Sing "Yesterday" for Me
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Sing "Yesterday" for Me ?
There's an argument you could make, going back as far as the first episode, that the healthiest thing for the characters of Sing "Yesterday" for Me would be for none of them to end up in relationships with each other. Their neuroses are all tangled up in fixations of idealized versions and emotional outlets of convenience that ending instead at self-actualization would mark the most growth from everything they've already worked through. But that's an endgame expectation, and watching a bunch of confused young adults deal with their issues without dating wouldn't make for interesting television. Such as it is that this seventh episode of the series starts moving our mopey Game of Life pieces into proximity for potential partnership. I'm sure this will all work out just fine with no messy drama spilling out as a result.
The characters that don't make major advancements this week mostly get their circumstances reviewed. Rou hasn't been seen in a bit, so we can start by rapping about him. It was alluded to in the previous episode that, apart from his expectations, things were still strained between him and Shinako due to their previous argument. That's done nothing to dampen his now-pronounced sense of entitlement towards Shinako, complaining at length to her that he feels spurned by her lack of recognition and affection in spite of everything he's done just to get her attention. This episode's all about making clear that point about self-actualization I mentioned, and Rou seems the most obvious case of that. He has no idea what he actually wants to do or why he wants to do it beyond impressing this one lady he's fixated on thanks to an established inroad he feels he's made. As I've said before with regards to...a lot of Sing Yesterday's characters, Rou makes for a frustrating watch especially if you can recognize the flaws the show's presenting him as having to work through as youthful hang-ups you yourself may have grappled with. Decentralizing ourselves from the narrative we think is at work takes a lot of experience and growth, and Rou's clearly right in the middle of that, but it can still be painful seeing him act this way because of that youth.
He could probably just use some advice, which is too bad since it's in short supply in this series, and seems to be conflicting and ill-conceived. Shinako ends up getting suggestions from both Rikuo and Haru on how to handle the conflict with Rou this episode, people who are obviously not experts on relationship mediation. Haru's advice reflects her ‘passively existing’ understanding of relationship-forming, that Shinako should just go back to hanging out with Rou anyway and he'll eventually get over the argument, despite that expectation being the exact thing fueling his entitlement complex towards her. Watching Rou can be painful, but watching him actively pursue a relationship with Shinako as the goal he thinks will help him grow up is absolutely agonizing. That's part of the messy drama we're here for, of course, but can feel a bit like the narrative sabotaging itself a bit when characters are making the bad decisions spurred on by the other characters giving bad advice.
It's funny though, because the characters in the show who aren't our floundering foursome seem to have things figured out pretty well. As with Shinako's coworkers last episode, Rikuo's friend Fukuda makes clear how blatant her anti-relationship hang-ups are, completely shattering that idealized image of togetherness the instant you know what to look for. He also reiterates the appropriately convenient connection tethering Rikuo to that convenience store job, hammering away at the direction he'll have to grow in this same episode that Rikuo remarks how it feels the universe itself is pressuring him to actually grow and change. The repetition of points like these means Sing Yesterday is even less subtle than usual this week, but it works in regards to those sledgehammer sensibilities actually getting through to some of the characters to a degree. The last scene of the episode sees Shinako just spilling out to Rikuo a description of all her hangups on Yuu in the most direct manner possible. While this puts me out of a job here as far as ‘analysis’ goes, it also gives me something to really appreciate in this episode, a marker of that growth that was so being nudged at up until now. And ironically marks Shinako as the most mature of the cast so far after all. Even if ending by inviting Rikuo up to her apartment may not be the smartest long-term decision for either of them.
Rikuo himself is still wallowing in the downtime afforded him by the show's pacing. I actually felt there were some narrative stumbles here, him just talking about the new photo studio job he'd changed to before we actually see him at it, and even that immediately detoured to more general life discussions with his boss. I appreciate the self-aware point that gets made to him regarding just jumping into that next stage of life he's been teetering on, the question of how long ‘a bit longer’ is when you're putting off actually trying something. The lack of screen-time for the studio job undersells any amount of advancement that is for Rikuo, making him seem like the member of the cast still inmobly languishing the most despite the narrative of the whole show beginning around the idea that he might be motivated to finally do something with his life. There's definitely an interesting read that Shinako opening up to a relationship to him came from her own self-reflection and growth rather than anything he did making him ‘worthy’ of her; He'd basically be no better than Rou if that were the case. But from a storyline perspective that means it still comes across like Rikuo running in place for seven episodes before Shinako ended up falling into his lap after all. It marks it the emotional hurdle as more of a mechanic to move the story into the next phase. After all that running in place, I'm definitely interested to see where this leads, but I wonder if the time spent getting characters like Rikuo here couldn't have been utilized more effectively.
Sing "Yesterday" for Me is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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