Thursday, 30 August 2012

Natsuyuki Rendezvous - Episode 9

It's a lovely day for a trek out in the country - a good job too, as Shimao continues to make full use of Hazuki's body by taking him out to the one spot he can remember taking an outing with Rokka, unaware that his wife is in hot pursuit of him in the midst of a confused state of her own.

Unfortunately, it takes us most of the episode to reach the meeting between these two characters, as the episode instead spends much of its time engaging in yet more flashbacks to Shimao and Rokka's past before the former's death, while Hazuki continues to meander through the fairy tale world in which he's trapped.  While some of these elements (such as Shimao's entry into the Ministry of Silly Walks when he runs) prove to be pivotal to the latter part of the episode, a lot of it simply feels like this series spinning its wheels some more.

Eventually though, Rokka not only catches up to Shimao, but realises exactly who he is to the point where Shimao himself can do nothing to deny it as his plan has spiralled way, way too far out of his control to do anything.  Is it time for him to step aside and let Hazuki have his own body back, or is Shimao's selfishness about to reach a new level now that the game is up and a tearful Rokka has realised exactly what is going on?

That cliffhanger is really one of the few saving graces of an episode which is an exercise in frustration - every now and again you get a glimpse of what Natsuyuki Rendezvous can do as it delivers some poignant musings on a shrinking lifetime with a serious illness and the horrible decisions it forces either you or your loved ones to make, but much of this threatens to be lost in unnecessary flashbacks and prevarication which do little to nothing to advance the story.  I'm beginning to think that this series would have been better served as a shorter OVA - trim the fat and cut out swathes of needless exposition and backstory and you'd have a tightly focused and incredibly emotional story that would blow anyone with a heart away.  In its current form however, Natsuyuki Rendezvous feels like a prime example of wasted potential; a series with lots of important things to say, drowned out in the minutiae it insists on surrounding those key story beats with.

No comments: