Yes, No, or Maybe Half? is a BL anime movie based on a Japanese light novel. The main character is a TV presenter who maintains a poised persona in public, even though his real personality is petty and belligerent. Only his new acquaintance has seen both sides of him, but is unaware these two drastically different personalities belong to the same person.
For a short one-hour film, Yes, No, or Maybe Half tells a cute, compelling love story at a comfortable pace. This anime deals with the theme of duality, exploring the discrepancies between perception and behaviour. Unfortunately, the problematic scene in the last few minutes tarnishes an otherwise enjoyable movie.
Yes, No, or Maybe Half Anime Summary
Spicy & romantic
Yes, written by Michi Ichiho
Yes, it's a steamy BL anime movie.
Kei is the handsome host of a TV news program. At work, he is known to be friendly, polite, and easygoing to everyone around him. Deep down, Kei is easily irritable and resents those who inconvenience him. However, Kei is good at hiding his inner thoughts, always presenting a poised and pleasant persona to the public.
Kei meets Ushio, a stop-motion animator, for an upcoming interview. Ushio is creative, talented, and dedicated to his work. Ushio doesn't seem enthused about this interview, which annoys Kei, but the TV host still maintains a pleasant disposition as usual. Kei's friendliness, especially around the other crew members, makes a good impression on Ushio.
After the interview, Kei and Ushio meet again during a random encounter. The two of them had gotten into a bike accident, which resulted in Ushio injuring himself. When Kei shows indifference towards his well-being, Ushio becomes upset over the perpetrator's bad attitude. However, he doesn't realize this person is actually Kei, because the presenter wears a face mask and dresses down when he's out of the spotlight.
As compensation for his injury, Ushio strong-arms Kei into assisting him with his next stop-motion project. Although Kei is reluctant at first, he begins to visit Ushio's home on a regular basis, helping him out with his creative work. Kei settles into a routine with these regular visits, even though he never takes off his mask or reveals his real identity. As far as Ushio is concerned, the man who hangs out at his home all the time is "Owari".
A connection forms between Ushio and his new masked companion. As comfortable as Kei feels when he's around Ushio, he still hasn't told the truth about his identity. Keeping up this facade starts to feel stressful to Kei, especially since Ushio insists on learning more about Owari's personal life.
Yes, No, or Maybe Half Anime Trailer
Yes, No, or Maybe Half Anime Cast
Kei Atsushi Abe (阿部敦)
Kei is a TV presenter of a news variety program. Although he comes across as gracious and poised to his coworkers, his inner thoughts are actually childish and petty. Kei is conscious about his public image, so he always wears a mask and glasses outside. Kei adopts the fake “Owari” alias once he starts to hang out at Ushio's home.
Ushio Yoshihisa Kawahara (川原慶久)
Ushio is an award-winning filmmaker who gained recognition for his creative stop-motion animation. Although his line of work is intricate and repetitive, Ushio is passionate about turning his hobby into a career. He builds a good rapport with both Kei the presenter and Owari the alias, without realizing they're the same person.
Yes, No, or Maybe Half Anime Review
Anime Review Score: 7.4
Yes, No, or Maybe Half is a short and simple BL anime that plays out in a cute, charming way. Since the movie is less than an hour long, you make some allowances for the limited plot development and adjust your expectations accordingly. Still, this anime takes its time to build the important character moments and elaborate on the emotional nuances. The story flows smoothly in a comfortable pace, always transitioning to the next plot point without ever feeling too rushed.
With that said, Yes, No, or Maybe Half could have benefited from a longer movie for sure. I really wished we could see more interactions between Kei and Ushio when they were bonding together. We only got a quick montage of the few weeks where Kei hanged out at Ushio's flat every day, but that didn't capture their growing intimacy. The relationship would feel more convincing if we actually heard some of their conversations or watched cute little moments between them. In a lengthier movie, this romance could be fleshed out with so much more depth.
I enjoyed the character-driven drama on Yes, No, or Maybe Half. Kei is a complex protagonist who hides his real feelings behind a mask of poise and perfection. It's fun hearing his snarky inner thoughts, even though some of his comments make him seem kinda two-faced. However, I wouldn't have liked Kei's character as much if he was simply a nice guy or if he was openly mean to people. The conflicting duality in his personality drives the narrative and makes him so interesting to watch.
Up until the final scene, Yes, No, or Maybe Half endeared itself to me with a character-driven story, cute romance, and aesthetically pleasing art designs. The plot in the movie's second half is pretty compelling, as Kei wrestles with the new pressures from his job promotion. I love this type of intrapersonal conflict. The anime does a great job developing Kei's character, showcasing his personal growth in a satisfying journey. His storyline gets resolved thoughtfully and romantically, so I had every reason to believe we were headed towards a happy ending.
However, Yes, No, or Maybe Half ends with an off-putting sex scene that feels incredibly jarring to watch. It doesn't make me comfortable watching a character in tears and repeatedly saying "no, no, no…" while his partner penetrates him. This sex scene is terribly distressing and feels so different from the gentle tone in the rest of the movie. Sadly, this ending demolished the goodwill that Yes, No, or Maybe Half had established, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste to an otherwise sweet story.
Story of duality
I liked the story in Yes, No, or Maybe Half, even though you need to put aside some logic to play along. Only in the fictional anime world is a person unrecognizable after he dons on a mask and a pair of glasses. Kei is out here wearing an even more obvious disguise than Tuxedo Mask, but Ushio is still oblivious to his secret identity. Maybe Ushio is the one who needs to be wearing glasses after all? 👓
Nevertheless, I enjoy the theme of duality explored in Yes, No, or Maybe Half. Kei wears a literal mask when he assumes the Owari identity. However, he's still wearing a symbolic mask even when he's on camera under his real name. He presents different versions of himself in his public persona and his private life. In a way, his character kinda resembles the LGBT experience before coming out, or even just your everyday life where you must behave differently at work. His character is relatable to anyone forced to hide a part of their identity to adapt to their surroundings.
Ushio's character has the inverse personality of Kei. Warm, honest, and transparent, you can read him like an open book. Ushio has no secrets to hide, encourages truthful communication, and opens up his feelings without reservations. His character is almost inspirational, like the best version of ourselves that we should aspire to become. Ushio is a good fit for Kei, motivating the newscaster to live unreservedly without personas or pretenses. When they're together, Kei is finally comfortable enough to be himself.
There's a surprisingly deep narrative embedded in Yes, No, or Maybe Half. The story is actually quite thoughtful and philosophical, even if hidden underneath the façade of a lighthearted romance. I just wished the anime was longer so that these themes could be explored to their full potential.
Kei and Ushio
As a couple, Kei and Ushio are both handsome characters who look great together. There's a scene in the restaurant, where they exchange come-hither glances at each other, making my heart skip a beat. It's this type of indescribable vibe between them that epitomizes all the reasons why I watch BL.
I just wished Yes, No, or Maybe Half spent more time elaborating on their romance. Right now, it feels a little lacklustre, missing some additional scenes that could've clearly defined the rapport between them. The spark is there, but it just needs time to grow into a passionate flame.
I like the dynamic between the two characters. Ushio really supports Kei, showing a genuine admiration towards his skills, career, and personality. At the same time, he also embraces the quirkiness of Owari, finding the beauty behind his character flaws. With so much patience and understanding, Ushio is ALMOST like the perfect boyfriend material. I use the word 'almost' because the illusion is ruined in the ending. 😞
The character designs in Yes, No, or Maybe Half are lovely. Both leads are handsome, well-drawn, and demonstrate a range of vivid emotions. However, some scenes look a little bland at times, lacking in visual interest and background details. The movie definitely could've pushed itself more in terms of art and animation.
Nonetheless, the art has an aesthetically pleasing look and this anime is comfortable on the eyes. Plus, I love how we actually got to see the little stop-motion animation project that Kei put together. I thought that was a really nice touch.
NO MEANS NO!!!
Up until the sex scene, Yes, No, or Maybe Half was in such a great place, after a touching love confession that resonates with the story's main narrative themes. Ushio tells Kei that he loves both versions of him, including the good and bad aspects of his personality. I liked when he stated that his love doubled upon learning about the two identities. This is a romantic sentiment, showing that Ushio doesn't separate Kei's personality as "the good half" and "the bad half", but he actually embraces both sides of him unequivocally.
Despite the wonderful confession, followed by a lovely kiss, their sex scene felt like a sledgehammer to the pleasant atmosphere. Maybe this scene wouldn't seem so bad if I had watched it without subtitles, but the dialogue is just horrifying. Kei is pinned down to the bed, with tears brimming in his eyes, crying out: "No! I don't want it! You can't put it in! I said no! It doesn't make me happy at all!" Ushio ignores these tearful pleas and forces his body into Kei anyway.
I know there isn't a textbook example of nonconsensual encounters, but there needs to be one and this sex scene is it. Consent is not at all a "yes, no, or maybe half" scenario. When someone is repeatedly telling you no during sex, he means it.
Watching this sex scene was uncomfortable, making me completely reassess Ushio as a character. I thought he was a sweet, nonproblematic guy, and then the ending exposed his predatory behaviour underneath a nice guy persona. I really wished Yes, No, or Maybe Half didn't equate non-consent as steamy sex, because this scene could've been written so much differently. The sex scene made the ending so thorny, ruining what had been a very solid anime up to this point.
My answer for the best character would have been Ushio until the sex scene happened. I thought he was a nice humble guy, but not anymore. Kei's personality is a little too prickly for me, but I do think he makes an interesting character, especially when he's in Owari mode. Every time Kei pretends to be Owari, he takes his tsundere-ness to the maximum level, which I of course LOVE. 😄
Kei's inner voice
I love Kei's snarky inner voice, sorry not sorry. Many of these comments are mean-spirited, so they don't make him seem like the nicest or most honest guy. His bitchiness is what I like about him though. 😛
Also, it's important to note that Kei has done nothing malicious during the anime. Sure, he occasionally thinks bad thoughts about people out of frustration, but his character doesn't plot or scheme against others. Kei isn't someone with a hidden agenda, trying to take down those around him to advance his career. His worst crime is bitching about people inside his head, never telling them how he actually feels. But we're all guilty of doing that sometimes, riiiight?
Skin & nudity
The sex scene in the end was clearly tacked on as fanservice, but how you actually respond to it might be a different story. You don't see anything graphically explicit during the scene, but the dialogue is raunchy. You also see a shot of the lube as well as Ushio's muscular torso. Where does he get that physical physique when the guy sits in a room all day making clay models? 🤔
There's a nonconsensual sexual encounter in the last few minutes of the movie. Kei repeatedly states, "NO, I DON'T WANT IT, DON'T PUT IT INSIDE ME!!!" in very clear terms, but Ushio forces himself anyway. Kei is left in tears after the penetration. Somehow, this violation of personal boundaries is romanticized by Yes, No, or Maybe Half, like somebody saying "no, no, no" is part of the sexual foreplay. 😑
The sex scene
Sorry for beating a dead horse. I know I spent half the review talking about this topic, but the sex scene is just so glaring that I can't overlook it. You have this very solid anime in almost every aspect, and then there's this one ginormous flaw that stands out like a sore thumb.
Don't get me wrong, I love when characters consummate their love in a BL story. We champion sex-positive narratives here at BL Watcher! However, the sex scene in Yes, No, or Maybe Half was unnecessarily crude. What gets me is that they have ALL the creative freedom to portray the sex in any which way, but somehow they end up choosing this.
The non-consensual element was added on purpose, presumably to make the scene "sexier", which is so problematic. I wished Yes, No, or Maybe Half didn't feel the need to spice up the sex scene, perpetuating a toxic trope that has consistently plagued BL anime. This genre needs to respect consent in romantic relationships, and it starts with being more responsible on how you depict sex between healthy, loving couples. Do better, be better.