I Love You (Natsuyuki Rendezvous)

So far I have found Natsuyuki Rendezvous to be a very unique, engaging anime. The series takes its time delving into the thoughts, memories, and feelings of the three main characters, and manages to create situations that utilize its premise quite effectively. While watching this series, I have found myself feeling a great deal of sympathy for each character, and can’t help but wonder what I would do if I were in their place. In short, most every episode has been rather thought-provoking for me–or perhaps even a little soul-searching?

Ryousuke loves Rokka, but has difficulty knowing where to go from that point. Rokka was married to Atsushi, who has passed away, and she still maintains those feelings of love she had for him. Atsushi is still lingering on as a spirit, unable to move on due to his love for Rokka. And Ryousuke can see and speak with Atsushi. It’s a setup that works perfectly for all sorts of dramatic conflict, and the series has done well to show how each character ends up thinking of one another. None of them completely disregard each others’ desires, which constantly creates feelings that work against each other. The fact our characters are all adults adds to the unique feel of this anime, and perhaps gives me more reason to relate the characters’ situations to my own life.

Love is the subject of a great deal of fiction, enough that it’s safe to say I’m not going to be pinning down the essence of this emotion in a single short blog post like this. In terms of romance, I can’t help but contemplate on just how powerful this emotion can be, and just how wonderful/exciting/terrifying/magical/breathtaking it would be to hear those three lovely little words: I love you. Especially if said feeling is already reciprocated! In works of fiction, characters often “fall in love.” And often for the most random of reasons (if there be an actual reason at all). In episode 6 of Natsuyuki Rendezvous, we learn the details behind Ryousuke’s infatuation with Rokka, and indeed it was a matter of him being swept away by a scene that elicited that overwhelming emotion of love. Perhaps it helps that Rokka was (and generally is) in a flowery setting that lends itself well for a romantic atmosphere. After all, love and flowers are practically synonymous, aren’t they? (Another potential blog post right there, on the role of flowers in this series…)

At one point in this episode, Rokka has a conversation with her coworker friend, who says that “a widow isn’t meant to stay one forever.” To be honest I’m not sure how to feel about such a line. I mean, if Rokka falls in love with someone other than Atsushi (which she… has? sort of?), what does that make of the love she has for Atsushi? If a person falls in love with someone and marries him… well, there’s just this sense that this is a feeling/bond/ideal that is never meant to be broken. But perhaps this is a thoroughly naive thought of a romanticist? Rokka wasn’t actively seeking to fall in love again, but Ryousuke brought that feeling upon her regardless (though ironically[?] it was Atsushi!Ryousuke that brought about her return confession). Atsushi has passed away, but Rokka’s memories and feelings continue to last for years to come, right? Can her romantic love for Atsushi be replaced with a romantic love for someone else, without lessening or even belittling said feelings for Atsushi? Perhaps my thoughts on this topic won’t mean much since I’m not like Rokka (ie a widow–nor have I married at all), but I feel it’s ill-advised to try deciding if it’s right or wrong to pursue any kind of romantic relationship following the death of a spouse. But to fall in love with someone, even if it had been years since a husband’s death–it’s a bit of a difficult thing for me to fathom to be honest. Perhaps I place too much weight on the whole concept of love in the first place?

In the end, it does seem kind of obvious that everyone would be happier if Ryousuke ends up with Rokka by the conclusion of this series. Ryousuke and Rokka can be happy together, and Atsushi can be happy because Rokka is happy. Hasn’t that been what the series has hinted at, especially in regards to Atsushi needing to let go of Rokka and move on? (After all, he has died?) But even if it sounds like a happy conclusion of sorts on paper, I still feel very SAD–especially for Atsushi. In a way death is this sort of unwanted forced divorce, and Atsushi has to just accept that some other man will become the love of Rokka’s life. Or… perhaps not? With Atsushi still possessing Ryousuke, I suppose anything can happen. I rather doubt things will stay that way, but the fact Rokka has confessed her love for Ryousuke at this time is a tricky plot element to deal with. In the first place Ryousuke has somewhat felt like a “replacement Atsushi” for her to some degree, especially with Ryousuke trying to repeat the steps that Atsushi took to win Rokka’s heart (as well as Rokka repeatedly thinking of Atsushi during her interactions with Ryousuke/Atsushi!Ryousuke). But will Rokka eventually fall completely in love with the “true” Ryousuke, whatever that may be? And if so, what exactly does that make of her love for Atsushi? Perhaps the love she holds for Atsushi will simply take on a different form? Or perhaps her love for Ryousuke will simply be a slightly different kind of love than the love she holds for Atsushi, albeit still underneath the more general love umbrella of romantic love?

Perhaps this is what I like best about Natsuyuki Rendezvous so far–there are no simple answers. (Well, at least for me.) As the rather beautiful ending theme illustrates, there can be many feelings that accompany that act of loving someone. In the context of Natsuyuki Rendezvous, do you think this song is about Atsushi? Or could it be about Rokka or Ryousuke as well?

I sure do love you

It’s a fleeting miracle, like snow falling in midsummer

If I hadn’t met you, I wouldn’t have been this sad

My heart wouldn’t ache like this… but even so

If I couldn’t have met you,

I never would’ve known strength or kindness

When I close my eyes, you’re right here

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