It's date time for Hazuki and Rokka, as their first proper day out together sees them heading off to that classic "first date" attraction, an amusement park. It's a prospect that leaves even the usually verbose Shimao unusually quiet.
Although this should be a day of joy and bliss, it seems to be anything but for Hazuki as he spends most of his time fretting - worrying about Shimao and how he feels about what's going on, worrying about Rokka and whether he can make her smile like the photo of her at the exact same park in the past that he's seen, and so on. In comparison, it seems as if Rokka is the calmest of the pairing here, happily leading the way by taking Hazuki's hand and choosing what to visit.
That said, even Rokka isn't quite as forward as she might appear - Hazuki's admittedly ham-fisted attempts to take the lead surprise her, and she's clearly still carrying the burdens of her marriage and Shimao's passing heavily upon her shoulders to the point where she can't help but break down and cry. Ironically, it's another of Hazuki's ill thought-out comments which brings her out of this funk and puts a smile on her face, but by destroying Hazuki's own self-confidence in the process. In response, this turns him to drink, and his druken state seems like the perfect opportunity for Shimao to take advantage of his body... if you know what I mean.
Once again, there are things I love and things that I loathe about this week's Natsuyuki Rendezvous - it's awkward yet subdued first date scenario does a pretty good job of nailing how these things can often go when one or both parties are thirty-something (whatever happened to youthful exuberance?), and the pressure of having to live up to former boyfriends or lovers could well drive you stir-crazy if you thinking about it too much. However, this does nothing to sidestep the fact that it's still really, really hard to like Hazuki as he says stupid things and, well, acts like a dick basically - if we're supposed to be cheering him on in his efforts to woo Rokka, his behaviour right now is doing the exact opposite, and I can't really find anything particularly more positive to say about Shimao on this occasion either. A romance-based story where I don't like either of the male suitors? That's enough to set alarm bells ringing for me.