English Title: To Me, the One Who Loved You
Japanese Title: 君を愛したひとりの僕へ [lit. To the one me who loved you]
Director(s): Kasai Kenichi
Runtime: 1h 38m
English Title: To Every You I’ve Loved Before
Japanese Title: 僕が愛したすべての君へ [lit. To every you I loved]
Director(s): Matsumoto Jun
Runtime: 1h 42m
Screenwriter(s): Sakaguchi Riko
Studio: Bakken Record
Starring: Miyazawa Hio, Makita Aju, Hashimoto Ai
My Verdict: Love story with parallel universes told in two films. Good production.
● These two films are based on the 2016 novels of the same name by Otono Yomoji. Like the novels which can be read in any order, the films can also be viewed in any order. I have not read the novels so the review is of the films only.
● The story is essentially a love story using parallel universes and time travel. I will refrain from providing too much detail as any detail may be considered a spoiler.
● The premise is that “parallel shifts” are possible. Small and temporary shifts to parallel universes in which there is little divergence may even be common, such as when one finds an item at a different location than where one remembers or when one finds that item at a location that one has already looked.
● In To Me, the One Who Loved You (first film listed with red poster) Hidaka Koyomi and Satou Shiori are childhood friends who fall in love. They met at the Imaginary Science Research Institute in which both their parents work, an organization that researches parallel universes. Through an accident when Koyomi and Shiori are shifting, Shiori’s “ghost” is stuck at a particular intersection, so Koyomi tries to save Shiori.
● In To Every You I’ve Loved Before (second film listed with blue poster) which is set in a different universe, Koyomi meets Takigawa Kazune instead. Both go on to work at the Imaginary Science Research Institute.
● There is, of course, a plot connection between the two universes. Koyomi is the central character of the story although Kazune is no less important, she being also a (if not the) viewpoint character in To Every You I’ve Loved Before. There is, as expected, some overlap and repetition of material between the two films.
● The production is generally good. The backgrounds and environment are very nice although character motion is a little choppy at times and could be more refined. It’s not jarring but it’s not quite like a Shinkai film either. Still, there is a strong slice-of-life romance vibe.
● The voice acting is solid and the soundtrack by Oomama Takashi is predictably fitting. It is what one expects from this type of romance. It sounds like a Shinkai film even though the composer has to date not worked on one.
● There is more exposition and certainly more easily comprehensible expositions of how parallel shifting works in To Me, the One Who Loved You (red poster). In this respect, it may be easier to view this first.
● Viewing To Every You I’ve Loved Before (blue poster) first can work too. However, even though the ending is the same, the “feel” is different due to the viewing order.
● Since To Me, the One Who Loved You shows Koyomi’s problem and therefore motivation, viewing this first may yield an ending that feels more complete and perhaps happier. Viewing To Every You I’ve Loved Before first may be emotionally heavier when one gets to To Me, the One Who Loved You. There are other considerations but to discuss them here would potentially spoil the work.
● Either way, it is strongly recommended to watch the films without an extended period in between whilst the material is still fresh in one’s mind.
● This story is obviously about choices, consequences, living with regret, and perseverance, amongst other themes. These are hardly original. One may find similar elements in works such as orange and Erased, amongst others which I will not mention to avoid spoiling, but this work is a decent attempt at looking at these themes.
● Some may consider the format to be gimmicky but telling the story in two parallel pieces given that they are set in parallel universes is nonetheless fitting. It is intriguing to see the parallels, the similarities and the differences between the two timelines. At times, because of similar works, its treatment of the themes comes across as a bit simple and superficial. And yet, at other times, it is poignantly the opposite. This can also change depending on the viewing order.
● The pacing is mostly good although the expositions can be clumsy. Despite the problems, it is on balance a thought-provoking work worthy of the genre and worthy of viewing.
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