Hazuki is in love with Rokka, the owner of a floral shop. Other than getting a part-time job at said floral shop, however, Hazuki seems content to do nothing to advance their relationship… that is until Atsushi, the spirit of Rokka’s deceased husband, enters the picture. How peculiar.
We’ll get back to Hazuki’s newfound motivation in a moment. There are a lot of peculiar things about Natsuyuki Rendezvous. For instance, it seems rather peculiar — to me, anyway — that out of all the people related or tangentially related to Atsushi, Hazuki is the only person who can see him. Why not the widow herself? Why not Atsushi’s big sister, who appears midway through the episode? In Ano Hana, you could at least argue that Menma and Jinta were kindred spirits — soulmates, even. Instead, Atsushi appears to someone he hardly knows. Hazuki’s only relation to Atsushi is that of a rival.
But to call Atsushi and Hazuki rivals would be kind of laughable. Atsushi’s dead. Finished. Kaput. Finito. Hazuki thinks it’s wrong to put moves on a widow when her dead husband’s spirit is floating around nearby, but suppose Hazuki had never seen Atsushi… would hitting on Rokka have been scummy then? He probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it; in fact, Hazuki seems like the sort of guy content to do nothing unless under extreme circumstances. And, well, there’s no circumstance more extreme than fighting off your love interest’s dead husband.
I’m trying to figure out what makes Hazuki tick. If anything, I’d personally be more put off by the situation than he is. Instead, Hazuki treats it as though some sort of cosmic injustice has been committed: “The deceased should act like the deceased, not keep her to himself but let me be the next in line.” Yeah, okay, but how does Rokka feel? Does she want to move on? ‘Cause let’s face it, she can’t see her damn dead husband. It really doesn’t matter whether or not Atsushi approves. Likewise, Rokka shouldn’t be a thing for a man to keep, only to be passed onto another man should death do they part.
And in the middle of all of this, Rokka feels somewhat passive, but something nevertheless seems odd about the whole situation. She’s treated like a thing that one might possess: “You know what, Shimao-san? One of these days, I’m going to steal your wife.” Let’s put ourselves in a little thought experiment. Imagine that you’re the rebound, i.e. you’re going to date someone who just got out of a long relationship. Imagine, also, that the person you’re dating still hasn’t gotten over his or her previous relationship. Usually, the new relationship goes through struggles, right? Usually, it’s up to the other person to get over the past and move on, yes?
Instead, we have what appears to be a contest between Hazuki, the rebound, and Atsushi, the third party. Since she literally can’t see or interact with her dead husband, Rokka gets to adopt the role of the oblivious bystander. More importantly, she seems innocent of what’s about to unfold between the two men in her life… well, one was in her life, and technically, he still is-… uh, you know what I mean. The point is that before Atsushi came into the picture, Hazuki didn’t even have the guts to confess his feelings to Rokka. He likewise wouldn’t have the guts to be mad at Rokka if she was still hung up about her dead husband. So instead, his anger is directed at a ghost that only he can see — one that he nonchalantly converses with. Seems like a win-win for Rokka.
I haven’t read the manga. I don’t know how the story will unfold. I’m guessing that Rokka becomes a more… well, active sounds strange, but let’s just say I hope she takes more control of the situation. Likewise, I’m hoping that the two men will realize that squabbling over Rokka is treating her as though she’s a prize to be conquered. Instead, Hazuki should really just have a heart-to-heart with Rokka, and let her decide when she’s ready to move on from her deceased husband. Otherwise, it feels as though somebody’s projecting their relationship hang-ups onto a ghost that, again, only one guy can even see. I don’t think anyone’s completely innocent for the impending melodrama that’s about to ensue.