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I've started to fall out of love with Natsuyuki Rendezvous, but these two episodes did a better job at convincing me to like the series again.
Finally a Hazuki episode!
Putting aside that the men aren't really the main characters of the series (Rokka is), Hazuki's brief appearances from episode started to get tiresome. I presumed that in a love triangle, the third participant would at least have to do something in the real world, so Hazuki became something akin to a third wheel in my eyes.
It was a nice change of tone to see him actually doubt himself for once. He's been pretty confident in himself, even going so far as to admit he pities Atsushi and taking his sweet time in the fantasy world in which he's stuck. Now the confident (or arrogant depending on personal views) male lead is the staple of all shojo/josei romances, simply because who wants the male lead to be a wimp. From that point of view, it's surprising Atsushi has managed to monopolize so much screen time and Hazuki's been put in background for quite some time.
Hazuki's self-doubt also raised a question I should have been asking for past 3 episodes; why is he not trying to find a way out Given that his character feels like such a lazy guy who's not giving it his all just to win over Rokka, it's understandable but it's got to the point where you have to question him as the male lead of Natsuyuki Rendezvous.
If he had fallen into the trap of his memories, I'm sure the series would have ended in some weird and twisted way. Finally his decision to try and get out, lead me to let out a sigh of relief and be happy that for once he's got off his ass and started to do something.
With fear as his catalyst, this made for a long overdue character development for the overconfident and sluggish Hazuki that we've seen. Even he realises that he hasn't won the battle for Rokka's heart just yet.
I'm glad we're still focusing on Hazuki, but it wasn't until the end that I was left wanting more.
With more and more of the same fairy tale setting and Thumbelina Rokka's continued belittling of Hazuki, it was hard to get into the episode. There's nothing new here and this is a problem when the series has felt quite repetitive for a while. At least the developments later on made the end of the episode leave me speechless.
Certainly it was about time Rokka realised the true identity of the man masquerading as Hazuki, but it coincided with Thumbelina Rokka acknowledging Hazuki as the Prince. I'm positive that the coincidence is not actually a coincidence, but intentionally done to make us wonder who the prince is.
Atsushi is the obvious choice because it wasn't until Rokka realised that Atsushi was inhabiting Hazuki's body that her Thumbelina counterpart acknowledged the "prince has arrived" but something tells me to not write off Hazuki just yet. He is the one who made it possible for the ex-couple to spend more time, so maybe this will play to his favour or even better, what if he regains control of his body at the beginning of the next episode
This has been the first time in a while that Natsuyuki Rendezvous has felt like a love triangle. Now I really want to know how the series will end!