What made the coming-of-age anime so emotionally impactful?

Most coming-of-age series are touching and memorable in some way because of the kind of experiences they explore. Anime that describes growing up and to one’s personal identity, reviving old friendships or even healing from past events will usually always be emotionally resonating and heartfelt stories. Of the many coming-of-age anime fans can check out—perhaps the most poignant of them all—the 2017 anime is Therefore!.

High school can be a tumultuous time for any teen, but even when it isn’t, it’s not uncommon to eagerly look forward to the end of high school for that fresh start in adulthood. However, sometimes the past comes back to shake things up. Therefore! explores how five teens come together and how their new and revived relationships change the course of their senior year at school together.

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It’s almost the end of his third year of high school when Eita Izumi returns to his hometown. He had moved in high school, but is now reunited with his childhood classmates Haruto and Mio. Along with the fears of impending graduation, buried emotions surface to complicate their daily lives. As an old love triangle transforms, new friends are thrown into the mix and old feelings begin to change, and the trajectory of everyone’s remaining time together at school takes a new direction.

What really sets this anime apart from others in its genre is the grounded characters and realistic portrayals of all their relationships. It’s an honest insight into the changing dynamics of friendships and realizing how much people can grow and change over time. The unraveling of the love square creates tension in this romantic drama, with Eita’s return awakening old feelings and signaling growth and transformation. When they were in high school, Eita was in love with Mio, but she with Haruto. When Eita returns and falls back on his friendships with them, he assumes they still do. However, Haruto has since moved on and is now interested in his classmate Hazuki. While Haruto and Hazuki try to determine their feelings for each other, Hazuki also worries about the possibility that Mio still has feelings for Haruto.

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She still has unrequited feelings for him, although these slowly begin to change when Eita re-enters the picture. This realization is fueled by the fact that an undergrad, Ena, is beginning to take an interest in Eita. Ena initially shows no romantic interest when she starts communicating with the group of friends. Ena first speaks with Eita to see if she can use a photo she took of him for a photo contest. She hopes to win and revive the dwindling photography club, and Eita agrees because she is so passionate. Through this interaction, she befriends him. However, her company irritates Mio, making her realize how much she loves Eita. While the four upperclassmen focus to varying degrees on college and work after high school, they must now focus on untangling their feelings for each other.

Therefore! manages to be so emotionally impactful because of how well it taps into each character’s emotions and the inclusion of varied perspectives to further immerse viewers in the importance of each shared moment. Everyone’s personalities feel well developed and each character is given time to explore their relationships outside of the group, such as with family, to further expand their characterizations. Their stories are honestly and carefully portrayed, and the grounded characters and their lives make their experiences easily recognizable. Therefore! never loses the thread about kids trying to figure out their future and understand what they want in life, and their romantic entanglements get to be a part of that.

All 12 episodes of Therefore! can be streamed on HIDIVE.

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