red film review

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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

Kimi no na wa / Your Name Analysis Review

I wasn’t originally going to post this, since, these analyses are a lot more personal and I never really consider them worth sharing. It’s a bit messy, and just a stream of my thoughts after finally watching the anime film Your Name for the very first time. 

This is kind of long. So, thanks, @killushawn, for pushing me into posting this and sharing it on this site. 

Again, these are unedited and mostly just theories done without any additional research. My rawest thoughts on the film and what it entails. 

Also there are definitely spoilers. So, if you haven’t seen this beautiful film, please do yourself a favor and watch it. 

So, yeah. Here goes nothing.


Analysis / Review of Your Name

There are countless things to appreciate individually about Your Name, and not all of it has to do with the fact that it’s one of the most gorgeous films I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.

I want to first discuss how this film operates in its combined, balanced usage of aestheticism with visual storytelling.

The art style is photorealistic and traditional in a worthwhile combination that, against all intents and purposes, shouldn’t work this well, but it does. 

There’s a certain candor to how its presented, from the sweeping landscapes that are conveniently zoomed out for our pleasure as the viewer, to the ever-changing sky that echoes the importance of time, place, and location for the two main protagonists.  

Again, of all the elements of this film that impressed me to the core, one of them has to do with the fact that, unlike nearly every other medium I’ve come across, I easily believed and grew attached to the world presented in Your Name.

This is, of course, owed to two major things: the blend of traditional and newer, more polished animation, both leading to an experience that dips easily between realistic and fantastical. 

The world of Your Name feels so tangible and real it teeters on the edge of mind-boggling, owed to these factors as well as the incredibly well-drawn features and mannerisms that differentiate the two leads from each other.

This is especially important because there should be definitive factors about them as people that show through their swapped bodies, adding not only a more authentic feel to the overall story, but a sense of relatable theme and lighthearted connection between the viewers and the characters.

Mitsuha’s actions and manner of speech are easy to pinpoint in Taki’s body, and vice versa.

Thankfully the animators and the immensely talented voice actors paid attention to who they were meant to be in the switched roles, creating a sense of realism and humanistic layering on top of everything else.

I was shocked at just how easily I felt like I could reach out and have a conversation with either Taki or Mitsuha, just from watching how they interact in their circumstances and within each other’s physical bodies.

Aesthetically, we are presented the polished, beautiful worlds that both characters thrive in—one encompassed mostly by family, togetherness, and culture (Mitsuha) and the other finding balance in a busy, bustling city with more personal and internal ambitions as an artist (Taki).

The characters feel very real and human, making it easy to connect with them and identify with them. 

Even the humorous undertones in certain scenes are incredibly wholesome, and expected when it comes to the idea of switching bodies with the opposite gender.

Mitsuha and Taki’s reactions to each other’s body swaps are hilarious and genuinely heartwarming in a strange way that I certainly didn’t expect. Maybe it has something to do with the mark of innocence and maturation from adolescence, and how that correlates between their experience and a rather unfortunate introduction to coming-of-age.

Now, taking these into consideration, there’s something truly immaculate about how non-pretentious and artful this film appears with such jaw-dropping animation and a story that, if done incorrectly, could come off as trite and uninteresting.

The animation does not overpower the characters or the story. To the strength of the overall film, it enhances it.

And this, is one of the greatest aspects of Your Name.

The ambient sounds, the gentle, wistful music that flourishes in its soundtrack, the way that each character walks and embraces each scene in accompaniment with the other factors of the film on a visual standpoint make it all the more entrancing.

The story and themes are a fine mix between realistic—in terms of emotion, nostalgia and experience—and fantastical—when relating to scenery, the mystical elements and the more controversial topics of dimension-jumping in space and time. 

Because it’s structured in this way, the visual representation, while beautiful and practically flawless, works as a bridge between what you would both ideally expect from a work of animation, and what you would expect from a work of live-action.

Film is meant to a be a medium of visual storytelling. And this film takes every element needed to make a film watchable and elevates it to unimaginable heights.

It is due to each combined factor of these elements that we are able to see the blossoming relationship between Taki and Mitsuha and a plotline that I’ve never seen done in this manner before.

I had no idea what to expect in terms of how I could buy a romantic connection developing via body swap—it sounds ludicrous.

And, honestly, the film is ludicrous, but that’s one of its greatest strengths.

It’s a work of balanced, human art with both rawness and polish, and this is just one of many things I adore about this spectacle. 

It feels like a true testament to youthful dreams, hope, and love, with special emphasis on how the journeys themselves matter apart from the themes and ideas taking place in the background.

Mitsuha and Taki, rather than fall into the traditional and somewhat overused anime trope of the love-hate dynamic between a girl and boy, make choices that instantly separate them from the demographic even in the first twenty minutes of the film. They bicker, of course, but the real charm lies in their communication to begin with, and how they quickly fall in sync with the actions and decisions they make when switching bodies.

And here, is where I found the film’s incorporation of technology and the emphasis on phones, in particular, to be one of its greatest strengths.

I think this is a good time to segue into what I thought about the film’s clear focus on the state of human connection and emotional intimacy, and how it was portrayed through both modern and older, more traditional ways.

The film pays special attention to how both Mitsuha and Taki are awkward, growing teenagers, and we are easily drawn into their dynamic because of how easily it feels that, in such a short span of time, we believe that they know each other well. 

The connection is palpable and richly brought out in their dialogue and messages left behind on their phones, creating a truly beautiful and wholesome relation that echoes to our generation of viewers with ease.

I love that the use of cellular technology in Your Name is neither romanticized nor demonized, but viewed for its practicality and shown as the sole bonder between Mitsuha and Taki in their rather unfortunate circumstance.

The attention to detail is, of course, mind-blowing, but I love how amplified and important the minute details are as well.

From watching both Mitsuha and Taki flip through their phones, engage with social media, and brush their fingers over the glass touchscreens… ah, it all flows on a wavelength that reminds me of just how varied and engaged people are with the world despite how opposite it seems to older generations.

This movie, at points, seems to be both its own intrinsic story, and a reflection of coming-of-age, natural romance and relational development. 

The way these two fall in love isn’t overly explained or even thrust into our faces as some ludicrous concept; it’s believable because we know, from watching them communicate, interact, and admire one another in both their own and in each other’s bodies, that they have a connection that cannot be matched equally with anyone else in their separate lives.

Now, these factors, while seemingly small and even insignificant to some, parallel much larger occurrences in a setting that doesn’t require disastrous things to happen. 

The story weaves a massive tragedy in its world to make the concept of two people switching bodies across the length of space and time seem all the more nonsensical. But, again, this is playing to more of the film’s strengths, rather than weaknesses.

Your Name, despite its relatively simple premise (at least, at first) expands so heavily in a visual sense that we’re greeted with amazing landscapes, incredible mountains, a fucking comet, starry evening skies, dawn, dusk, fields, busy cities and quiet roads alike.

It’s such a gift to be able to see the beauty in completely different lives take place, and to see the appreciation experienced from one person to another, just by living in their shoes for days at a time each week.

Now, the purpose between these two characters being the way they are speaks volumes to the intention behind creating this story to begin with.

The concept of possibly switching bodies with someone across the world, or close by, or, you know, switching bodies at all, is a terrifying concept. But, these two, while clearly raised in cultural differences and having varied interests (thankfully) embrace the process and use it as an opportunity to communicate with each other in a unique way that no one else can do.

It honestly makes me think of something much more mundane, but honestly, truly incredible. 

The Internet, social media, and the potentially easy connections formed over distances both vast and small, serve as a human reflection of what this film is delivering. Of course, it’s not nearly the same as switching bodies, which is the ultimate form of being required to experience through the other person’s shoes, but… there’s something equally beautiful about this, and how easy it is to take it for granted.

One of the words, actually, that came to me almost instantly as the film began, just from the scenery alone and one very particular thing that I’ll touch on later… was connection.

This film embodies both the fantastical and realistic forms of human, emotional, spiritual and intellectual connection.

In my opinion, there is nothing more intimate than understanding that piece of another person that allows that connection to begin and grow into something indescribable.

It’s miraculous, to experience a connection that you can’t grasp the meaning behind, and yet, somehow, those thoughts linger, and you find yourself drawn to particular people out of first sight, or first conversation, or other factors woven through other topics that could contribute to this argument.

The ending of the film, with the two of them consistently passing one another with that vague recollection of each other’s names (which I will also touch on later… since that’s obviously pretty damn important) reflects so many unexplained moments of Déjà vu and other instances that make you think: “Wait. I swear I’ve seen this person before. I don’t know how, but I have.”

Of course, I don’t believe in the supernatural elements displayed in this movie’s setting and story. 

But, the fact that the argument exists as a reality in this world that we get to experience, is wonderful to think about. 

It’s a romantic idea on its own, to think that these connections formed between people out of incredibly simple circumstances are borne out of occurrences like this, separated across time and meant to find each other’s likeness at some point in their lives.

The moment where Mitsuha and Taki find one another’s voices on the rim of the hollow, where the comet had struck, and finally see each other across the barrier of time and space… that, was one of the most breathtaking and emotional scenes I’ve seen in a film. And I’ve seen many.

The pacing, the music, the unbelievable joy you feel as the viewer being allowed to witness something so intimate and mythical take place on the edge of one world and the next… there’s nothing like it.

The animation was astounding in this scene, and the emotions were so vulnerable and believable with both Taki and Mitsuha. 

Watching them accept the terms of how they were meeting and agreeing to write each other’s names on their skin is something that just echoes trust, honesty, and love through actions and words as an assistance, rather than a replacement.

Now, since I’m getting way too excited to dance around this topic any longer, I’m going to dive into one of the most obvious (but undeniably fascinating) elements of the film: the literal, figurative and symbolic representation of fate. 

And this goes alongside the usage of the Red String of Fate.

I knew as soon as I saw Mitsuha’s red thread that it was meant to be a symbol for the symbolic Red String of Fate. Of course, this is to be expected in a film with this premise, but man, was I impressed with not only its subtle usage of this mythological element, but its handling of it as well.

I don’t believe in soulmates. 

I enjoy reading about them or studying the mythology behind the idea, as well as learning to experience it in mediums that make the idea in itself romantic and interesting. The Red String of Fate is used prominently in this film as a means of representing the connection between Mitsuha and Taki.

We see her call out her name to Taki on the train when she met him as a stranger, tossing out the thread and allowing him to take it in his hands. When they encounter each other again on the “Edge of the Comet” (that’s just what I’m going to call it), Mitsuha takes the thread from the bracelet around Taki’s wrist and wraps it around her now-cut hair.

It’s beautiful and intimate, and shows the amount of both conscious and subconscious care displayed between these two characters and their inevitably intertwined fates.

Something I noticed during these scenes, and this may be a bit farfetched, but I’m going to talk about it since it struck me while watching and now it won’t leave me alone.

The place where they meet officially in each other’s bodies for the first time—what I’ve now called the Edge of the Comet—was seen in earlier parts of the film as one complete, whole place. We’ve seen it destroyed, repaired, demolished by the comet, and even overgrown with breathtaking landscapes and people alike.

This place, when struck by the comet, is expanded into two melding circles. Two worlds inevitably colliding, one borne from outside the earth, and the other already there to begin with. Molded over years and years, of mountains growing from nothing and trees and flowers blooming from natural time.

The two circles overlapping, these constructs of one world meeting the next, to me, resembled the infinity symbol.

Of course, it’s not the exact same thing, but it adds some considerable weight to the scenes that transpire around these moments, with the two craters visible and showing just how impactful the story and interwoven destinies of the characters are.

… Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway!

The concept of infinity is an interesting one when considering the attention to culture, family, love and destiny in the overall film. 

The Red String of Fate, even, is often seen as a symbol of tethered souls connecting that breach the laws of logic, space and time. 

To think that the Red String would be breaching the laws of infinity as well, or somehow intertwining with it in some way, shape or form, makes the universal idea all the more interesting, and it stemmed simply from watching this movie.

It’s a truly incredible thing to think about, and even more so when considering how Taki goes through leaps and bounds to successfully prevent a natural comet disaster from killing countless people.

You know. The usual daily shenanigans of a teenager in Tokyo.

Now, I’m going to take this and shift it into something I loved from beginning to end about this movie, and again, it ties into the discussion of fate, dimensions and time itself being considered something as flexible and changeable, rather than concrete. 

The Red String of Fate and the two craters resembling an infinity symbol to me are only two of many scenarios I thought of while watching this.

There’s one consistent change of scenery that’s constantly brought about in this film. It’s both a stylistic experiment on the story itself and a visual representation of what it means to take a step forward and unknowingly testing the waters of new possibilities that you would never think of as possible.

I’m talking about doorways.

I’m talking about the sliding doorways, specifically, that are shown in heavy magnitude throughout the entirety of the film. 

Many obvious transitionary scenes in the film either start, end (or start and end) with doors sliding open and shut. 

This is prevalent in Mitsuha’s home as well as other notable locations throughout the film, especially as the story picks up.

But, it’s also an important stylistic choice when considering the train scenes—all of which are present prominently in both the earliest and latest portions of the film.

Doorways have always been symbolic in literature as an easy means of representing the idea of stepping forward, or into another world entirely. In fantasy, especially, this is very common, all the way back through old myths and legends. 

In this modern tale, doorways are relatively subtle in their usage, but when considering the concept of fate, destiny and time alterations thrown into the mix… you have an entirely new definition for the doorways in Your Name.

Destiny and fate are portrayed as still frayed paths of adventure and journeys between two people. 

Yes, they are connected by fate, and yes, they are contacting over the span of bending time and the laws of natural order. Yes, they keep one another in their lives, but it is due to their choices and the individual motions they make apart from each other.

This film brings about the thought of destiny still treading on the path of choices. 

A theory of fate lying on a thread, yet still woven through an intense labyrinth of decisions and ideas made by the two individuals involved that can either lead them to crossing their paths, or never fulfilling their “purpose” to begin with.

Mitsuha meets Taki on the train in Tokyo after deciding to go see him herself. She knows she must, and at this point we know that a strong, unique bond has formed between them through a connection unlike any other, through messages and decisions made out of their knowing, out of their control. 

In this moment, she knows who Taki is, and tells him to remember her name while removing the tread in her hair and allowing him to take it.

In this scene, she takes the bold leap through the door of the train, and then leaves with the same bustle of people after she removes the thread.

What would have happened if she never took that step onto the train to begin with? What decisions would have transpired from that moment? Would the same events still have happened in a similar manner?

What would have happened if he never took hold of the thread from her hair? If he never called out to her and asked her who she was?

A pretty glaring series of questions, in my opinion.

We have this moment again, flashing forward five years later, after Taki and Mitsuha changed the dynamics of their futures and altered their own destinies through choices that neither of them expected. 

They glimpse each other in passing, fleeting but unsure, wondering if those moments of slight recollection and meeting are remnants of fantasy or reality.

It still makes me wonder, even now: “If we watched this film in reverse, or just saw the ending with neither of them saying a word, what would the rest of this story appear to be? Would it still hold that same resonance of genuine love that we saw develop and grow? Or would it seem too farfetched to even grasp?”

I love how much this film makes me think, how it presses audiences to appreciate what they have in modern-day relationships and how we can use our technology to reach across the world and break new ground.

As a person who’s been betrayed and used so many times out of naivety and my own incompetence, to see something like this played out of pure love and adoration for the idea of two people connected across time, space, and tragedy, makes the overall appeal even more breathtaking.

Now, there is another important point I want to talk about when referring to the film’s thankful subtlety and handling of its own title.

I find it beautiful to think about the nature of knowing someone’s name, and to have the memories behind that person’s identity held in the palm of your hands. 

Mitsuha and Taki experience each other’s lives, quite literally stepping in each other’s shoes and growing attached to memories that aren’t originally meant to be theirs.

They know each other so well, without having the opportunity to directly speak for the longest time. This, in itself, is truly mind-boggling, and just emphasizes the importance of experiences and how they shape people and form bonds.

There’s so much more to this idea than just romantic connotation. 

No, I do not believe in people being connected by fate, but it’s incredible to think how simple choices lead to certain friendships and relationships forming out of seemingly nothing. To think of how vast the world is, how many different people there are walking this earth, and how many different minds operate in existence…

The nature and beauty of life and human connection is celebrated in Your Name, down to the rawest and sincerest moments.

Thinking about this film today amidst the darker times in both life and the world brewing around us, makes me consider and mull over how thankful and glad I am to be alive, and to have the connections to both good and bad experiences and people.

Life, choices, and the concept of fate in general resemble a bit of a quilt, really, in all shades of colors and contorted into different patterns, scattered and messy beyond belief. Frayed edges, smooth turns, twisted knots and curling loops. Paint slathered on cords, shapes changed from triangles to squares and beyond.

And finally, an endless ocean of names of people we will never know, people we wish we knew, people we see on the other side of the world and dream of encountering, and people we have come to know thus far.

This is what Your Name just… does.

Not what it is. What it does.

And that’s just… amazing.

Blu-ray Review: Red Christmas

Red Christmas is a holiday horror film from Australia, where Christmas occurs in the middle of summer. Despite the cultural differences and lack of snow, the indie film manages to capture the holiday spirit quite well, complete with the family drama it often entails. Furthermore, it addresses the topical subject of reproductive rights, employs both a genre legend and an actor with Down syndrome, and tells a decent horror story in the process.

Dee Wallace (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) gives one of her best performances in decades. It’s not one of those all-too-common situation in which a well-known cast member is top billed only to maks a cameo; she really is the star. She plays Diane, a loving mother who channels her strength to fight for her family, not unlike her memorable role in Cujo.

Keep reading

10

The Best Fashion Moments at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival

My favorite part about the fashion we see at Cannes every year is that no one plays it safe–everyone wants to stand out. We saw Laetitia Casta in Christian Dior Couture, Nicole Kidman in Armani Privé, Suki Waterhouse in Peter Pilotto, Lara Stone in Calvin Klein Collection, Rosie Huntington-Whitely in Victoria Beckham… Leading ladies and supermodels who all stunned on the red carpet.

Blake Lively and Cate Blanchett were my winners this year, Blake in Chanel Couture, Giambattista Valli Couture, and Gucci Première, effortlessly switching her look from runway to mini to very, very maxi. Cate, long a red carpet veteran, pulled off a bright Givenchy, then switched things up in matching Armani tuxedos with Emily Blunt.