It’s an interesting thing about these josei anime. I’ve seen a number of them and I haven’t liked all of them. (Last season’s Kids on the Slope turned out to be particularly disappointing after a promising start.) But some were very good and none of them were crap. Each represented a serious attempt by talented people to create quality entertainment.
I wonder why that is, given the huge amount of crappy shounen anime out there. Is is that Japanese housewives are discriminating consumers and demand that even their manga must consist of high-quality stories?
Or perhaps it is the result of selection bias. The shounen manga market is huge which means that it may make economic sense for even a very bad series to get an anime adaptation, which in turn may be popular enough to ensure an English translation. The shoujo manga market is smaller and the josei market is smaller still. This may mean that only an outstanding josei series with high crossover potential is likely to be offered an anime adaptation and only the most promising of these will be chosen for an English translation.
The first episode starts out in a way that doesn’t look very promising. A morose student named Ryuusuke Hazuki (Yuichi Nakamura) falls for Rokka Shimao (Sayaka Ohara), the pretty owner of a flower shop.
(The title is a whimsical play on their names. Natsuyuki (夏雪) means “summer snow”. Hazuki (葉月) is the eighth month of the lunar calendar, roughly late August. “Rokka” (六花) means “six flowers” but the characters can also be read as rikka which is another term for “snow”. Kanji is an endless source of convoluted puns.)
Unable to muster the courage to ask Rokka out, Ryuusuke instead takes a part-time job in the flower shop.
Just as it seems that this will be yet another infuriating story about a wimpy male who can’t confess his feelings, we learn that Rokka is haunted by the ghost of her late husband Atsushi Shimao (Jun Fukuyama). For some reason Ryuusuke is the only one who can see or hear him.
Atsushi tells Ryuusuke to get lost. He wants to keep Rokka for himself even though she can’t see or hear him and has no idea that he is present. He is willing to do whatever it takes to chase off a potential rival.
Surprisingly, being threatened by a supernatural being causes Ryuusuke to develop some spine. He begins to pursue Rokka in earnest and is soon making progress. She still grieves for Atsushi but she is very lonely and thinks that Ryuusuke is good-looking, though too young for her.
Ryuusuke finds a potential ally in Atsushi’s sister Miho (Yumi Touma). She is fond of her sister-in-law and wants her to be happy. But Atsushi is still determined to use whatever ghostly powers he has to thwart the romance.
Summarized this way the premise may sound a bit trite but I am impressed by the quality of the writing. The characters have real depth and all of them are sympathetic. (Atusushi to be sure is acting like a jerk, but he’s a rather sympathetic jerk. It’s easy to understand why he would be unwilling to give up what he has lost.)
Of course there’s no way to be sure how this will turn out and I have been disappointed before, but I have high hopes for this.