Yes, No, Or Maybe? is a fairly short film – standing at 53 minutes. There’s a lot packed into the short run time, and for the most part it’s a joy to watch. This review will contain spoilers for the end, but I’ll warn you before it’s about to be mentioned, so read with caution.
The focus of Yes, No, Or Maybe? is Kei Kunieda, a friendly newscaster with a sunny disposition. Kei has a secret – he’s actually pretty grouchy and is pretty much constantly inwardly cursing at other people. This is done to great effect throughout the film showing Kei’s inner thoughts as a little chibi figure on screen, so whilst IRL Kei might be thanking someone profusely, chibi Kei will be cursing them up a storm. It’s a really funny juxtaposition that works really well, and is much more effective than just having a voiceover show Kei’s inner thoughts.
One day, Kei is asked to interview Ushio Tsuzuki, a stop-motion animator. Following the interview, an off-duty and disguised Kei bumps into Ushio (quite literally) outside a convenience store, and after unleashing a barrage of abuse at Ushio reluctantly agrees to help him with his work after injuring him.
What follows is a back and forth between Kei and Ushio as Kei interacts with Ushio both using his work persona and his true self, and struggles to reconcile his feelings with who he truly is as a person. Being a shounen ai, there’s obviously a romantic undertone and typically of a BL anime, there’s some struggle as Kei deals with his romantic thoughts towards another man.
Yes, No, Or Maybe? presents two really well written characters. Kei and Ushio are both really well developed and each have their own nuances and motivations. I really related to Kei having his private and public personas, as I feel like often I’m very different publicly to how I am privately, and as I said before, the way the film presents this is really effective.
I really liked the animation of Yes, No, Or Maybe?, it felt really soft and natural, with a pretty realistic colour palette, which added to the romantic tone of the movie. Whilst Yes, No, Or Maybe? is primarily a drama, it does have some really funny moments, especially between Kei’s private persona and his inner thoughts.
Whilst I wouldn’t want to get into spoiler territory, I feel it’s worth mentioning the end as it could be a huge trigger for viewers and could be the difference between someone watching it or not. If you don’t want to know spoilers, don’t read the next paragraph and just know that I really disliked the final scenes of Yes, No, or Maybe?
The end scene is really hard to bear and features the worst of all BL tropes – dubious consent. Except, it’s really not dubious, it’s pretty clear and repeatedly said that it’s a firm no. It’s a real shame, because up until this point, the movie was golden and the whole scene just sours the wholesome and romantic vibe of Yes, No, or Maybe? up until that point. I’m really interested to pick up the light novel to see how that compares to the film, I would hope that it isn’t so non-consensual but my experience with BL makes me think otherwise.