Natsuyuki Rendezvous Ep. 2: Fait accompli

Before you can arrange flowers, you must first mortally wound them. Or rather, we arrange them for having mortally wounded them in the first place. What a bitter irony then, isn’t it? In our search for beauty, we hurt. And to assuage that guilt, we do our best for the dying. But although flowers may survive in the water for quite some time, their death is inevitable — fait accompli. Eventually, the petals will fade and fall off. In the end, the stem will shrivel into a dried-out husk, a remnant of a former beauty.

In another way, I might have just described Atsushi. There’s a poignant scene near the end of the episode, where the dead husband recalls a distant moment with his former wife. Rokka first fell in love with Atsushi’s beautiful flower arrangements. She then fell in love with him. When he eventually handed her divorce papers, not wanting imprison her in a dying marriage, she tore them up without any hesitation. What kept her by his side? Like mortally-wounded flowers in water, Atsushi was going to die — his life only prolonged due to modern medicine. But perhaps at that point in time, Rokka had become his florist. He was a beautiful husband she was desperate to preserve.

Atsushi remembers Rokka telling him, “So this is what it means to arrange flowers like they’re still flowers.” The emphasis is mine. I believe that this is a telling quote. Tearing up the divorce papers appeared to have been a beautiful gesture of love — a declaration that their marriage will never die. But with him nearing death’s embrace, presumably bedridden and trapped within the confines of a hospital, the act does not and cannot change the fact that their marriage was dead or close to it. Like flowers, she simply “arranged it” so that it would appear as though they were still married.

When we think of flowers, we tend to think of them at their most ideal — at their peak bloom. A lot of flowers — not all, but a lot — quickly bloom, only to fade and give way to new buds. If you want to be poetic, you might compare it to passion. Passion “blooms” on you when you least expect it, but it quickly fades. You hope that it’ll give way to everlasting love, but who ever finds such an elusive thing? Unless I’m mistaken, the act of arranging flowers, then, seems to go directly against the way that things are — the way that things should be. By snipping the stem, you prevent new growth. You wish to preserve the flower in that very moment; you desire to make a physical memory out of it. In the universe of Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Atsushi is perhaps as real as anything. But he also represents a physical memory.

Of course, when I say “physical” here, I’m well aware of the fact that he is non-corporeal. Nevertheless, he is as “physical” as anything else in the sense that he effect change in the world around him — perhaps not with Rokka, whom he seems incapable of interacting directly with, but certainly with Hazuki. Even in the narrative sense, he functions as a device for recollections; many of his scenes involve an act of remembrance. When he sees Hazuki walking besides Rokka, he laments that his place — a memory — has been taken over by another.

And if Atsushi represents a physical memory, it’s very likely that a large part of his existence is due to Rokka herself. Atsushi recalls, “You told me not to leave then, so I decided not to go anywhere.” His decision, however, was dependent upon Rokka’s wishes. She’s the florist and her love life is now the flower. She can choose to move on or fight to preserve a memory — a memory of a dying husband. She seems to have chosen the latter. In scenes of the past, we see Rokka with longer hair. It’s likely that she cut it short after her husband passed away. Most people prefer longer hair on women. Is that, then, her act of defiance? Did Rokka snip her hair away like a florist might do to rose petals? Did she purposely or unknowingly make it more difficult for others to court her?

So what can you do when someone is fixated on the past? How do we jar them from their memories? Hazuki represents the new bud, the new passion, or the future. Early in the episode, Rokka even compares him to a flower in her store, but it’s important to keep in mind that this particular flower is still alive — a flower that is fickle and capricious. Another telling moment comes after a date. As they are walking through the woods, Rokka wonders if they’re going to have sex then blushes at the idea. Passionate sex can make her forget the memories that she’s unwilling to give up, and hell, sex was going to happen until Hazuki idiotically mentioned her dying husband. Nevertheless, passion drove Rokka to make the first move.

I’m going to step out of analysis mode for now and just talk about Hazuki. I still don’t like him. I think he’s either an asshole or a wimp — perhaps both. Atsushi tries to distract Hazuki by making funny faces. Strangely enough, this tactic works. It’s even funnier that Hazuki would have no problems whatsoever if he was blind (love is blind?). He says that anyone would lose the will to fight, but c’mon, nobody else can even see Atsushi. As far as Hazuki’s concerned, Atsushi might even just be all in his head. That’s not what I believe, but from Hazuki’s perspective, how does he even know that Atsushi’s real? How does Hazuki even know that he isn’t just inventing a reason, i.e. a rival, to give himself the necessary push that he needs in order to court Rokka?

The thing is… even if he does “win” Rokka, what then? Does he know how to love her? At one point, he says it himself that he doesn’t know how to make her happy. I wonder, then, if he isn’t just in love with the idea of being in love. In that sense, Rokka is just a target. That’s not to say that Hauzki can’t develop later on in the series — further down the road — into a person who can properly love another human being. At the moment, however, he is just plainly an asshole. Why else would he utter something as ridiculous and offensive as “I’m gonna make her forget all about her pathetic husband.” Because, to him, it’s mostly a competition.

So what do I take away from this episode? Atsushi, Rokka and Hazuki each represent the past, present and future respectively. I predict that Atsushi will become increasingly frustrated by the fact that he can’t help Rokka when she needs someone there to pick her up. Atsushi is real, but at the same time, he’s also just a memory — a memory that Rokka doesn’t want to forget. It is for that very reason that she feels guilty about potentially hooking up with Hazuki. As a result, she tries to come up with irrelevant excuses like the fact that Hazuki happens to be eight years younger than her. Finally, Hazuki is the new passion, but like the ever-changing, capricious future, he’s immature. Like a new bud, he’s not ready to be Rokka’s lover. I personally believe that, at the moment, he mostly sees her as a conquest. He’ll need to grow — to become the present, if you will — in order to stand besides her like Atsushi once did.

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14 thoughts on “Natsuyuki Rendezvous Ep. 2: Fait accompli

    1. E Minor Post author

      Thanks. From the looks of it though, I don’t think my posts on this anime are too popular. Clearly, I should just stick to writing about harems and boobs.

      Reply
  1. Taka

    This was a great post. At first I was a little turned off by the flower metaphor. It’s just a little melodramatic for my tastes, but you tie it into your main point well. I much more liked the emphasis you gave to Rokka’s line about flower arranging. I too noticed the line but this post helped me wrap my head around it. I just don’t hold flowers in quite as sentimental terms as this show does so I sometimes experience a disconnect with the symbolism.

    I began to wonder while watching this episode of who Atsushi really is, in the sense that is he actually a manifestation of Rokka’s dead husband or is he a projection created by Rokka’s unwillingness to let go; and as you said, he could be a manifestation by Hazuki. The impression we get from Rokka is that Atsushi is of a man who would not hold a grudge if his wife remarried. Yet in death he seems to be doing everything in his power to prevent her from getting close to another. It seems to me like death had some kind of transformative effect on him and I wondered how he was manifesting and whether it was an accurate picture of the Atsushi as he was when he was alive.

    It’s rather superficial but I too think Hazuki is just an A-hole for a couple reasons, but I am fixated on a rather dumb one: his expressions. I know he said that his face had always been like that but forever keeping that expression, only showing a different one in moments of extreme surprise, and basically appearing humorless don’t make him a very attractive character. I hope they make him more expressive down the road.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      began to wonder while watching this episode of who Atsushi really is, in the sense that is he actually a manifestation of Rokka’s dead husband or is he a projection created by Rokka’s unwillingness to let go; and as you said, he could be a manifestation by Hazuki.

      My first post on the anime was a bit of a rambling mess because I wanted to say something in a nice way. Basically, I felt that the rivalry between Hazuki and Atsushi was just a way for Rokka to avoid taking responsibility of the situation. She has to choose to move on, not simply allow two men to fight over her. So maybe one aspect of Atsushi is representing Rokka’s insecurities, especially with regards to moving on. Who’s the real Atsushi then?

      Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.

      I don’t think the answer to this question matters too much in the bigger picture. The real guy is gone. Ghost Atsushi, on the other hand, is simultaneously the memory of an idealized spouse and someone to spur Hazuki on. That’s why he’s such a great guy in the past, and a bit of a creepy, overprotective husband in the present day. ‘Course, that’s just my early (and somewhat cynical) reading of the episodes I’ve seen. It could be wrong depending on what the later episodes reveal.

      Reply
      1. thoughtcannon

        I didn’t really want to use the world idealized because I felt like the ghost version of Atsushi is not how Rokka would want it if she knew. I felt like if the manifestation was from Rokka’s insecurities it would be something deep-seated or unconscious. Basically something out of her control. Still I think getting a handle of the divide between ghost Atsushi and living Atsushi is important because dumbass (Hazuki) is treating him like a real person rather than some kind of manifestation of grief. So if change is going to come to the characters I feel like it will be a ripple through all three or at the very least will involve ghost Atsushi and will be simultaneously mirrored in Rokka or Hazuki.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I felt like if the manifestation was from Rokka’s insecurities it would be something deep-seated or unconscious. Basically something out of her control.

          But I don’t think she is in control of him. Ghost Atsushi is not something she would admit to wanting. Nevertheless, he is real, but simultaneously a representation. I don’t actually like the word ‘manifestation’ here because it implies that he was created by someone or something but I might just be quibbling over semantics. In any case, I think the subtext here is that he is very much a projection of someone’s — whether it’s Rokka, the mangaka, or the viewer — insecurities when it comes to moving on after a painful break-up (death is a helluva way to break up). The person on the rebound has to let go of the past and accept the new person. But how do you let go of the past when you remember him or her in such fond terms?

          In that way, I think Atsushi separates the insecurities from the person. He’s the one clinging on to her, not the other way around. He’s the one fighting the new relationship, not her. At the same time, she can preserve her memories of him. None of this is something she’s in control of, per se, but it might be something she desires at some subconscious level. And fittingly, Hazuki directs his frustration at Atsushi and not Rokka. In the real world, where you’re not likely to compete against a ghost, Hazuki would be mad at Rokka for not moving on and giving him a fair chance. By existing, however, Atsushi relieves Rokka of this very problem.

  2. E Minor Post author

    Man, I am so frustrated by the lack of responses to this post. I’m not even looking for praise; I just wanted a discussion. Next week’s entry on Natsuyuki Rendezvous will be very different.

    Reply
    1. Marow

      I’m sorry, I don’t have anything to discuss ;-;

      My only opinion on the show itself, is that Rokka just feels like a trophy, which you have already mentioned before.

      Reply
    2. alsozara

      I’m sorry, man, I hate to see hard work go unrecognised. I’m sure there are quite a few people who read and enjoy these posts but don’t comment. This really is a great post, I hope you don’t find it too discouraging.

      Reply
  3. seelosopher

    I’m on a one-week delay with these. This is partly due to time-constraints, but it’s mostly me being too lazy/sanctimonious to download/pay for anything, so I’m catching it on the free Crunchyroll stream when it comes out. I might have something to say by then.

    Reply
    1. seelosopher

      Okay, so this was definitely a step up from the first episode. Mostly because we got to see Rokka’s side of things and not just a remix of Jinta vs. Yukiatsu, besides it being quite refreshing for anime to explore a complex and mature relationship that even organically mentions sex and its place in real life. This has a different type of angst.

      Although I must have taken the story more at face value, because all I saw in Rokka’s hairstyle was a bit of a nod to Demi Moore in Ghost, and I definitely did not see much to their background on flower arrangements. But your exploration on those subjects make a whole lot of sense. Any doubts as to the existence of Atsushi outside of Hazuki’s imagination, however, I believe were dispelled by the information the former supplied to the latter in Rokka’s moment of need.

      Yet the part that really hit home for me was the one spelled out throughout the episode: that of the reality of someone taking anyone’s place after they’re gone. No matter how special you are to another person, our time with each other is always temporary; whether it be voluntary or not. You allude to that a bit in the crux of your thesis, and it’s an idea that brings me back to an extent to the film “Never Let Me Go”, more for the ‘temporary’ notion than anything.

      I’m also warming up to the soundtrack and the Mucha-like visuals in the ending theme, so this show is turning out to be quite enjoyable, so far.

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        Any doubts as to the existence of Atsushi outside of Hazuki’s imagination, however, I believe were dispelled by the information the former supplied to the latter in Rokka’s moment of need.

        Just to re-iterate, I don’t personally think Atsushi is all in Hazuki’s imagination. That sort of “it’s all a dream” analysis is overplayed. Nevertheless, I do think Atsushi is a representation of Rokka’s angst, and I do think Hazuki too easily accepts Atsushi’s existence.

        Reply

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