Saturday, February 24, 2024

Sing "Yesterday" For Me (anime review)

Two young adults and two teens sit on a bench indoors
    I definitely have mixed feelings about the anime "Sing 'YESTERDAY' For Me." Parts of it felt very true and realistic, but other parts were a bit problematic to me.
    There are three primary characters, two women and a man (that right there tells you most of what you need to know about why I don't love this series). The man, Rikuo, is a college graduate working multiple part-time jobs, and slowly working towards his true passion: photography. He has pined for Shinako, his college-crush, for years. They reconnect when she takes a job as a school teacher in the same area. At the same time, high-school drop out (?) Haru, who is maybe about 16 or 17 (?) starts hanging out with him at his job and coming around to see him. (her age relative to his - mid twenties? - is the other main reason I have issue with this series).
    It's not quite a love triangle, in that Rikuo is pretty clearly in love with Shinako, Haru is pretty clearly infatuated with Rikuo, and Shinako, while ultimately trying to date Rikuo, is still stuck on her dead boyfriend whose younger brother is still in her life and very explicitly wants to be with Shinako. So it's a tangled mess that would have sat better with me had Haru and the dead boyfriend's brother been the same age as Rikuo and Shinako. If they were all teens or all adults, then this would have had the change to be an interesting look at hearts and grief and growing up, and finding yourself. But that age gap was distracting for me. Possibly more for me than it would have for others given the prevalence (at least in anime/manga or high-school girls and older guys). But no matter the norms, I really wish they were older.
    Anyway, what I liked about the series was the inner complexity of Shinako, being torn between forever mourning her dead boyfriend and earnestly trying to move on with life. I also really liked watching how Rikuo took steps to better himself and his career throughout the series. Those two felt reasonably fleshed out. And (SPOILER) if they had stayed together, I wouldn't have been disappointed at all. In fact, I could have seen Rikuo having a conversation with Haru about how she needed to carve her own path into adulthood (similar to the one towards the end of After the Rain) that would have shown some real emotional maturity in Rikuo (and the series creator). But instead (SPOILER) Shinako goes to the brother and Rikuo can't bear to be without Haru and that just doesn't sit right for me. It's too neat a bow, it's not messy enough, it just didn't feel complex, it felt expected. And that was a disappointment.
    In some ways, After the Rain, is an interesting comparison piece exploring how an adult can handle a teen's feelings sensitively while also being confused themselves in what to do. That series didn't take the easy way out to find some acceptable way for that May/December pairing to actually happen. But Sing "Yesterday" for Me, did take the easy way out. Too bad. 
    The other series that kept coming to mind was Honey and Clover, one of the greatest Josei series of all time. In that series, they are college students or older, so the age issues are really not much of a problem, but they are going through many of the same feelings: grief, self-discovery, passion, etc... and it's handled with messiness but also ultimate growth and some resolution for each. I'm not sure where the growth was for either Rikuo or Shinako in any area other than Rikuo's career. They both ultimately chose to be with immature teens with a lot of their own figuring out to do and (as a parent) I worry that these teens being with these older folks will ultimately prevent the teens from doing the self-discovery and growth that they could otherwise be doing at these ages.
    I wouldn't recommend this show, it wasn't a bad watch, nothing overtly problematic, but not an emotional reward either. 

Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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