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Awkward Anime Episode 8.1: Kimi No Na Wa - The Red Thread of Fate

Director Makoto Shinkai was asked on numerous occasions when promoting his 2016 phenomenon Kimi No Na Wa about the inspiration behind the unusual connection of Mistuha and Taki, answering each time with the inclusion of a phrase that peaked my interest: The Red Thread of Fate.

“In Japan, there is always this talk about the red thread of fate that links two people together and that is where the idea came from.” 

The Red Thread of Fate is an East Asian belief originating from China which says that the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. We see a red thread or cord as a massive symbol of the connection between the two timeline-crossed lovers throughout the entire film, yet there is never a need to explain the meaning behind this.

There was no need in delving into this as the people of Japan are aware of this belief in which the myth says that everyone’s pinky finger is tied to an invisible red thread or string that will lead him/her to another person with whom they will make history. Unlike the Chinese, the belief among the Japanese people is that this red thread is not limited to couples and that the two people will have an important story regardless of the time, place or circumstances.

Makoto Shinkai made sure that this connection was indeed the main plot as he has stated on many occasions about how “The main theme here is these two people have met and then meet again at the end”. Yet the additions of the comedic body-swapping and the “once every 100 year” comet was just as important as the main theme. These three elements make this into truly a remarkable film.

The flawlessly animated skies with the comet seemingly running across the horizon was a perfect way for Shinkai to tell of the connection between Mitsuha and Taki. As the animated feature rolls on, we see skies lit up with stars to emphasise the effect of this natural phenomenon, but we know that it was indeed a method for showing the braided ties which links our two main characters.

According to the Chinese Legend of the red thread of fate, the deity in charge of the red thread is believed to be Yue Xia Laoren(Yue Lao), the old lunar matchmaker God, who is in charge of marriages.

Strings are resembled from the shooting stars, a deliberate method by the Writer turned Director to symbolise the linked teenagers. The main focus from the start of writing in 2014 was the connection between the protagonist and romantic interest and every element that was put forward in this animated feature were cleverly used plot devices, from the body-swapping to the natural disaster.

Makoto Shinkai did confirm that the 2011 Earthquake in Japan was where the idea of using the comet as a blockbuster element originated from. While doing research in early 2014, he discovered that the specific Earthquake to hit Japan in 2011 is said to come approximately every 100 years. The story teller wanted that something to really enhance the plot and keep the audience on the edges of their seats.

“I thought that that a regular natural phenomenon could be the narrative tool I needed to tell the story”

All of these elements produce to me not a romance, but that of a story where one desires a certain life, that feeling of being in a normal town with normal friends and a normal family. Though what is normal? By saying “normal” I do not mean at all a “perfected” lifestyle where everything you dream of is your reality. We humans wander through life working and striving for something. That something, is familiarity. The feeling of yeah, this is my simple life and it’s natural.

Mitsuha throwing her red thread to Taki on the train clearly shows the dedication Director Makoto Shinkai put into researching to create a masterpiece. The circumstances of the main characters challenge the strength of that bond fate created. Time passes, personalities change and grow, but the one and indeed only one constant, is that Red Thread of Fate. The labyrinth of encounters and shared stories the two go through to only always be a thread away from each other.

“This is a story centred around the romance of Taki and Mitsuha, I wanted a symbol that connected the two of them.”


Please share if you enjoyed this analysis and remember to eat those tiny trees!

Check out previous Eps:

Ep 7 - The Boy and the Beast

Ep 6.2 - Fading innocence of Ame

Ep 6.1 - Wolf Children Poster

Ep 5 - My Neighbor Totoro

Ep 4 - Summer Wars

Ep 3 - Spirited Away

Ep 2 - Koe no Katachi

dunkirk is the kind of film you sit on after you see it. at first you’re like, yeah that was a good film. it was a different kind of war movie. then you leave the theater and you start thinking about it, all your favorite moments, the ones that made you bite your nails off. you think about the message and what christopher nolan is really trying to get across with the way he directed it. and then you realize that it’s actually sort of spectacular. because you were in the film. you weren’t just hearing a bunch of dialogue, knowing what someone was going to do next. you were basically living it. between the music and the acting, you were feeling what they were feeling. long story short, if you were unsure of dunkirk at first: sit on it. i guarantee you’ll see the beauty in it. 

Loving Vincent (2017)

Plot: A year after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) sets out to deliver a lost letter to his brother. However he gets drawn into a web of intrigue as conflicting tales of the artists death come to light.

Review: The fruit of seven years of labour, Loving Vincent is the worlds first movie depicted entirely in oil paintings, all created by a legion of artists paying tribute to the iconic Vincent Van Gogh.

It’s an incredible achievement as around one hundred and twenty-five artists sat and painted the scenes, with tributes to some of his most famous works on display along the way. But they didn’t just paint from scratch with the actors doing the voiceover work later; instead they shot the movie in full, before the hand-picked artists turned that into a series of oil paintings which move to tell the story of Vincent’s death. However the film also manages to educate about his life, and the impact of his work on the art world at the time. And it’s all done in a manner that is actually rather accessible.

The plot of the film is actually in keeping with noir detective stories, as Roulin (Booth) happens upon some conflicting information by chance, and decides to push on to see what happened to the great man. This is tinged with guilt too, as he wasn’t especially nice to the man when he was alive; he feels that he owes Van Gogh for that. The emotion comes through the paintings incredibly well, and the change in styles for the flashbacks works. The bright colours can be a little harsh on the eyes, and the style takes some getting used to, but it works very well.

It really is a unique movie, and if you get the chance you should definitely watch. It will reward the ardent fan and the novice alike.

5

“Peck’s film doesn’t waste time recapitulating Baldwin’s legacy and refuses to turn him into the marble statue that so many heroes become when centralised in fawning nonfiction movies. Instead, Peck and Strauss, through fluid, train-of-thought edits, reawaken Baldwin’s entire mindscape, one brimming with ideas and obliquely attuned to a present that is both changed from and familiar to the past. Wherever his brain wanders, our attention invariably follows. Indeed, I Am Not Your Negro excels precisely because it values Baldwin’s genius above all else. His aching, hard-earned wisdom has wavered in and out of the American consciousness in the decades since his death, but Peck’s film places it at the forefront, which is where it has always and unquestionably belonged.” — Matthew Eng

Read more: James Baldwin reclaims the spotlight in Raoul Peck’s magnificent film essay, I Am Not Your Negro

I’d like to take some time to remind you guys that in 2008, Lucas Grabeel, AKA Ryan from High School Musical

Starred as Ezra in a film called ‘The Adventures of Food Boy’

Which basically is about this boy who finds out he has a superpower, the ability to make food appear in his hands.

but most of the time it basically explodes out of them.

It’s pretty much food flying everywhere for an entire movie and I’d like to recommend it to you all. It is beautiful. 10/10

Food Boy, everyone. It’s on Netflix.

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“From here on out, I am only interested in what is real. Real people, real feelings, that’s it, that’s all I’m interested in.”

Almost Famous came out in 2000 and it is directed by Cameron Crowe and serves as a semi-biography. It is also one of the best coming-of-age films I have ever seen, shared along with Stand By Me. As you may know, this film is one of my favourites. It is my home, it’s like a hug, strange at it seems. It is the life I want, well if I lived in the 70s. It’s the film I choose to watch when I’m feeling down, although it gives you quite the heartache at times. Almost Famous is drama/comedy film about music, 70’s music to be exact.

So the story is about 15-year-old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) who wants to be a writer, a rock writer, mind. William gets the opportunity to travel with up and coming band Stillwater. Before that big event, William submits his record reviews to Creem magazine writer Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two becomes friends and Williams gets the mentor of his dreams. Soon after William goes on a mission for Rolling stone, where he meets the girls, the band aids, the un-groupies. Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) the band aids leader takes a liking to the teen and William falls head over heels for her. William leaves his home, with the band Stillwater (Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, John Fedevich and Mark Kozeleck) and leaves his “trying to mean well” mother, Elaine (Frances McDormand) to worry.

This film is filled with lovely, wonderful performances. Patrick Fugit portrays naive and young William very well, Frances McDormand is brilliant as William and Anita’s (Zooey Deschanel) mother. Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson fill the screen with romantic tension and a bit of heartbreak, or a lot of it actually. Kate Hudson as mysterious, ageless, nameless “Penny Lane”, yes like the song, is brilliant and honest. Her character is very relatable and it really isn’t hard to fall for her ways. The beer scene is one to really look closely at. As always Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant, he exudes arrogance and confidence, he’s always such a good supporting actor.

The soundtrack, of course, is so very good, filled with classic rock tunes, only the best. The music written by then-wife of Crowe, Nancy Wilson, for Stillwater is so bloody good. It’s a visually good looking film, but the cinematography isn’t an element that stands out, this film is about honest characters and good music. I recommend it forever, I really do, and if you want the get the absolute best experience from it I would recommend trying to find the extended version.

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Awkward Anime Episode 7: Bakemono no Ko (The Boy and the Beast): Fathers of Choice

“People have two sides, and a person first becomes appealing when you discover both of those sides - and worlds work the same way. I believe it’s having both Shibuya and Jutengai that makes the film’s setting an interesting one.” Hosoda on two worlds

Directors are regularly set on their principles and ideas, which is hard to leave to discover others. This animated feature, for me, showed and answered the question: Who is the man Mamoru Hosoda and what are his principles?
One of his principles that he more than not portrays in his works is that of Family. Here, he gives the audience an open mind as to whether or not Kumatetsu was indeed the true father figure the young boy needed. This small child is shown at one point copying the movements of this large beast, witnessing the desire and indeed stinginess he too sees in himself.


I see many many relationships within this movie that are all “Father-Son” relationships, yet are portrayed in different ways, leading us to believe that Kumatetsu was the ONLY true parent to Kyuta. But he wasn’t. He was one of many people that helped bring the frail child into adolescence and adulthood.

“How possible it might be for unmarried men and adults not blessed with biological children to become fathers of choice.“

Hyakushubo and Tatara with Kyuta. Ren with his biological father. Kaede with her father. Iuozen with Ichirohiko and so on. The idea of these relationships were for Hosoda to show that the old days are gone, with Japan’s birth rate constantly dropping, he wanted to ensure people understood that in these modern times anyone and everyone can be a “Pseudo-Father”.

I saw the growth that these relationships developed as the movie rolled along, or in some cases lack of. Kumatetsu, as a character, did not change much in his personality. Brave, stingy, old fashioned, confident and never modest. Though what was clear to see was indeed the strength within both Kyuta and this beast forming that bond. Is Kumatetsu the ideal father for Kyuta? No. That is exactly why Hosoda introduced his biological father to us, along with other carers. I will always praise Hosoda for depicting family and relationships in a simple yet meaningful manner. He sought out to produce a Pseudo-Family relationship(s) seeking that confusion in the audience about if indeed the characters grew.

“I too realise that there have been many people, both famous and unknown,who have had a greater influence on me growing up than my own father"

Ren. Kyuta. The two names for a person living in two worlds. I believe that purposely adding “Kyuta” was a message from Hosoda. To express the identity uncertainty inside the character which creates that tension within the viewers minds of wondering “Who is he really?”

“I wrote the story with the hope that those children who were lost in their own lives would find some kind of answer in this movie and be able to share in it as well.”

Ren and Kyuta. They are the two different halves of one person. With life in the Jutengai, arose new problems within himself which he had to take care of. He wasn’t alone. The carers around him, kept distance so trust could build slowly. The point is that anyone can end up in a position of Hyakushubo yelling at Kyuta, or Tatara holding him in tears. Kumatetsu, Tatara, Hyakushubo, Kaede and his biological father helped him carve his own path. That’s all what anyone can do to help another, as parents or just as friends.

“Maybe everyone eventually will get a role to play doing these things that parents do with children. By doing so, they might experience the fulfillment of being a parent.“

Thank You, Mamoru Hosoda for expressing your family values and helping me to realise wrongdoings.


Check out previous Eps:

Ep6.2 - Fading innocence of Ame

Ep6.1 - Wolf Children Poster

Ep5 - My Neighbor Totoro

Ep4 - Summer Wars

Ep 3 - Spirited Away

Ep2 - Koe no Katachi