and when he returns to the shop, Atsushi’s ghost takes advantage of the situation and possesses Ryosuke’s body. The series takes a supernatural turn at this point, as Ryosuke finds himself trapped in the storybook world that Atsushi created in his sketchbook while he was still alive.
I have to admit that at the beginning of the first episode, I found Ryosuke to be on a little on the creepy side because he came across as a stalker. However, over the course of the first two or three episodes, I found myself warming up to him. What probably helped to win me over was how much of a jerk Atsushi’s ghost is portrayed as when he interacts with Ryosuke.
The series starts out as a typical slice of life story. However, what made it refreshing was the fact that this story features adults rather than the high school students that are typically associated with the slice of life stories. But the series takes the story to the next level by adding much more in the way of supernatural elements once Atsushi’s ghost takes over Ryosuke’s body. But even with the increase in supernatural elements at that point, the story still does a great job of dealing with Rokka’s confusion between wanting to honor her husband’s memory and potentially moving on and admitting that she is in love with Ryosuke. And with the way that Rokka ends up getting played and inadvertently stuck between Ryosuke and her dead husband, she becomes a sympathetic character. The series really impressed me with how it dealt with Rokka’s situation and how her past with Atsushi is revealed in various flashbacks throughout the series.
I also appreciated the animation style that was used for Natsuyuki Rendezvous. It has more of a realistic look to it, and it really complements the compelling storytelling.
I really enjoyed Natsuyuki Rendezvous, and it’s a series I definitely want to add to my anime home video library.