Rikuo Uozumi has been in a rut. Then one day, an energetic girl, Haru Nonaka, throws herself into his life.
After a brief acquaintance, Haru makes it known that she wishes to bring her relationship with Rikuo further. Things then become more complicated when his long-standing crush, Shinako Morinome, enters back into Rikuo’s life.
I enjoy comedies. I also appreciate an excellent adventure, action, or horror story. I like the thrills, excitement, humor, and tension that can arise from those sorts of narratives. However, a longtime favorite of mine is and has always been romance stories.
Now, I’m not talking about the cringy, Hallmark Channel-esque rom-coms that use the same damn plotline every single time (change my mind). No, I’m referring something more akin to Toradora, Amagami SS, or Ore Monogatari. Something simpler, more down to earth, and where the characters are likable.
Sing “Yesterday” for Me (Yesterday) existed in that vein. Granted, I need to be careful, seeing how I made that last point concerning likable characters. I have one or two things to say about that. On the whole, though, this was the first romance-driven anime of 2020 – that I’ve come across – and it wasn’t too bad.
For starters, this series was gorgeous. Yesterday’s animation was top-notch, which was pretty damn surprising given there was no real reason why this should have been the case. What I mean by that is, there was never a chance for this show to, well, show-off. Again, there was no action, no high energy comedy, no flashy set pieces. Nevertheless, the visuals, the backgrounds, the lighting, the character models, everything was amazing to watch.
No one can say Yesterday was hard on the eyes.
While all that might be great, there are two crucial aspects any romance story needs to have to be successful, and an outstanding art style is not one of them.
First, at a minimum, the primary romance must be believable. There is nothing wrong with a fairy tale love story about destined partners and unshakable devotion. Those types of narratives do have their entertainment value. But for a stand-out romance story, that’s not enough.
There is undoubtedly something special, almost magical about falling for someone. The thing is, people are people, and people tend to have circumstances. Part of what goes into creating a romance story worth remembering are those circumstances. Yes, love can be happy, warm, and comforting, and yet, it is also hard.
Love is inherently difficult because it requires people to acknowledge the circumstances of their partner.
Yesterday did this quite well. For Rikuo Uozumi, he felt regret. Haru Nonoka saw herself as a backup. Shinako Morinome couldn’t let go of the past. Their circumstances were in direct competition with one another. This series worked as well as it did because it didn’t sideline these feelings or belittle them. These were real problems that need to be addressed so these characters could move forward.
Speaking of characters, that’s the second thing a good romance story needs to have.
Put it this way: If you don’t care about the people involved, what is even the point? Unfortunately, this is where Yesterday ran into some difficulty. This show didn’t have a bad cast, but it did have characters who got on my nerves. More on that later.
What Yesterday did have was Haru Nonoka. Here was someone worth routing for because she dared to be open with her feelings. From the start, Haru liked Rikuo, and she made that well-known. Of course, that didn’t mean she had to end up with the person she was fighting to win. Rikuo was never obligated to choose Haru in the end. Still, it was because she left herself open to being hurt; you couldn’t help being on Haru’s side.
Oh, and so the record is clear, I liked Rikuo, too. He wasn’t the problem I had with this series. If anything, he was the character who made the most sense to me. Granted, for a twenty-something-year-old, he often had the attitude of a stand-off-ish teenager. Be that as it may, I didn’t envy the position he was in.
Before I move on, I want to say that I’ve seen plenty of romance stories that have been chores to sit through. This is a genre that can quickly become paint-by-numbers and lack any sense of originality. To Yesterday’s credit, that never happened.
When it is all said and done, I didn’t like Shinako Morinome. To be fair, though, my dislike is not entirely her fault.
Yesterday had the unfortunate problem of being far longer than it needed to be. There was no reason why this show had to be twelve episodes. The last four made very little progress, and all they served to do was demonstrate why Shinako was incredibly selfish.
I will admit, that was part of Shinako’s character. Her actions were self-serving, and they rarely took into account the feelings of others. That was fine, except that point was made long before anything was done about it.
The real meat of the second half of this series could have filled one episode. Annoyingly, though, it was stretched out to the breaking point. Even worse, Yesterday went so far as to push Haru to more of a secondary role, instead of being what she was – a main character.
Because of all this, it would be unfair of me to place all the blame on Shinako. The drive and circumstances of her character were excellent. They would have added to this show had they not been allowed to dominate as much as they did at the end.
Therefore, as Yesterday reached its conclusion, the less interesting it became. And ending on a low note is one of the worst things a story can do.
To this show’s credit, it had fantastic animation, solid ideas, and several outstanding characters. However, to its detriment, this series chose to focus its attention too long in many of the wrong spots. But in the end, I would say this was a win.
Therefore, Sing “Yesterday” for Me has earned itself a recommendation.
Sing “Yesterday” for Me Series Review: Love of Past and Future
Writing - 7/107/10
Plot - 7/107/10
Character Development - 7/107/10
Production - 9/109/10
Music - 7/107/10
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