After having lived elsewhere for several years, Sana returns to the town in which he grew up in, and quickly begins to reacquaint himself to his surroundings and new high school. While there, Sana runs into his four childhood friends: Shuu, Shuri, Aoi, and Nanaka; but for some strange reason Nanaka gives him the cold shoulder. As he goes about his new daily life, can Sana rebuild his friendship with Nanaka while trying to deal with a troubling secret from his past?
The Place of Memories
A Precious Melody
Cookies and Pebbles
I'm Not a Child
Non-blooming Sakura Blossoms
Episode 8 -The Secret Mailbox
Good Luck! Animenger!
For the Sakura…
Memories in Red
StoryIf there's one thing that grinded me about Myself; Yourself, it's the fact that the opening sequence misrepresents the anime by implying that there would be a band of some sorts present. Alas, this turned out to not be the case, and sadly I found that fact more depressing than any of the events that transpired in the series. I mean come on, they went through all that effort to make the opening sequence badass but then shoot the series off in an entirely different direction - what's up with that?But I digress. In actuality, Myself; Yourself turned out to be an enjoyable watch despite having some rather glaring pacing issues. It traces the poignant tale of five childhood friends who are reunited after five years of separation, but unlike many anime that share a similar plot, it does so in a relatively realistic fashion. On the surface none of the friends, save Nanaka, seem to have changed, but as the story pans out this notion slowly fades. Though the first few episodes seem to display the characters as happy and carefree, the series soon shows this is merely superficial. The characters each must struggle with their own personal problems, ranging from death to abuse to neglect, which provides for rather bleak substance beneath its heart-warming shell. Because of the pacing problems, though, they spend too much time on some of the lesser characters, which really squeezes the life out of Sana and Nanaka's story and causes the series to end rather anti-climactically.Still, even though the series peaks a bit early, it certainly peaks strong. Though some of the drama seemed a bit forced at times, especially with Asami's story, it never came across as awkward. As such, the buildup to the climax carried a fair amount of emotional weight, and streamlined the jovial-to-serious transition of the series quite naturally. In lieu of its problems, this smooth and efficient feel is really what carried my interest; despite not having an exceptionally intricate plot, the storytelling is exceptional, and that in itself makes it at least worth watching.AnimationVibrant and beautiful, the animation in Myself; Yourself is, without a doubt, top notch. Visually I felt quite a part of the series, as the character designs and scenery were all lavish with detail; it probably didn't hurt, either, that the female leads were attractive (I'm guessing the males were too but I wouldn't know.) All the characters seemed drawn to fit their personalities, and this definitely helped in creating the dramatic environment that the series aimed for. Character facial expressions proved especially well animated, which really allowed very subtle personalities like Nanaka's to come alive. If nothing else, it's a very pleasant visual experience, and that is never a bad thing.SoundOf all the series I've sifted through over the years, it's been quite rare for me to not only like both the opening and ending themes of a series but like them a lot. Myself; Yourself happens to one such rare exception, and perhaps this is part of the reason I enjoyed the series as much as I did. Both songs are exemplary and manage to capture the duplicitous nature of the series quite well - the opening is rather upbeat and energetic whereas the ending is more poignant and melancholic. In addition, the insert music wasn't half bad and the voice actors did an excellent job at fleshing out their characters, so there's really not much to complain about.CharactersThe characters were definitely the unequivocal heart and soul of Myself; Yourself. Each person carried a specific role, and this kept comedic relief characters (like Aoi) from becoming obnoxious during important moments or scenes; hell, Aoi virtually disappears entirely after the first few episodes. The main pacing problem comes with the introduction of Hinako who, while a tragic character in her own right, simply lacked importance regarding the central relationships of the group of friends. Asami would have been a more appropriate emphasis of the two, though I would have much preferred a more detailed focus on ending the series well rather than more side character development.Surprisingly, though he did not initially appear as such, Sana proved a very solid, intelligent male lead and Nanaka foiled him well. Though their romance seemed a little contrived, enough backstory was provided to make it believable. Watching their pasts unfold and their friendship slowly redevelop is perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the series, but I must admit Shuu and Shuri's arc was also quite well done. Even with the series' flaws, both arcs proved surprisingly empathetic; I wasn't really interested from the first few episodes, but as they introduced complexities into Nanaka's background I gained appreciation for her and was soon hooked. Despite being the central focus of the series, though, the Sana-Nanaka relationship was given little emphasis until the very end, and thus was rushed far too much to be as powerful as I'm sure the writers would have liked. Asami also seemed to be somewhat discarded, which bugged me since her character showed a lot of potential during the beginning of the series. She obviously shows some romantic interest in Sana, but the events toward the end of the series seem more an excuse to displace this notion rather than resolve it, so it left her story rather incomplete.OverallThough I highlighted more negatives than I had intended to, Myself; Yourself certainly is certainly an above-average series. Its drama is both tactfully and skillfully orchestrated which, when coupled with a relatively quality-driven presentation, provides for an enjoyable watch. I might have scored it a bit high, but I downed the whole series in a thirteen episode marathon and happened to quite like it, so I do have my bias. My annoyance with its flaws likely comes from the fact that I know it could have been so much better, but many series have wasted potential so there isn't much reason to fault it because of this, especially considering that the flaws were relatively minor. If you enjoy light romance and/or serious drama, I'd definitely say give Myself; Yourself a whirl.
Myself; Yourself is a 13 episode slice-of-life romance anime. If you aren’t new to my reviews, you should know I do not enjoy the bloated and uninteresting harem/ecchi genres. So my expectations were low. Early on it was uninteresting and the fan-service started to sneak in. And then out again as the anime got quite serious. It wasn’t a harem like it seemed to be at first and shit just got real, in a good way. However, was this too little, too late? Animation Animation quality is okay. I watched this series in 480p. I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with this one, it doesn’t look exceptionally beautiful, nor completely terrible. Animation style leaves something to be desired though, it seems generic as heck, though it adopts a more relaxed form of typical character design. Nothing extreme, all of the characters have natural hair colours, except for Hinako, who has grey hair (if one ignores the fact that Japanese people naturally have black/dark hair). At least it can’t make too many errors going with tried and true design. It also features a giant fluffy Yeti monster in typical anime style. Onto a quick mention of the thing I hate a lot: fan-service, which is thankfully reduced, but still present. For the most part, the female characters seem to be reasonably designed, with realistic bodies. There’s the odd one out, since Aoi has big boobs. Nothing obnoxious or unrealistic, but big enough that it garners plenty of attention from Sana. Much pervyness, Sana stares at Aoi’s jugs often, he has a stash of porn, awkward moments with Sana landing on Hinako and flat chests being mentioned often, particularly Hinako who wants to attract Shosuke. There’s also the BS cliché trope appearance of the school swimsuit in the token ‘swimsuit’ episode. Even the characters show their disgust at its presence, even if mildly. I almost spoiled every instance of fan-service XD But, good news, this is only limited to earlier episodes. Sound The intro music is pretty good. There’s a band playing in the intro with electric guitars and all, but I wouldn’t call it J-rock. Taking a look at the instruments, it seems they may be representative of the music being played, though Syuri is rocking out like the music is meant to be wilder. The outro is much similar, now I’m wondering if it was the same artist that did both. Neither were amazing enough to make me want the soundtrack though. The background music in the anime is used quite often, in the first episode, more than 50% of the anime had background music to it. Often times, it made sense. It had some light-hearted music that enhanced the comedy scenes for example and often had some more relaxing music for the bits where Sana was thinking to himself. Maybe a tad on the overdone side, but then again, I could barely notice or remember the music so I guess they weren’t overdoing it. But that also means the music itself, while used correctly, isn’t so amazing that it stuck in my mind. Just a minor nit-pick that. This anime is only available in Japanese with English subs. One the one hand, I must commend Ami Koshimizu for providing a voice dynamic enough that it was able to correlate with Nanaka’s change in character from when she was younger to current day. But on the other hand, I really don’t like Aoi’s voice, while that particular voice was more acceptable at the start and any flashback scenes, it really didn’t suit the 17-year old girl for most of the anime. Even if she is clumsy, they could have made the voice much more tolerable. It’s a fairly big complaint that. I do like Shusuke’s manly voice though. On to the inevitable long section where I mention the voice actors and what roles they’ve done. Aoi’s cringey voice is done by Tomoko Kaneda, who’s only roles notable to me are as Marie from Please Teacher and Mayuko from Sola. Asami is voiced by Mai Nakahara, the voice behind such characters as Hatsune from Angel Beats, Nagisa Furukawa from Clannad, Rena Ryuuguu from Higurashi (last anime watched), Mai Tokiha from Mai Hime and Aono Morimiya from Sola, Nora from Spice and Wolf. Ami Koshimizu voices Nanako of course, having also voiced Kallen (Colin?) from Code Geass, Anemone from Eureka Seven, Sae Sakura from Sola and Holo from Spice and Wolf. Sana is voiced by Shinnosuke Tachibana, who has also voiced Benvolio di Frescobaldi from Romeo X Juliet, Seidou Takazawa from Tokyo Ghoul and various others. Yukari Tamura voices Syuri, as well as Mei Sunohara from Clannad, Sakura Yoshino from Clannad, Rika Furude from Higurashi (hold on… De Ja Vu!), Mai Kawasumi from Kanon, Midori Sugiora from Mai Otome and Ichigo Morino from Please Teacher. Takehito Koyasu voices Shusuke, also the voice of Luck Gandor in Baccano (currently watching, expect the review next), Shigeru Aoba in NGE plus its remake and various anime I haven’t watched or I didn’t enjoy. A final mention for Ayumi Murato who voices Hinako. Characters Sana Hidaka is a 16 year old high school boy, who has returned to his hometown on his own after five years. And if you thought his name was feminine, I looked it up and confirmed that it is indeed a female given name. Most of his friends are girls, with only one guy who happens to be the brother of one of those girls. He is mostly a nice guy, if ignorant of how other’s around him feel and values his friends. He really is terrible at reading people. The typical harem protagonist then? Including being a mild pervert (no groping or going directly after girls, he has self-control), he’s almost that. He can play the piano, he used to take lessons when he was younger but now the only song he remembers is one that Nanako played for him. Once again, no parents since he is staying in an apartment where the landlord is a friend. His mother often phones up to ask how he’s doing and if he’s eating properly. This is often not the case since he can’t cook for himself. Thus I have a big issue with this, his parent’s send him off to live on his own when he can’t even take care of himself. Plus, paying for his separate living costs must be a burden for his parents since Sana doesn’t have a job. A disappointing character overall. The cute and adorable, curvaceous lass Aoi Oribe is technically Sana’s senpai at school, since she is 17 and in the year above. This girl wears glasses, has a very annoying high pitched squealy voice and loves to read books. She’s quite the comic relief character actually, since she is a very clumsy klutz and is often wearing an apron. Partly because she likes to cook (and is good at it), but also she tends to spill things because of how clumsy she is. She’s that type of character who trips and face-plants when there is nothing to trip on. At the friends last gathering 5 years ago, she baked a cake for Sana’s leaving. Her personality has remained the same, but her body has ‘developed.’ She gets excited over small things and frightened by the small things and overall, she’s just a pleasant person. Despite the unnecessary attention given to her chest, I like this character. Next up, another childhood friend, Nanaka Yatsushiro, who is the same age as Sana and in the same class. At the gathering 5 years ago, her gift to Sana was an incomplete song she played for him on her violin. Unlike the other childhood friends, her character changes over that time. She goes from being a friendly, harmless, slightly shy and jovial girl to being cold, moody and no longer plays her violin. For reasons discovered in the anime, she lives with her uncle now and has been bestowed the role of shrine maiden at the Sakura festival, where she must perform a dance. It’s fairly clear that she is upset at Sana’s clueless behaviour and also that she harbours feelings for the fool. She dislikes Asami Hoshino out of jealousy and sees her as a rival for Sana’s attention. The first of the two twins, Syuri (pronounced Shuri and spelt しゅり[Shuri] in Japanese) Wakasuki, is also in Sana’s class. Syuri is the most ‘violent’ and chilled out one out of the girls, not to say she is particularly violent. The only who might hurt someone, particularly her brother when he does something stupid. She’s fairly energetic, a smidge tomboyish with a flat chest, though unlike Hinako, she isn’t too upset about it. If she doesn’t like something, she’ll speak her mind, none of that being shy like the other girls. Her present to Sana 5 years ago was a single glove/mitten she’d knitted, since she never had time to knit the other hand. Syuri is unhappy about her home life, her mother is no longer with them and instead her father has remarried a woman much younger than him (he looks in his 50s, she looks in her 20s). She even accused her step-mother marrying her father for money and her dad marrying such a young woman just for sex. Serious accusations there. And creepy nonetheless, I will always find it unpleasant and traumatising when older men try it on with young women. But is it just the paranoia of a girl who’s lost her mother, or is there some meaning behind it all? The other twin Shuusuke (Syusuke doesn’t exist as a Japanese name, the characters しゅうすけ are pronounced Shuusuke) Wakasuki is also in Sana’s class. The only guy in the anime, who’s fairly manly and boisterous with the hobby of fishing. The present he gave Sana 5 years ago is a fishing lure he made. The twins are non-identical, Shuu is taller and has slightly different hair to his sister. I’m grateful this anime didn’t fall into the trap that many other anime’s do and make identical twins out of two twins of the opposite gender (impossible even with genetic modification). While fiction can have the purpose of exploring unrealistic things like that, I’m glad this anime was sensible about it. Shuusuke claims to like girls with big boobs, who can cook well and are very nice peaceful ndividuals. So pretty much, Aoi is his type? He’s a bit of a prankster and is willing to sacrifice his friend to save his own hide. I’m thankful he isn’t a pervert or an annoying character, he’s a good sport. He actually cares about his sister who hits him and the two are close. He also seems to work out, though not particularly muscular. One of Sana’s newly made friends, Asami Hoshino is s girl in the same year as Sana, but in a different class. She spends quite a bit of time with Sana, much to Nanaka’s dismay. Friendly to all and a pleasant personality, this girl is rather sensible and mature individual. Quite pretty too, though with a more age appropriate figure, unlike Aoi. She often relies on Sana, inviting him to the old people’s home where she volunteers with Syuri (who convinced her to do it). There, she takes care of a cat named Poe. The other new friend, Hinako Mochida is a ten year old elementary school girl. She has a crush on Shuu, wants desperately to be treated like an adult and misbehaves making Shuri look much more sensible. At least her voice is much more mature sounding than Aoi. She’s concerned about her breasts, which is pointless given her age. Her favourite thing is the big fluffy Yeti-kun, she collects the toys at a local restaurant and has a giant Yeti-kun plushie, given to her by her currently non-existent father (she lives alone with her mother). She can be classed as a deadly chef, since her cooking is terrible. That can be forgiven due to her age too. The only minor character I’ll mention is the teacher, Yuzuki Fujimura in her 20s (you find out why). She has good ideals when it comes to her students, they should be allowed to develop themselves and take part in real world issues. She likes to drink and even wishes she could take her students drinking too. This is starting to seem to me like an anime trope. She also gives her students caramels as rewards. Story At the start, Sana has moved back to his hometown where he lives on his own in an apartment owned by the Oribe family. He’s in his second year of high school and his class mates include Shuusuke, Syuri and Hanaka. This is the typical ‘high school romance’ slice of life anime, where not much happens. So what does it have to offer? Maybe the occasional slightly funny joke. And then in the second half of the anime, the plot and events that were supposed to be there are all squeezed in. I got ya didn’t I? I thought it was a harem and well… I won’t spoil what happens, so just watch and see. The great thing is, there’s a bit of my favourite plot element in here too: foreshadowing. Certain things didn’t make sense and seemed a bit eerie in the earlier light-hearted episodes. I was able to make a few educated guesses and I wasn’t too far off the mark. But that isn’t to say that this anime is predictable. Being a slice-of-life anime, it is anything but. Yes, there was a swimsuit episode, not exactly the token beach or hot-springs episode one would usually expect. But other than that, the only predictable thing was the ignorance of Sana. And boy does the plot develop for all of the characters. Even the slightly distant newer friend, Asami gets in on the craziness. But, this was only limited to the second half of the anime and overall, these sections were a small proportion of the whole show. Perhaps they meant the early episodes to be so easy-going to set us up for the shockers. And then the ending, the craziness crescendo's and then something is explained and it all makes sense. What a satisfying conclusion, it deserves to be listed as a romance anime. Most of these harem and so called 'romance' anime can only dream to conclude the way this did. Though I do feel odd about one thing (21YO woman in a relationship with a 15YO boy, at least wait till he's 18). Conclusion If you don’t like slice of life anime, then steer clear. If you don’t like anime lacking story or hate generic shounen, harem or terrible romance, then also steer clear. Even though this anime isn’t any of those things, the good bits are too far dissolved in the uninteresting or weird bits. However, if like me you give anime a chance before condemning it, or you enjoy slice-of-life or hope against all hope that this they take the romance in this anime seriously, then give this a go. It’s not completely terrible and it isn’t completely good either. After the first half of the anime, I was willing to give it a much lower score. But the further I got, the more I realised that the good stuff is at the back. I’m being a tad generous with the score, probably since I’ve just watched one of the better episodes in the second half. And if I was doubting giving this a 7 instead of a lower score, the conclusion cemented my positive recognition of this anime. Family-friendliness Rating: 3/5 Mild fan-service and suggestive themes (lower is better) Overall Rating: 7/10 (higher is better)
Opening Remarks: Caveats--this is my first review. I have seen very few series that could be classified as a drama. These considerations aside, I felt compelled to write a review for this series because I feel that it has not received the praise that it deserves. Story 8.5/10: The plot has varied themes. The passage of time and a person's metamorphosis lies at the heart of the series. The fundamental question of the series, I would argue, is, "what do we know about ourselves, and what can we really know about others?" The title, "Myself; Yourself," frames the narrative, and the story's twists and turns and revelations that help to better illuminate the true character of each person in the series, and how they are defined in terms of how they see others and how they in decide what they reveal about themselves. The ending is arguably a bit rushed. Perhaps Sana's plight in middle school hit a bit too close to home, which led me to have a greater feeling of connection with him, but this series certainly made me feel as if I were involved and was a member of the circle of friends. Their connections and recollections between present, past, and the possibilities of the future force the viewer to consider the reliability of memory, and whether or not it can be an indicator or valuable tool in determining who a person is today. As the viewer, I felt like I had a stake in the unfolding of the plot. My one criticism of the story would be that at times it feels like it has too many balls in the air, and as such it can feel like the viewer is pulled in too many directions simultaneously. Additionally, I wish they would have expanded on Sana's backstory further. Animation & Sound 8/10: The animation I would say is more or less on par with my expectations. The opening in particular is playful and entertaining. From episode to episode, I would say it is quite consistently good. It does not do anything that really differentiated it from others, but with the plot and the characters, it did not need to. It did not disappoint. The series also succeeds without needing to resort to fan service. The opening and closing songs contrasted the series well; at times happy, comical and playful, at other times emotional and stirring. I would particularly praise Aoi's voice acting (Tomoko Kaneda), as I felt she perfectly captured the essence of the character compared with my expectations, Characters 9/10: Perhaps more than any other area, this is where the series succeeds. No character is redudant or extraneous; they all serve a purpose. One thing that really sets this series apart for me is that each character has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Each character has a hidden portion of their personality that they are reluctant to share. It really reinforces the theme of "Myself; Yourself" - that each person has components to their personality that they either can't or won't share, even when they are with close friends. Overall: On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised with this series and would recommend it without reservations.
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