- Alt. Title
- Yesterday wo Utatte
- Release Date
- Spring 2020
- No. of Episodes
- Doga Kobo
Love can be a tricky thing in life, whether it be platonic or romantic. I believe Maya Angelou best described it as “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” But what happens when one loves someone for what they were before, and the same person has yet to restart their own life? Though life is hectic and chaotic, there are sometimes little moments that seem minuscule to us, but to another, they seem gigantic reasons to keep going.
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Sing “Yesterday” for Me is a 2020 Drama anime from Doga Kobo, the glorious people who brought us Plastic Memories. While this series has many dramatical elements, I’d consider this series a substantial Slice of Life due to its coming-of-age features, and the ebb and flow structure of character developments. But most importantly, it conflicts with interpersonal relationships. Though if one expects a vast amount of romance, they’ll be sorely disappointed and hate this series right off the bat. This series is not like anything the studio has made previously, but it does have some of the same elements from its previous creations.
The story on paper is reminiscent of a made for television movies, but judiciously. Though this doesn’t bring the story to justice, perhaps that’s why it had such a hard time starting on the right foot. Rikou Uozumi has all but resigned himself to a bleak future, aimlessly working at a convenience store in Tokyo after graduating college. His mundane life is suddenly interrupted by the peculiar Haru Nonaka, who always makes a lively appearance, frequently dropping by his workplace to befriend him. When Rikuo learns that an old friend from college – and crush – Shinako Morinome, has returned to town, he reaches out to her to continue their relationship.
Unbeknownst to Rikuo, Shinako is carrying many painful memories from her past that are holding her back in life. Though she tries to move on, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Meanwhile, as Haru continuously tries to open up to Rikuo, he discovers that she, much like him, is living alone and though he wants to take those first steps outside of his comfort zone. He cannot move on from the past or unable to go into a future that he isn’t quite sure what he should do. Rikuo’s relationships with people are continually evolving, and his outlooks towards his own life. Life can be complicated, especially when one throws love into the mix.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the story on paper doesn’t give this series justice – especially when making it spoiler-free. Sing “Yesterday” to Me is an impressive take on adult relationships, albeit nothing groundbreaking. The series does have a solid story and realistic story progression, whereas some series with romantic elements and when dealing with conflict, everything is fixed within one or two episodes. No, this series seems to have mastered the realistic portion of being an adult and dealing with conflict due to a wide range of areas: relationships (platonic and romantic), Self-esteem, and growing up. This motif is a remarkable thing to do if a story can pull it off seamlessly.
Outside of the realistic storytelling and pacing, but the best aspect of this story is that it keeps the viewer entertained while also showing the inhumane side of reality. We all have our moments when we think we have everything figured out, and then a few moments later, we’re back to square one questioning what went wrong. This series uses its adult themes like behavior and the problems that they have to deal with, and spoon feeds it to the audience. It doesn’t go from happy to sad, so quickly, the viewer is wondering if they missed something, but it does show the flaws within humans. Adults are not perfect, and most of the time, in new situations, we’re just figuring it out as life goes on. This series shows that nobody is flawless, and nobody is on a pedestal.
Throughout the series original airing, the most common complaint I’ve heard and read about it was the pacing. Yes, the pacing can be slow, but I believe this isn’t entirely a negative thing. If one doesn’t particularly like realistic friendship potentially turning into romantic progression, then you’ll more likely hate this series. Though, if the viewer is openminded and is willing to ride this roller coaster of emotions, I believe this won’t be a problem for anyone. Another issue I noticed within the series is that the story can be rather tedious at moments. This problem is probably due to it having a typical coming-of-age leitmotif, and that’s growing up. Some episodes feel like they weren’t going anywhere, but those portions give it an added layer of character devilment after rewatching the series.
The series art style isn’t overly exciting, and with the soft color pallet, it gives a winter-esque tone, which makes perfect sense due to the show being set mainly in winter. On the surface, the artistic style gives off a dull or nonchalant appearance; however, the real value is much more profound. The art style is arid and almost listless in this series because the viewer is looking at it through Rikuo’s perspective. In his mind, he is hesitant to do anything after college, so he focuses on his rather dull life, instead of moving onto the next stage in his life. When Rikuo finally gets out of that negative mindset he put himself into, the sunlight spreads into his life.
Outside of the soft color pallet, the character designs are somewhat reminiscent of another Doga Kobo series, Engaged to the Unidentified. Not every character is comparable, but the most prominent character design is Mashiro Mitsumine, just maturer. However, what is truly magnificent about this artistic creation is not the character designs nor the color tones in general; it’s the characters’ hangout places. Their sanctuary locations are because they seem to be happier when they’re here, therefore brighter colors. The colors seem abnormal in the series due to the setting is in the winter, but it is a newfound sense of passion when they are present.
Now the animation production isn’t stellar either, but not in a terrible way. If one is an expecting emotional opening, you’ll be disappointed due to the absence of one. Though there isn’t an opening sequence, there are three endings, which are likable. The original, being the more minimalist, the secondary being more opaque yet cheery as it has an arcade theme. But the third one is the best of the three, with the multiple different character images, and the song’s upbeat tempo seems to work within this series best.
Some will view this shows production as being very minimalist with its crisp color pallet, slower pacing, and sometimes even no background music. However, this series seems to be able to create a compelling semi-mature story without any flashy spectacles. Many of these type shows have a catchy opening theme, stereotypical beauty, and other familiar tropes, but this series showed that one doesn’t need to have any of those to make a high production.
The characters within this series are few but easily relatable. First, we have Rikuo Uozumi, a college graduate that is unsure about his future. Though he currently works at a convenience store, he enjoys photography whenever he can. During college, he began to have feelings with Shinako, but never confessed to her. Then there’s Haru Nonaka, an eccentric girl who is working at Milk Hall. She adopted and befriended a crow named Kansuke, who is always by her side. She often drops by the convenience store to see Rikuo.
Unlike Rikuo, Dhinako Morinome has left the starting gate of adulthood. Though she was his former classmate and friend, she currently works as a high school teacher. Unfortunately, she is still in love with Ro’s already deceased older brother, though she is trying to get passed it. The last main character is Ro Hayakawa, and his best talent is drawing. Throughout the series, we see him grow and mature into a young man. With each of the four main characters, many other characters help each character grow – both physically, emotionally, moreover, the most crucial being mentally.
My only criticism of the characters would be that out of the four main characters, the viewer knows moderately less about Haru – the other third of the love triangle. Though the viewer does more or less know her backstory, though it was only a tidbit of anything. This problem is adequately acceptable due to – as mentioned above – this story seems to have conceived within Rikuo’s point of view. Even though the story wasn’t hurt by the lack of character development with Haru, the viewer knows a decent amount of knowledge about her.
Overall this series was great, though not perfect. It showcases the difficulties of being an adult and how adults haven’t completely let go of their past. It explores the concept and reality that life is messy and never as easy, or as perfect as we’d like to think it should be. If one is looking for a run-of-the-mill Slice of Life Drama series, you’ll be slightly disappointed. This series is one that not everyone will enjoy, but this series created not for the mainstream spectators, but the dismissed and forgotten. The ones who will enjoy this series are the ones who’re looking for something a little more mature, yet easy to follow while also flying under the radar.
Sing “Yesterday” to Me is a show with a slow premise and even more, gradual build-up, and since most will give up before reaching the halfway point – and most have according to online comments, which is rather upsetting due to its nature and coming-of-age storyline. If the potential audience wants to watch something with a higher maturity level, and without fanservice, Moe characters, and unrealistic problems. Then this will be a fantastic series for you and should give it a look.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.