Sing “Yesterday” for Me – 1st Episode Review
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Synopsis: Kei Toume’s eighteen-year youth ensemble classic gets its long-awaited animated adaptation. A story of love and humanity, following four boys and girls trying to live their best lives through hardship and turmoil, in a small town on a private rail line just outside of Shinjuku. Minor misunderstandings lead to big complications, and their various feelings become entangled. A story of daily life lived 49% looking back, 51% looking forward.(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Sing Yesterday for Me is a down to earth show about the ‘losers’ of society and the ones who talk themselves into a ‘safe’ life. Rikuo Uozumi is someone who’s never embraced or chased any big goals, preferring to just ‘survive’ through life with a part time cashier job and living under the radar. Rikou starts to have his inaction confronted when an old flame returns to town, as well as when a young eccentric girl, Haru, sets her sights on him. There was a point where I was worried that the show was going to try to do one of those overdone motivational ‘magical’ transformations for our hero, where one big moment would lead to several victories until he emerged perfect and on top. But instead it surprisingly has him take a big risk, a leap of faith, only to be immediately shot down. This gives me hope that rather than just being another ‘watch this loser transform his life’ story that hits all the generic beats, that Sing “Yesterday” is actually going to take its time really exploring the weary and passive Rikuo Uozumi. It’s already showing plenty of promise as a somewhat motivating, yet realistic and maybe even a little depressing journey and look at the life of a not so successful adult, something that might really connect with the masses.
Tom: Rikuo Uozumi is going to speak to a lot of people, whether they first recognize that or not. He’s the kind of character you don’t see a lot in media, but one that is absolutely more so the common man than any of the main characters from more power fantasy based entertainment that is so much more prevalent. While his story is downright depressing, or perhaps frustrating as we watch him wallow away his life in a dead end job and talk himself out of taking chances it’s real, honest and makes for a enticing change of pace, especially in a medium that doesn’t often discuss more earthly topics like this.
Linny: As much praise as we have been pouring on, I do think Sing “Yesterday” for Me has a few flaws. For one, it isn’t exactly an original concept to have a ‘loser’ lead. It is uncommon but it isn’t revolutionary. And it does have the ‘wild child pretty girl’ character, Haru Nonaka as one of its main cast, aka someone who’s super quirky and unusual while also super attractive because to be a leading lady, you always need to be pretty and attention grabbing. The other big female character falls into a familiar troupe as well; the ‘one that got away’. And there’s the fact that Haru Nonaka says ‘deep’ lines about how everyone hates liars but likes them aka how society wants people to lie about their quirkier side and lie for the sake of conformity. Lines that sound like something you may have seen being posted by some ‘edgy’ friend or acquaintance at some point or the other on facebook or twitter. There are definitely familiar, even cliche, notes to the potential drama in this story and if not handled right could become more obnoxious than endearing.
Tom: I think one aspect helping to shake any notions of cringe for right now is the absolutely captivating rough line art and smooth animation that makes Sing “Yesterday” for Me really ooze with presence. It’s easy to get sucked in when everything looks like a cut above the rest of the Spring season and lends an air of gravity, even to such a mundane life as Rikuo’s. Excellent direction helps to take moments that should be cringey, like Haru’s big speech about liars and make it land anyway. For an 18 year old manga, Sing “Yesterday” for Me is really getting the ‘passion project’ treatment and it absolutely shows.
Linny: Going back to an earlier point, it does indeed help a ton that our main character is either relatable or earns your sympathy very easily. Unless you are an aggressive Type A personality who has no patience for any passiveness and self doubt, you’ve probably had a few emotional experiences very similar to Rikou. Yes he has flaws and shortcomings but he isn’t a bad guy, just one down on his luck and without drive or ambition to carry him through more difficult obstacles. Watching him struggle to awkwardly reconnect with an old love is probably one of his most relatable features and likely to have most viewers start rooting for him. Sing “Yesterday” for Me’s biggest strength is Rikou and this first episode does a marvelous job of establishing him as a likeable, yet flawed lead. If it can continue this vein of humanity and emotion laden notes, Sing “Yesterday” for Me feels poised to be yet another solid watch for the older anime fandom who’ve faced enough hardship and disappointments in life to connect with the struggles and characters being portrayed.
Tom: Sing “Yesterday” for Me is another title, like Wave, Listen to Me! that absolutely speaks to the older anime fan. It’s a bizarre happenstance and delight to have two shows so directly engaging in more adult experiences in one season. On top of that to have both turn out openers that are ripe with promise. If Sing “Yesterday” for Me can continue as strong as it started, then it’s in the running for AOTY. For anyone looking for something a little more grounded, a little less typical anime, this is a title you’ll not want to miss out on.
Sing “Yesterday” for Me is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com