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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Thursday, June 04, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 40

[40th of 100]. The first time I watched this anime, I was unprepared for its power and its towering impact. At the end of it, when we finally got the certainty of Seita's and Setsuko's fates, I was a mess, I think I actually muttered something like, "How dare an animated film make me cry this much!" It wasn't the first time an animated film moved me: there was the trauma of Bambi's mother's death in my childhood, and there was exhilarating joy when I stumbled upon The Little Mermaid in high school. And it wasn't as if the week in 2001 when I saw this movie there were no other animated films that also moved me. It was the third day of Eiga Sai, the annual Japanese film festival which was marking a leg of a nationwide tour in Dumaguete with the year's theme being Japanese anime, and we had just screened Akira on Monday and Barefoot Gen on Tuesday. [This was the first time anime were being screened in a film festival in Dumaguete, and we were drawing SRO crowds at every screening. I was the local organizer.] When the lights came up on this Isao Takahata contemporary classic, there were no dry eyes in the house -- and the applause was electrifying. It was so well-received that we had to hastily arrange another screening of the film because of the instant demand. In the years hence, I'd recommend this film once in a while to anyone who'd opine to me that animated films -- "kinengkoy" in the local parlance -- were for kids only and shouldn't be taken seriously. To watch these people's faces slowly crumple into tearful grimaces under the weight of the movie's emotional force is a joy to behold. [I've encountered one or two who feel nothing -- and frankly speaking, these people scare me.] I fully understand the impact of the movie. It's a carefully constructed anti-war drama with two winsome children trying to make do with the increasing hardships of war realities in Japan, the narrative a slowly tightening screw that never hesitates to dip into horror and despair. And the Studio Ghibli touches are evocative. I still remember a scene from earlier in the movie when Seita, the older brother of the girl Setsuko, just received devastating news he has no way of breaking to his sister. He finds her in the playground, and somehow the girl intuits the unsaid, and the film decides to stay with their silence, the girl playing quietly on the sand, the boy sitting pensively on the ground in front of a forlorn jungle jim. The tiny details are awesome to behold: a small breeze blows, their tiny bodies twitch, the tears fall -- and everything is suspended in such painful tension we actually feel the ache of the scene. The film taught me to take animation seriously; sometimes the medium can best channel the depths of humanity not even reality captured on film can show. What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.

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