Final Review: Natsuyuki Rendezvous

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous is one of the two josei titles in the Summer 2012 anime season. It is also the other NoitaminA title of the season. The story is based on a four volume manga that ran from July 2009 to January 2012 and follows Ryousuke Hazuki, Rokka Shimao and Atsushi Shimao in a love triangle. The catch is, Atsushi is dead and a ghost. Unsurprisingly, only Ryousuke is capable of seeing him and Atsushi is attempting to convince Ryousuke to give up his body so that the former can physically be with Rokka again. Natsuyuki Rendezvous was simulcasted by CrunchyRoll and licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous is what can be called a show that is over praised because of its genre: josei. Josei has been a relatively new trend recently with major titles like Honey and Clover in 2005 and 2006, NANA in 2006-2007, Nodame Cantabile in 2007-2010, and of course the recent Chihayafuru being fantastic hits in the industry. However, it seems people don’t realize that just because it’s a “new” genre and that it has been doing well, it doesn’t mean the trend will continue. Natsuyuki Rendezvous and most likely Uta Koi, which I will review when it ends next week, are prime examples that break this chain. In fact, the chain has broken for this genre many times already, just with titles were blatantly bad from the get go. Natsuyuki Rendezvous didn’t start out that way. It definitely had a slow first episode but some potential…that is until the ghost showed up. Bringing a ghost into a romance title is always a tricky move where very few titles have managed to succeed, including ef and Ano Hana. Ever since that introduction, the show only went downhill from there with acid trip after acid trip. The story ends up with Atsushi taking over Ryousuke’s body for about half the series and Ryousuke living in a dream world for that period. Ultimately, we a lot of “reasonable” character interactions particularly with Rokka, who is the primary love interest of the two. The development is not smooth and pacing seems all over the place. I should also note that the characters are incredibly dull and uninteresting. They have almost no emotion and the atmosphere seems overly tense and quiet for most of the series. Conclusion wise, half was okay, the other half was out of place. The final few minutes also felt far too disjointed from the rest of the episode.

Art is somewhat detailed but could be better. The dream world scenery was very pretty I must say though as was the animation quality. Character designs are also above average. However, nothing really stood out and was overall fitting with the series. Visually speaking, however, for a show that has a lot of flowers, it wasn’t really visually appealing. I had expected more colorful scenes for a show that used flowers as plot devices. As for expectations of animation, Natsuyuki Rendezvous falls in the same category as Yuru Yuri 2 with this type of quality being Doga Kobo’s limit at the moment.

OP/ED themes are both okay, though this season didn’t really have many songs that stood out unlike last season. Background music is generally forgettable not to mention that this series is overall quiet for some reason. Sound effects are average. The four seiyuus for this show are very experienced but I felt that overall there was a lack of emotion in this show. Whether or not this is because that’s how the series is or because the seiyuu’s fault is a different question.

Enjoyment? I thought this show was an absolute snooze fest. Too many supernatural elements in this show and like I said before, putting a ghost in a romance series is very tricky and can result in a spiraling downtrend if it is not used properly. Personally, I think Natsuyuki Rendezvous was incapable of implementing this element and there are three other titles that effectively do the same things as Natsuyuki Rendezvous but better, i.e. Maison Ikkoku, ef, and Ano Hana.

Overall, there are so flaws in this show. yet people seem to just ignore them and praise it because it’s genre it’s different or because it’s the up and coming “josei” genre. Yes, it’s josei, but again, it doesn’t mean it’s always good. Natsuyuki Rendezvous seemingly did animate all four volumes of its source material yet I’m surprised that this title even received an anime adaptation at all given how boring the story is. Granted that josei means targeted at teenage/adult female audiences, I have certainly enjoyed my fair share of josei titles like Chihayafuru, Honey and Clover, and NANA, but Natsuyuki Rendezvous is definitely not one of them.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Fair setup. Ghost introduction is annoying.
  • Character Personalities (0/1): Overly dull and uninteresting characters
  • Character Development (1/2): Lots about Atsushi and a little bit of Rokka. Ryousuke feels like a huge third wheel here even though he is indeed late to the party and Atsushi is dead.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (2/2): Small cast and therefore easy to remember who’s who. Presence is generally there.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Show tries to do too many exotic things at once yet moves too slowly.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0/2): Absolutely none. Again, too many exotic things with lack of explanation and development. Dream world stuff was trippy.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Final few minutes felt weird. Half okay, half bad.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Fair and somewhat detailed.
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Above average and fitting with the series.
  • Fluidity (1.5/2): Real world lacked much motion with a lot of still shots. Dream world was interesting and nice overall.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Could use more colors for a show that utilizes the theme of flowers.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Similar to my Yuru Yuri 2 review, this is the limit of Doga Kobo.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2/3): Okay OP/ED themes. Not spectacular though.
  • Background Music (0.5/2): Below average and forgettable
  • Sound Effects (1/2):  Average
  • Seiyuu (1.5/3): Strong cast, weak emotions.
  • Total: 5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): Snooze fest
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): None
  • Presentation (1/2): Good start but hard to really stay hooked on this show due to not only how slow it moves but because of the weird elements it throws in.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): None
  • Recommendation (0/2): Maison Ikkoku, ef. and Ano Hana do the same thing but better. If you want josei, go watch Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Chihayafuru, and/or NANA.
  • Value (0/1): Just because it’s josei doesn’t mean it’s automatically good.
  • Total: 1/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 4/10

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