While I reserve most of my ship rants to ships that I care about and either desperately want them to sail or remain sailing, this ship rant is uniquely not the case. Because while I know there are a number of people who support Rikuo x Haru from Sing “YESTERDAY” for Me — so much so that they were rated quite highly on our couples charts — I simply cannot ship them. The relationship in its development and ending was honestly unhealthy, and the fact that so many people like that ship have only pushed my desire to address the situation.
Before anyone comes after me, I do want to clarify some things. First, I am an anime-only watcher, so I do not know anything that has occurred in the manga that the anime adaptation might’ve skipped. It could very likely be a situation where Rikuo and Haru’s relationship was much more fleshed out in the original source material, and I simply don’t know. As a result, the angle I am speaking towards is from the angle of an anime-only viewer.
Secondly, and most importantly, I am not on the other side of the love triangle. I do NOT ship Rikuo and Shinako. I knew from the beginning that their relationship wouldn’t and shouldn’t work out. Their personalities clash because of their similarities, and Shinako is honestly not ready for a relationship during the entirety of the series. While she later commits to moving on from a lost love, I can tell the grief affects her in a way that’s emotionally draining. If the series had taken place in modern times, I would be that friend suggesting to her to go to grief counseling before even attempting to think about dating again. As a result, I am writing about my grievances towards the Rikuo x Haru ship because there are key elements to the development of their relationship I find very troubling. As a result, this article does go into spoiler territory for the series, so you have been warned.
Haru’s Infatuation Towards Rikuo
I think many, many people tend to confuse infatuation with love. Both are incredibly intense emotions that are related to someone else. Both can often seem similar to each other. However, a key difference between infatuation and love is that infatuation is when you first see someone that you are attracted to and immediately feel there is a connection based on that and nothing else. Love only comes in when you know the person inside and out. You’ve seen their worst and best parts, and you’re ok with both of them. It can be incredibly dangerous to mix between the two, and Haru starts out doing exactly that.
In the anime, Haru literally “fell in love” with Rikuo because he dropped something, she called out to him, and he was incredibly nice to her about it. That’s it. She knows nothing about him. She doesn’t know about his college life. She doesn’t know about his hobbies, his friends, or anything else. All she felt was an instant connection because of his kindness and appreciation towards her, and she felt hooked to him. That feeling based on the above actions is literally the definition of infatuation.
But she has mistaken it as love, which means she has mistaken herself into believing she knows everything about him. She gave him excuses for things that no one else would likely give excuses for, and she has tricked herself into thinking because she felt that connection, he must’ve felt something towards it as well. They’re on different playing fields in regards to power dynamics from the get-go because of the intensity and misunderstanding of her own attraction towards him, which results in him having a much bigger say in where he really wants the relationship to go than her — which leads right into the second red flag of the relationship.
Rikuo’s Lack of Respect towards Haru
I can be critical of Haru all I want as a character. I can think she’s dumb for getting so infatuated over a small action or unrealistic for thinking her infatuation would somehow connect with him. However, regardless of her flaws and mistakes, Haru did not deserve to be thrown around emotionally by Rikuo the way he did.
It was clear since the beginning that Rikuo wanted to try a relationship with Shinako more than anything else, and yes, you could blame Haru for still attempting to get Rikuo to move his affections towards her when his eyes are so set towards Shinako. However, Rikuo was also very unfair to not be direct towards her from the very beginning. You could tell that he genuinely wasn’t interested in her romantically at the time but, because he couldn’t say no to the attention, he continued to lead her on into thinking she had a chance. He makes an incredibly selfish and incredibly hurtful move, and it perfectly illustrates that power imbalance between him and Haru.
Haru is so desperate for his affections. She is pushing and milking every moment she can get with him, and he just continues to be vague and offhanded towards her while throwing her a bone once in a while. You can try to find an excuse for Rikuo, calling him indecisive or torn or confused, but that still doesn’t excuse the way he treated her. At the very least, since Haru has been nothing but honest towards him in regard to her own feelings, Rikuo could’ve returned the favor and been honest towards her, especially when he and Shinako actually started to date. It was the least he could’ve done instead of having her find out on her own by accident. But because Rikuo does ultimately end up with Haru, this leads me to my biggest grief towards the relationship.
Are Rikuo’s feelings real?
Rikuo ultimately goes to Haru to confess his feelings in the last episode, which is also the same episode he breaks up with Shinako. Their breakup absolutely should’ve happened, and I’m thrilled the two characters had moved on from each other. However, I did not buy Rikuo’s 360-degree turnaround in regards to his romantic feelings towards Haru at all. Why?
One of the reasons Shinako and Rikuo broke up was because neither of them feels proud to be in the relationship with each other. Rikuo points out that in Shinako’s heart, Rou, the younger brother of her lost love, simply means too much to her — even though I still think it’s familial rather than romantic — and that ultimately Rou matters more to her than Rikuo. That’s completely fair. However, when it’s Rikuo’s turn, he says he keeps thinking back to Haru and the way she found out about their relationship.
What he’s talking about is not love, but guilt. He broke Haru’s heart by not only hiding the fact he got into a relationship with Shinako but also still continuing to lead her on. And no, guilt is not a sign of romantic feelings, because, by all means, he should feel guilty for what he did to Haru as a decent human being. So, instead of going to Haru to give her a meaningful apology, he decided that he did like her and confessed to her to start a relationship.
At no point and time in the last episode did I genuinely think he cared about her. He said that in the end, he was selfish and enjoyed attention from her, but if that’s love, then there’s a lot of people “in love” in this world right now. Her personality, her quirks, her hobbies — none of that seemed to stand out to him, and if he did, he certainly didn’t portray enough to show to the audience. In the end, the only thing we got was his own self-confession that he enjoyed the attention Haru gave to him.
The Romantic Fantasy
I can understand why people like this ship. It is so incredibly enticing to believe that there is a person out there who would love you, chase after you, and continue to hold onto their feelings for you. After all, that significant other sounds perfect. It means regardless of any wrongdoing you have made and with no promise of changing yourself to become better, that person adores you and stays loyal to you, and there’s no other person in the world for them.
Except working relationships don’t work that way. Working relationships work because of mutual respect, understanding, and communication. Working relationships are both sides helping each other grow as people, learn to compromise, and work towards a future. Healthy, working relationships are called that because it takes effort, time, and lots of emotions, both negative and positive, to find what you’re looking for.
The biggest problem with this “perfect” romantic counterpart that Haru represents is that people forget she’s human. That means eventually she will crack one day, which is of course the part we don’t get to see. Haru and Rikuo’s relationship started off on the wrong foot from the start of the series, but they certainly didn’t get better as the relationship progressed. At the end of the series, all I saw was a guy who thought maybe he was a jerk for treating Haru’s affections the way he did and backtracked on it and a girl who forgave easily without properly addressing his actions and the way he hurt her. There was no love. Just attention and infatuation.