Sing "Yesterday" for Me - Reviews

Alt title: Yesterday wo Utatte

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zala's avatar
Jun 11, 2020

I don't know whether this is a horrible adaptation of a manga, or a faithful adaptation of a horrible manga.

First impression: a quirky romance story about four people competing for love, with much introspection and tragic backstories. There's a crow for a pet!

Reality: a frustrating romance story with characters who don't want to advance in life, don't want to change and do not know how to express their feelings for each other in a healthy way. There is a crow for a pet, but that means nothing. 

Once in a while, an anime will come around and make you ask: what happened? 

 I don't mean, how did this anime get made? That's easy, someone thought that the manga was popular enough to be adapted. I mean, what happened for this anime to be so fundamentally flawed?

After ten agonizing episodes, I found one answer to this problem. This anime has no idea what to focus on, or what genre it is trying to be. Genres are broad, but they are important because genres focus on different aspects of a story. For example, a story about a family moving to a new city could be a fun slice of life, a gory horror story or a drama about making important life decisions. Different genres have different tools to make you feel a certain way. 

From reading about this anime, you might be expecting a complicated love polygon story about four people who have no idea what they want to do in life falling in love with each other. This is a relatable story of unexpressed emotion and trying to move ahead in life. There is potential drama here to be made, and in good hands, this could be a gloriously emotional love story. 

So what makes this anime feel like nothing is happening? Why do these people seem to agonize over each other while doing nothing to change their relationships?

My answer is that the anime portrays itself as a romance, but has the structure and pacing of a slice of life story (SoL). A romance focuses on the dramatic aspects of relationships: expressing feelings, confusion about making decisions, dramatic events that lead to relationships growing or ending. A SoL story focuses on the lifestyles of certain characters: what these characters do, what motivates them to live how they do and how they might change over time in a more lifelike pace. Romances are dramatic, with high stakes! SoL are muted, with low stakes. Good romances and SoL can be meaningful if used well. 

The problem with mixing romance with SoL is that the tools for both genres are very different. Romances use broad action and characters committing themselves to decisions to show changes in relationships. SoL have characters living at a normal pace, with decisions leading to change over time. The problem with using SoL tools for a romance is that the actions feel muted instead of intense and the change in relationships feels needlessly slow and tedious instead of exciting. This is equivalent to creating a serious drama about war with background characters tossing bombs at each other, blowing up and suffering no damage. It breaks the tone of the story. 

The most important problems with this approach is that the characters feel inactive instead of active; the dramatic actions taken to advance relationships feel weak or uneventful; and there are no stakes. What romance works if there are no stakes? 

I don't know what to label this anime as. As a romance, it is dull and weightless. As a SoL, it doesn't have interesting characters living interesting lives. That means that this anime fails on two fronts.

Is this anime bad? I would say yes. I didn't feel any interest in the characters or the story. I don't know what this anime was trying to do or what emotion I was supposed to feel. There was plenty of awkwardness, but I don't watch anime for that feeling alone. 

Watch or skip? SKIP at all costs. 

3/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
5/10 overall
Twister's avatar
Jun 29, 2020

You know an anime is bad when it has got me writing my first review. This one started off with... potential, I guess? atleast I did not see the shit storm that was coming my way. There is only one decent character in this show, and the rest of them are unlikeable and proceed to make the show harder to watch. Every decision that you would want a character to make, they make the opposite. Every word you do not want the character to say, the say it. I had hopes for this show, it was something that I looked forward to watching, but it went downhill remarkably fast. For real, I'm talking after 3 episodes. I can't walk away when I start something thouh, so here I am with the taste of shit in my mouth. The ending is a slap in the ass. Don't watch it.

1/10 story
5/10 animation
3/10 sound
1/10 characters
2/10 overall
Some1ridculous's avatar
May 19, 2020

I honestly thought I could hold in these love triangles any longer. However I'm just giving this up after watching 7 episodes, I just couldn't continue it with its annoying pointless drama. I really thought this series was going to be good with Rikuo and Haru getting together but it's just yeah, turns out it wasn't for me bro! 

 If you enjoy love triangles, here's one to binge while in quarantine!

5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
5.8/10 overall
namisalami's avatar
Jun 22, 2020

It's been a while since I've made a review, but since I just finished this show recently, I figured I'd give my take on it.

Story

The story is as follows: our lead, Rikuo, has been working at a convenience store since he graduated from college (which I believe was a few years prior) and hasn't done a whole lot to pursue his dream of becoming a photographer. While working one day, he meets a teenage girl named Haru who has had a crush on him for several years without his knowledge. Not long after this takes place, he runs into one of his friends from college, Shinako, who he has had a crush on since before they graduated.

I don't want to spoil too much, but as you can see, we've got the makings of a typical love triangle. While I can't recall seeing any other anime with love triangles, I think it is handled fairly well here. Things obviously get a bit more complicated as time goes on, like we learn that Shinako doesn't reciprocate Rikuo's feelings because her crush from her childhood passed away and she's been unable to get over his death and move on, but some of the complications only weigh down the story.

For example, we're introduced to a character about halfway through that quickly grows fond of Haru. But since she has her heart set on Rikuo, she turns him down and he leaves the city, never to be heard from or mentioned again. There's only a couple B-plots like this, but with the show's fairly short runtime, it takes time away from what could've been spent developing the main plot.

Overall, I really like the premise here, but I think it could've been done much better if it had more episodes. The story is rushed through in the first 2-3 episodes then slows down tremendously and adds a lot of unnecessary plotpoints that go virtually nowhere. On top of that, at the beginning we're led to believe this will be a story starring Rikuo, Haru, and Shinako, but by the end it's pretty much Haru just reacting to what Rikuo and Shinako are doing. 

Animation/Sound

As usual, I don't have a whole lot to say about the sound design and whatnot. I thought the VAs gave very good performances here, often portraying subtle emotions in the most mundane dialogue, and the soundtrack is simplistic yet pleasing.

The animation, however, is easily one of the strongest parts of Sing "Yesterday" For Me. At face value it's nothing special, much like the soundtrack, but after watching a few episodes, you'll begin to notice how everything has a sort of "muted" feel to it. I'm not really sure how else to explain it but every character, building, and street has a sort of dull shade to it while still managing to stand out and look both beautiful and dreary. Additionally, characters will often do things like fidget and shift their gaze during conversations, which makes the characters feel much more real. Maybe that last point isn't all that strong, but in the context of the show, I think it further emphasizes how growing up and growing as a person can be a bit awkward.

Characters

Lastly, we're brought to the characters. I like a lot of aspects of the main cast, as they're all charming and flawed in their own ways, but just like with the story, the length of the show as a whole leaves a lot to be desired here.

Take Rou, Shinako's childhood friend, for example. He's introduced after we've already discovered that a love triangle will be taking place, and he's hardly developed after we meet him and seems to only exist to be an obstacle blocking Rikuo from pursuing Shinako and a reason for Shinako to develop.

Haru also experiences something similar. Around the halfway point, we see far less interactions between her and Rikuo, but I'd say she still got a bit more fleshing out than Rou. The first half seems to be dedicated to Shinako and Haru pulling Rikuo in opposite directions, but the second half, as I said previously, focuses more on Rikuo and Shinako while Haru wishes she could be included in their antics.

By process of elimination then, Rikuo and Shinako get the most screentime and development out of any other characters, and for good reason: Rikuo doesn't think too hard about life and says what's on his mind but can't always express why he feels that way, while Shinako likes to bottle up her emotions until it becomes unbearable and often tries to spare other people's feelings unsuccessfully. Probably not the most unique characters you'll ever see, but I like how they interact with other members of the cast and and each other and they make up for the story's less-than-stellar progression.

Conclusion

Admittedly, while I could go on all day about how Sing "Yesterday" For Me failed in multiple departments, I can't deny the fact that I enjoyed every single moment of it. From start to finish, I was glued to my screen, anticipating the next development in the relationships of our lovebirds. 

I can easily understand how someone could fail to see any value here, but I think the pros outweigh the cons by a wide margin. Not only does it depict how difficult it can be to comprehend the emotions we're having and why, but it also perfectly encapsulates how cold and harsh the truth of life is through its environments and characters' behaviors. The story isn't perfect, but the two strong leads coupled with the dazzling animation makes for a thoroughly enjoyable slice-of-life.

7/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
Gozza's avatar
Jun 22, 2020

I want to get one thing out of the way before diving a bit more into its plot which is that this show isn't really a show about romance. It will feel like a love triangle, it'll deal with a romantic situation but it's really about people who feel stuck in place and are trying to figure out how to move on. The illusion is created that there is a competition when that's never really the goal of the show.

It's like you see a cake but it's actually a pie but because it looks like a cake you'll think that it's a cake.

The show will leave you feeling rather annoyed at times since you hope that characters will learn from their past experiences but you'll also be aware that they'll repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It's a vicious circle that they try to break out of.

I personally feel that the crow was used for its symbolism but I did get the feeling that many people didn't agree with my assessment. Where the crow would represent guidance and a new phase in someone's life which I believe is the real message of the show.

It's a show that starts out with a rather realistic approach but it doesn't take long before it relies on anime/Hollywood type of storytelling to further the plot.

There are some interesting characters and the art/animation style is very clean but the pace of the show can be rather slow at times.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
7/10 overall