Before I start the review, I’d love to hear how everyone is doing. I have been physically well, but emotionally fairly anxious (like everyone, I’m sure.) However, one of the ways in which my anxiety has manifested is that I’ve been unable to concentrate enough to read or do much writing.
I have, however, been binge-watching anime.
One of the ones I recently ripped through was Natsuyuki Rendez-vous. I was happy to discover it has a manga, so I paged through that, just to see how well it lined up, and so this is a review mostly of the anime, but I think you can get the same enjoyment out of reading it, as well.
The story follows Hazuki, a sort of hapless fellow, who falls in love with a woman who owns a flower shop. Her name is Rokka, and she’s a widow of three years. The flower shop, in fact, is in her late husband’s name, Shimao. Hazuki is so into Rokka that he has dozens of potted plants he picked up just to interact with her and even took a part-time job at the flower shop to be closer to her.
Hazuki has been kind of hoping to make his move on Rokka.
He finally thinks he’s going to get his chance when he overhears that she’s “got no love stories to tell recently” while talking about planning a co-worker’s good-bye/congratulations on your engagement party. When Hazuki goes upstairs to Rokka’s appartment to help with the party supplies, he’s met by a half-naked man who is clearly intimate with Rokka.
Only later, at the party, does Hazuki discover that the man he saw… is dead.
It’s the ghost of Rokka’s late husband, which only Hazuki can see…. which leads to funny scenes like this…
But, this is not a light, romantic comedy.
Instead, things get serious when, after a drunken night, Hazuki agrees to allow Shimao to borrow his body…
And, throughout, there’s a lot of discussion of grief and getting over a lost love. I’m not sure how it would be to read (maybe more intense?), but I found it tolerable in the anime. Like, I worry about watching depressing stuff during times of crisis, but this one, for whatever reason, walked the right balance for me. I suspect mileage may vary, so approach with caution if you’re easily triggered by illnesses resulting in death or heavy grief.
It’s also a lot more supernatural than I expected it to be? Once the body-switching happens, things get really surreal and kind of edging on the verge of dark? I was never quite sure who to root for during this phase. Like, I wanted Shimao to get some closure? But, I also worried that Hazuki would end up sacrificing his own life in order to make Rokka happy.
Absolutely would recommend the anime for a fast-watch. As I said, I think your take on the manga might very much depend on how much grief you can absorb right now. I suspect the slower, more intimate pace of reading might give this particular story a lot more weight.
I hope you all are taking care of yourselves! I’ll try to post more here, since I know we are all looking for distractions right about now. (Also, I don’t normally do this, but I have a new fiction book out, too: Unjust Cause: https://wizardstowerpress.com/books-2/books-by-tate-hallaway/unjust-cause/. Feel free to check it out, if you’d like to support my work.)