It’s been a while, my friends! Hello to all my Catholic friends out there! I hope you are spending your Holy Week as you should. Anyway, as most of you might know by now…especially if you’ve seen a fellow blogger‘s post about a certain anime he watched recently, I tried watching it too. I really need to stop making ‘poor life choices’ as he likes to call it. Anyway, the film was great. It left me crying even when there was literally nothing to cry about. The film, Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name) is breaking history and is now the highest grossing anime film surpassing Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. If it weren’t for.. and I mean this in a literal sense, “If you’re disappointed, your heart is dead,” I would not have watched the film. I am intrigued that it was done by Makoto Shinkai, a very talented man at skilled at his craft no doubt, but I really did not want to watch the film because of all the hype. Thank God I did!
ANYWAY, the film was great. It had a very refreshing take on destiny, love, fate, memories; and time. The film, although a fantasy, is well-thought and the soundtrack is really good! However, being the diehard dramatic that I am and growing up to F. Scott Fitzgerald books (The Great Gatsby is a guilty pleasure), I would like to talk about another one of Makoto Shinkai’s works. It came out in 2013 and despite it being so good, not that known to many. Why that is so, I do not know, but I am happy I stumbled upon it.
If you haven’t seen any of Makoto Shinkai’s works, I suggest you watch Garden of Words first before proceeding to Kimi No Na Wa. Garden of Words is so full of emotion and the symbolisms are just as great as the visually stimulating work of art. To further quote my friend, the Japanese do understand that when you eat, you eat first with your eyes. I think the same thing goes for films and especially anime. If something is not well-presented, then how the hell are you supposed to feel the sadness? the joy? the anger? Makoto’s work of art is really great. A Japanese friend told me most of his works are centred on distance and are almost always romanticising the innocence of kids and their eagerness in life. Someone like me could understand even this right? After all, my favourite book is one centred at just that – maturity in innocence. And as such is my custom… of course spoilers are included!
There is much to discover in the film. Much to say about life, intense longing, rain and what it could mean to certain kinds of people; and if you are a lot like me who loves symbolisms you will love the mystery that is – the gazebo.
The film focuses on Takao, a 15-year old male shoemaker and Yukino, a 27-year-old woman and how they keep meeting at a gazebo on rainy mornings. Takao, escaping his classes and Yukino, avoiding work – it is clearly evident they have personal problems they refuse to deal with. Each of them alone thus is the tale of how they “learned how to walk”.
Take into account the age difference in the story. Although to some, this may seem little to nothing, to society this is a huge deal. And unlike the way separation and distance is portrayed in Your Name, Garden of Words chose a simpler and a much closer to reality example; that of a teacher and a student. Takao, a mature kid who knows what he wants and is striving real hard to get there, is clearly frustrated by how people constantly see him as a mere kid. Yukino on the other hand, clearly avoiding responsibilities is immature and lives an unhealthy life. Both learn the value of letting go and the real meaning of walking one’s path of life.
Yes, you read right. In this world full of technology-analogies, books like Divergent and Maze Runner series, and films like Lucy and Transcendence, Makoto chose a much simpler approach on life. I personally love the idea that the shoes symbolise one’s life – one’s support in walking the path of life. It is a rather simple and easy way of storytelling that one can easily grasp the context. It is very much like a Cinderella story but with the literal sense and figurative sense to it all. Takao, a wannabe shoemaker, makes shoes that as I said, symbolises one’s support system in life, and in a way, also became a shoe. He became Yukino’s support system. He became her shoe.
Rain and water is a constant theme in the story and how it was illustrated is not unlike most of the films we see nowadays. Think about it, when you see rain in a film, you think of sadness. A girl loses her father, someone dies, or intense longing for someone. It’s ironic then that Makoto used rain for two people to meet. Takao and Yukino meet at a gazebo. In a way, it can be said that they abhor the sunshine. They abhor each of their ‘realities’ and hide-away in the gazebo during rainy days. However, like all things in life, no matter how much they sit there in silence, if no one makes a move nothing will ever move forward for any of them. Even the place where they meet is enough to tell you about how the author chooses to describe his characters – hidden, mysterious. In a way, loneliness is a major theme of the film, but for me… hope is too.
I watched Garden of Words again after watching Your Name because … well, I wanted to feel even sadder, I guess. Hahah. And that was when I noticed it! I didn’t believe it missed my eyes the very first time I watched! A great artist does know his audience. Furthermore, a great artist does NOT underestimate his audience. See for yourself what I mean at this shot of Yukino’s bookshelf.
Just like the book The Little Prince, the sad and yet happy way of ending a piece of art is enough to get an audience to bawl out in front of a screen don’t you think? As the film progresses, you indulge in the beautiful and visually arousing way of how rain is presented in the anime and you do not mind that despite the title, little to nothing is said in the film. This very fact then is enough to show that every bit of dialogue is heavy, well-calculated, and important to the plot.
Yes. In case I have not told you yet, this is a story of love. Takao falls in love with his newfound friend, Yukino. And in one of the very best moments in the film, the best words were said. When Takao confessed, he said he “thinks” he loves her. Thinks…like he is not sure. Thinks…like he is in love with her but is not quite ready because he himself is doubting his every move. He is, after all, a student in love with a teacher.
After the confession.
What came next is the best climax a film on love and loneliness could ever have. Well, at least for me, that is. What came was Yukino’s response. She did nothing. No acknowledgement. Nada. She did not shy away from the topic. She stood there, saying it is not ‘Yukino-san” but “Yukino-senpai” senpai in the Japanese language means teacher; therefore Yukino was saying that no matter what her feelings towards Takao are, she will abide by society’s values. A student and a teacher must not be together. It was a rejection. And it was not. The scenes following up to the ending of the film up to Yukino finally letting go and accepting that she does not need to be alone all her life, and Takao letting go of his inhibitions too is purely a masterpiece.
The scene takes place in an open area, clearly signifying that they are no longer hiding. They no longer have secrets. It clearly signifies that they are no longer part of that hidden and mysterious garden. Takao finally returns to that gazebo one sunny day, and you then realise that their relationship has somehow ended. However, this does not make the ending sad. Much like how the little prince dying does not make the book any less brilliant.
To quote from my favourite piece of literature:
And once your sorrow is comforted, you will be content that you have known me.