「遠回り」 (Detour)

I was looking forward to this ending with a great deal of trepidation even before I learned that in fact, Yesterday o Utatte was going to be 12 episodes and not 18. Turns out the 6 AbemaTV episodes were just the two-minute extras (the last of which I included in this review), and not actual episodes. That leads to some puzzling questions, such as why the anime paced itself perfectly for an 18-episode slot and then spewed out a mostly-original ending and basically skipped the last third of the manga. But then, one assumes that was a concession to commercial considerations from a series that made relatively few of them.

It’s a rather philosophical question – does a botched ending invalidate all the good things a series did over its entire run? The most obvious answer is no, and while I mostly ascribe to that view I don’t think it’s quite that simple. The ending – especially with a serious show like this one – colors and contextualizes everything that came before it. So the two can’t be totally cloven – one does not exist independently of the other. I enjoyed the first 11 episodes no less when I was watching them (even if they did drive me nuts) but this finale makes it feel as though they were largely a waste of time.

The fundamental problem I have is not that Rikuo and Shinako broke up, because this was clearly no starry-eyed love story between the two of them. They had serious problems and we saw no indication that they had what it takes to overcome them. No, the issue is that manufactured ending that has Riku wind up with Haru and, quite possibly, even Shinako with Rou. I call bullshit on that – it flies in the face of everything we saw for eleven episodes. But then, I suppose a “forever alone” ending for all parties isn’t an easy sell to a production committee.

I don’t know the exact details on how the manga ended and I don’t want to know, because my curiosity may prompt me to find out for myself eventually. I’m guessing it was considerably more open-ended and less neatly tied up with a bow happy than the TV ending, which rang as false as it’s possible for an ending to ring. Simply put, there’s no basis for a healthy romantic relationship between either of these pairings. It just doesn’t exist. Shinako and Rikuo bombing out – which always seemed likely – doesn’t necessitate the two of them ending up with their teen pursuers. Sometimes people do end up alone.

I suppose the ultimate miss for me – the sour cherry on top of a curdled sundae – is that if the anime were to manufacture a fairy-tale ending, it should have been between Rikuo and Shinako. As unlikely as that is with as conflicted and emotionally constipated as they both are, the foundation for it was at least laid. They had something real, even if they couldn’t get their fingers to grasp it. But Haru is obviously the main selling point, the tropey genki girl, and if the anime were going to jump the shark it’s not surprising she was the motorcycle in question.

In a sense, this reminds me a bit of the final couple of seasons of Game of Thrones. We have the same scenario – an original ending tacked onto the end of a largely faithful story construction – and the same disconnect exists. Nothing that happened during the buildup supports what the TV version did to finish the story. Rikuo’s behavior towards Haru (and Shinako’s towards Rou, for that matter) made it very clear there was no romantic affection there. The adults were simply too weak to be honest with the kids. The result is that in addition to a general falseness, the ending comes as a little creepy to boot.

It all makes me rather sad of course, because there was so much good work done here and it was badly undercut by the finale. But the not the production itself. I’m a huge admirer of what Doga Kobo and director Fujiwara Yoshiyuki (whose resume gave no hint whatsoever that this was possible) were able to do with a modest budget. Yesterday looked fantastic start to finish – the character animations were expressive and the backgrounds an impressionist masterpiece. From something as simple as a supermarket to the depiction of the beautiful Inokashira Park in the finale, this show was consistently a work of art.

I guess this is all an object lesson to appreciate what you get rather than bemoan what you don’t. It’s a miracle Yesterday o Utatte got an adaptation at all, given how somber and frankly depressing it is. It was probably too much to ask that it stick the landing. An ending that was true to the story (which the manga may or may not have delivered, I don’t know) would have been a pretty big downer, so I’m not surprised we didn’t get it. If we were going to get an asspull ending I would at least have preferred a different one than what we got, but c’est la vie – anime hasn’t given us much to be happy about in 2020 (partly through no fault of its own, though only partly) so that this show existed at all is worth being thankful for.


  1. I thought this anime was going to have 18 episodes?

    Serious why did they cut it to 12? The bloody manga was finished so why not adapt it completely?

    Also 2020 is not over yet so I think it is a little early to say that anime has been disappointing this year.

        1. I think the explanation is that it’s a finished manga with no merchandising tie-ins, and had no real way to make money for a production committee. It was probably a minor miracle that it was even able to get greenlit for 12 episodes.

    1. I’m not that mad about the ending, it was not perfect, but I think it was OK considering all the content they had to cut (besides I was team haru all along).
      It remembers me about hoshiai no sora and boku dake ga inai machi, the first one was cut in half in the middle of production and the latter which had to create a new ending to wrap things in fewer episodes.
      Is just sad how really good shows loose an ending worth of it first two thirds just because of commercial desicions…

  2. It is worth pointing that in the manga the interactions between Rikuo and Haru are more frecuent, and even during the time period when he’s going out with Shinako he thinks about Haru from time to time.

    The anime did really rush the ending.

    Abril Pinero
  3. Thanks for the summary. Soul Eater was similar in the “terrible ending to an enjoyable show” aspect, and unfortunately, it really does taint the entire experience.

    1. You can say you don’t see Rou and Shinako getting together but they did a scene where she mustered up the courage to go and meet up with him with kids his age in a very “oh these two are together” environment. After doing everything she could to hide the relationship from Rou it certainly doesn’t read like ‘she’s going to keep making food there and remembering her dead ex.’ Pretty gross, and even if it was just that it would be incredibly unhealthy.

  4. I really don’t see Rou and Shinako getting together. Rou looked like he was getting ready to move along, while Shinako definitely wants things to stay the same. The ending didn’t hint at anything like that either. Haven’t watched any of the extras though.

    While I’m dissatisfied with the ending, it actually has nothing to do with Rikou breaking up with Shinako or dating Haru. It has entirely to do with Haru. Actually find it a sad ending for her. Everyone has moved forward except for Haru. Some are fast, while some are extra slow (looking at you Shinako), but they still tried to move forward. While Haru it seems is still stuck.

    On the other hand I really like what happened with Rikuo. He’s finally managed to let go of the past. Found his passion and managed to date his long time crush. Sure it didn’t work out, but he decided that on his own. They also managed to stay friends. He then decided to go with Haru, but who knows how that’ll turn out. The important thing is that it was his own initiative and he didn’t let the help from friends go to waste. That’s a major development compared to how he was in the first episode. It’s in a positive direction too.


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