「ミナトという男」 (Minato to iu otoko)
“A Man Called Minato”
There are a few ways one can interpret the events in this episode. Either Kouichi Minato (Ono Yuuki), Haru’s old classmate, ushered Rikuo into the first step of realizing that Haru means more to him than just being a nuisance, or Rikuo is pretty selfish and doesn’t want Haru to focus her attention on anyone other than him. Either way, Minato’s presence made it apparent that Rikuo does value Haru to a certain degree.
It seems that Minato’s perception of relationships is plaguing this entire group of people. He said something along the lines of: “I’m okay with a relationship developing by just always being around the person you love and them realizing eventually that you’re there.” Sorry for the horrible paraphrasing but I think I got the gist of it.
Whether it’s Rikuo, Haru, Minato, or other characters, they’re each met with a love they can’t fulfill. They have to watch as the person they love is wrapped up in someone else, or passes away. Minato, however, unlike the rest used this rejection as a way to then move forward with his life. He knew what would come of his confession to Haru, but he did it anyway to find closure after so many years.
The similarities between each love pair are becoming more and more apparent. At some point in their lives, they developed feelings for someone who was unavailable. Haru’s quick encounter with Rikuo left her with a swell of emotions that return when she meets him again in the alley behind the convenience store. Rikuo’s love for Shinako developed some years ago when they were in college and a series of events lead them to meet again, where his feelings for her emerge once more. Rou’s love for Shinako blossoms now that he’s by her side again, after having lost his brother six years earlier. And finally, Minato’s love for Haru, who struck him like lightning in high school, returns when he finds her again at the photography gallery he works at alongside Rikuo.
These people have carried long time flames with them. Some of the flames will dwindle, like Minato’s, but perhaps Yesterday wo Utatte will allow one or two to come together to shine and prosper.
Aside from Minato, who proved to have an interesting head on his shoulder guiding his artistic eye, Rikuo seems to have found a place outside of the convenience store where he can explore his passion for photography a little more. We haven’t seen Rikuo invest much in photography but the interest is there. He helped Kinoshita with his cover picture, he took that picture of Haru in the park, and his apartment has a few photographs hanging around. Now at this gallery, he might finally sink his teeth into his interest and develop it into a passion.
Things might seem as though they’re progressing slowly between Haru and Rikuo but considered she waltzed into his life without warning, I think the two have made strides. They’re now friends and Rikuo is experiencing feelings of jealousy. Perhaps Minato’s picture of Haru allowed him to see Haru through the eyes of someone who is reaching for her, rather than pushing her away. I want to say he’s ‘settled’ for having her around but really, he’s gotten fonder of her presence.
Afterall, most of what they did in this episode were very couple-like. She waits for him after work, they go out to dinner, and he gets upset and jealous when Minato takes up his spot by her side.
That said, I’m not yet convinced he should be with her because I do have a soft spot for Shinako. And was that not a hint she left Rikuo? “I’m not going in circles anymore.” Make a move buddy, she’s just opened the door to you.
Overall, I think the series could do with fewer parallels and perhaps introduce some emotionally healthy individuals just as a contrast to Rou, Shinako, Haru, and Rikuo’s hopeless situations.