“A Blind Alley”
Yesterday wo Utatte is a delicate story of young love, lost time, and friendship.
So many people’s feelings are interweaving together in this delicate story of love, loss, and friendship. There’s no real space for romance in this show, and what I mean by that, is that there’s too much need for healing before romantic gestures take up the screen.
Rikuo, who we learned about in our premiere, is a young man with no real ambition. The one time he tried to go after what, or in this case, who, he wanted, he was turned down. It’s not easy to accept failure, let alone move forward from it. But he seems to be making small strides forward, even if they’re small steps. For someone who had been holding on to unrequited love for so long, I’m surprised he was able to end his conversation with Shinoka on such a confident note. There’s some hope for him yet.
Something I really appreciate about this series is that Rikuo isn’t one of those main characters who rely on an overconfident girl to make his move. Haru may have entered his life unexpectedly, but she’s presented herself as more of a nuisance to his everyday life than a motivational friend. I’ve seen it too often where the first interested party pushes their crush to be with another while holding on to their feelings, for example, Toradora!. The formula isn’t what makes a story great, but it does play with audience expectations. Perhaps I’m speaking too early and that’s what will eventually happen but for now, I’m enjoying the openly declared war Haru has started with Shinoka over Rikuo.
Haru is basically a lost soul at the moment. She’s quit school, continues to work in a bar in the evenings and has only a crow for a friend. As much as she would want to be close with Rikuo, her advances come off as teasing rather than serious, throwing off Rikuo completely. In any case, Rikuo is still holding on to his flame for Shinoka. Haru and Shinoka’s relationship is still unclear to me. The events surrounding her dropping out of school haven’t been laid out completely, but it’s obvious that Shinoka made some sort of contribution that pushed Haru to quit, even if she says otherwise. Actually, the fact that she took on the responsibility for having quit school demonstrates an unexpected maturity I hadn’t seen in Haru before. She has a forgiving nature and a lightheartedness that really has me pondering about her upbringing. Even though she was meant to graduate with the others, she holds no remorse or any ill will towards her teacher for what transpired (whatever that is).
All this aside though, this episode was mainly focused on Shinoka and the events that brought her to where she is now. Shinoka grew up in Kanazawa where she spent her time with the Hayakawa brothers. The oldest one who was her peer in school had heart problems that made it so he was often sick. She took it upon herself, as his friend, to take care of him all the while falling for him. This love, she’s carried with her through high school, college, and now her adult life, ever since he died 6 years ago.
It can’t be easy being Shinoka right now. She’s returned to Tokyo for work, perhaps even to get away from the memories of her loss, and perhaps even to find a friend in Rikuo. But her past continues to haunt her, to the point where Hayakawa Rou (Hanae Natsuki), her love’s younger sibling, transfers to Toizummi High School where she works. Can you imagine seeing the younger brother of the one you loved every day as a reminder of them?
Rou is an interesting kid. He also doesn’t seem to ‘fit the mold.’ He’s artistic, outspoken, and even daring to wear his piercings so openly at school. On top of it, he seems to want to protect his brother’s honor, or is it Shinoka’s? Was he hoping to create a barrier between Shinoka and Rikuo by divulging her most vulnerable secret to him? Or, as a young kid, did he think revealing that much would show Rikuo just how little he truly knew Shinoka and just how much he did, confirming that he would be the better fit for her once he’s older? I can’t be sure what Rou’s intentions were but it’s going to be interesting having him around. Like Haru, he’ll probably be great at wreaking a little havoc when needed.
Technically, it was his story that pushed Rikuo to offer Shinoka time…
Overall, I’m really getting caught up in these characters and their baggage, because that’s what it’s about isn’t it? On top of it, the animation and the detailed shots are just beautiful to look at. The cinematography really is eye-catching. Details such as the pencil case, the hair strands, the sunset, the gaze, subtle gestures, and so many others add unequivocal depth to the scenes. I hope this continues as the show progresses. It adds a ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the tone.
This is most definitely my final coverage for the show, but I’ll keep watching on a weekly basis. I’m passing on the torch to Zaiden!