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Yesterday o Utatte
Focused on several young adults undergoing different growing pains with love and their personal lives, the premise was one that struck my interest at first with exploring how male lead Rikuo and three other young adults navigate through their lives to settle on what they want for themselves for both their careers and love lives as each have their own personal dilemmas to cope with. The first half does a solid job with exploring all four characters and seeing some of the gradual steps each are taking with decisions on their lives. However by the second half of the series, it seemed the anime's focus shifted toward trying to build up and resolve the love lives of the four central characters in question and a good amount of story and character developments outside the romance angle from the show's manga source material got removed as a result. The story shift looked sloppy and rushed in its developments due to this, and did hurt my reception to the series in its later half as a result. A crying shame too, as another season of material could have been animated to explore the individual developments of its major characters and there seemed to be enough material from the manga for this to be a doable idea. With the series as it is, I'm quite disappointed with how the series changed up its story direction and pacing in its second half to dabble more focus on the romance developments of the cast instead of balancing focus between that and the personal lives of each of the individual characters.
Last updated Saturday, June 20 2020. Created Saturday, June 20 2020.
Yesterday o Utatte
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(All episodes watched):
Episode one of Yesterday quickly struck me as a classy, mature show. A web of interconnected characters is established: Rikuo's old college girlfriend. Shinako, is now a teacher and has moved into the area. Another girl, Haru, has taken an interest in him (apparently based on nothing more than an episode in which he dropped something important and she picked it up for him), and it just happens that Haru used to be a student of Shinako. Something unfortunate happened which led Haru to drop out of school, and Shinako regrets it. The web is intriguing and plausible (except maybe for how Haru became attracted to Rikuo), and it definitely seemed to be going somewhere. Most anime tell stories which are so simple that there's little need for the viewers to do much thinking in order to understand everything, but Yesterday seemed like a complex tale which makes us curious and will reward our curiosity.
It soon becomes clear that the series as a whole will not live up to the standards set by episode one, however. In episode two yet another character, Rou-kun, is introduced. He's a student of Shinako who also happens to be the brother of her former boyfriend. He's attracted to her himself and regards Rikuo as a rival. Likewise, Haru sees Shinako as a rival for Rikuo's attention, even though Shinako doesn't see it that way. It gets a little confusing; is Shinako serious when she insists that she and Rikuo should be nothing more than friends, or not? My guess is that she likes to think that way, but deep down feels somewhat differently. At the end of episode one what was going on was pretty clear, but now I was not so sure. Things continue to get complicated in episode three. I guess one problem I had is that it was kind of hard to take Haru's attraction to Rikuo seriously, given how they met, and apparently that was enough to trigger love at first sight for her. Would you want a girlfriend like that? The episode left me feeling that nothing had changed significantly--no shocking revelations this time around--and while it was enjoyable I was wondering what the point of it had been. For some reason, I wished this had remained an easily understood romantic triangle rather than becoming a confusing romantic quadrangle. Almost as soon as Rou-kun appeared, I got the feeling that he was diverting attention from what really mattered in this story. Maybe his motivations--he wants his brother's girlfriend for himself--were unconvincing and/or impure. Maybe he doesn't seem like a serious competitor for Rikuo, and therefore just a distraction.
In episode five yet another new character gets involved in the romantic tangle, which did not seem like an altogether good idea to me. But this person's hopes are soon quashed and he is gone by the end of the episode, which was probably the right call. In episode six we have another one-episode character, a former girlfriend of Rikuo. I found her more interesting than the guy from episode five, but I wondered if these episodes really make any difference to the long term plot or if they are nothing but filler. The question remained, where is this going? What will the climax be about? I wasn't getting much of a sense of things building to a crisis point. Shinako can't make up her mind which guy should be her boyfriend (or if she should have a boyfriend at all). She wants to please everyone, but that is impossible. But the show doesn't seem to be focusing on any sort of deep question like what a woman in her position should do, instead it's just the usual question of who pairs up with who. The result is that things feel sort of muddled and frustrating. Perhaps the problem with this show is that there isn't really anything novel about this romantic problem. Shinako has a hard time letting go of her dead boyfriend, but there's little doubt that sooner or later she will. Other than that, stuff like this happens all the time and isn't all that interesting.
The tension never really gets all that high, despite some awkward situations. Rikuo has never shown any signs of getting serious about Haru and Shinako has never shown any signs of getting serious about Rou-kun, so those outcomes don't seem to be options. But if you stop and think for a moment, the natural result will be a matchup between Rikuo and Haru, since they were the male and female main characters. And sure enough, that's what happens. But the final episode does a reasonably good job of convincing us that that made sense and of salvaging a happy ending. Yesterday, in short, was a show which got off to a very good start, turned out to be less good than we had been led to expect, but ultimately was good enough.
Last updated Friday, July 17 2020. Created Monday, April 27 2020.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||https://singyesterday.com/|