Friday, July 27, 2012

Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.23_[2012.07.26_14.33.22] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.08_[2012.07.26_14.38.06] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.11_[2012.07.26_14.49.10]

Dysfunction junction in flower shops everywhere.  There were even pandas at the amusement park.

Certainly, naming the amusement park at the center of this episode “Hanayashiki” can hardly be called subtle – hanaya means “florist”, and shiki (as most anime fans know) has associations with death and the undead.  But most of what happens in Natsuyuki Rendezvous is subtle, and it’s refreshingly lacking in both conventional anime pandering and easy answers.  Despite its easy, wistful tone and pace, this is a series that’s actually a fair amount of work to follow if you want to try and get the most out of it.

What leaps out at me about the awkward “date” Hazuki and Rokka share at Hanayashiki is just how obvious the age difference is.  It doesn’t help that both of them are always aware of it, of course, but it seems as if it’s a much bigger deal to him.  Hazuki is shy and fumbling in the superficial elements of the courtship, and he’s also constantly overthinking every aspect of the day.  Atsushi’s involvement obviously makes it worse but I suspect Hazuki would be struggling with the boyfriend role anyway, as he’s still very much the shy teenager when he and Rokka are together.  For her, meanwhile, even as she struggles with her ever-present memories of Atsushi she’s very much the sophisticate in the relationship (even when it comes to the choice of hats), and even enjoying the attention – as she says, “It’s fun to be wooed.” 

It’s worth asking just what Hazuki had in mind for this excursion, as he never really makes it expressly clear to the audience.  I’d thought of it as a kind of exorcism – perhaps in recreating that fateful trip he’d be helping nudge Atsushi on to the next world.  But then, Miho didn’t join them this time – there was no mention it, despite Hazuki suggesting it to Rokka last week – so perhaps this is nothing more than Hazuki trying to step into Atsushi’s shoes by walking the same path with Rokka.  No doubt, he’s very much trying to act the lover here in his bashful way – pausing for photos, buying shaved ice, holding hands – hell, he even asks Rokka straight out to have sex with him.  But it never quite takes.  Neither one of them can get past Atsushi’s presence (figurative if not literal) to focus solely on the other.  Perhaps the key line of dialogue for Hazuki this week was his “I’m not asking you to choose between the two of us” – delivered in response to Rokka’s “I guess I’m still not over Shimao-kun.”  I think that’s the right direction to go – but is it enough?

Atsushi seems to have become much-reviled by the viewers, and I suppose it’s easy enough to understand.  His actions seem extremely selfish and he’s generally a nuisance – all that I stipulate to.  But I don’t think we can judge Atsushi as we would a living person.  My take is still that he was effectively imprisoned on Earth as a result of Rokka’s plaintive “Don’t leave me!”, and he’s trapped in an existence that’s pure torture for him.  As Hazuki struggles to grow up and play the role of the man in all this, Atsushi finds himself sipping more and more into the role of the petulant child – “If I can’t have her, no one can!”  Of course this is directly opposed to what he wished for when he was alive – and he’s surely aware of this, and it makes him even more miserable.  He’s not likeable – none of the characters in this series are easily likable in the conventional sense – but he’s thoroughly sympathetic, at least for me.  If this story is a tragedy, he’s certainly a tragic figure.

With that said, I certainly allow for the possibility of something sinister in his desire to possess Hazuki’s body – a wish Hazuki (probably unwisely) grants in a state of drunkenness after the Hanayashiki date doesn’t go as he’d hoped.  Hazuki, very much the awkward boy, always seems to get it wrong with Rokka – too cold or too forward at the wrong moments – and he takes the youthful path of avoidance by getting drunk on convenience store beer as Rokka waits for him with tea. With permission granted Atsushi does indeed take over Hazuki’s body (and it's undeniably curious that the imagery used is of Rokka's spirit doing so, not Atsushi's), though just what he intends to do with it remains to be seen – for the moment at least, it appears he doesn't intend to reveal his identity to Rokka.  It’s a natural enough desire for someone in his position simply to want to feel alive for a few moments, to be able to talk to his true love and touch her – but I can’t believe we’re going to get off that easily.  And Hazuki certainly doesn’t figure to either – I suspect the upshot of all this will be that his worth in Rokka’s eyes has taken a serious hit due to his behavior while in Atsushi’s possession.  If you’re cynical enough about Atsushi you might even think that was his plan all along – but I guess I’m either too soft-hearted or too much of a romantic to believe that.

I definitely enjoy the fact that the characters don’t spell out their motivations for the audience in bright, bold letters here – it’s up to us to make our own interpretations based on the way they behave.  It applies to Atsushi and the possession, it applies to Hazuki and the amusement park, and it applies to Rokka in pretty much every respect.  We know the most basic things that drive these people – Hazuki is in love with Rokka.  Rokka is struggling to move past Atsushi.  And Atsushi can’t bear to let Rokka go.  But beyond that it’s all an open question, and I think that’s quite an interesting twist – because after all, people don’t usually know themselves exactly why they behave the way they do.  We’re learning about these people as they learn about themselves – and as in real-life, it’s a slow and painful process.

[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.16_[2012.07.26_14.37.15] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.27_[2012.07.26_14.37.25] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.49_[2012.07.26_14.37.48]
[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.49_[2012.07.26_14.39.48] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.19_[2012.07.26_14.40.18] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.35_[2012.07.26_14.41.34]
[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.10_[2012.07.26_14.42.09] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.13_[2012.07.26_14.42.11] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.05_[2012.07.26_14.45.03]
[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.40_[2012.07.26_14.45.39] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.27_[2012.07.26_14.46.26] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.34_[2012.07.26_14.46.33]
[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.44_[2012.07.26_14.46.43] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.59_[2012.07.26_14.48.58] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.38_[2012.07.26_14.49.37]
[HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.26_[2012.07.26_14.50.25] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.44_[2012.07.26_14.50.43] [HorribleSubs] Natsuyuki Rendezvous - 04 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.10_[2012.07.26_14.51.24]


13 comments:

  1. Man Atsushi possessing Hazuki's body is a bad idea for a whole host of reasons. What does he hope to accomplish? He can't really do anything of substance without telling Rokka what is going on, and all that would do is reopen the old wounds in full force when she's forced to say goodbye to him all over again and he's forced to go back to being incorporeal and unable to act. I look forward to the next episode, this has become probably my favorite show of the season, but I honestly cannot foresee any good results from this for any of them.

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  2. I can see your reasons regarding ghost hubby... but my sympathy goes out to the living here. There is a certain excess of petty streak in Atsushi that's really off-putting. And about who gets Rokka... it's ultimately her choice : not to move on, to move on, and with whom in case. The two boys getting territorial over her in the first half pof teh episode felt... understandable but also patronizing in a way given the circumstances.
    Ghost or not, life can be unfair and some chances once lost are lost forever. Suck it up. Even if it hurts you.
    You can do it too, mr. Ghost. Be a graceful dead lover instead of tilting into vengeful poltergeist route please ;_;.
    Hopefully is experience inside Hazuki's body will help him to cope and understand his 'rival' better. On the other hand... does this mean Hazuki's kokoro is now without a body (basically he and Atsushi are swapping places?) or that he's still inside but reduced to a spectator until Mr. Ghost Hubby gives him his body back? Dundundunnnnnn.
    ---
    Aw Hazuki you eager puppy *pets him* I approve of the finger licking. Work hard, don't overlook the importance (and impact)of being earnest, smoke less, don't get drunk XD.

    About the ghost morphing into Rokka... I'm still wondering if it's a result of Hazuki's drunken imagination or some sort of thank you gift from the ghost (well, given it's Atsushi it could be a thank you, a form of mockery, or both* ).

    * Phylososphical traditions about the nature of love and literature examples notwithstanding, I've read recently about an interesting foreign expression for 'falling in love' that in a literal translation is rather 'I've been contaminated by your spirit/I'm possessed' (bear with my double translation here as the source was all in Italian) . I can't find the link anymore neither in my browsing history nor by just googling it unfortunately.

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    1. Let me make clear - my sympathy for the ghost doesn't imply a lack of sympathy for the living. I like Rokka and Hazuki and find them a charmingly mismatched couple, and I'm rooting for them. I just think Atsushi deserves some slack.

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    2. I guess I should have followed the ASuki thread for this series more(and possibly NR comments on RandomC as well?) :p, as I don't think you yourself were being unsympathetic towards the couple-in-progress compared to your position about Atsushi or that you're a die-hard ghost supporter.
      Let me make clear that I don't hate the ghost. His situation is torture in many ways, and he's also a good catalyst for the growth of the other characters. I just think some of his reactions are below himself and his proclaimed feelings of love and caring, sort of. And by acting the way he does he cheapens not only his feeling of love, but also the object of his affection.
      He can't fault the living for his death, nor stop the flow of their time and their evolution as living beings. Even Hazuki for all his flailing and being an interested party has nailed his issues and called him out on them vs caring for Rokka's happyness and letting go.
      As you wrote earlier, it's a series about change and passages. I wish for Atsushi's personal journey to go well, and that he can earn some form of peace eventually :).

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  3. EDIT: found it! http://books.google.it/books?id=erWW5VsCs1oC&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq=%22sono+stato+contaminato+dal+tuo+essere%22&source=bl&ots=7ZWzuYafab&sig=J8TqmOca8O4VBiL7Qx7TMXiJpsk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FVUSUKniD8zS4QT-toGACg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22sono%20stato%20contaminato%20dal%20tuo%20essere%22&f=false <---- the translated sentence is highlighted in yellow and the original is just before it.
    It's a good book by the way.

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  4. On the visual with Rokka as the ghost right before Hazuki was possessed, I think we can take this into account with other evidence and simply state its actually Rokka keeping Atsushi tethered to this plane of existence. So the Atsushi we see is just as likely Rokka's impression of him as it is the "real" person. Which could make for some really intense drama in the future.

    Hazuki is also about to have the worst hang over of his life. And probably not remember a lick of it.

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  5. I thought that getting drunk was a bit of a weird choice on Hazuki's part, but now I realize that it's probably the only way the story can survive Atsushi's possession of Hazuki, so unfortunately it seems to be more of a plot device than a real development. I can only seeing this ending up as a huge setback for Hazuki, even though he likely already thought he blew it, when he didn't really, he just didn't make as much progress as he'd hoped. The reason that Atsushi's possession of Hazuki won't completely trash the story is that Rokka knows he's drunk, so no matter what Atsushi says, I think Rokka's going to pass off whatever happens as Hazuki acting like Atsushi (although he'd never met him). Although I could definitely be wrong about this: she might find something to believe Atsushi about, but that will just be worse for Hazuki.

    Going back earlier in the episode, Hazuki is definitely not a smooth guy, is he? I can see his motivation of getting Rokka to smile like in that picture, but his naivety in love really shows through that he thinks that partially recreating that situation would do anything like make her that happy. It seems pretty evident that Rokka is Hazuki's first crush that he's tried to do anything about, and he's really flailing about. Nearly everything he does makes me cringe, and I think it's amazing that Rokka can see it for what it is: honest yet awkward attempts to woo her, and not the off-putting creepy actions that they could easily be taken for. It's so obvious that she likes him that it's almost painful to me to see Hazuki be unable to see it, and think that he has to continue to try to exorcise her memory of Atsushi, even though he claims he can accept being a second choice. Hopefully, after this impending disaster of a possession, he might wake up a little bit and see what's in front of him and lighten up on himself.

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    1. Rokka being a bit older AND comparatively a lot more experienced AND (from what we've been shown so far) a gentle soul helps here in putting Hazuki's youthful blunders into perspective I think , her insight and metal maturity as such are a welcome bit of characterization but not *too* amazing for us as viewers ;).

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    2. Yeah, I agree. She seems to just be a very normal 'older' person, and it's nice to see that kind of character. I do almost wish she would take a bit more of a role in guiding the relationship, although she's been very forgiving, patient, and understanding. Heck, after Hazuki's major screwups so far, like "I'll make you forget that loser husband", lots of people would be like "Don't talk to me again." To me that really indicates that she's far more interested in Hazuki than she lets on (both to him and to herself).

      But it's up to her how she wants to proceed, really, so I'll just keep watching.

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    3. That dynamic of the older, more settled Rokka vs. the man-child Hazuki is the best part of the show for me. His reaction - "Fuck, I blew it, let's run away by getting drunk on konbini beer" is a classic example. He hadn't blown it - Rokka was bemused more than anything - but by overreacting he just made it worse.

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    4. Yeah, it's painfully obvious that this is Hazuki's first serious love, and he really doesn't know what the heck to do. I'm actually pretty amazed that he thought "I'll knock back a 6-pack, and THEN go back to the store!" First, that must have been the biggest chugfest, since he gets back before she makes the tea? And then that he made it back to the store? Really? I can get that his thinking process is probably not too keen at that point, but if he's drinking because he's scared he blew it, it would seem running away home is more of a likely response. That's the kind of stuff that makes me a little not trusting of the show, and that it was a setup to resolve the 'Let me use your body' thing.

      It's not totally unbelievable (Heck, nothing people do when drinking is totally unbelievable), but it is stretching it.

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    5. I agree, this is a bit of a stretch and does have the feel of plot convenience. Though I did get the sense that the tea had been brewed and Rokka had been waiting for a while.

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    6. Eh, for a second I wondered if in Japan a) beer is much stronger than in the West or b) if you can buy kombini sake too. That would have gotten him drunk pretty fast.
      Anyway, he didn't burp once and his bladder didn't explode even after chugging all that. Hazuki, you're a sapling but a tough one.

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