The Infinite Zenith

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Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai (I Want to Eat Your Pancreas): Movie Review, Reflection and Full Recommendation

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” –Sir William Wallace

While at the hospital, the introverted Haruki Shiga encounters an unusually-titled book, “Living with Dying”. He picks it up and leafs through it, before coming face-to-face with its owner, Sakura Yamauchi. It turns out that Sakura is afflicted with a pancreatic disease that will in time, result in her death. After Haruki promises to keep her secret, Sakura recruits him to spend time with her, feeling that he represents a balance between the normalcy that her parents want her to experience, and the reality that she must face given her condition. Unlike her doctors, who give a stark view of her life expectancy, and her parents, who are overcome with emotion whenever Sakura mentions her disease, Haruki is seemingly far removed from things to help Sakura live life normally and experience everyday things. While Haruki is initially hesitant, Sakura is persistent; she takes up a position at the library he works at, and later invites him out to a yakiniku restaurant. Sakura is determined to make the most of her remaining time, and drafts a bucket list of things to do before she dies. As the two spend more time together, classmates become suspicious of Haruki. Sakura later books a trip out of the blue, and during this excursion, Sakura and Haruki learn more about one another. After returning home, Sakura’s best friend, Kyoko, confronts Haruki, wondering what’s going on between the two. Later, Haruki visits Sakura to borrow a book from her and leaves following a misunderstanding. He runs into Takahiro, Sakura’s ex, who demands to know what’s going on and knocks him to the ground. Sakura finds Haruki, and after helping him clean up, asks him to return the book that he’s borrowed within a year. Sakura and Haruki push into her bucket list as summer break continues, although one day, she is admitted to the hospital. While they play cards, Sakura reveals that her outlook on life and socialisation is than one’s interactions with others is what made life worth living, and later, she sneaks out of the hospital, taking Haruki to a hill to watch some fireworks. Here, Haruki realises the extent of the impact that she’s had on him, and now, he has a genuine desire for her to keep living. He agrees to Sakura’s request to go to the beach, but when she misses their date, Haruki heads home, where he learns that Sakura was stabbed. Devastated, he does not attend her funeral, but later visits Sakura’s mother and pay respects to Sakura. Here, Sakura’s mother gives him “Living with Dying”. Haruki learns that Sakura had been curious about him and admired him after meeting him. Despite their short time together, Sakura was deeply moved by Haruki’s choice to stick by her. Haruki promises to Sakura’s mother that he will return to visit along with Kyoko, and also passes Sakura’s final words to Kyoko. Despite refusing to accept this initially, Haruki persuades Kyoko to give him a second chance. A year later, Kyoko and Haruki visit Sakura’s grave, before heading off to the Yamauchi residence.

The unusually-titled Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai (I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, which is what I’ll refer to the film for the remainder of this talk) is a journey about life that began as a web novel authored by Yoru Sumino, was adapted into manga and then made into a live-action movie. The animated film was produced by Studio VOLN and released in September 2018. Dealing with themes of what life means, and how opposites introduce dramatic changes in one’s world-view, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a sincere and genuine glimpse into what living is about. Haruki begins as an antisocial individual who prefers the company of books over people, but a chance encounter with Sakura changes all of this. Her seemingly boundless energy and optimism despite her imminent death initially has little impact on the stoic Haruki, but as he spends more time with her, he comes to enjoy her company. However, this route has both its ups and downs. Encountering emotions that he had previously been unaware of, Haruki is conflicted by these new experiences; while he becomes closer with Sakura, he must also deal with Kyoko’s refusal to accept him and Takahiro pasting him onto the pavement, Haruki only handles these with a taciturn outlook. However, seeing Sakura’s experiences eventually leads him to realise that he’s now emotionally close with Sakura, and that for everything she’s done for him, he desperately wants her to live. Sakura’s upbeat, outgoing personality stands in contrast with Haruki’s quiet, reserved one, and these polar opposites do much to bring change to Haruki, who begins to understand that life is about interacting with, and caring for people around oneself. While Haruki feels he’s given nothing to Sakura in return, it turns out that being there for her, however reluctantly it was early on, Haruki showed to Sakura that there was someone out there who would come to genuinely care for her, making her feel special and fulfilled. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas reiterates that, time and time again, bringing people together, that are seemingly polar opposites, can result in a synergy that brings about undeniable and profound change in their lives as they come to empathise with one another.

While the topic of Sakura’s death is ever-present in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, the movie is about what life means. That life is finite and fragile serves to give it all the more value – the answer to the meaning of life is infinitely varied and diverse. For Sakura, and by extension, Sumino, life is defined by the meaningful relationships that one forms with others. Whether it be caring for others, giving them joy or support, life is to be treasured because one has the potential to make someone else happy. The emphasis on life, rather than death, is emphasised in every aspect of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. Sakura is full of life, with her boundless optimism and acceptance of death driving her to make the most of each day. Despite her days being more limited than most, Sakura is resolved to make each second count. The film’s animation and artwork are deliberately crafted to reflect this – scenes are vividly rendered, and every moment is filled to the brim with colour. In this manner, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas reminds viewers that there’s value in all life, that all one really has to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to them. Even in death, Sakura’s optimistic spirit endures, providing Haruki the motivation to continue living – a year after her death, Haruki has undergone a profound change and nominally gets along with Kyoko, showing just how far he’s come of his own volition since being motivated by his fateful meeting with Sakura. The film’s title gives insight into the sort of effect that Sakura and Haruki have on one another; early in the film, Sakura mentions that some cultures will eat certain organs to heal a related physiological function or take up its strength. Both Haruki and Sakura, by spending time with one another that becomes highly treasured, eat one another’s pancreas in a metaphorical sense, imbibing the traits from the other that help them mature.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I Want to Eat Your Pancreas opens in April, under the blooming of cherry blossoms. It is a foregone conclusion that Sakura will be dying in the movie – Haruki is shown at home, still in grief after her death. However, there is a considerable journey taken to get to this point, and this is what I Want to Eat Your Pancreas showcases. After a chance meeting at a hospital, Sakura takes a keen interest in Haruki, and the movie’s events thus begin. I’ve got a longer talk for I Want to Eat Your Pancreas because there is a bit of ground to cover, and consequently, this talk will have forty screenshots.

  • Sakura explains the film’s title as coming from an ancient belief that eating a particular organ will help alleviate illnesses. She suffers from a pancreatic disease of unknown nature: besides this disease, Sakura is otherwise completely healthy, and in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, is shown to be unaffected by other symptoms that are found in pancreatic conditions (e.g. pain, nausea and vomiting in pancreatitis). Her condition is left ambiguous because it is not relevant to the story; the condition and its fatal nature is more relevant. Despite his initial reservations, Haruki reluctantly agrees to join Sakura to a yakiniku restaurant, where they grill a variety of variety meats.

  • Despite claiming to not be interested in Haruki in a romantic manner, her persistence in bringing him along to finish her bucket list has parallels with Your Lie in April‘s Kaori, who similarly pushed Kousei back into music despite ostensibly not being interested in him. Similarities between Your Lie in April and I Want to Eat Your Pancreas are inevitable, although the latter abstracts away the music component in favour of a more direct message about what living means. Eating well is a part of living, and while we take it for granted at times, being able to enjoy good food adds a considerable amount of joy to life. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas places a great deal of emphasis on food moments for this reason.

  • Sakura is every bit as spirited as Karoi, and while walking through the shopping district, they encounter a worker who is bullying an elderly lady after his wares are knocked over. She intervenes, pointing out that the worker is at fault; bikes are not permitted here. After the shopping district’s patrons and vendors’ attention is drawn, Sakura cans the worker before running off, leaving beat cops to arrest the worker.

  • The artwork and animation in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is of a high quality; settings are simply but vividly coloured, bring every moment to life. The film maintains its colourful scenery when Sakura and Haruki are together, emphasising that each moment is a memorable one for the two even in spite of Haruki’s generally gloomy and pessimistic outlook. Being taciturn and unsociable, Haruki would very much prefer to read books, engrossing himself in the admittedly rich and exciting worlds within them rather than spending time with others.

  • Haruki believes that minimising social interactions with others is the simplest way to live: caring very little about those around them thinks of him, he is content to be ignored and not deal with others. In a manner of speaking, Haruki is the embodiment an extreme – I myself find happiness in solitude, whether it be reading, walking on my own and the like, but I’ve also come to appreciate and respect the importance of close social relationships. No man is an island, and having people to fall back on when things get difficult can mean the difference between suffering and finding enough alternate outlooks to approach problems differently.

  • Use of space as a visual brake is a common element employed in visual arts. Towards the beginning of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, there is a spatial gap between Haruki and Sakura whenever they meet up. As the film advances on, the time that the two spend at opposite ends of the frame is lessened, indicating to viewers that the two have become very close despite Haruki’s seeming lack of interest in getting to know Sakura better early on. These cues are immensely valuable in giving viewers subtle hints as to what’s going on; Bill Watterson utilised space as a way of conveying an idea in Calvin and Hobbes, where the medium was static and therefore, even mire dependent on placement.

  • Kyoko is very close to Sakura and is disapproving of Haruki, viewing him as an outcast unworthy of Sakura’s time. Sakura’s optimistic and level-headed approach in dealing with Kyoko’s reactions shows that she views both Sakura and Haruki as important: she chooses neither over the other and simply does her best to make things work, befitting of her outlook on life. Sakura is unfazed, and presses on ahead: after running into Kyoko at the desert café, she brings Haruki to the beach.

  • Sakura’s jacket, in conjunction with the subdued hues, suggest a cooler spring evening. It’s much too early to be enjoying warmer waters, but here, Sakura asks Haruki to spend additional time with her and mentions that on her list of things to do before she snuffs it is to become closer to a guy in a romantic fashion. Sakura teases Haruki from time to time about it; from Haruki’s perspective, Sakura’s intentions are ambivalent, and audiences will similarly be unsure of whether or not she’s teasing Haruki or not because he’s so unresponsive. By leaving audiences to guess what’s going on, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas compels the audience to keep watching.

  • Sakura convinces Haruki to take an excursion with her to Fukuoka. With a population of 1.6 million, Fukuoka is the sixth largest city in Japan. While Haruki is initially set up for a day trip, it turns out that Sakura had intended for an overnight stay and arranged for accommodations to be made so their absences could be explained away. En route to Hakata Station, Sakura asks for Haruki’s name, and I suppose now is a good time as any to mention that this entire discussion is one big spoiler – I understand that the choice of names underlies the theme of connectedness and fate in the movie, hence the decision to keep his name unknown, but for discussion, it would have been difficult to mention Haruki without his name.

  • Hakata Station is the largest in Kyushu; with over 120000 passengers a day, it acts as the access point from Kyushu to Honshu. The station seen in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas was built in 2011 to replace an older station, and even has its own department store. It forms the starting point for Sakura and Haruki’s trip, the point in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas where Haruki’s character slowly begins changing. After the warm-up, things begin accelerating as Haruki gets to know Sakura better.

  • While exploring Fukuoka, Sakura and Haruki stop at a ramen shop, having what I eyeball to be a Hakata ramen, which features cuts of pork in a milky white broth and thin noodles. The food in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is rendered in great detail, and one feels as though they were there with the two. On the topic of food, Poutine Week is in full swing right now, and last Saturday, I stopped by a steakhouse downtown to try their Big Smoke poutine: this poutine consists of smoked brisket, a special in-house gravy, crunchy bacon, truffle mushrooms, jalapeño, and Chimichurri sauce. The richness of the gravy, brisket and bacon pieces was complemented by a tang from the Chimichurri, as well as a mild spice from the jalapeño. This poutine was accompanied by a refreshing ginger beer, and I subsequently stepped out to pick up Marie Kondo’s The Manga Guide to Cleaning Up.

  • Enjoyment of the smaller things in life is one of the reasons why I can be happy with an afternoon spent browsing through a book store. I feel that amongst my peers, I stand as being a bit unusual in that I believe that experiences and memories (something that Millennials greatly value) can be found even while doing the ordinary. There is value in everything, no matter how trivial, and different scales of an experience simply confers different kinds of happiness, which is ultimately happiness all the same. The montage of Sakura and Haruki exploring Fukuoka shows various snapshots of the two having a good time, with Sakura taking the lead in all of the frames.

  • As the evening wears on, Sakura and Haruki walk through a yatai (night market) – Fukouka’s night markets are known for their food, being counted as one of the best in Asia, and the stalls serve a diverse array of foods, from Japanese street food to French items. Night markets have an exhilarating atmosphere: I went to Kaohsiung five years ago and walked through their night market, which was a spectacular experience for the sights and smells alone. At the time, my constitution was not at full health, and so, I did not eat anything – one of my longstanding goals will be to go back to Taiwan, for the singular purpose of eating the grilled squid at their night markets. While I’m there, I would also love to rent a scooter and overnight through Huadong Valley, waking up in a countryside inn and finding a swift sunset awaiting me.

  • An error in booking results in Sakura and Haruki sharing the same room. Haruki immediately decides to sleep on the couch, giving the bed to Sakura, but Sakura counter-argues that a bed this nice must be experienced. I imagine that some minds immediately wander towards what could go down next, but the context of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, something like that was never going to happen. It was interesting to see how Haruki immediately picks his course of action and how this parallels mine.

  • Sakura and Haruki stay at the Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk: facing west, the Fukuoka Tower is visible, with its distinct profile standing tall in the Fukuoka skyline. Standing at 234 meters, it is two meters shorter than The Bow, the second tallest building in Calgary, but unlike The Bow, Fukuoka Tower has an observation deck, and its glass façade gives the impression that it’s a full office building: the tower only resembles an office building, and actually has no floor space for offices. Rated for magnitude seven earthquakes and 233 km/h winds, the Fukuoka Tower was completed in 1989.

  • It turns out that Sakura’s managed to buy alcohol, and the two immediately set about playing “Truth or Dare”. Haruki presses his turns to learn more about Sakura out of curiosity, while Sakura is a bit more coy and asks questions that gauge Haruki’s impressions of her. Haruki’s choice of questions shows his concern for her, which grows after he helps her grab a bottle of shampoo from her bag; the quantity of medications and needles is a powerful reminder of how serious her condition is, but from her happy-go-lucky attitude, this is not always apparent.

  • Eventually, bored with how straightforward Haruki is, Sakura puts a “rock and a hard place” option onto the table: either put into words what he finds attractive about her, or bridal-carry her to the bed. Haruki goes with the latter option, and they wind up sharing a brief conversation before retiring. The next morning, an irate Kyoko calls, and threatens Haruki with a physical beating if anything happened to Sakura.

  • The excursion to Fukuoka marks a turning point in Haruki and Sakura’s friendship: Haruki’s reluctance to hang out with Sakura evaporates, now that he’s gotten to know her better and also understands the extent of her condition. On the train ride back home by sunset, there’s a sense of melancholy, of departure and longing: I’ve got a sizeable collection of anime wallpapers portraying nearly empty trains, and there’s a certain appeal to them.

  • While I am a PC gamer with a respectable level of skill, on console, I am terrible by all counts, and I’m sure that most anyone could take me out in even shooters. Sakura schools Haruki here in a game while he’s visiting her, on the promise of picking up a book. Sakura is surprised to learn that Haruki’s not read a certain book and decides to lend him a copy on the promise that he finish and return it to her in a timely fashion.

  • Sakura’s feelings towards Haruki is probably tempered by the fact that she doesn’t really feel as though they’ve connected yet, hence her sending mixed signals to him. Confused by this, Haruki is at a loss and responds with frustration, but being kind at heart, he never crosses the line, and runs off into the rain. Here, he runs into Sakura’s ex, whose jealousy prompts him to strike Haruki. Haruki is not the sort of individual to fight back, and Sakura arrives to find Haruki on the ground. After angrily telling her ex off, Sakura reassures Haruki, who comes to understand what Sakura is feeling.

  • After returning to her place to dry off and retrieve the book, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas shifts into high gear as summer vacation kicks in. There’s still a large number of items on Sakura’s bucket list, and with classes over, the two turn their time towards making the most of summer, when long days and beautiful weather make everything seem possible. I’ve always wondered why people, especially those in newspaper comics dealing with workplaces, called them bucket lists – I initially thought they were buckets in a hash table, data entries in a fast-access location, but as it turns out, it refers to “list of things to do before kicking the bucket”, where “kicking the bucket” itself stems from a 17th-century euphemism for dying.

  • Being Good Friday, I had a day off today to really sleep in and regroup: I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn for work, and so, opportunities to sleep in are rare, so when they happen, I aim to make the most of them. Having time off means being able to take a day on more slowly, but as it happens, today is also the second last day of Poutine Week here at home. Hence, I spent a bit of the morning working from home, validated my taxes and then geared up to head downtown.

  • I’m getting up there in the years now, and high on my list of things to do is to spend a brilliant summer day with someone special, even if the probability of something like this happening as I grow older lessens. This moment captures what that might look like in a succinct manner. Besides enjoying various food, Sakura and Haruki bowl, partake in karaoke and eventually, make plans to visit the beach together.

  • I entered I Want to Eat Your Pancreas with no existing knowledge of what to expect, and having avoided all spoilers for the film. This resulted in a more complete experience, and I appreciate why folks are so adamant about avoiding spoilers – not knowing what to expect means that one can get a much more authentic experience. I am generally more tolerant of spoilers in video games and for series I do not have a strong interest in, but for films, I prefer finding things out for myself. Keeping clear of spoilers for anime movies like I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a relatively easy task, since there’s next to no discussions of it elsewhere, but I imagine that for something like the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, it will be a considerable challenge.

  • While hospitals are typically quite saddening places to be, there’s a calm here as Haruki visits Sakura, who’s been admitted after some tests showed a false positive that her condition was worsening. She’s still optimistic and joyful: even a hospital cannot dampen her spirits, and the two continue on with Truth or Dare here. During this game, Haruki learns that Sakura believes life to be worth living based on the time one spends with others, and the emotional worth of the relationships one builds up. For Haruki, this is a bit of an epiphany moment, wherein he comes to realise that being with Sakura has allowed him to open up for the first time and learn about the importance of forming meaningful connections with others.

  • For Sakura, being with someone who is willing to follow her to the ends of the earth in her desires made her feel particularly special, and one evening, having snuck out of the hospital to watch the fireworks, the two share an embrace that captures the warmth and gratitude that they feel towards one another. This is the apex of their friendship; Sakura and Haruki both understand one another now, and both their lives have changed dramatically as a result of the fateful meeting that brought them together.

  • The changes in Haruki’s character are apparent when he accepts gum from his friendly classmate while en route to the beach. Having declined up until now, accepting gum visually represents accepting friendship. It’s an uplifting moment that makes it clear how far Haruki has come since the beginning of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, and audiences will invariably want to see what happens next. This, of course, foreshadows what occurs next; Sakura is late, but she exchanges messages with Haruki that keep him in the loop.

  • Haruki decides to stop at the teashop he’d first visited with Sakura, but as afternoon turns to evening, he heads home and learns that Sakura was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. Earlier in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, news of a violent criminal in the area was presented, and it is likely this same individual perpetrated the crime. While the authorities capture the suspect, it is too late for Sakura, who succumbs to her injuries. Haruki is left in shock and grief in the aftermath, missing Sakura’s funeral.

  • I ended up skipping over those moments in the immediate aftermath of Sakura’s death for this talk, primarily because I had very little to say on said moments. This was one of the toughest parts of the movie to watch: Sakura’s death came out of left field. Having spent much of the movie building up to the inevitable, audiences are initially expecting Sakura to die from her illness, and so, seeing her life end at the hands of some petty criminal was completely unexpected. The aftermath of this is that Haruki eventually regroups and heads off to the Yamauchi residence to pay his respects.

  • Speaking with Sakura’s mother, Haruki is given Sakura’s diary, and reading through the entries, Haruki reaffirms that Sakura was optimistic and a free spirit akin to Kaori Miyazono. However, after the entries come to an end, it turns out there’s an epilogue. Rather like how Kaori left Kōsei a letter, Sakura’s letter explains that she’d long admired him for his dedication to books, and the quiet sense of mystery he evoked in her that compelled her to learn more about him.

  • While most romances and feelings go unfulfilled, Sakura’s condition drove her to live life fully, and this included getting closer with Haruki. Thus, when fate made it so that the two could meet up and talk for the first time, rather than watching from a distance, Sakura seized the moment and set about fulfilling one of the biggest items on her list. The result of this nascent friendship made Sakura feel wanted and cared for, which deepened her feelings for Haruki. Meanwhile, Haruki feels his first emotional connection with someone, and views Sakura as the agent for this change. To have had all of this occur, and then crueley wrested from him made this part emotionally intense.

  • The quote for this post is from Sir William Wallace, a Scottish Knight who was the Guardian of Scotland until being defeated at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Seven years later, he was captured and executed, but in death, he became a larger-than-life symbol. His quote simply means that not everyone truly lives their lives in a fulfilling manner, even though death is inevitable for everyone.

  • While Sakura believed that life was defined by the quality of relationships with others, I personally believe that a meaningful life is defined by what positive impacts one can bring about in their relationships with others – I am at my happiest when I am doing something meaningful for someone else, and for better or worse, I’m drawn to helping people out. Having said this, I have less patience for people who act in their own interests even with the knowledge that doing some will come at someone else’s expense.

  • Understanding the extent of Sakura’s feelings for him, and the extent of his impact on her, Haruki allows himself to cry in sorrow and grief for her. He thanks Sakura’s mother for bearing with him, and she makes a request of him: to bring Kyoko over, as well. The final part of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas has Haruki doing his best to honour his promise to Sakura’s mother and reconcile with Kyoko.

  • The reason why Haruki’s name is not given until I Want to Eat Your Pancreas‘s denouement is because taken together, Haruki’s given name in kanji is 春樹 (“Spring tree”), and Sakura’s given name is 桜良 (“Beautiful cherry blossom”). When one puts them together, the names are related to one another: Haruki can be seen as the tree from which cherry blossoms bloom during spring, and this is meant to tie the two characters together by fate. Spring is when cherry blossoms bloom, and they bloom from a tree. A tree looks much more beautiful with the blossoms, and the blossoms depend on the tree: this symbiotic dynamic mirrors how Haruki and Sakura mutually benefited from their friendship, however short their time together was.

  • Kyoko is initially resistant, even hostile, towards Haruki’s request, and becomes embittered when she reads Sakura’s diary, wondering why Sakura would keep it from her. Running off, she rejects Haruki’s explanation, but Haruki pushes on, managing to catch her before she takes off. From here, a reluctant friendship develops, and the changes in Haruki serve to make him more sociable and attuned to those around him.

  • A year later, Haruki and Kyoko visit Sakura’s grave to pay their respects before visiting Sakura’s mother. While Kyoko is still somewhat disapproving of Haruki, they get along much better than they had during the course of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. Haruki has evidently turned over a new leaf: his new haircut gives him a cleaner, more mature look, and he astutely responds to Kyoko when she asks him whether his words are a kokuhaku. It turns out that Kyoko’s become interested in the friendly fellow who frequently asks Haruki if he’d like any gum, and has also begun finding her own happiness.

  • The greens and blues in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas‘ final scene create a peaceful mid-morning that shows two individuals who’ve come a long way since the film’s beginning. While I shed no tears during the film, I won’t deny that I enjoyed this one immensely: movies dealing with life lessons can come across as being melodramatic if emotions are too forcefully conveyed, but I Want to Eat Your Pancreas manages to keep everything consistently believable. Between this and the character dynamics, growth and technical excellence, this film was definitely worth the wait.

The setup in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, and Haruki and Sakura’s characters are by no means unique; Your Lie in April‘s Kōsei Arima and Kaori Miyazono met in similar conditions, with Kaori suffering from an unknown disease and sharing Sakura’s desire to be closer to the quiet, taciturn male protagonist. However, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas abstracts out the musical component and simply has the characters interacting in the absence of a common, shared hobby: Haruki and Sakura do not particularly align or have any common interests, allowing their personalities to be the sole factor in driving their dynamics, and in this way, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas can be seen as a more general perspective on the themes explored in Your Lie in April. The end result of this is a highly relatable film not dependent on music, that is unique and moving in its own right. As a story, and as a film, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas stands firmly on its own merits, telling a profoundly moving tale of life, of carpe diem and ultimately, what makes life worth living. In addition to a cohesive, focused story, the production values in I Want to Eat Your Pancreas are also of a high standard: landscapes are beautiful, and the sakura blossoms are animated with great detail to convey a mystical sense for audiences. In conjunction with a collection of strong incidental pieces, the movie’s audio and visual components bring to life a story that I’ve been waiting quite some time to watch I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. Having sat down to finally see it, I can decisively say that the film was well worth the wait: I can easily recommend this film to all viewers, who will walk away from I Want to Eat Your Pancreas with a reaffirmed sense of what living really means.

Tenki no Ko: Remarks on the new Makoto Shinkai Film announced for July 2019

“This is a story about a secret world only she and I know. That day, we changed the shape of the world forever.” –Movie Tagline

Amidst the runaway success of Kimi no Na Wa, Makoto Shinkai found himself staring at a towering white cumulonimbus, standing out against the vivid blue of a summer’s sky on a hot August day. The massive thunderhead’s flattened top resembled an island, and Shinkai thought, what if this was a world of its own? This is how Tenki no Ko (天気の子, Weathering With You in English, literally “Children of the Weather”) came into being: Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, Tenki no Ko follows Hodaka Morishima, a high school student who moves to Tokyo and finds that his finances are quickly consumed. He eventually takes up a position as a writer for an obscure and objectionable occult magazine. However, shortly after accepting this job, the weather in Tokyo becomes monotonously rainy. Amidst the endless activity in Tokyo, Hodaka encounters Hina Amano, an optimistic and dependable girl who lives with her brother. Beyond her cheerful manner lies her ability to clear the skies. At least, this is what the synopsis for Tenki no Ko is, and recently, a trailer was released, detailing the animation and artwork viewers can expect from Tenki no Ko. Standing in contrast with Shinkai’s previous works, which have colourful, vividly detailed and cheerful backgrounds, Tenki no Ko features much drearier, dilapidated settings in its trailer that resemble Hong Kong’s former Kowloon Walled City. Greys dominate the setting, which is covered with haphazard wiring, overgrowth and crumbling structures. Compared to the cleaner, cared-for settings of Kotonoha no Niwa and Kimi no Na Wa, Tenki no Ko conveys a more desolate setting, communicating ruin forgotten amongst a city’s endless drive for progress. However, shaft of golden light, breaking through gaps in the cloud, suggest an oasis of happiness surrounded by a sea of monotony, and so, in this trailer, Tenki no Ko hints that it is much more than being a mere film about youthful romance and fateful meetings.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I wrote a preview for a Makoto Shinkai movie, it was three years ago, and I was entering the final term of my graduate studies. Kimi no Na Wa came out eight months later, and subsequently, it was an eleven month journey to the other side where I could finally watch and write about it. By comparison, Tenki no Ko‘s first trailer released precisely 100 days before its première date. It opens with closeups of details such as rain falling onto an umbrella, immediately setting the stage for what is to follow.

  • The choice of lighting, with greys, browns and tans dominating the Tokyo landscape, which is focused on older parts of the megalopolis, suggests that Tenki no Ko might be going in a slightly different direction. Each of Makoto Shinkai’s films stand out from one another despite being characterised by themes of distance, fateful encounters and the like; one possibility from the trailer is that themes of urban decay, abandonment and finding joy even among desolation come into play in Tenki no Ko. However, this scene also features a single shaft of light from the sun breaking through the clouds, suggesting that optimism and hope, also exist.

  • Hina maintains a small shrine on the roof of her building, which is evidently aging and overgrown with weeds. The scene feels more like something out of Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, a book that longtime readers of this blog will have doubtlessly heard me reference multiple times. I am admittedly curious to see where the film will go with its direction, and the trailer does seem to set the tone for what kind of settings the movie will cover. However, I imagine that as we press further into the movie, more majestic and beautiful locations will also be seen.

  • The chaotic mass of pipes and wiring here remind me greatly of the Kowloon Walled City that existed in Hong Kong: after World War Two, there was a parcel of land in Hong Kong that officially belonged to China, but seeing as how the British and China would not accept administrative responsibility of the area, what was once a walled city and yamen turned into a site for the destitute. Since neither British nor Chinese law applied here, people escaped to the Walled City and constructed their own apartments and utilities. By 1990, the site was the most densely populated site in the world, with some 1.2 million inhabitants per square kilometre, and despite its fearsome reputation as a hotbed of crime, most of the residents lived their lives peacefully.

  • The short synopsis presently provides next to nothing in the way of what’s going to happen in Tenki no Ko, rather like how the body switching of Kimi no Na Wa was only a primer for the movie’s main story – this leaves the film quite free to explore most anything, and for this, I am very excited to see where Tenki no Ko will head. Here, we have a closer look at Hina; she bears little resemblance to Shinkai’s earlier characters, and is voiced by Nana Mori. One of the chief drawbacks about Shinkai’s older works were that his female leads seemed to be ethereal, angelic beings of perfection; by the events of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, his female characters become more nuanced and human, giving viewers more incentive to root for them.

  • Vegetable animals are a part of the Obon Festival: they usually take the form of a a horse made from cucumber and an ox made out of eggplant. These animals symbolise transport for ancestral spirits that return them to the realm of spirits, and traditionally, were put outside one’s door on the first day of Obon with incense. The last time I saw Obon vegetable animals was in Sora no Woto‘s seventh episode, where Kanata explains customs from her area. Emphasis on this suggests that life and death might also be a component of Tenki no Ko.

  • I’ve long expressed my displeasure that there are some out there who view Makoto Shinkai’s films as a justification for pressing the idea that extensive knowledge of the Man’yōshū and other aspects of Classical Japanese literature and folklore is required to fully appreciate his films. During Kimi no Na Wa‘s run, one unscrupulous fellow continued to peddle this idea, all the while putting down others for not “getting” the film to the same level as they did. While it is true that Shinkai incorporates classical elements into his works, these merely serve as analogies and allegories that enhance the story if noticed; the story is in no way diminished if one chooses not to account for these elements.

  • Tenki no Ko remains early in its reveal, and I’ve not seen discussions go in this direction as of yet: personally, I am confident that this film will be quite enjoyable, irrespective of one’s prior knowledge in Classical Japanese literature and folklore. It suddenly strikes me that the trailer’s release is much closer to the film’s actual release than was Kimi no Na Wa‘s, and a part of me wishes that Tenki no Ko will be similarly structured and released as Kotonoha no Niwa: with a shorter runtime of 45 minutes, Kotonoha no Niwa released in May 31, 2013 and became available for home release on June 21, 2013. This made the film exceptionally accessible.

  • The trailer depicts Hina flying through the skies, far above the tops of the thunderheads, which are tinged with green to evoke imagery of islands in the skies: the scenery here is used in the promotional artwork for Tenki no Ko and, while not as iconic as Comet Tiamat’s trail in Kimi no Na Wa, remains quite distinct and grand in scale. The film’s soundtrack will be performed by RADWIMPS, who make a triumphant return after composing and performing the excellent soundtrack for Kimi no Na Wa: the theme song for Tenki no Ko is Ai ni Dekiru koto wa Mada Arukai (“Is there still anything that love can do?”).

  • I am certain I will enjoy this movie, and hope that it’ll see a shorter delay in the gap between the theatrical première. I realise that I’ve been writing considerably less as of late, as well: real life obligations has meant that I’ve less time to write in general these days. Having said this, I am definitely going to be offering my thoughts on Tenki no Ko once it is available, and in the near future, I am also doing a talk on I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, a solid film whose home release became available earlier this month.

Entering Tenki no Ko, expectations are high for a visually stunning film – the trailer and Shinkai’s past works set the precedence for what audiences can expect. From the glint of light on raindrops to flaking paint, dense, unkempt vegetation on a building’s rooftop and the enigmatic world above the clouds, Tenki no Ko will undoubtedly impress with Shinkai’s signature artwork and animation. The story remains unknown right now, and here, I will enter with an open mind – I recall that with Kimi no Na Wa, I expressed a want to see reduced romance in favour of exploring growth. The film delivered this, in a manner of speaking, but with the benefit of hindsight, I ended up eating my words. Tenki no Ko represents a familiar setup for Shinkai, but with a different premise, I look forwards to seeing what new directions the film can explore, especially with rain and its associated themes making a return in conjunction with a bit of magic that manifests in Hina’s ability to stop the rain. While perhaps nowhere nearly as potent as the Infinity Gauntlet, I look forwards to seeing how this ability will impact her and Hodaka’s growth. Aside from a more open mind, I also enter the long wait for Tenki no Ko with the understanding that this film could take a similarly long time to become available for English-speakers: with a release date of July 19, Tenki no Ko will likely see a home release in June 2020, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, if it sees a strong box office performance. This wait is going to be a tricky one, although now that I am entering with the preparedness to endure a long wait, I can pursue other things while spoilers for Tenki no Ko become more commonplace – the Halo: Master Chief Collection looks to be more than acceptable a means of enjoying myself while we wait for the film to become available, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be vociferously griping about my inability to watch this film while I melt through the Covenant, Flood and Forerunner Prometheans alike.

Domestic na Kanojo: A Review and Reflection

“一听惊惊今次整定煲要掟” –許冠傑, 追求三部曲

Natsuo Fujii is a high school student and aspiring writer with feelings for Hina Tachibana. He attends a mixer with the intent of burying his feelings and ends up banging Rui Tachibana when she asks him to sneak out of the mixer with her. Later, Natsuo’s father reveals that he wishes to remarry, and that his partner happens to be the mother to Rui and Hina. Natsuo subsequently struggles to deal with his lingering feelings for Hina, joins the literature club and later, reaffirms his desire to be with Hina. When their relationship is discovered, Hina agrees to quietly transfer to another school for a fresh start; Natsuo is devastated and pours his heart into writing a novel which subsequently wins a literature prize. With Hina absent, Rui admits to Natsuo that she’s fallen in love with him, and that she’s now free to pursue her own feelings towards Natsuo. This is the short of what goes down in Domestic na Kanojo, a series that turned out rather unexpected: I had entered with no expectations and ended up being compelled to see what would happen with Natsuo each week as his social circle and circumstances entangled him in situations that tested his resolve. In Domestic na Kanojo, I found a series whose setup was improbable to the point of absurdity, and in spite of this, managed to stick the landing in its finale, resulting in a series that truthfully, exceeded my expectations going in. The odds of something akin to Domestic na Kanojo‘s setup occuring in real life is much smaller than the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field, but the premise aside, themes of relationships, resolve and growth were developed to a surprisingly satisfying extent.

Whereas I originally anticipated Domestic na Kanojo to be incoherent in its themes, Natsuo’s enduring resolve to be with Hina throughout the series proved to give a constant reminder of what the series was about. Meandering into realms of infidelity, unrequited love and the dangers of entanglement in situations beyond one’s understanding, all of these elements are relevant to the turbulent, but single-minded nature of love: Natsuo’s determination to court Hina is admirable to an extent, and despite moments that pull him away, Natsuo remains committed to Hina, regardless of the consequences. This persistence corresponds with Natsuo becoming emotionally invested with Hina, and after such a build-up, sets the stage for his tribulations once the school discovers his relationship with Hina. In the manga, all of this build-up sets the stage for Natsuo exploring different relationships and finding them unsatisfactory; in the anime, it is also shown that Natsuo channels his frustrations and pain into a new novel that is written from the heart. From a manner of speaking, Domestic na Kanojo suggests that the most powerful works are written from raw emotion, as readers may empathise with the author’s honesty about how they feel. For Natsuo, it also represents catharsis, and creates an opportunity to start his career on a solid footing. The events of Domestic na Kanojo lead up to this and provides a host of experiences that drive how Natsuo himself chooses to handle things, and overall, while Domestic na Kanojo is rough around the edges, the rawness seen in Natsuo’s work is reflected in the anime itself.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Twenty screenshots is not adequate a space to showcase all of the most risqué or relevant moments in Domestic na Kanojo, which was admittedly quite restrained in its portrayal of skin considering its genre, but for the sake of brevity, is the size I’ve opted to go with. The first episode opened with Natsuo plowing Rui purely for the experience, and this seemingly emotionless action creates a bit of lingering tension throughout the series. This seemingly one-off decision sets in motion events that cannot be undone, and admittedly, was the reason why I started watching Domestic na Kanojo to begin with.

  • The odds of something happening in real life the same way it happened in Domestic na Kanojo is probably much smaller than the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field: at 3720 to 1, this means that there is to be one successful attempt per 3720 attempts, or 0.0269 percent (to three significant figures). Assuming the asteroid field odds, it means given 3720 students of Natsuo’s age, demographic and location, there would be one case where the student’s father remarries a woman with precisely two children, one of which coincidentally happens to be his instructor, and whose younger sister is the person he had a one-night stand with. Assuming these odds, things out there would be a mess: this isn’t the case, so we can conclude the probability of something like this going down in real life is considerably smaller.

  • While not daydreaming about Hina’s style, Natsuo sets about trying to help Rui socialise more with others, hangs out with his friends or otherwise, can be seen writing his novels. An aspiring novelist, Natsuo is remarkably sensitive and thoughtful, ever mindful of what those around him are feeling. While he might be entangled into various situations, his feelings for Hina never waver, and in a series that could easily devolve into one where Natsuo’s feelings are ambiguous, Domestic na Kanojo portrays Natsuo as being singularly focused on pursuing Hina.

  • Of course, there are some situations that Natsuo himself is not prepared for, and he usually abstains when unsure of his feelings in that moment. Hina is 23 at the beginning of Domestic na Kanojo, while Natsuo is 17 – it strikes me that I’m now a ways older than Hina herself and consider her perspectives on “adult” matters to be remarkably immature. This stems from the benefit of hindsight, and thinking back, I do not feel too much more mature at 23 than I did at 17. With this in mind, when I sat through the Otafest volunteer orientation a few days ago and found myself amongst students, I definitely did feel an age gap there.

  • Rumours abound that Hina is seeing someone: Natsuo takes this particularly hard and decides to tail Hina, learning that she’s dating a man named Shū Hagiwara, her former instructor and a biology researcher at a university. Rui accompanies him, although their fieldcraft is terrible and would almost certainly lead to their being burned had Hina even the slightest trace of counter surveillance know-how. Here, they run into Fumiya Kurimoto, Natsuo’s best friend: Fumiya helps Natsuo adopt a new appearance for high school and is always there to support him. He works at a local café run by Masaki Kobayashi.

  • Learning the truth from Shū does little to help Natsuo, and in the heat of the moment, an irate Rui douses him with ice water. Shū does not deny what what he does is wrong, and attempts to placate Natsuo: such moments show that despite his relative naïveté, Natsuo’s black-and-white view on things helps simplify complex situations such that they are appropriately framed for the narrative. Highly intricate, complex stories with unexpected plot twists can grow tiresome, and while some may find these enjoyable, I personally prefer keeping to simpler stories.

  • As Domestic na Kanojo continues, new characters are introduced into the story. Momo Kashiwabara makes an appearance: she’s someone who gets around, but despite this, is a capable student. As it turns out, Momo grapples with loneliness and isolation, seeking companionship in relationships that invariably crumble because of her partner’s lack of understanding. These misunderstandings, coupled with a well-developed figure that draws male gaze, causes Momo to be held in disdain by her female classmates. Rui befriends her in spite of her classmates’ warnings and the two get along cordially.

  • Holding feelings for Natsuo, who views her differently than other boys would, Momo attempts to get closer to him. However, when Natsuo learns of her past suicide attempts and her family situation, he realises that a sexual relationship with Momo wouldn’t help her. He instead opts to cook for her, and decides to support her in a different manner. It’s a rather well-chosen solution that illustrates Natsuo’s character, and also shows audiences that Domestic na Kanojo has no intention of dealing in ambiguity.

  • I admit that I was a bit surprised to learn that Maaya Uchida (Gochumon wa Usagi desu ka?‘s Sharo Kirima and Rei from Vividred Operation) voices Rui, with Yōkō Hisaka (Mio Akiyama of K-On!) providing Hina’s voice. From what I gather, the anime adaptation of Domestic na Kanojo only deals in the earlier events: three years’ worth of content is found in the manga, following everyone’s stories after high school. Immediately, CLANNAD comes to mind, having taken the same approach by portraying Tomoya and Nagisa’s life after high school, but I cannot say that I found Domestic na Kanojo anywhere nearly as compelling as CLANNAD.

  • When Natsuo first meets Miu Ashihara, the literature club’s only member, he sees Reiji Kiriya close to her and assumes they are kissing. However, this turns out to be a misunderstanding, and Reiji, sensing Natuso’s spirits, compels him to join the literature club. Momo and Rui end up joining, as well: this gives Natsuo something else to focus on, as he concentrates on writing short stories to hone his craft as an author.

  • Natsuo’s determination to court Hina comes across as foolish, but his stubborn refusal to stand down is integral for the story: in the absence of this determination, Domestic na Kanojo would quickly decay and unravel, resulting in a series that would be quite devoid of drama. The reduction or even absence of common sense in fiction is something that I am willing to tolerate because it drives the story: characters who act rationally might do so in such a way as to resolve a situation more quickly, shortening the story.

  • I’m pretty sure that all of my readers would unfollow me, or even report me, if I were to go the whole nine yards and show Hina engaged in onanism, even if Domestic na Kanojo doesn’t go the whole nine yards with its portrayal. I am reminded of a similar scene in Yosuga no Sora, where Haruka is horrified to see Sora doing so while calling out his name. Domestic na Kanojo deals with the awkwardness that follows: Hina is almost certain that Natsuo spotted her in the fact.

  • Admittedly, I entered Domestic na Kanojo wondering if it could be a contender for “most interesting anime” when compared with the likes of something like Yosuga no Sora: the verdict I have is that while Domestic na Kanojo goes in an interesting direction, it is not anywhere near as interesting as Yosuga no Sora – I don’t mind admitting that after watching Yosuga no Sora, I’ve been wanting to see another anime that is as raw and visceral, but so far, I’ve not found anything quite like it.

  • During the summer festival, Hina showcases her lack of maturity by wrecking her phone, and then pouting when Natsuo attempts to talk to her and manages to bring Masaki to the table. After seeing Rui kissing Natsuo, Hina announces that she is moving away with the aim of acclimatising to everyday tasks, and it takes a bit of effort for Natsuo to learn of the reason behind it. During this time, Natsuo frequently visits Hina, even when he breaks his leg in an accident. Rui does her best to support him, but later learns that he’s been spending a bit of time with Hina. Distraught that she’s been lied to, Rui runs off, and Natsuo manages to find her.

  • The page quote comes from one of Sam Hui’s songs: “追求三部曲” (jyutping zeoi1 kau4 saam1 bou6 kuk1, “Pursuit Trilogy”) is a comedic song about romance that just goes wrong, with the end result that the suitor is unceremoniously dumped. The Cantonese expression “煲” (jyutping deng3 bou1) is slang for breaking up; while literally meaning “to throw the pots and pans”, I imagine it was picked because of the commotion surrounding break-up, which can be as noisy as throwing kitchenware around. Machine translators cannot pick up this subtlety.

  • Domestic na Kanojo‘s interpretation of Okinawa is nowhere near as intricate or personal as Non Non Biyori Vacation‘s presentation: Okinawa forms the backdrop for a school trip here, during which Natsuo gives Hina an inexpensive engagement ring as a placeholder for when he’s able to have a relationship with her without the associated stigma. However, during their last night, the two succumb to their temptation and their relationship subsequently becomes known amongst the high school’s staff: someone photographed the pair in the aftermath.

  • In order to avoid exposing Natsuo, Hina agrees to quietly transfer schools. The decision is not one that is taken lightly, and Hina does so with utmost secrecy, leaving her address and contact information unknown. This is done to keep Natsuo from the consequences, and in the aftermath, he is unable to accept what’s happened, falling into a depression. Fumiya later slaps sense into Natsuo, who attempts to move on by putting his experiences to paper as a story.

  • Readers have likely become accustomed to me writing about slice-of-life, military-moé and other series with a strong life lesson component, rather than shows with a stronger dramatic element. It’s fun to occasionally step out of my comfort zone to watch and write about shows where my familiarity is lower. It is not lost on me that I have a lot of “theoretical” understanding about romance despite next to no field experience, and as such, my thoughts are not likely be considered as having weight. For those in a relationship, how idealistic, improbable or downright foolish are my thoughts?

  • In the end, Natsuo submits his finished manuscript and meets with his friends, having somewhat made peace with what’s happened. This story later wins an award, and Natsuo is introduced to one of Reiji’s colleagues: things for his career have turned around as a result of the emotional rollercoaster he experienced with Hina, and Natsuo constructively channels this into writing. It was a welcome turn-around in that, whereas some series have the protagonist wallow, Natsuo ends up taking this curse and turning it into a blessing. While his feelings for Hina don’t waver, he ends up recovering.

  • Domestic na Kanojo managed to be the anime that took off, had an engine shutdown mid-flight and then managed a safe landing nonetheless. For exceeding my expectations, I feel that the series has earned a B grade (3.0 of 4): while rough around the edges and implausible by all counts, it is also honest in its portrayal, with the characters learning something through their experiences. With this post done, and the remainder of April looking quite busy, the only posts I can really assure readers of this month will be for Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai (I want to eat your pancreas) and my initial impressions of Valkyria Chronicles 4, after I’ve made it a quarter of the way into the campaign.

Overall, Domestic na Kanojo was not something I had expected to write about, but for a series whose setup is implausible, the portrayal of internal and external conflict, where relationships are concerned, were genuine despite being unrefined. By making use of these implausible situations, Domestic na Kanojo explores directions and elements of romance that would otherwise be unexplored: it is, in a manner of speaking, similar to MythBusters in that conditions are very finely manipulated to determine if a particular myth can occur. Rather similar to how Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman create outrageous scenarios to see if certain things can happen as claimed, Domestic na Kanojo does the same with relationships, lining up the circumstances to create situations that allow romance and desire to be explored in ways that more natural setups cannot replicate. Fiction is a realm where such occurrences are possible; with exaggerated circumstances and characters present, the series ends up being unexpectedly rewarding to watch. Having said this, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this to all audiences, especially those looking for a more natural relationship. This series does require some suspension of disbelief to enjoy, and the characters’ actions can seem illogical, even foolish, at times. However, while Domestic na Kanojo may have its flaws, I remain reasonably satisfied with how things did turn out, and would not really consider watching it to be a poor use of time. I’m not certain on whether a continuation is possible, but the manga continues to detail what happens to Natsuo, Rui and Hina later on; folks interested in seeing what happens next will likely find that to be satisfactory.

Endro!- Final Review and Reflections

“No resurrections this time.” –Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

Yūsha, Fai, Seira and Mei travel to a tropical island during summer break, where their misadventures allow them to complete their summer assignments. When term resumes, Princess Rona Pricipa O’Lapanesta arrives, eager to meet the new hero, and while she’s surprised to learn the new hero is a girl, she nonetheless becomes enamoured with Yūsha after Yūsha helps save Mao from an irate monster. Mao later becomes sick, so Yūsha and her friends go to help look after her. Rona later longs to learn more about Yūsha’s friends, and accompanies Fai on a trip. She also asks Mao to help draw out heroics from Yūsha, but learn that Yūsha’s more concerned with her friends. Later, Mei receives an invitation to attend the Cartado Festival in Tarka Village. Participating in a hunt for Cartado, Mei only manages to find an extraordinarily large Cartado, but ends up winning the competition. While on a quest in the mountains, the girls are caught up in a snowstorm, and Seira manages to wake everyone up when a Cartado-eating monster puts everyone in a deep sleep. Mao decides to invite Yūsha and the others over for dinner, but her awful cooking ends up being too much for everyone. Even Chibi-chan regurgitates dinner, which includes Mao’s old golem, Meigo. Fearful that Meigo may reveal her identity as the Dæmon Lord, Mao opts to keep an eye on her, but afer Rona uses a Cartado to unlock everyone’s memories and suggests taking Meigo back with her, Mao finally snaps, reveals herself as the Dæmon Lord and kidnaps Rona. The girls manage to track down Mao, but Meigo informs Yūsha that she is close to ending the Dæmon Lord’s power. The girls are conflicted between ending the cycle and being made to kill off Mao, who they’ve come to regard as a friend. In the end, Yūsha refuses to compromise her principles and destroys her sword by having Chibi-chan consume it, while Meigo throws Mao into Chibi-chan’s mouth. It turns out that there’s a pocket dimension inside Chibi-chan, and entry into this space removes an aspect about a character. When Mao is regurgitated, she no longer possesses her Dæmon Lord powers, and everyone is able to continue on their days together in peace. As class begins the next day, Yūsha expresses a desire to be a hero. Thus ends Endro!, this season’s unexpected surprise that proved to be consistently entertaining and warm.

While seemingly an easy-going anime about a group of adventurers, Endro! does have a theme that is appropriate and relevant towards the show: underneath the warmth and joy the show projects through Yūsha and her friends’ misadventures, as well as everyday life, Endro! frequently reminds its viewers that for a given problem, there’s always another solution. This much was presented with Yūsha’s first adventure in a dungeon; they might have gotten lost thanks to Mao’s intervention, but by adapting to the situation, manage to locate the Hero Sword and finish their assignment. Fai and Rona similarly win a melon-eating contest when Rona adapts to the situation and helps an engorged Fai eat one melon, propelling them to victory. When Mei participates in the Cartado hunt, her finding a large Cartado ends up allowing her to win the competition, against her expectations. In the final battle, Yūsha refuses to fight, and instead, casts her weapon away – Chibi again comes to play a significant role in helping liberate their world from an ancient curse, having earlier played a role in defeating a lesser evil. Admittedly, Endro! is very optimistic with its messages; finding alternative answers to problems and making the most of things is not a trivial task, although the presence of cheer and joy in a world under the constant threat of annihilation is intended to show that every cloud has a silver lining. When Endro!‘s conclusion is reached, it is a decisive one, leaving viewers with no doubt that, by simply pushing for other solutions than the ones presented, Yūsha is able to end an age-old curse plaguing Naral Island, paving the way of a peaceful future. It’s a fine ending to a series that was very entertaining and endearing to watch.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I wrote about Endro!, I had finished three episodes and found myself modestly impressed with how relaxing the show was. With the rest of the episodes in the books now, this series proved to be a very pleasant surprise, and admittedly, just being able to watch things at my own pace enhanced the experience: Endro! is not the sort of show that demands watching on a timely basis and I ended up watching episodes based on when I had time.

  • The forth episode is set on the beaches of a tropical island, and after some standard shenanigans, the girls run into Mackerel-people, whose homeland was conquered by an evil god. During their fight, the girls are outmatched, but Yūsha’s status as a hero allows her to destroy the god’s physical form. Reduced to a small but still potent spirit, the god escapes, only to be consumed by Chibi.

  • I realise that for March, I’ve not actually written all that much about anime, either; we are now on the last day of the month, and this weekend also was the last one that one of my friends was back in town. We went to get sushi (I ended up ordering less sushi and had tempura udon, a piping hot takoyaki and even tried salmon sashimi) before playing Carcassonne for the first time. Despite this being my first ever game, I managed to win, having finished a massive city that scored me forty-two points. Yesterday, I started building the MG Dynames that I ordered at the beginning of the month, and finished earlier today. It’s a solid model with a new frame that gives the kit tremendous posability and stability.

  • Princess Rona is of royalty and able to summon considerable amounts of resources to execute her goals: upon learning that Yūsha is the current generation hero, she puts a carnival for Yūsha, and later, comes to love Yūsha deeply for her heroic spirit. Having read about the exploits of past heroes, Rona has encyclopaedic knowledic of the past heroes: the number of similarities she draws between the heroes and their companies of old suggest at the similarities that people inevitably share.

  • When Mao falls ill, Yūsha and the others go to look after her. In the process, the learn that Mao’s place is a bit of a mess, and help her clean up, before cooking her dinner. The dynamic between Mao and her students is blurred, and Endro! wastes no time in setting up the recurring joke where Seira’s ability for housework is so poor that the others prohibit her from helping out.

  • Rona’s introduction into Endro! livened things up considerably, and I’m rather fond of her character’s place in the series. She’s voiced by Momo Asakura, who also has performed as Charlotte‘s Ayumi Otosaka, Koharu Shirahane of Kuromukuro and High School Fleet‘s Mikan Irako. I was originally intending to write about Charlotte but after procrastinating, lost the resolve to do so, while for Kuromukuro, I never found a strong theme in the series that motivated me to write about it.

  • Introducing Rona into Endro! meant being able to explore character dynamics that are typically left to second seasons: when Rona desires to know Yūsha’s friends better, she accompanies them on their usual activities. Seira and Mei are a bit duller, but Fai’s wilderness excursions creates an opportunity to learn more about Fai; up until now, all viewers know of Fai is that she excels at close-quarters combat and loves food.

  • As it turns out, Fai is from the wilderness and as such, has unparalleled survival skills: her navigational abilities in the forest are exceptional, as is her resourcefulness in making use of natural implements for survival. Endro!‘s wild run means that it has a bit of everything in it, and this ends up giving viewers a much deeper insight into Fai’s character well beyond food. Until this point, both Seira and Mei have been characterised; Seria is booksmart and is nearsighted, while Mei simply loves Cartado and will not hesitate to gush about its applications and history.

  • While Rona may not like melons, she takes one for the team to help Fai win an eating contest. While she may have appetite that is nearly insatiable, this episode shows that even Fai has her limits. The soundtrack for Endro! is quite nice, capturing both the fantasy setting motifs as well as everyday life for Yūsha and her friends. I have not found a tracklist or release date for the soundtrack and surmise that any music will probably be released with the Blu-Rays.

  • When Rona wishes to see Yūsha do heroic things, Mao helps her setup a ploy that entails creating a “fake” Dæmon Lord for Yūsha to fight after Rona “convinces” her to do so. Unbeknownst to her, Mao is actually the Dæmon Lord, and after realising that screwing with Yūsha and her friends could result in a time loop manifesting again, Mao decides to live life peacefully as a teacher. On her first day as a student, Rona’s words to Mao frightens the latter, who wonders if Rona’s secretly figured out her background.

  • Yūsha is frequently counted as being quite unheroic in manner and appearance: her resemblance to Yuru Camp△‘s Nadeshiko Kagamihara is probably deliberate, and the manga, serialised in Comic Fire, began its run in August 2018. That Endro! has characters resembling other Manga Time Kirara characters, in conjunction to its timing, suggests that author Izumi Minami may have drawn on familiar characters to see how a mish-mash of them in a different setting might fare. The answer is simple enough: Endro! works and is very enjoyable.

  • When Mei learns from Tarka that she’s been invited to a Tarka Cartado Festival, she’s enthralled: it’s the equivalent to being invited to Apple’s WWDC or Facebook’s F8 conference, and therefore difficult to get in. Yūsha, Seira and Fai immediately take a liking to the Tarka, and he allows them to join in, as well. When the girls arrive in the Tarka’s world, they find Cartado literally growing on trees; the Tarka guiding them says it’s alright for the girls to grab a few, and it takes Fai’s full efforts to restrain an ecstatic Mei from going wild.

  • Endro! is highly disciplined with its fanservice moments; the girls changing into Tarka clothing is one of them, and Seira is made the subject of another joke when her flat features means that she fits into her initial outfit without any issue. Mei’s similarities to GochiUsa‘s Chino Kafuu stem entirely from the fact that she’s voiced by Inori Minase, and for me, every one of Mei’s lines reminded me of Chino. The similarities end briefly whenever Mei is excited by Cartado, but this is no less endearing.

  • The aim of the Cartado hunt is to find wild Cartado of high rarity; the girls’ search prove quite fruitless, and when they locate a legendary rare (which I imagine would be equivalent to the exotics from The Division), it slips through their fingers. While Mei had been intent on finding one, she feels that just by being at the Cartado Festival, she’s experienced something marvelous and chooses to make the most of it.

  • Mei looks thoroughly unimpressed with the large Cartado that they find here, as it’s a mere common, but Seira, Fai and Yūsha are impressed, having never seen one that large before. This is enough to win the competition, and the Tarka running the show shares this remark. The Tarka burn the Cartado at the end of the festival, leaving Mei torn: she is sad to see Cartado go up in smoke, but also accepts that Cartado has a very clear tradition that must be respected.

  • The tenth episode was focused purely on Seira going into everyone’s dreams to save them from being lost on their own fantasies and freezing to death amidst a snowstorm. Her stubborn will turns out to be an asset: she knows that she’s unlikely to maintain a clean room or have a full figure and is able to overcome the spell that a Cartado-eating monster placed on everyone, whereas everyone else succumbed to their fantasies.

  • After the girls defeat a griffon in a field, they feel as though they’ve improved. Despite the progress they’ve made, they still appear quite weak compared to full-fledged adventurers. This moment captures the sort of scenery that is typical to Endro!: the art and animation are nothing remarkable, but it’s also very clean and smooth. The girls bring news of this quest back to Mao and ask for a more difficult challenge, but Mao declines.

  • While I was writing this talk on Endro!, the Calgary Flames prevailed over the San Jose Sharks 5-3, with goals from Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Mark Jankowski, Sean Monahan and Dalton Prout. Johnny Gaudreau netted two assists, and goaltender Mike Smith had a relatively easy evening, making 12 saves. Three of our goals came within two minutes of the first period, and with this win, the Calgary Flames have won the Division title for the first time in thirteen years, and have also clinched the conference title, as well. This is superbly exciting – we will be starting the playoffs with home ice advantage.

  • Unlike Bender’s cooking in Futurama, which looks as awful as it tastes, Mao’s cooking looks quite nice but manages to put everyone, even Fai, on the floor. Lethal cooking is a commonly employed humour device in fiction: anime typically employs the effect a poorly-cooked meal has on individuals, although I hold that employing visual humour to indicate the cooking’s lack of edibility, is also effective; in Futurama, Bender drops a tray of “drinks” that melt a hole in the floor, showing that stuff like that has no place in a stomach.

  • Even Chibi-chan regurgitates its stomach’s contents: because Chibi-chan is a higher-dimensional being, its stomach is a pocket universe with unusual properties. This is employed as comedy early on, but will later serve a more important purpose in creating Endro!‘s ending. Like a game of Where’s Waldo, I invite readers to find all of the characters amongst the mess, which is probably one of the more detailed moments in Endro! that leads me to wonder if Studio Gukomi expended a sizeable chunk of their budget in creating such a scene.

  • Meigo is a name of Yūsha’s invention, a portemateau of Maid and Golem; Mao’s golem was created to serve her and proved to be an exceptionally effective servant, but somehow ended up in Chibi-chan’s pocket universe. After returning to this world, Mao decides to look after Meigo primarily out of fear that she may accidentally be exposed as the Dæmon Lord, but also finds Meigo’s autonomy a little unusual.

  • In the end, when Rona appears to try and restore Meigo’s memories, she successfully brings back the memories that Yūsha, Seira, Fai and Mei lost after their botched spell. Meigo’s memories are also restored, but she chooses to keep them close and keep Mao safe. Rona suggests taking Meigo back with her, but Mao draws the line here, transforming into the Dæmon Lord and taking Rona back to her castle. The girls are shocked at this revelation and find themselves at a loss for what their next move is.

  • The female knight instructor with a clear-and-present crush on Mao appears, giving the girls a Cartado to find Mao. As they make their way to Mao’s castle, Mao is shown chilling in her usual manner: it turns out that her child-like avatar is her native form, and that she takes on the appearance of a male dæmon purely for theatricality’s reason. Even in this form, Endro! never comes across as being dark, grim or intimidating.

  • Upon arrival, Meigo informs the girls of the story: after nine hundred and ninety eight resurrections, the opportunity to take out Mao for good is at hand, and that even with their lack of experience, Mao’s been weakened with the constant resurrections. This information leaves Yūsha at a crossroad: she’s become fond of Mao as their instructor and cannot bring herself to fight a friend even if the world hangs in the balance.

  • The girls decide to return to the school and figure out why’d they chosen this path to begin with. This is easily the most serious moment in Endro!, but even then, audiences are left with no doubts as what will happen next. Meanwhile, Mao is frustrated at the turn of events and decides to go back to the school to meet her destiny, having grown tired of being alone: as a teacher, she was able to experience the joys of imparting knowledge and the company of others. Feeling that this is preferable to becoming a fully-powered Dæmon Lord, she asks Yūsha to finish it.

  • Making tough choices and being put on the spot, however, is not how Endro! rolls, and when Yūsha decides to take a third option, it stuns everyone. After it is explained to her that deliberately casting aside the hero means allowing Mao to resurrect fully again, Yūsha recoils in horror. However, this is not the end: Meigo chucks Mao into Chibi-chan’s waiting maw. Moments later, she is promptly spat out.

  • As it turns out, Chibi-chan is actually a three-dimensional representation of abstract, high-dimension dragons; when Yūsha used the time spell, it drew the spirits’ attention. Meigo entered the space inside Chibi-chan and lost her golem attributes. Realising this, she acted with the knowledge that having Chibi-chan “eat” Mao would also clean her of her Dæmon Lord powers. The end result is hilarious, and also creates a conclusion befitting of Endro!. The page quote is drawn from Avengers: Infinity War, referring to Loki’s fate after Thanos kills him, but is applicable here in Endro!, as well: with Mao’s Dæmon Lord powers gone, there’s no chance that a Dæmon Lord could appear again.

  • In the end, Endro! merits an A grade simply because it was consistently entertaining each and every week. Not all anime need to have world-changing themes or high-tier artwork to be worth watching, and while Endro! initially looked to be something that I imagined I would enjoy somewhat, it ended up exceeding expectations. Endro! ended up being the only anime I had any inclination to write about this season owing to how busy it’s been.

  • Having wrapped up this post on Endro!, I enter the spring season with my eyes on Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshinshimasu (Strike Witches, 501st Unit Launching!). This series will consist of shorter episodes spanning some 15 minutes each, and I will be writing about it in some capacity. I’m not too sure what other shows in the upcoming season I will be watching just yet and will have a better idea of what my schedule will look like a few weeks into April.

Aside from a positive theme, Endro!‘s greatest strength lies within its setting and how the characters interact with this setting. Whereas a number of series in a fantasy setting tend to feature characters from another life, Endro! treats its world as a self-contained entity whose inhabitants reside there without having any connections to previous lives in alternate universes. As a fantasy world, Naral Island plays host to monsters, settings and phenomenon that accommodate wild adventures, but because Yūsha and the others are fully immersed in their world, they are free to experience (and square off against) its various aspects in a natural way. While Endro! may have chosen to take a slice-of-life approach, anime of different genres can do well to follow Endro!‘s example and return to their roots, forgoing past lives in favour of creating individuals who were born and raised entirely in a fantastical setting. This results in experiences and adventures that are much more authentic and genuine, strengthening the messages a series can convey. With Endro! now over, and the threat of the Dæmon Lord removed permanently, Endro! comes to a decisive conclusion: I find it difficult to suppose that there could be a continuation because of how well loose ends are wrapped up, but if there ever were to be a continuation, I would not have any qualms in following Endro! again. This is a series for folks who enjoy series such as those from Manga Time Kirara; Endro! applies the setup here and utilises the fantasy setting to create unique, but adorable sequences that are a breath of fresh air.

Small Palms: A Swan Song in Revisiting CLANNAD ~After Story~ At The Ten Year Anniversary

“Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me. You made me so happy. I don’t want you to be lost, or afraid, or anything like that. From here on out, I know things might be hard sometimes. But no matter what happens, please don’t regret meeting me.” –Nagisa Furukawa

The Girl in the Illusionary World is unable to continue on her journey, having failed to construct an operational aircraft and the robot regrets having encouraged her in this undertaking. She reveals that they knew one another in a previous world, and as she hums Dango Daikazoku, the world begins fading away. Tomoya appears on the hillside road lined with cherry blossoms and chases after Nagisa, promising that he’ll never let go. Nagisa is glad that he’d called out to her, and Tomoya reawakens prior to Ushio’s birth. Nagisa has survived delivering Ushio, and Tomoya prepares to bathe her for the first time. Outside, a miraculous phenomenon can be seen – orbs of light are floating into the sky. The couple sing Dango Daikazoku to Ushio, and begin their journey of raising her together as a family no longer bound to their doom. Five years later, Kyouko is taking Fuuko to the hospital for a check-up, but Fuuko runs off into the nearby woods, where she encounters Ushio sleeping peacefully under the shade of a tree. This marks the end to a journey spanning a year and five months: from CLANNAD‘s first episode, where Tomoya and Nagisa met, to the conclusion resulting from a well-deserved miracle that allows the Okazakis to finally find happiness, CLANNAD has come to an end, and with it, my own journey of revisiting the series ten years after its original airing. In this seventeen-month long journey spanning a total of forty-four episodes, CLANNAD has explored an incredible range of themes, encapsulating this in a story that is engaging, humourous and poignant manner. The characters are multi-dimensional, complex and human; in conjunction with a vividly-portrayed world where attention is paid to detail, weather and lighting that augments every emotion and a sublime soundtrack, CLANNAD represents anime at its very best, telling a compelling and genuine story that viewers of all backgrounds and experiences can connect with.

For me, CLANNAD is a veritable masterpiece among masterpieces for its exceptional execution and presentation of life lessons essential for most everyone. However, the series has not impacted all viewers quite to the same extent, and in particular, the finale left viewers feeling that deus ex machina was employed to provide Tomoya with a happy ending. In effect, these individuals contend, Tomoya is given a free pass and it would take a considerable suspension of disbelief to accept such an ending. Such a reaction can only arise from individuals who’d perhaps forgotten the presence of the light orbs and their function as a visual representation of the strength of individuals’ wishes: ~After Story~ is a very lengthy story, after all, and there are numerous details that foreshadow the possibility of Tomoya being given a second chance. To deny Tomoya this happiness is to contradict the expectations that ~After Story~ have set; Tomoya’s acts of kindness permeate the whole of CLANNAD, and the series does, on top of its other themes, strive to convey that 好心得好報 (jyutping hou2 sam1 dak1 hou2 bou3, literally “good heart, good repayment”, and most similar to the English expression “what goes around comes around”). Having been made to suffer, and in spite of all this, coming out stronger and a better man for it, Tomoya has earned a happy ending with Nagisa and Ushio ten times over for having put everyone ahead of himself throughout CLANNAD. His selflessness and altruism cost him, but Tomoya never complains, never expects repayment and simply does his best for those around him, even when faced with his own challenges, and as such, the forces that are recognise this. Leaving a trail of mended dreams and lives in his wake, even as he struggles to find happiness for Nagisa and Ushio, to deny Tomoya a happy ending would be the epitome of cynicism – the visual novel provides a more detailed explanation of why this is allowed to occur, and in the anime, the end result is identical. Viewers are treated with closure to a very lengthy and very rewarding journey; there is no doubt that Tomoya and Nagisa can share a peaceful and normal future with Ushio. This is the ending that viewers deserve and needed for such a powerful series which indubitably left a profound change in my life.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We come to it at last, the ending of a great journey that spanned seventeen months. The page quote is an extended version of Nagisa’s words to Tomoya after they meet again on the path to school; Tomoya had come to regret meeting Nagisa and bringing suffering upon them both, but she found the limited time they’d spent together to be the happiest she’d known. Naigsa and Tomoya here still retain their memories, having been transported into a pocket universe of sorts where they come to terms with everything that’s happened. After cashing in on the wishes carried in each light orb, Tomoya reunites with Nagisa and his consciousness is transported back to the real world.

  • In this reality, Nagisa survives labour and successfully gives birth to Ushio without any complications, bringing an end to the curse that had lingered. When I first watched this, I found that even in the absence of a complete understanding of the light orbs, the outcome still followed logically from the sum of the acts of kindness Tomoya carried out. To Tomoya, the stress of labour would have dulled his sense of time, and he might have experienced five years’ worth of events in his mind’s eye while tensely waiting for Nagisa to give birth. Of course, this is the scientific approach to things that disregards the light orbs, and the fact is that the light orbs very much have a tangible presence in CLANNAD, acting as the catalyst that allows Ushio to wish for a happy, normal life with her parents.

  • After bathing Ushio for the first time, Tomoya tenderly holds her while Nagisa, the Furukawas and the midwife looks on. The worst is clearly over, and we enter one of the longest, most well-executed dénouements to be shown in any anime I’ve seen. When I first watched CLANNAD seven years previously, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was gearing up for the first of its crossover films with The Avengers, and only two of the Infinity Stones were showcased. The reality and time stones were not introduced until later: of the Infinity Stones, these two could prove useful in creating the realm that Tomoya is returned to.

  • The Infinity Gems were originally conceived in 1972 and since then, have been wielded by a variety of characters, with Thanos being a particularly notable user for having united them to wipe out half the life in the universe. A common joke is that the stones can be used for more mundane purposes, and CLANNAD definitely seems like one such instance. Having said this, the ending strictly does not count as deus ex machina as some have asserted: there is a very well-established basis in how the happy ending came to be. Here, the phenomenon of light orbs rising into the sky can be seen as a sign, a lifting of the curse.

  • Large snowflakes resembling these light orbs are also seen in Kanon, Kyoto Animation’s precursor to CLANNAD. I would very much like to revisit Kanon at some point in the near future. For the time being, as ~After Story~ wraps up, Nagisa and Tomoya sing “Dango Daikazoku” to a sleeping Ushio. The song transitions into Lia’s “Palm of a Tiny Hand”, a highly poignant, but optimistic and uplifting song that accompanies the montage of Ushio growing up. This song is one of the other songs in my library that I typically avoid listening to while out and about: besides “Natsukage” (also by Lia) and “Ichiban no Takaramono”, it’s one of the few songs that can make me cry.

  • Moments of normalcy dominate the montage as viewers watch Ushio grow up with a loving family. From being held, to learning to walk, the ending montage shows Ushio doing the sorts of things that young families do. My parents inform me that I learnt to talk before I could walk, and filled the house with babble before I was going all over the place. Some parents wonder about the correlation between talking early and intelligence, although there is a massive variation in when babies develop linguistic skills on account of things like their environment. For instance, babies who are talked to a great deal will learn to mimic speech earlier.

  • Common, everyday events are a source of joy, and the montage goes through the effort of depicting these moments. Here, Ushio falls after being surprised by a shiba inu after trying to pet it: these spitz breeds are very independent, love being clean and were originally bred for hunting. One of my friends of old has a shiba inu, and I was able to play with this dog as a puppy. It may come as a surprise to some that I’m actually quite fond of smaller dogs, but then again, readers should not be so surprised, since I’ve often expressed that I would like to look after rabbits.

  • Ushio celebrates her fourth birthday at home. I have a photograph of me with a muffin and a candle stuck on it for my earlier birthdays: having celebrated with relatives ahead of time, my parents decided to do something simple on the actual day of my birthday. There’s actually a fairly funny story behind this – I’m told that at the age of two, I was afraid of candles and wouldn’t get near the flame to blow it out.

  • Akio is an avid baseball player, and Tomoya managed to win Nagisa’s hand in marriage after succeeding in hitting a baseball: with the role that baseball has had on Tomoya, it stands to reason that Ushio also begins learning to play baseball. Here in Canada, ice hockey is the national pastime, although it’s an expensive one from a financial and time perspective, so I never got into it. Instead, I took swimming lessons and did karate: today, I still retain basic knowledge about swimming, and I’m a nidan.

  • One summer, Tomoya and Nagisa decide to take Ushio out into the countryside for a vacation of the same one that Tomoya had done in the other timeline. The observant viewer will note that Tomoya is wearing a similar button-up shirt as he did in the Ushio arc, but here, said shirt is buttoned-up and ironed properly. Such a minor detail might easily be missed, but it plainly shows the difference between the Tomoyas seen in the different timelines.

  • The key difference ~After Story~‘s finale shows is that with Nagisa present, Tomoya’s true nature is much more prominent as he devotes his energy towards raising Ushio with Nagisa. The two have differing personalities that complement one another, and having gone through so much together, Tomoya and Nagisa understand one another better than anyone else. The same trip they take with Ushio here is much more relaxed, and taken under much happier circumstances.

  • After watching Super Sonico‘s “Star Rain” episode, I longed to explore somewhere that was nearby, and in the five years following, I have realised this particular dream in a manner of speaking, having capitalised on the summer weather to do hikes and other things. Having said this, I still can’t help but wish that there was a more extensive train and bus service that would allow me to reach the far corners of my province: while driving is fun, so is sitting back and admiring the scenery passing by.

  • Under the same flower field, Ushio runs with a look of pure bliss on her face. There are no meadows where I live, but there are plenty of parks where children have space to hang out and run to their heart’s content. The countryside of CLANNAD is portrayed as a magical location far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city: in Japan, space is at a premium, and such locations are rare in cities. By comparison, Canada is the land of open spaces and beautiful parks are everywhere.

  • Tomoya and Nagisa are probably my favourite anime couple. Despite the extraordinary events they experience, both are down-to-earth and pragmatic. Their relationship is characterised by finding happiness everyday things. If I had to pick a second-favourite couple, Ryuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka tie for second with Your Lie in April‘s Kōsei Arima and Kaori Miyazono. I have indeed watched Toradora!, having finished the series three years ago and loved every second of it for its natural development of a love story, as I did the developments of Your Lie in April. My favourite love stories involve characters who discover an unexpected love for one another as a result of their objectives bringing them together over a period of time.

  • While my age means that meeting that special someone underneath the cherry blossoms or in a classroom by evening is now relegated to little more than a distant dream, an impossibility, I know that love can come from anywhere, anytime. Rather than pursue something for the sake of being in a relationship, I am going to continue doing me, and then make the most of wherever that will take me. Life is a journey, and the folks who pace themselves for a marathon invariably will find their way in the world.

  • After Ushio is seen joyfully exploring the flower field while her parents look on, the montage transitions over to the what that the other characters have made of their time since graduation. These scenes are functionally similar to the “where are they now” segment of Animal House, which showcases the protagonist’s futures, and which was parodied in Futurama‘s “Mars University”, but in ~After Story~, serve to communicate to viewers that everyone’s found their own path following graduation.

  • Audiences already know that Kyou has become a kindergarten teacher and gets along well with her students. Being able to work with groups of children, while prima facie a fun and joyful job, doubtlessly also has its challenges, and it takes a certain mentality to be successful in this career. I have nothing but respect for my kindergarten teacher, as well as all of my primary school teachers, who were made to put up with my curiosity and the attendant trouble that is supposed to have brought.

  • Ryou is a nurse, and the visual novel further shows that she finds romance, as well. Nursing is a respectable profession, and I have a friend who’s in nursing. I encountered him while visiting a new health campus and was initially wondering if it was indeed him, but thought better of greeting him in case I was wrong. The next day, during karate class, it turns out it really was him, and he was wondering if I was really me, or someone else.

  • Kotomi went overseas to study cosmology in an American university, and is devoted to continuing her parents’ research in M-theory and higher dimensions, an integral part of parallel universes. Her work would likely put her in contact with research from giants like Steven Hawking and Brian Greene. Alternate realities did end up playing a role in CLANNAD ~After Story~, although their precise mechanisms are deliberately left unexplored because they are secondary to the narrative: what matters is that there does appear to be some elements that accommodate the ending that Tomoya ended up getting (and deserving).

  • Youhei pursued a career in modelling, and has reverted to his natural hair colour, indicating a return to the right path. He’s shown screwing up in a road test, and after apologising to his instructor, focuses on continuing with the course. Because Youhei has found a path to pursue, Mei, also has become more cheerful; no longer worried about her older brother’s future, she is free to pursue her own dreams whole-heartedly and is seen hanging out with her friends here.

  • Tomoyo’s future is a bit more uncertain: she’s shown to be gazing out at a sunset on a beach. Many viewers associated this with melancholy and felt that Tomoyo’s future was less positive than they would have liked: in CLANNAD, her main objective was to preserve the cherry trees for her younger brother, and not much more about her aspirations were presented in ~After Story~, but supplementary materials suggests that she is able to realise other accomplishments and find happiness.

  • One question that the epilogue does not explicitly cover, is whether or not Tomoya comes to terms with his father in this new timeline. In the original timeline, Ushio’s presence eventually compels Tomoya to understand his father and make amends. I imagine that Nagisa’s continued presence, her gentle influence and desire to see Tomoya happy would eventually see her encourage Tomoya to make amends, allowing a similar outcome to be reached. It is not inconceivable for a happier, more empathetic Tomoya to undertake such a course of action: they are visiting a town here close to where Tomoya originally met his grandmother, and it could be implied that the whole family is here to catch up with Tomoya’s father and grandmother.

  • If and when I am asked, CLANNAD ~After Story~ is my favourite anime series. I have seen numerous series both before and after, but few have compelled me to care for the characters and their journeys quite to the same extent that CLANNAD ~After Story~ had. In conjunction with superb artwork that looks amazing even a decade later, strong writing, a colourful cast and a soundtrack that adds atmospherics to a scene sufficiently well so that the music itself might be considered a character, I have next to nothing negative to say about ~After Story~.

  • The soundtrack in particular incorporates a range of instruments and composition styles: besides Dango Daikazoku and its variations, the pieces are all appropriate for different moments in the series. It worth mentioning that the incidental pieces in CLANNAD are not all found on the original soundtrack: a handful of pieces with a more distinctly Irish component is included with the Mabinogi soundtrack, itself named for a collection of Welsh prose known as the Mabinogion. The Mabinogi soundtrack is very heavily influenced by Irish elements, giving it a very distinct and unique sound, while the original soundtrack is more conventional in composition, making extensive use of piano to capture emotions.

  • The name “Clannad” is derived off the Irish word for family, “Clann”, and was first used by a family band of the same name that was formed in 1970. Originally known as “Clann as Dobhar”, their name was later shortened to Clannad. Clannad is known for their eclectic musical style, performing folk music and rock with Celtic elements, smooth jazz and even Gregorian chants. Jun Maeda eventually saw this name while writing out the story for CLANNAD and imagined it to be the Irish word for family, giving the series its name.

  • In the epilogue, Fuuko and Kyouko are headed to the hospital for Fuuko’s checkup. Fuuko’s unusual way of thinking gives rise to non sequiturs that make no sense even to Kyouko, and Kyouko can only play along. It’s a gentle ending to what was a highly poignant and emotional journey, and returning Fuuko briefly to the spotlight is a callback to the first season, where Fuuko ends up being the first individual Tomoya helps out, and the first person to feel that Tomoya and Nagisa was a couple. Folks wondering whether or not I will go back and write about the OVAs will be disappointed: I’ve already covered them in some capacity and admittedly, writing about CLANNAD is very taxing.

  • The settings of CLANNAD are based in Mizuho, a town located on the western edge of Tokyo. Its name is never given in CLANNAD, but the city is referred to as Hikarizaka (lit. “Hill of Light”) amongst the fans. As we draw to the close of a revisitation project that spanned seventeen months, I note that even in this time frame, a great deal has happened. CLANNAD captures the idea that the flow of time is relentless, and life is what we make of it: when I first began this journey, it was an October evening that coincided with a pleasant Mid-Autumn festival, I remarked that I would be curious to see whether or not my thoughts would change on this series.

  • My verdict is that, like a fine wine, or a good steak, CLANNAD has become even more enjoyable with age. It’s a timeless series whose messages continue to remain relevant, and I am very glad to have revisited it. When I finished the revisitation for the first season, I asked readers if they would be interested in a continuation. One reader stands out to me for having made the request, and I continued into CLANNAD ~After Story~ for them: if even one reader wishes for me to explore something, I will do my best to honour their request. I understand that this particular is very busy at present, but I do hope that they would have the chance to take a look at these later posts when time allows them to: we both share commonalities in our background, and I greatly enjoyed hearing new perspectives on experiences I have also encountered.

  • This is one of the joys of blogging that has given me the inspiration to continue writing: being able to really connect with readers and share experiences gives both me and the readers a sense that we’re not really alone in this vast world. On the flipside, I am admittedly a little curious to also hear from those who may have not found CLANNAD as moving as as I have; at the end of the day, mine is just an opinion (no matter how well-defined, thoughtful, insightful and detailed it may be), so I would like to see also why some folks did not enjoy CLANNAD. As ~After Story~ draws to a close, Fuuko runs off after feeling something special in the woods nearby: she encounters the Girl from The Imaginary World, who turns out to be Ushio, sleeping peacefully under the shade of a tree.

  • The final still of ~After Story~ shows that in the end, the sum of good deeds, genuine compassion and empathy in CLANNAD has allowed the very city itself to accept its citizens. That Ushio is sleeping in an untouched grove adjacent to a modern hospital shows that humanity and nature can co-exist, much like how people of different backgrounds, experiences and station can co-exist. With this, I have fully finished my revisitation of CLANNAD and CLANNAD ~After Story~ in full. Even though these posts have been very difficult to write for, I think the journey itself was well worth it, and I hope that for the readers, these posts have clarified what CLANNAD means to me. Everyone will have their own stories as to which series have had a profound impact on them, and for me, CLANNAD occupies a very special place in my heart, being something that lifted me through challenging times and also broadened my perspective on family.

While a decade may have passed since CLANNAD and CLANNAD ~After Story~‘s airing, that the anime remains relevant, moving and engaging in the present is no small feat. With its universal themes of family, friendship, kindness and resolve, CLANNAD is a timeless anime that deals in matters that are common to all of humanity. It is for this reason that CLANNAD is peerless as an anime – touching so many elements that are involved with being a decent human being, the sorts of thing I know in my tongue as 做人道理 (jyutping zou6 jan4 dou6 lei5, literally “principles of being human”), the series forces viewers to introspect and consider what matters most to them. While CLANNAD may not deal with academic, social or philosophical matters that some echelons of the anime community feel to be more important in what counts as a “good” anime, I personally find that the anime that are most relatable and relevant, happen to be those that deal with life lessons ubiquitous to all people. At the end of the day, regardless of one’s station, education and occupation, everything boils down to how one treats those around them. In the contemporary world, it is disappointing and disheartening that so many have forgotten these fundamentals: people no longer look out for one another and put themselves ahead of others with greater frequency, and as such, anime such as CLANNAD can act as very subtle reminders that life is more than the self; happiness is found in being there for others, for putting time into things far greater than oneself. Despite its themes being at the forefront of most everything in CLANNAD, the series never preaches these messages to viewers, leaving them to draw their own conclusions after everything has wrapped up, and subtly inspiring audiences to do good, put in an honest effort and appreciate their blessings. I am certainly glad to have watched CLANNAD: this is a series that pushed me to explore what love is and allowed me to find the strength to face down the MCAT. For everyone who’s been reading these posts every step of this seventeen-month-long journey, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having accompanied me all this way, as well as for putting up with what I would imagine to be increasingly sentimental and soppy posts.