To Every You I’ve Loved Before and To Me, the One Who Loved You are two films set in parallel universes. Both stories revolve around Koyomi and his love life, each with a different girl— Shiori & Kazune. The only twist is a feat called “Parallel-Shifting” which allows one to travel their mind to another universe and take over their counterpart’s body. That is in fact a scary concept that brought a lot of pain but also closure to unresolved feelings. But the real twist makes perfect sense in the story when it’s revealed yet we fail to notice it. This is a love story of someone who loves their dearest in every parallel universe.
The two movies were simultaneously released in Japan on October 7, 2022, adapted from a science fiction romance novel by Yomoji Otono.
The Concept of Possibilities
Our everyday decisions carry immense weight. The constant ‘what if’ scenarios haunt us, especially when we ponder past choices. In the movie’s universe, it’s akin to a bubble bursting into smaller bubbles, each representing an alternate possibility. The main character Koyomi had to make a pivotal decision when he was young. After his parents’ divorce, in one reality, he chose his mother, living with her parents, while in another, he chose his father.
Now, here are the two realities: if Koyomi chose his mother, he could have been with the dog. But sadly, his grandfather would have passed away due to some unfortunate events. On the other hand, if he chose his father, the dog would have met with an accident because of his grandfather’s carelessness, but this experience would have toughened him up and prolonged his life for a while. Let’s call both the scenarios “A” & “B” respectively.
When Koyomi from “A” parallel-shifted to “B” to see his dog again, he discovered that his grandfather had passed away. But in “B”, Koyomi had an argument with his grandfather before his passing, and their relationship was strained. During this shift, Koyomi from “B” was able to see his grandfather again but found out their dog had died. Here, Koyomi and his grandfather had a heart-to-heart conversation. His grandfather showed kindness here in contrast to his demeanor in his world. Koyomi felt confused. After returning to his reality, Koyomi stumbled upon a letter left behind by his grandfather, expressing the same kindness as the other reality. It was at this moment that all the versions of his grandfather converged, revealing the universal nature of love. Notably, Koyomi from “B” matured more profoundly than his “A” counterpart. Koyomi from “A” only learned the risks and how parallel universes differ.
In another instance, Koyomi from “B” crossed paths with a spirited girl named Kazune during their school days. Despite her initial declaration of rivalry, they gradually got close, and Koyomi asked her out after some time. After years of rejection, it was Kazune who initiated their relationship surprisingly. Their journey led them to marriage, the joy of parenthood, witnessing their son’s wedding, the graceful embrace of old age, and the sheer delight of welcoming a granddaughter.
But in “A”, Koyomi never noticed Kazune as if she was just another background character. However, Kazune always kept a close watch on him and maintained her competitive spirit. When she finally confronts him as an adult, he still doesn’t notice her. Despite this, Kazune’s unwavering determination paved the way for their connection. She stood by his side and aided in his goal. In this reality, they may not have ended up getting married, but love was definitely present.
The takeaway from this is that despite the many possibilities, the love and care remain the same.
The Scary Part of Parallel Shifting
“Parallel-Shifting” is a process that allows individuals to transfer their consciousness into alternate universes, essentially stepping into the lives of their counterparts in those realities. This incredible ability became achievable through the work of a group of scientists who discovered subtle changes in people’s behavior, suggesting that they had unconsciously shifted from one reality to another. These scientists also created devices capable of detecting parallel-shifting and facilitating travel to alternate universes.
The idea that some significant life decisions could have been shaped by the counterparts from alternate universes grows more intriguing. In the case of Koyomi and Kazune, their life paths might have diverged due to Kizune’s proactive stance and her readiness to marry Koyomi, prompting Koyomi to ponder who truly influenced those choices. In one reality, their child’s life was tragically cut short by a psychopathic killer, leaving Kazune with an unfulfilled longing to see her child’s unfinished drawing. She parallel-shifted to the aforementioned universe “B,” where she could the drawing finished. But, Koyomi and their child realized her presence and tried to return her. Ultimately, Kazune found solace in completing her child’s drawing, enabling her to move forward in her own universe.
Despite all the risks, parallel-shifting brought about a broad understanding of life, love, and how important every small decision is. Koyomi from “B” wouldn’t have grown on an emotional level if Koyomi from “A” hadn’t shifted into his body and experienced a reality where there is a second chance to mend broken bonds.
The Twist of Love
Love, while it can bring closure to our lonely hearts, is a complex and sometimes frightening force. It has the power to bring joy into our melancholic world, yet it can also push someone to the brink of madness. Our willingness to do anything for those we love often knows no bounds, even if it means venturing into alternate realities. As mentioned earlier, Kazune’s extraordinary journey to see her child’s unfinished drawing completed exemplifies this. Similarly, Koyomi from universe “A” once parallel-shifted to universe “B” to once again see his dog, but he soon discovered that such feats come at a cost.
In his own universe, Koyomi never met Kazune. But that’s because of his heart had been captured by another—Shiori, a girl who had been a constant presence since their parents were colleagues. When they learned that their parents were to marry and they would become siblings, they believed they couldn’t be together. Thus, they resorted to parallel-shift into an alternate reality where their love could flourish. However, a tragic turn of events unfolded in this new universe, leading to Shiori’s untimely demise. During this parallel shift, Shiori’s consciousness became disconnected from her physical body, rendering her a ghost trapped at the very spot of her death across all parallel universes, visible only to Koyomi.
This ordeal shattered Koyomi to his very core. He devoted himself entirely to research alongside his father and stepmother, forsaking all else, driven by the desperate desire to reunite with Shiori. He delved into the possibility of time travel, leaving no stone unturned. As time marched on, Kazune entered his life and became his steadfast companion in the pursuit of reviving Shiori. Decades slipped away, but despite their unwavering efforts, the goal remained elusive. Shiori’s physical body ceased to function, Koyomi and Kazune aged, and all that lingered was an overwhelming sense of emptiness.
However, in the twist of love, all the threads reconnect. It’s not Koyomi’s story after all; it’s Kazune’s. She was the one who took the initial steps, even when she was being ignored. Kazune chose to stand beside Koyomi, knowing that their path might never lead to them being together, but finding closure in being close to the one she deeply cared for. When Koyomi made the decision to “Time-Shift” into a universe where he and Shiori never crossed paths, it eventually brought him together with Kazune. In this new reality, Kazune once again took the lead in pursuing Koyomi and remained steadfast by his side through all the ups and downs. Thus, she played a key role in helping Koyomi reunite with Shiori. Even though they no longer recognized each other, it kept the promise they made in an alternate universe. Love does encompass all parallel universes. In the titles of both movies, “To Every You I’ve Loved Before” and “To Me, the One Who Loved You”, “I’ve” and “Me” refer to Kazune, who loved every version of Koyomi, and it is to her that he was loved.
Some Fair Criticism
The concept of the parallel universe is truly fascinating, and these two films explore its intricacies pretty well. They skillfully complement each other, bridging gaps in the narrative and providing a satisfying conclusion. I like the part when the parallel concept is visualized through the mirror. Interestingly, both films were produced by separate studios; To Every You I’ve Loved Before by Bakken Record, directed by Jun Matsumoto, while To Me, the One Who Loved You hails from TMS Entertainment, directed by Ken’ichi Kasai. Their art styles also differ, a reflection of the myriad differences in the parallel universes, such as characters’ appearances, tastes, mentalities, motivations, goals, etc. Riko Sakaguchi contributed to the script for both films, Shimano is credited with character design concepts for both, and Takashi Ohmama composed the music for both.
However, while these movies are commendable, certain aspects left room for improvement. Some things felt missing or unrefined. The expositions could’ve been simpler and easier to understand on key moments. In some scenes, the voice acting also could’ve seen some improvements. The movie often felt slow and uninspiring. The plot also doesn’t feel fleshed out and often feels like it’s losing its main focus. Near the end, it feels like they suddenly changed the main character—from Koyomi to Kazune. It took someone like me to uncover its mysteries and explain the story. Other than these, both films did a great job conveying the story.
To Every You I’ve Loved Before and To Me, the One Who Loved You gave me a truly unique experience. While not without its flaws, as I’ve noted, the storytelling and thematic depth are undeniably thoughtful, imparting valuable lessons along the way. These films serve as an intriguing gateway into the concept of the parallel universe, opening the door to many potential stories like these. I highly recommend watching both films to grasp their unique appeal.
Until next time, take care and thank you for reading ♡.