Entry #29: Natsuyuki Rendezvous (Spoilers) (SoA 2017)

rendezvous 1

(Recommended, once again, by 100PostsPerDay.)

Remember my post on Sekine-kun no Koi? I found that story fairly interesting, if not for its constant need to block the story’s progression with needless hurdles. Natsuyuki Rendezvous is by the same mangaka, and boy, does it show.

See that long-haired fellow in the white rag up in that picture? That’s the male lead of this show. It may be a tad hard to see with the size of the image, but his eyes are exactly like Sekine’s. At one point in this series, his hair is cut very short and he gets a pair of glasses. He undoubtedly looks a lot like Sekine, then. See the short-haired girl in the middle? That’s the female lead. Putting aside her backstory, she runs a small shop in a semi-rural setting and has an optimistic, yet docile nature, like the female lead in Sekine-kun. And because the mangaka cannot possibly do anything more with the characters to put the stamp on her trademark style, she also has this anime employ a large number of needless hurdles to delay the eventual realization that could take no more than six episodes, rather than eleven.

Yet another one for the “trainwreck” list.

rendezvous 2

The grace, the maturity, the uniqueness; everything was there to make Natsuyuki Rendezvous more than a shallow attempt at the “Spirits left behind due to vague regrets” plotline. Characters were forward(!), honest (to a degree), and willing to get where they needed to go. Initially, things were moving at a comfortably quick pace, something that is warmly accepted by someone who tires of seeing episodic progressions of “Saying first name” → “Touching each other’s hands” → “Going on an awkward date” → “Kiss on the cheek” → “Saying ‘I love you'” → “Actually acknowledging a romantic relationship” → “The End!” And while the inclusion of the ghost of the female lead’s husband leads to the inevitable “I’m not actually over her, you can’t have her” stereotypes, the fact that he could do nothing but watch was something I was comfortable with. Then, it was shown that he could do something, and that’s when my brain went into defense mode.

So, what exactly is it about love triangles that piss people off? Is it the fact that people are wholeheartedly set on a specific ship and don’t want to be denied that reality for even a moment? The fact that sometimes those within love triangles clearly do not deserve happiness and the person holding all the cards becomes more stupid than normal? Here’s my fact: love triangles encourage complacency. Think of it this way: when two people are in love, they want to grow closer. If only those two are involved, the rate at which they grow closer is consistent. Throw one other person in there and that rate is cut in half. Throw another in there and cut it by another half. It’s easier to grow two plants (Characters) with a limited water supply (Audience’s attention span) than more so. Once that consistency is cut, one is left with what is, based on the end result, filler and/or wasted time.

rendezvous 3

This isn’t to say love triangles are a burden on narratives and have no place whatsoever. It’s a slippery slope of managing the course in a way that improves the storyline. Natsuyuki Rendezvous does not incorporate it well, to put it lightly. What progress was made in the first four episodes eventual skids to a halt once the ghost husband starts breaking the boundaries of what spirits should be able to do. With this, the story also gets… really convoluted. Ghost husband takes over male lead’s body and male lead gets transported into a number of different fantasy worlds because he needs to “play a role” in order to survive. Uh… huh…. It carries on like this as ghost husband, who doesn’t reveal himself to his wife, carries on as if he were male lead and does fuck all for the next two-and-a-half episodes. I get it, he wants to hang out with his wife, but you could quickly reveal yourself to be ghost husband by providing info only you and her would know. Not to mention, you could actually be able to talk with her normally. Don’t really see how hiding yourself does you any good.

The gist of what I’m saying is that this anime had a good run for four episodes, then kills itself by running around in small circles and does nothing to really present itself as meaningful. Combined with the subplot about the male lead running around in fairytale land, it’s simply too bizarre and too nonsensical to be taken seriously. Also, nothing really happens. I really, really cannot stress enough how much nothing happens for four or five episodes, up until the finale. Damn love triangles delaying things. In a final nail to the head, the final few minutes is the kind of ending I hate in almost every context.

rendezvous 4

What a lovely anime to behold, however. While I’m not 100% keen on the designs specifically made to appeal to women, animation and vibrancy are at a very high level. Small movements, attention to detail, emphasis on facial cues; Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a visual treat for 2012. Even if it lacked any sense, the fairytale scenes are pretty creative in their design. If not for the fact that I’ve read Sekine-kun and recognize the mangaka’s style, therefore knowing that she’s basically ripping off herself, I’d definitely compliment the different styles of character design—though my one complaint is that everyone looks far too fair-skinned to be thirty and over.

It went from a six, to perhaps a seven, back to a six, then finally to a five. Frankly, it’s lucky I don’t rate it any lower, seeing as four episodes in the eleven-episode series are basically the equivalent of looking at a wall in value. That’s more than a third of itself. Its first third, however, saves it from being an altogether wasted experience, as there was enough genuine interaction and romantic shenanigans to be charming. If only—how awful it is to say this so often—it managed to finish the way it started.

Personal Score: C-

Critical Score: C

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Day Twenty-One: Hobo with a Shotgun (MotM 2017)

hobo with a shotgun

The point of the film is to be stupid. The point of the film is to be bloody. The point of the film is to pay homage to the bloody action films of yesteryear. The point of the film is to be simplistic and relatively apathetic. The point, the point, the point. I don’t really care what the point is. The movie’s bad. Really bad.

Much like Zombeavers or Kung FuryHobo with a Shotgun is a passion project for movies that simply aim to please. Any and all effort is put forth into the one thing that makes the movie unique from the rest—in this case, it’s the super gory action flick. Clear good vs. evil. Characters soaked in sticky red in what seems like every other scene. Dismemberment, raunchy behavior, and drugs galore. I believe one line went as follows: “You make me want to cut off my dick and rub it all over your cheeks.” Such classy lines and more (Many, many more) await in the shock factory known as Hobo with a Shotgun. Make no mistake, it’s not nearly as bad as, say, The Human Centipede, but anyone with a weak stomach should stay very clear.

And… that’s basically it. I just described the whole movie. It’s simplistic, relatively apathetic, establishes clear good vs. evil, and super gory. Characters reflect these characteristics, the plot reflects these characteristics. Special effects are incredibly minimal, but campy enough to appear realistic in their setting. They are also very gory. Needless to say, it’s ridiculous at its core, with everything being used to satisfy the basic terms this film leads by.

So, the issue of quality simply boils down to enjoyment, because speaking objectively, this is the very definition of a “Turn off your brain and enjoy” film. It’s completely within the taste of the observer to gauge its worth. If one revels in gore and good triumphing over evil, with not a lick of true character development or plot intricacies along the way, Hobo with a Shotgun is a fantastic eighty minutes. If not, one will never get those eighty minutes back. I certainly won’t.

Final Score: 2/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

Day Eighteen: Sleepless in Seattle (MotM 2017)

sleepless in seattle

I’m starting to feel bad with all of these shorter posts. I’d like to write more about these films, but they’re either too one-dimensional to talk at length about or life catches up with me and I can’t find the time or motivation to write paragraph after paragraph. Today in particular has been a tiring one for me, so once again, I’ll keep this relatively short.

Romance has always been my favorite genre to indulge in. When a good romance grips me, I’m normally blinded to all the flaws that surround it, should the aspect of romance be treated kindly enough. In Sleepless in Seattle, the romance is treated like a sort of magic, a sense that things bigger than what normal humans are capable of comprehending are at play and are urging people’s subconscious into satisfying their irrational desires. Before watching the film, I had the impression that its premise would make it a tad unconventional. It turned out so, as while unconventional, it’s almost unbelievable.

That’s why I fucking hated this movie.

sleepless in seattle 2

As some clarification, I don’t consider Sleepless in Seattlebad movie. It has good acting, a decent pace, and an intrigue that continues along that makes it watchable all throughout. However, there is one giant, irrefutable flaw in the film and that is its writing. My, does it relish in making some of the most contrived plot conveniences in cinematic existence. My, does it enjoy making characters into walking plot advancers. The kid, specifically. Tom Hanks’s child in the film has too blatant a self-insert style of characterization, one who conveniently knows everything his father wants despite him being a god damn eight-year-old. His behavior, and some of his lines, make him like that character that authors throw into stories as a sort of wink to the audience that the author know what they want to happen in the story. You know Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are gonna get together in the end. It’s obvious. The kid’s there to cozy him into the idea of pursuing her (or forcing him). That’s what makes him immensely unlikable.

Meg Ryan’s fiancé in the film, Lone Star or something, is another character that lacks any genuine humanity. Early on it’s implied that he’s simply in the way. And when the moment arrives of their inevitable split, he not only accepts it, but encourages it. The fuck?! This film is so obvious with its intentions that it makes everything else feel just as tired. It’s unfortunate, as Ryan and Hanks’s characters seemed cute and quirky, like real people. Even Rosie O’Donnell’s character seemed nice. At times, it comes across as a made-for-TV movie, just with well-known actors in the starring roles. The romance falls flat because the characters never really get to know one another, as the audience is only left to yearn for them to get together because “they deserve each other.” Nothing says romantic quite like filling a void to prevent long-term depression.

At its core, the film is roughly average, with some potential for an above-average viewing for those who flutter towards the characters’ love for destiny. Being brought down by horribly transparent characters that force the plot forward ruined the experience for me, as it went downhill the longer the movie went on and I realized just how long the leads would go without meeting. It could be a fine watch for some, but for those looking for something a little more passionate or logical, hit the skip button.

Final Score: 4.5/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

A Monster Calls Review


There are times when films explore artistic environments suited to their most prevalent ambitions. There are times when films wander into obscure waters and drown within the cesspool of lost potential due to their overambition. A wall is created at the beginning of every viewing experience, and it is up to the film to lift the audience past their expectations, clearing that wall of doubt, hype, or whatever expectation it’s made up of. A curious case emerges whenever someone decides to adapt a book into film, especially for those familiar with the former. While not always living up to the expectation of its source material, films have a tendency to do one of two things: stay true to the novel in most respects, or stray from its narrative roots and change what gave the novel its identity. A Monster Calls seems to follow the course set by its roots, however in a twist of fate, that seems to be the utmost cause of the film’s most frequent flaws.

Never have I ever been convinced directly after watching a film that it would be better suited in novel form. The term “The book is better” is common enough within society to make the claim seem rudimentary, however there is an interesting context to my mindset. I have never heard of A Monster Calls prior to seeing the trailer for the film. While knowing the film was based on a book thanks to the opening credits, I had watched the film from a perspective that it was a movie and movie alone. Even so, as the ending credits rolled I pondered the experience I was given and the notion that appeared was that it could have been more. More context, more build-up, more emphasis on words and their weight upon the situations. The inner creeping of a disturbed and depressed little boy would do wonders to increase the mood of his desire to destroy and to anguish. As well as give new life to the characters around him.


There is a meticulous, almost bizarre attention to detail, with little visual clues hidden throughout nearly every frame. The progression of the plot, the movement of the characters. Their facial features, their decisions. An emphasis on time and how it continues to move forward throughout every obstacle in life. Symbolism is incredibly prevalent throughout and gives life to almost every scene without hesitation. Sometimes this can be good, while in the case of A Monster Calls, there is a sense of mechanisms at work instead of letting things evolve naturally. The boy, Conor, is bullied, because he is. His mother is dying, because she is. His life peers down at him from its high and mighty pedestal, sneering at the pitiful existence its created. A universal theme of overcoming any and all adversity is portrayed, though not entirely focused, as while the film does well enough to portray the bad around Conor and how he deals with it, it doesn’t make the bad feel as though it has a purpose outside of making Conor feel bad. By the end, one would likely feel bad for Conor, but him alone. The world, the imagination, and the cheery dreariness that intrudes is all focused within the mind of a saddened boy.

With everything so stiffened in place, it feels too obviously set up to have the same emotional impact one may have should everything have a more natural tone. The monster, at one instant, preaches that most humans are neither good guys or bad guys, but somewhere in between. Early on, prior to that testament, everyone felt entirely so. The grandmother is stiff in her beliefs and entirely overbearing, portrayed as a cold, unforgiving woman. Conor’s mother, contrarily, is a sweet, open-minded soul dedicated to making everything relatively peaceful despite the situation. Most characters come across as a means of better suiting the narrative moral, pushing and pulling Conor back and forth between a mental place that works for him going forward. The inevitable, high-emotion ending scene has its intended effect, but could have been so much more should the film have focused more outside the perspective of only Conor.


All of this could be forgiven, however, entirely upon the merit put forth to make the film as dazzlingly intricate and deep as possible. There is a fluctuation of visual experimentation that teeters between live action and fully-animated cut scenes, along with a mix in-between. It helps create the fairy tale environment that A Monster Calls so desperately tries to evoke, and with (sometimes literally) flying colors. The Monster, specifically, is the drawing point visually to the film, and the amount of creaking it shows is enough to make every scene with it hard to tear one’s eyes away. I somewhat wish they didn’t have it crack jokes, but I digress. Outside of The Monster itself, the stories it tells are mostly in animated cutscenes of a historically minimalist style which adds energy to a typically slow film. If not for the dazzling displays, A Monster Calls does wonders with its use of symbolism all throughout. The way it plays with what’s real and what’s inside Conor’s head gives a lot of freedom in making the film all the more memorably distinct.

Lewis MacDougall makes his acting debut as Conor, and while I feel his performance was somewhat boosted by giving him the constant duty of remaining stone-faced, I felt he did well enough with what he was given to be treated as a serious child actor. I suppose his role as an emotionally unstable twerp mistreated by life adds a little leniency to his performance. The only person I felt had a questionable performance was Conor’s father, who at one point said he was “Shorry.” One may argue that it’s simply his accent, but I’m unsure. Liam Neeson as The Monster was a wonderful choice as a wise, intimidating figure, and while the voice was edited to a degree, Neeson’s booming voice leaves quite the impression.


There’s a lot of depth involved with A Monster Calls, so much so that it almost hampers its execution. Its dedication to filling in every hole and adding more despite that makes the film feel somewhat sloppy when it comes to making itself empathetic. There’s a very stark dedication to making the film feel entirely moving and human, despite the fantastical efforts. Working minimally is decent enough for a crotchety fool such as myself, however it leaves a lot to be desired with its refusal to focus upon any of the other characters. One will likely find a lot to devour with A Monster Calls, particularly in the visual effect and metaphor aspects. Should one also be introduced to an endearing and timeless tale of accepting what life deals you is a tougher story to sell.

Final Score: 7.5/10