The Spring Tree and Cherry Blossoms

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*contains major spoilers ahead, read at your own risk. A 5min read. P.S. Recommended watching the movie first.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai), also known as Let Me Eat Your Pancreas, is a Japanese novel by Yoru Sumino. Initially serialized as a web novel in 2014, the book was published in print in 2015. An anime film titled I Want To Eat Your Pancreas premiered on September 1, 2018.

I was able to watch the film recently and had to talk a lot about it. Therefore, here is a short talk on how I felt about the movie and how “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas” worked out both visually and emotionally.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a story that majorly revolves around a high-school girl and, a boy who gets to know a secret about her having a pancreatic illness and how she wants to spend her life before she dies, with him. The movie is a bittersweet, eye-catching, drama tale of these two youngsters and deeply focuses on the inter- and intra-personality range of two polar opposite characters.

To start off, with the characters Shiga Haruki is your typical lonely, detached boy sitting around the window sided bench you would find in many anime. However, that does not stop him or his character to be less interesting. There is always a range, depth in loneliness, a limit for a person, and when that limit is broken, any human is ultimately bound to express feelings. This type of character works even better because we empathize for these characters when we see them acting/breaking out of their usual way as we are visually bound to believe they would not act in that certain way. That is the case with Haruki, when he is slowly evolving/developing the feelings, not only to Sakura but also to the people around him at the end.

On the other hand is Yamauchi Sakura, the cheerful, carefree attitude girl, one who finds it very easy to speak and befriend with people. Such a lovely character she was on the outside, up-front, but also with a delicate side of her, where she is vulnerable. Every person who shows more of their happy side outside, are always good at hiding their pain inside. That is how we can define Sakura. Like the time how she was hurt, when she broke up with her boyfriend, and all the time after she knew of her illness.

The side characters include Kyoko, a dear friend of Sakura – who is always caring and looking out for her. The boyfriend whom she broke up with, being the popular guy and the ideal “boyfriend material” high school girls talk about. Other few roles include the mothers of Sakura and Haruki, who play a small role, yet a sweet one. The more the reason I love all the side characters of this film. For example, Haruki’s mom knew all along that her son was lying about having friends, but she was ok with it. Anime moms are awesome. Oops, I also forgot about the – “Do you need a gum” friend. When the whole class ignores Haruki, there is always one person who comes up to him asking if he wanted a gum. He is one persistent friend.

Before diving deep into the emotional parts and the “makes-you-feel” part of the film (which are plenty), let us see more about the visual and sound part of the movie, and how much they elevated each frame and pierce right into the viewer’s heart.

The first thing to start is about the art-style and the animation. It is not your Makato Shinkai level beautiful realistic type, but the right amount that is necessary for the film. The one thing why the film looks so real and effective is definitely due to the more realistic looking art style. By realistic, I mean the way they animated the reactions, for example, when Sakura jokes around Haruki when she painfully asks her last dare at the hotel, when she rests her one foot above another at her home while asking Haruki – if she ever would be his girlfriend. Not to stop with Sakura, also Haruki’s way of the reaction was shown in a very subtle way, as his character demanded .such type of reactions.

All credits to go the art and animation team for capturing these tiny reactions, which makes the entire scene live and beautiful. Apart from character animation and their reactions, the lighting at places added up more beauty to the backgrounds.

The backgrounds were simply effective already, but the extra reflection during the walk along the shore and, when Sakura run her finger on the top of a book playfully, simultaneously the dust blurs in the background are all a visual spectacle. It was truly beautiful. Moreover, there were moments when the camera placement/point of view differed, not always keeping the characters at the center of the frame when the conversation was going on and focus on the tiny reactions they make. You can always notice how much they concentrated on the body language and how they use their hands or shoulders, to establish a more layer to the characters movements. This is seen more in Sakura’s movements, while Haruki movements were so subtly executed, which must not destroy his calm nature. Not to forget about the CG, which was maintained at required parts in the film. Such a film does not need to utilize more CG other than for trains or automobiles, or buildings, and they have done for where it is required.

Music and Sound effects/designing assisted throughout the film and were the backbone I would say. A film of such kind always brings up a soothing piece of peace with their music. I was more impressed by the sound effects than the music, as you clearly hear all the minor happenings in the scene. For example, when Sakura rubs off the sand in her feet after they come from the beach, and the ambiance sound inside the hotel room they stayed, the scenes where the tensions were filled up, you can hear them all very well.  You might not notice them, but you can hear them well. The sound design definitely deserves some appreciation for filling up those tiny areas.

Now back into the characters, because how they are defined is how the film is. I would like to discuss it in parts from the perspective of Haruki, as he himself is the one narrating the story, which was another thing I found interesting.

The meet – Haruki calls it coincidence; Sakura defines it as the choice that was chosen by Haruki. The easily befriending attitude of Sakura lets her drag Haruki out of his own atmosphere and makes him experience the value of how it feels being with someone. The exact point when Haruki begins to change is because he chose to take the book. At the start, we seem him reluctantly accepting Sakura’s offer to hang out with her, but you also see him opening about himself and his hobby to Sakura while eating offals. Haruki was simply answering her questions, yes, but it’s the first time anyone’s been asking him that questions in the first place.

The catalyst – There was always this hidden side of empathy Haruki felt towards Sakura, but he did not realize it himself yet. The catalyst was when he saw the medicines in her bag at the hotel. Haruki’s slight concern already emerged, when he asked Sakura on the beach whether – she was really going to die, but seemed to understand the reality when he actually saw the medicines. Extra points to the last question of the game Sakura asked. Given the circumstances, Haruki chose the dare. Later, we see him feeling for her while she’s asleep.

By the time Haruki realized – It was obvious, given how much of a loner a person is, they cannot deny the happiness that is genuinely felt with someone. In this case, it was in the train after the trip when Haruki admitted the trip was indeed fun and agreed to go on another soon. That point is the first huge upward step of Haruki’s character.

By the time Haruki broke – Let’s accept, every loner high school boy in anime have this scene where they break out their emotions at a certain point and it is always interesting, affects you more when that actually happens. Once such scene was when Haruki broke out of character (it’s a compliment) at Sakura’s house and he totally lost it after he got beat up by her ex-boyfriend. The pain he felt lying there on the road under the rain with Sakura beside is easily one of the best moments in the film. The situation returns back normal too soon, but the effect was already done. He isn’t a boy who is acting to be alone, he was always alone. At some point, the interaction with Sakura, the days he spent with her, everything affected him against his originality. He was not feeling sad when he was alone, rather he was more happy with Sakura than he was alone.

                             

By the time Haruki confessed – After the incident at Sakura’s home, we see both Haruki and Sakura spend more time in a montage of shots, and crosses her to do list. But the time she got admitted in a hospital, Haruki rushes to see her and then happens the hug, followed by the festival and follows another hug. It was the first time Haruki himself stepped up, hugged Sakura when she called for it. The first time Haruki joined his hands around Sakura. This was again a beautiful scene.

                             

By the time Haruki changed – Towards the end, after all the things Haruki experienced, we can see how much change as a character he undergoes throughout the film and its result – he finally says yes to the – “do you need a gum” person. It is a small step, but as a viewer, we can feel how much forward he has come after meeting Sakura.

                             

When things were seemingly going good, the tragedy came sooner than expected. Japanese stories are so good at breaking hearts, and we actually know how things would turn out, but it did in a different way. The most interesting and the gripping part was the epilogue.

It is certainly not the epilogue of the book “Living with dying”; it served the epilogue for the entire film.

The final segment when Haruki reads the book and the farewell letter from Sakura brings out all the emotions that Haruki held up inside. Sakura wrote that their relationship could not be defined with simple words like love or friendship, it was more than that. Following this, he checks if Sakura received his mail he had sent and realizes she received it. Haruki cries while tears run on his face. Scenes like these speak up for the entire film. The scene next was filled up with cherry blossoms (similar to Sakura), the same moment we come to know the name Haruki – the spring tree.

The meetup, which happened after the epilogue, is when Haruki met Kyoko and gave the book to her. Haruki ran towards her to ask if she would be his friend. The film ends….or so I thought; the ED was so good, which ended up with a surprise – a short conversation between Kyoko and Haruki at Sakura’s grave one year later. Haruki admits it was difficult, but he changed. We can see his hair sideward than before where his hair was straight downwards and dull. Kyoko offers a gum to Haruki, Yes; the gum boy has reached places. The film ends with Haruki looking back one last time at the grave and a cherry blossom rests on it.

The title “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas”, the name seems funny to anyone who hears it for the first time, but I bet it will not after watching the film. This part of the film begins when Sakura says to Haruki – “I want to eat your pancreas” and ends when Haruki mails the same back to Sakura. The first time Haruki replied that – is the same time Sakura was killed. It is said as a gesture so that if Haruki would eat away Sakura’s pancreas, she could live. The title shares an emotional bond between the two characters. Hikaru was so concerned if the mail reached her, and when he realizes Sakura received it, we could only think of how Sakura had reacted then. I Want To Eat Your Pancreas worked out because it had all of these elements, which includes the befitting title too.

Thank you for reading it till the end!!! Do share your view about the view and the film in the comments!!!