Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 01

Hazuki Ryuusuke is in love with the neighborhood florist Shimao Rokka, and when a part-time position at her shop becomes available, he takes the job. One day Rokka invites him to her upstairs flat to plan a party for the employee he’s replacing, and he finds a half-naked man in there with her. Meeting him again later at the party, Hazuki learns he is Rokka’s dead husband, Atsushi, and only he can see him. Unfazed, Hazuki confesses to Rokka on her birthday, which is also her wedding anniversary. Hazuki won’t let Atsushi get in the way of his romance.

Ah, we enjoyed this thoroughly. First of all, the characters are adults! Just when we were about to give up all hope that such series still existed. Oh, and they’re not arms-dealing adults either; quite the opposite. They sell flowers, a commodity purchased either as a matter of course (funerals, valentines, mother’s day) or for pure sentiment. Not for killing! It’s a nice tight cast too; Just the protagonist Hazuki, his manager/would-be girlfriend Rokka, her sister-in-law Miho, aaaand…Rokka’s husband’s frikkin’ GHOST. That last one takes this out of the humdrum slice-of-life romance category and gently, subtly into the supernatural.

As a ghost, Atsushi is ridiculously low-key and matter-of-fact, whether he’s conversing with his living rival (something he notices instantly) or floating around the shop, a sight that’s as creepy as it is hilarious. Hazuki wastes no time and confesses to Rokka right here in the first episode, but that’s obviously just the first step in a long and delicate process, one that must – unfortunately for Hazuki – proceed under the observation of the last guy Rokka loved. Which should be fun to watch!


Rating: 9 (Superior)


Car Cameo:
The first car we see in the alley isn’t readily identifiable, but in another shot we spotted the spacious, practical Honda Stepwgn.

Binbougami ga! – 01

The rich, beautiful, brilliant and arrogant Sakura Ichiko is visited upon by a “god of misfortune” named Momiji whom she calls a “binbougami”. Sakura is throwing off the balance of fortune, and drains the fortune out of those around her, and Momiji is there to “correct the imbalance.” Sakura quickly rejects her, but when her butler and only family, Suwano has a heart attack, she consents to having fortune “drawn” from her body by Momiji, making her into a normal person. However, Sakura steals the extracted vial of fortune and smashes it, spreading good fortune throughout the immediate radius and helping Suwano recover. Sakura relieves him of his duties, and a week later he is engaged. Momiji moves in with Sakura, whose fortune levels remain too high.

Sakura is a perfect girl in virtually everything but humility and modesty. She knows she’s got it going on and looks down on those less fortunate; she’s even immune to the abuse some of her envious, bitter classmates dish out. But she’s also immune to feeling any kind of closeness to anyone, even the legions at school who worship the ground she walks on and are at her beck and call. All her good fortune has left her isolated and alone. All she has is Suwano, the fiercely loyal butler who she’s always taken for granted. For us, this is the underlying drama that bolsters this otherwise madcap comedic series. So even if Momiji is there to do one job – relieve Sakura of her excessive fortune – there’s the possibility of her becoming that first friend…whether they’d admit they’re friends or not.

That being said, as a madcap comedy – with its dizzying pace and variety of jokes, gags, cultural references, swearing matches, and music by Final Fantasy veteran Hamauzu Masashi – this is very good stuff and very encouraging if it maintains this quality. Kana Hanazawa has a long leash to unload on her new (and to her, very aggravating) roommate Momiji. Both are exceedingly fun to watch, especially when locked in verbal or physical combat, which is almost all the time. We liked the decision to focus on the two of them, allowing us to learn a lot right out of the gate. As it seems Sakura is the Spindletop of fortune, Momiji has her work cut out for her, especially since Sakura has no intention of letting Momiji succeed in ruining her future.


Rating: 8 (Great)


Car Cameo:
Suwano chaffeurs Sakura around in a somewhat stylized but still recognizable Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.