Once in a while I will come along a character, episode, or series that strikes a chord with me. It’s hard to give a proper first impression because there is either something blissfully nostalgic or horrifyingly traumatic about what I just experienced. My objectivity (I try I swear!) is tainted. Instead I will write some of my personal thoughts in response to what I have seen, maybe even share a story or two. Sadly you won’t be able to read any of my fantastic commentary on linework or plot structure, but I think you can make do.
Seeing Hazuki, the protagonist of Natsuyuki Rendezvous, framed in the pitch black night by his window felt utterly lonely. All he had was his plants. Small potted ones that didn’t seem like they would last long. The only witnesses to his love for Rokka were the most transient ones as well.
Natsuyaki Rendezvous describes a man going after something he can’t have. It’s an archetypical tale that leads down one path: ruination. Think of all those that have come before and succumbed to the burden of carrying an unattainable dream. Captain Ahab was swallowed whole by his prey Moby Dick. Dorian Gray eventually succumbed to the poison of his portrait. Ash Ketchum is forever damned to being a 14 year old, never coming close to being a Pokemon master.
But is ruination really Hazuki’s fate? We know how Rokka’s husband is stuck somewhere between life and death as a ghost, damned to see the woman he loves everday. Can anything good come from reaching to a place you can’t naturally go?
The strongest counterargument that comes to mind is the story of the underdog. He begins defined by society as a nobody. But through his hardwork he topples his obstacles and rises to the top. At the apex of the mountain he faces what he wants and fears most and overcomes. He earns the right to define himself, he becomes the status quo. His endgame is not ruination but infinite potential. Goku here’s looking at you kid.
But what separates the Captain Ahab’s from the Naruto’s? It can’t be obsession, both parties show equal amounts of tunnel vision. Will is definitely not the problem, in both cases it can be considered constant. Is it Kantian morality, the reasons we are doing something? That might be the cause.
I can identify with pining for someone that isn’t within arms length. Your friends become much like the plants in Hazuki’s room, not helpful. They serve you platitudes and suggest that you move onto the next. But you just can’t get her out your mind.
You manipulate the events around you to try and get close. Much like Hazuki who took a job at Rokka’s flower shop to be closer to her, I joined the same student organization as the girl I adored, whom we shall name Mia.
I began working with Mia, hanging out with Mia and her friends, getting coffee with Mia, taking Mia out. And you know what, my efforts paid off. She decided to go on a date with me. Up until that point all I wanted to do was love her and feel all that love back. I was happy.
Eventually, much like the hero of Natsuyuki Rendezvous I found out she might not quite be over her ex. My reasonings for being with her began to mutate. I was going to better than her ex at everything he did. I wanted to erase his memory.
Comparing the moral acceptability of both those intentions, it’s quite clear which one was the nobler cause. Over time she found me to be more aggressive and prying. Hell, one drunken night we got into an argument over him. I said he was a good for nothing piece of shit for leaving her broken like that. Now I had to fix her up and she should be greatful for I all that I did for her.
That was the last night I spent with Mia. She disappeared from my life. For all that it was worth, my original dreams had been dashed all from a shift in my motivations.
Hazuki has the shade of Rokka’s husband hanging around him quite literally. What choices will he make? What will drive him to win Rokka’s heart. Will it be her happiness, or just burning the memory of her dearly departed into ashes.