Disclaimer: The following article contains spoilers.
Based on Kei Toume’s original manga Yesterday wo Utatte (Sing “Yesterday” for Me), the 12-episode anime adaptation unravels a story about four young people on a journey to discover love. The coming of age series revolves around the lives of Rikuo, Shinako, Haru and Rou.
Yesterday wo Utatte’s characters are very well constructed. Although their character development may be slow and/or rushed, the characters themselves are still quite good. They are good in the sense that they do not fail to make you feel something, whether it be endearment or spite. The main character, Rikuo Uozumi, is making his way through life without putting much effort into anything. After having graduated from college he’s passing time working part-time at a convenience store. His aimless life takes a turn when the two women, Shinako Morinome and Haru Nonaka enter it.
Shinako is a teacher and Rikuo’s friend from college. Even though he believes he is in love with her, she is unable to feel the same way. Haru is an energetic highschool drop-out, who very clearly expresses her interest in a hesitant Rikuo. The story also introduces Rou Hayakawa, who has feelings for Shinako. Shinako however struggles to feel romantic love for anybody as she lingers onto her feelings for Rou’s deceased older brother.
Yesterday wo Utatte explores this sort of love rectangle situation between the characters and builds up each episode where we find ourselves rooting for a certain ship. It’s very easy to find yourself investing into this anime without being aware of it. That being said, the adaptation does feel somewhat rushed and there are plenty of characters who deserved much more screen time (Chika Yuzuhara and Kyouko Sayama).
While the ending was fantastic, Rikuo confessing to Haru seemed too sudden as the past episodes showed no hint that he was interested in her that way. For the longest time it seemed that Rikuo’s main love interest was Shinako. Even when they end up together and it does not work out, it still doesn’t seem that Rikuo would end up with Haru. That’s why the last episode may seem to be a bit unbelievable. To talk about the characters on their own, they have depth and charm. We recommend watching the six extra shorts to fully understand each of them.
Rikuo is your typical young adult who is going through a quarter life crisis. In his early 20s, he is both aimless and passive (that changes later on). Anybody who is around that age could relate with Rikuo, moving on day-to-day not knowing where to head in life. Because Yesterday wo Utatte starts off with him so withdrawn, when the series initiates his development, it’s all the more fruitful. From somebody aimless, he becomes someone who gets a full-time job, is serious about his work/ passion. And at the end, he clears his head, gets his stuff together and confesses to the girl he loves.
But the best thing about Rikuo is that he’s never seen complaining. Despite not having his feelings returned by Shinako, and later on wanting to take it slow, he never imposes on her. He respects her and allows her her space. Haru on the other hand, is quite the opposite. She constantly shows up at Rikuo’s place and hovers around him with all the charisma and energy.
But she is probably the most likeable character of the show regardless of her neediness, because of her kindness, determination and openness. Being aware that Rikuo likes Shinako, she doesn’t seem to hate Shinako or blame her. Instead she still tries her best to win Rikuo over without playing dirty. Haru is honest and open, the only problem about her is that she could be a little too pushy and stalker-ish.
Shinako starts off as likeable, then turns out to be the most unlikeable, but after having completed the shorts, she’s an alright character. It’s quite sad that she’s unable to move past her fixation to Rou’s deceased brother, but at the same time it is also quite frustrating because she’s seen as indecisive, wishy-washy and selfish. You would think Shinako, working as a teacher, with her calm demeanor would probably have her life together as a capable adult, but the anime shows us the opposite. She has many issues she needs to deal with. And when these issues get in the way of others, it can be easy to lose your temper at her.
Rou is another character that can be hard to like. He is stubborn and arrogant, but that is not new for a young boy his age. Rou represents a realistic character of a young boy who is trying to make his way into the real world. All the while being boxed up into an image of a kid by Shinako and others around him, he wants to be acknowledged as a real person. He wants to be seen as someone who is more, someone who is himself and not others.
Yesterday wo Utatte’s supporting characters like Kyoka, Fukuda, Chika and Minato are also written very well. They all add to the story and give us a glimpse into a life that is not the four main characters’. Just like how the real world works, Yesterday wo Utatte considers the concept of sonder very well. Besides the characters, their personalities and their life, the artwork and the sound track are also good, if not great. The foreshadowing done by one of the ending themes is also remarkable.
In the end, Yesterday wo Utatte is an incredible series about navigating your way through life and love as a young adult. The 12 episodes were clearly not enough, but still does justice to the manga. We hope that everyone who watched the anime enjoyed it as much as we did. With relatable characters and an immersive storyline, Yesterday wo Utatte proves to be one of the better anime of spring 2020.
Hope you enjoyed my Yesterday wo Utatte review. Be sure to share this article and comment below if you enjoyed it.