Sooner or later, all of these posts are going to start with a personal story about my past experience with anime! Myself; Yourself was one of the earliest anime I’d seen after my anime renaissance back in mid-2012. At the time, I thought the show had a very dull progression and forgettable cast, but managed to build strength with a dramatic second-half. Four years later, both of these points remain poignant, though there are some good things to the bad, and bad things to the good.
The anime has somewhat of a reputation for being boring, especially in the first few episodes. I recall a number of anime critics and reviewers chastising Myself; Yourself for being so dry and bland with its themes and color palette. While I don’t think the characters themselves are bland (albeit moderately clichéd), I feel the writing is incredibly simple. Think of the most unenergetic, cookie-cutter conversations you could possibly have with someone. “Hello.” “How are you?” “Fine. How about you?” “Pretty good.” “How’s the family?” “Good, good.” “Weather’s been great.” “Yeah, totally.” A lot of the conversations play out similarly to this, and should the conversations evolve into something a little more memorable, the stiffened straight-man responses come in full force to brunt that enthusiasm. Very few characters escape from this monotony of normalcy, and whether or not they become archetypes because of it is no matter to the story at-hand. Either one is boringly normal, or entertainingly one-dimensional.
At the same time, the anime can brag about having normal characters. The premise is of a normal, quiet small town where people aren’t meant to be upbeat or enthusiastic. Bland as it may be, the series has a very comfortable mood that is rarely perturbed by any unnecessary wackiness or bombast. Suiting the atmosphere, the characters become more believable in their situations and camaraderie, more so than other anime where groups of friends oftentimes butt heads with one another. One could argue that the twins fight all the time, but they’re siblings, so it doesn’t count. I can speak on their behalf. I am a sibling.
The twins in mind, Shuusuke and Shuri are probably my favorite characters of the bunch. While they’re slightly one-dimensional, they provide a spark to the group that makes them more tolerable to watch, and have great chemistry. I also like that they aren’t polar opposites, which siblings in anime tend to be for shits n’ giggles. Both physically and in personality, the twins are pretty similar to one another, which makes their “connection” to one another feel more than just a ploy to use that against them later on. If only Shuusuke didn’t become soberingly serious near the end of the series, almost as if someone flipped on a switch. This in of itself becomes somewhat of a problem later on in the series.
Even now, the drama present near the end of the series was engrossing enough to keep me entertained through the mind-numbing mediocrity of the robotic writing. However, a lot of it felt somewhat out of nowhere; keyword: somewhat. Myself; Yourself does a decent job of foreshadowing (if not a little too bluntly) things that will become of importance later on, and the severity of the things it foreshadows appeals to those hoping for something remarkably grim. Myself; Yourself does a very good job at maintaining the calm before the storm, with sirens blaring in the distance that the viewer can hear at all times. Only issue is that while the build-up is good, the execution tends to fall flat, and falls further once the climax has passed. Things popping up out of nowhere, characters committing foul acts and then never being mentioned again. It feels all the more robotic—much in tune with the character dialogue.
What better way to emphasize and realistic premise and town than with a gray overtone? Even the artistic style of Myself; Yourself is boring. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it’s most similar to School Days, except a tad less glossy. There’s a darkness present that makes the series feel both gloomy and diluted, with not a lot of emphasis on animation. There are times when animation improves, with characters’ faces becoming more clean-cut and easy to look at, placed between cheap animation tactics and far-away shots to lessen the workload. At least it prioritizes making the characters look different, with a lot of differentiating characters such as… hair color/style, eye color, and breast size. Perhaps not the most creative of distinguishing traits, but I enjoy the detail present in the personalities reflected with their appearances. The twins have light, short hair to emphasize their spunkiness. Nanako has long, dark hair and red eyes to attain a nature of grace and tragedy. Aoi has a super high-pitch voice and giant tits to serve as the moe character. Even more uncharacteristic of anime, the male lead has a reason to be bland and forgettable. Good work, anime.
Properly paced and optimistically dramatic makes Myself; Yourself worth watching regardless of its benign approach. The blunders it makes along the way definitely wear it down, though not enough to make it hazardous to the touch. There’s a simple effectiveness to the characters and the storyline that make it all in good fun, despite how dark it gets at times. Still, it tends to take some leaps in logic on occasion, or make characters horribly antagonistic to ramp up the popcorn machine. The ending is one that made me want to squeeze the bridge of my nose, though that’s more of a personal conundrum, as it’s not exactly of poor quality. Just a little abrupt. And a tad too “Happily Ever After.” While not entirely sure of my rating for it then, my current rating reflects the effort put forth to make an immersive and interesting tale of a group of friends and the struggles they have to (or had to) deal with. It just could’ve tried harder to make it feel real.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.