I hate to admit my age, but here it is: I’m…thirty-something. Okay, that’s not exactly specific, but I will say I’m much nearer 40 than 30. And although time has built in me a lack of regret, I do occasionally view the past with disappointment. It used to be my high school to college years that made me cringe most, but now I look at the entire decade of my twenties and wonder, just what the heck?
The attributes that potentially make one’s twenties so much fun—freedom, learning, income, energy, youth—are also what tend to be wasted. With so much fun to be had, it’s amazing how many of us experience a malaise during this decade, a sadness or hurt that might only visit from time to time, or which might last months or years.
In Sing “Yesterday” for Me, the moody new anime centering on a love triangle (quadrangle?), the three main characters are all either in their early twenties or just at the precipice. And none of them are particularly happy.
Haru, the precocious crow girl you’ve certainly seen even if you haven’t watched the show, masks pain from the past and uncertainly about the future with an exuberant attitude. Yet, she quickly turns to melancholy when her picture of the present is revealed in all its perfection, a feeling which then turns over to anger. She’s a girl in transition, in relationships with family and her crush, and with her life. What will she do with her career? School? And it doesn’t help that Rikuo remains in her path, either as a possibility or a roadblock.
Rikuo is more obviously in a funk. He dislikes the harsh mechanics of the work force, apparently, so didn’t put a lot of effort into finding a job. Recent episodes, however, indicate that it may just be that he doesn’t know what he’s passionate about. Does he like photography enough to pursue it? He doesn’t seem to know, as indicated by a reticence to take on more important job roles and to purchase a better camera (though he is starting to finally move forward). Rikuo isn’t enjoying life, but he has no motivation to do something about it, to move beyond work as a part-time convenience store clerk and discover his passion.
And most interesting to me is Shinako. Outwardly, she’s far more successful as a person than either Haru or Rikuo, yet, her first love casts a shadow over everything. It seems that she likes Rikuo or at least wants to give him a chance, but the specter of the past prevents that from happening. While Rikuo has trouble deciding what to do and Haru may not yet be in a position to, Shinako has one step forward and another back, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be stable with that kind of positioning. In episode seven, her stance finally collapses under the weight of Rou’s teenage angst and Rikuo’s steady devotion.
Interestingly enough, one-episode characters also come in with their quirks and challenges— a high school friend of Haru’s who wants to confess to her before moving on, and Rikuo’s ex, who floats from one place to another, though it’s hinted at that she might perhaps like the stability (in terms of kindness and personality) that her former boyfriend offers. Another couple of characters in the 19-23 age range unable to find what they want, still struggling to understand who they are—which is maybe why your twenties are so difficult in the first place. The world says you’re ready, you assume you’re ready, you act like you’re ready, but in reality, you may not be prepared to face adulthood. You may not really be an adult at all.
In some ways, I’m quite the opposite of Rikuo. I leapt into college and then working life with a fire, having planned out my next decade or more by year. I knew what I was going to do and was secure that I would be able to reach my goals. But I thought of myself as more mature than I was (more about my lack of maturity in a couple weeks when I discuss Blue Flag), and my flimsy plans combined with a lack of understanding about what I excelled at led me down an entirely different path. Actually, more likely was that God laughed at me and gently turned his child toward a better goal. Uncertainty, hardships, strained relationships, and even blogging helped me toward adulthood. Today, I sometimes still barely feel an adult, but I can say this: I don’t feel I could have even qualified as one until I turned about 27, and wasn’t comfortable with the role until I made it into my thirties.
I think Rikuo, Haru, and Shinako (and maybe you, too) are a lot like me. They think they should be adults and they act (at least in their minds) in the way those with responsibility should. But in varying way, they aren’t yet mature enough—and Rikuo, with his strong voice and opinionated takes, is most immature of all. But as often happens—and this was the case with me—I assume they’ll find their way through the challenges of life and relationship. Even if this triangle never resolves in a suitable and romantic way, it will help them become resolutely what they think they are already are. They’ll become adults.
And maybe it won’t take an entire decade for them to achieve that.
Sing Yesterday for Me can be streamed on Crunchyroll.