To Me The One Who Loved You + To Every You I've Loved Before
Koyomi is a young man whose dad works on Imaginary Science (well, yes, it certainly IS, but the idea is to be able to "shift" oneself between parallel time tracks in the Multiverse.) A rash fear, coupled with Imaginary Science, ultimately leads to Shiori Satou, Koyomi's first love, getting stranded in a kind of limbo. Solving her dilemma requires finding a way to do actual time travel as well, and he might need some help there; but the help he gets, one Kazune Takigawa, is here and now; and Crosby, Stills, and Nash's advice, "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with" may apply here.
NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You kind of need a Walkthrough to completely understand this, so I'm going to give the reader guidance I didn't have (but would have appreciated) to get through the story.
First, this is not really two films, but depicts the results of two slightly different multiverse pathways for the same characters. Several scenes are in fact identical in both "films". The order of viewing is important, and unfortunately I picked the wrong one to start with. I'll do my best to give you guidance here (again, with the risk of spoilers), because the story can get confusing even when you watch it "correctly".
You need to start with To Me, The One Who Loved You. For convenience, I'm going to call this the "Red" film, because of the red background used in the promo art. The second film, To Every You I've Loved Before, I'll call the "Blue" film, because that's the color of ITS promo art. The key event separating the films' two pathways is Koyomi's parents' divorce.
In To Me (the "Red" film), Koyomi went with his dad after the divorce, and took his dad's family name, hence he's Koyomi Hidaka. He falls in love with Shiori (she's the daughter of one of the Imaginary Science researchers), but the young couple are first beset by one familiar anime dilemma, and while fleeing it Shiori is beset with another anime cliche that puts her in the miserable place that Koyomi seeks to get her out of. He naturally becomes an Imaginary Science researcher himself to solve the problem, and meets Kazune, a young woman who he'd seen in his school days, but never really spoken to then. They get closer, even as Koyomi's moving toward a "solution" of the Shiori problem that may require much of himself.
To Every You (the "Blue" film) picks up where the other one ended, with the apparent aftermath of Koyomi's "solution", but then goes back to an alternate history for Koyomi. In THIS version of his timeline, he went with his mom after the divorce, and is known as Koyomi Tadashi. In this version of his life, he's done no more than get a brief glimpse of Shiori. (This seems to me a problem; I'll explain later.) THIS time, he first met, and confessed to, Kazune during their school days, but she kept refusing (and rebuking) him for quite some time; but the Blue film is much more about his relationship with Kazune than the Red film was, so things may change there. Kazune is blunt, stubborn, and sometimes deceptive; but she's also brilliant, witty, capable of being casually warm, and, in time, may even become a fiercely protective mom. I know scientists have a reputation for suddenly writing equations on things like restaurant napkins, but given what we see here, scientists in LOVE also suddenly write equations on each other's clothes. (I wouldn't know; my wife's NOT a scientist, and HATES math, so I wouldn't DARE try something like that.)
Anyway, just as in the other film, Koyomi and Kazune end up working together at Imaginary Science. (They become a couple in both films, but the Blue film provides much more depth and detail about that.) Toward the end of Blue we first hear about the Shiori business, in a letter addressed to Kazune. Apparently, there was yet another timeline (less favorable to Kazune it seems), and the now elderly Koyomi goes to a mysterious meeting. (I think you can understand why I was lost seeing Blue first, since it's sans the whole Shiori plotline until the last 10-15 minutes or so. But Shiori's absence in Blue's storyline seems kind of a problem; since she IS the daughter of one of the prime I.S. researchers, it's hard to believe he NEVER encountered her. And in my initial viewing of the Blue film, I had no idea of the significance of the character who helps the wheelchair-bound Koyomi retrieve his medicine.)
Both the films, as you'd expect, deal with regrets over the way things turn out in life, especially given the access to alternative timelines that "Imaginary Science" provides. Both the Red and Blue films present what I'll call the grandpa/family dog anti-correlation, and Blue has The Grief of Kazune-14, but I guess only Shiori's situation was considered drastic enough to be "fixed". (The solution itself, though, is in its own way pretty drastic, or at least could have been.) I kept wondering if Koyomi (especially the Koyomi of the "third" Kazune-lite timeline), having mastered the time-travel problem, couldn't have simply sent a note back in time- to either himself, or to Shiori- straightening them out about their situation, and thus avoided the tragedy completely. It could actually be justified here, unlike in Orange, where a similar thing is just an unexplained gimmick.
There's an aspect of one's first love/crush not necessarily being the last word in one's life, that I very much liked. Shiori's Koyomi's Ideal, while Kazune's notably cantankerous (at first); but Kazune, it turns out, is also capable of being a loving companion, and maybe that's enough. In the words of ANOTHER popular song, "You can't always get what you want; but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need."
You can get into the weeds about the "science" of a show like this very easily, but I'll just mention one thing: later our cast of "shifting" Imaginary Scientists wear wristwatchy thingies that measure their "divergence". I have questions. First, what is the definition of a "unit" of divergence? How are these things calibrated? And what is the "zero point"? If I encounter Kazune-85 (as measured by her "watch"), is she 85 units from some arbitrary starting point in an "original" timeline from which I have not diverged (since MY watch still says zero), or does it just measure divergence relative to the local frame? (In which case, if she returns to her own timeline, her "watch" will read "zero" too?) Maybe we need to put Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the case.
The show is set in the near-future, and apparently the future technology is even more nagging than what we've already got. I'm amazed how prophetic Ray Bradbury's short story "The Murderer", written in 1952, has already been about what was then the future; I guess that trend continues.
There are a few insert songs in the films, but honestly my favorite music in the show is some BGM in the Blue film that I started noticing after a while; it has an Italian sort of feel that was very pleasant.
It may be confusing at times, but it's certainly thought-provoking. If there is a Multiverse, I wonder how the other "me's" fared? — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: There's one outburst of violence that would definitely disturb the more sensitive (including a murder.) We'll go PG-13 here.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (2/2)
To Me The One Who Loved You + To Every You I've Loved Before © 2022 Toei, Dentsu Inc.
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