Hibiol – A Life Woven into Threads

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

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is a 2018 Japanese animated fantasy drama written and directed by Mari Okada and produced by P.A.Works, featuring character designs by Yuriko Ishii adapted from Akihiko Yoshida’s original designs and music by Kenji Kawai. The film serves as Okada’s directorial debut and the first standalone feature-length, theatrically-released production of P.A.Works.

This is not a review of the film Maquia. It is completely based on my personal opinion and how I felt about the film. It does not speak about all the events happening in the film, or about the technicalities used. It is rather about a singular element of togetherness of an emotion that sparkled up in my mind after watching it – “ The need for love, and to be loved”.

The first five minutes into the film, when the elder tells Maquia about lonesomeness, it made me wonder, what if she is right? Isn’t being alone better, rather than the pain and loneliness caused by the love when it departs, or when it doesn’t work out, or when it betrays. Well, not all the times, everything is happening to be bad for everyone. But the people of Iorph remained to have settled far removed from the outer world, and it does not mean they are unable to feel or understand love in the place they live. But love and loneliness in the outer world is much different from the place Iorph, since people are immortal there. What is love without sacrifice, the pain, the sadness, disappointment, frustration, and the happiness, attachment, and endearment? The Clan of Partings seems to have a different perception as the Elder’s words strike through my mind repeatedly. But, what if she is right?

“Love is complete when all these elements are present, and wholeness is obtained in the form of long threaded cloths which represent the flow of time and life.”

When the Iorphians seemed satisfied with the Elder’s ideology, one stood out from rest – Maquia. She is not someone who wished to go out of this place but was taken. When Maquia is stranded in a forest, she finds a baby. Much to her surprise, she can’t bring herself to leave it alone. She feels this strange sort of attachment and affection to this small creature, all more relatable as how she is separated from her home, by the same way the baby from its mother. The thread begins to weave both their lives as the small one folds his fingers to hold Maquia. A similar kind of thread, which consists of immeasurable amounts of wholeness with the passage of time.

The kindness offered in the village was such a delight to watch. When Maquia finds help in a new place, totally new to what she experienced before, she plans to raise the baby herself. To receive an unfamiliar kindness and affection from such people makes me love the side-characters even more. The mother, the two kids, and the dog, all represents the love of unfamiliarity. Love is not something shown to ones shared by blood, race, or people who you are familiar with. It is the feeling of purpose to share; to the one in need.

When Ariel (son) is teased for loving his mother, it does seem absurd. Because it is not as weird as his friends tease him, because the love Ariel felt for Maquia as his mother was just pure. There is a small part, where the dog dies and Maquia realizes that people around her might not stay all the time, and cries for it. Yet, she moves on forward after Lang’s advice. This might be the first time Maquia probably felt the loss or separation from someone. And this made her consciously think about the future that upholds for them. The screen time spent on the village elevated the character of this shy and quiet girl Maquia.

We enter Mezarte, the film is not only about Maquia and ariel, rather it focuses on the other characters, who are also tied with the fate of love. The love of krim and Maquia towards Lelia, Lelia’s love towards her daughter, Lang’s feeling for Maquia, the interwoven threads of people and their expression of love moves the film forward.

Time passes, and the length of the cloth becomes longer. There is a change in Ariel’s view on Maquia where he feels the need to protect her and does not call her mother anymore. Some might tend to confuse here, but Ariel himself was in such a state. A puberty hitting teenager, who misunderstood the love, much different from what Maquia was feeling. Lang’s confession to Maquia and her rejection of him with the reason of Ariel made me understand Maquia. She is the same Maquia who held Ariel in her arms, yet there is a maturity in her character. She feels more of a responsible character now. The pain of Lelia unable to see her daughter, the only thread she clings onto in this world, seemed stronger than all the cloths woven. Such is the love of a mother.

Ariel as a character develops into his next phase when he finally joins the military, also around the same time Maquia gets disappeared. The Krim’s tale of love plays a major part, which caused a series of events further. As someone said – “Things you do for love”. Or was it the obsession? Krim was so obsessed with Lelia, which led to war between kingdoms. Krim, himself had a different past when compared to Maquia which made him the way he is now. The character becomes deprived, his inability to obtain her, made him blame himself and the people around him. Maybe, if Krim had a chance to experience life and love as much as Maquia, he might’ve changed. He could have come out as a different person.

Meanwhile, Ariel seems to be expecting his child, it might seem to appear so fast that the child you’ve been watching has grown to be a more steady minded person. But Ariel proves his stand when he refuses to go after Maquia and fight with his Nakama (comrades) and for the kingdom. Maquia raised a kid, who understands love now, the love what she shared and passed onto him. Maquia as a character even before she left Iorph seemed quiet and kind. This might be another attribute to her, as her personal self is more affectionate towards others.

Probably one of the best moments of the film is the meet of Maquia and Ariel during the war. Even though out of context, have to admit, the background score is one of the biggest strength of this film. Maquia’s life shaped (her Hibiol) from the memories she shared with Ariel and it works the other way too. When one meets a person in their life, share memories of each other, that are never to be forgotten, forge their character, personality, the way they act, react, all together woven, becomes one’s own precious Hibiol. The more the reason, these people are not to be forgotten, is that they are the threads that shaped one’s life.

Time and loneliness change a person. Lelia, on seeing her daughter, expresses the emotion and the reality that she as a person, must find love and freedom for herself because that is how who she was back then. She loves her daughter but decides to leave. The bond shared by Lelia and Medmel is, in no way lesser than that of Maquia and Ariel. There are times when you miss someone, for a long time, yet there is a thread of memory which connects both. The thread which emerges from the love of a mother is the strongest as it forms when she carries the baby in her womb, nurtures her and even when it is cut visibly, it extends invisibly throughout and binds the child till anywhere. We see Dita seemingly emotional and envious for the kindness she was offered by Maquia. These smaller elements all converge to Maquia and the progression of this affection interwoven between the characters themselves and then centrally to Maquia. Exactly like a spider web.

Years pass, but love does not falter –  is how I would like to summarize the last segment when a young looking mother meets her aged son. Living life to his fullest, Ariel lies inside, seemingly weak. Ariel passing does not essentially make me sad, it made the story complete. Maquia comforts him by spreading a cloth over Ariel, which seemed to be the same cloth she wrapped him up with back then on their first encounter. It is more pleasant, satisfying, and beautiful towards the end. There is a little flashback with a soothing music of the whole journey of Maquia and Ariel, which pretty much sums up everything. Maquia says – “As long as I’m alive, Ariel’s hibiol continues on”. Someone said – “People are dead, when they are forgotten”; as long as someone remembers them, they too live on.

‘Hibiol’

A small insight, since the film takes place in a medieval-fantasy looking setup, I just got to know the Greeks discussed love in seven different types: Eros (sexual or passionate love), philia (friendship and shared goodwill), Storge (familial love), Agape (universal love/love to strangers), Ludus (playful or uncommitted love), Pragma (practical love founded on reason or duty), Philautia (self-love). Throughout the film, different characters in different stages have experienced these stages of love. Ask yourselves, if you can find these stages of love between the characters in the film. Have fun!!

Kudos for bearing with me and reaching till the end. Did the film made you realize something? Do share your reviews and comments about how you felt about the film.

Remember, it is always important to feel a film than understanding it. – Robert Bresson