I don’t willingly pay money for sad emotions. Well, I go to counseling, so that’s not entirely true. But the bottom line is, I don’t do sad movies. I don’t like the idea of being made to feel strong emotion in public. For this reason, I only entertain the idea of watching such movies if I’m alone and that only lasts for about five seconds before I realize I don’t actually want to feel sad and then turn on something else. Because, again, I don’t do sad movies. Which, oddly enough, makes me enough like the protagonist of I Would Like to Eat Your Pancreas that I probably ended up being the target audience of this film.
I agreed to see this film because I have never watched anime anywhere except for on my computer screen. It was my first anime film in a theatre. It has a classically embarrassing anime title, which forced me to walk up to the teenager behind the counter and speak the words, “I would like to eat your pancreas, please.” And it was for these reasons that I thought it would be a funny little jaunt, possibly about the love between a young girl and a zombie (not kidding).
But because I went in completely blind as to what the film was actually about, thinking it would be best that way as my first theatre anime experience, I suffered the consequences of my actions. I was made to sit through a very sad movie. A beautiful movie, but a very sad movie.
I loved it anyway.
There are two reasons. As I’ve said in response to some of those who commented on one of Anchester’s recent CQ’s, I’m not much for slice-of-life anime, largely because of a bad experience. I watched the series Nana because it came recommended and the ending left me so frustrated and depressed that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I put time into it and it rewarded me by leaving me with unresolved feelings of sadness. Not a lot of hope offered either. But, while I Would Like to Eat Your Pancreas, despite it’s name, was not the quirky, if not cheesy, fluff piece I was expecting, it didn’t give me the ill-fated ending I expected once I realized what I was in for either. It offered hope—not just sad feels. It ended well. It resolved.
Second reason: It represented actual emotions well. There were a couple of times when my attuned anime senses started tingling because I recognize a sexual slapstick setup when I see one. But the movie never goes there and it was actually all the better for it. One of things I hate about western movies is the obligatory sex scene where it’s practically inconsequential to the plot but you know one of two things is true: either it was included because sex sells, or it was included as the laziest of character development ploys to make you feel like there was real progression in the relationship (I’m looking at you, Parasyte the Maxim).
The same goes for the emotion of loss. The series treats it well at every stage: discovering the tragedy, feeling the tragedy, dealing with it, discovering unexpected truths, healing/grieving, and the hope of life afterward. I can promise you that manly tears were stifled from my seat. There’s even heart warming humor along the way. So, if you’re concerned looking at it from the ground, let me assure you, the emotional roller coaster is well constructed.
Which brings me to my last point. I know I haven’t really said much about the movie itself, but that’s because it’s hard to discuss the finer points of this movie without giving it all away. Which is also a weird predicament, since the movie isn’t that groundbreaking storywise. It hands you the tension as soon as it starts, then proceeds to unpack it as it goes. I knew within the first ten minutes exactly how the story would end, but the journey was the reward. You could see the little incidences of symbolism as they happened, knowing that they would show up again later as important signals in the story, but that only served to prove that the writers were self aware and trusted the viewer to catch their meaning. And, unfortunately, because this is my first anime film of this emotional variety, I can’t even compare it to other films to tell if that’s a normal amount of self-awareness. But, regardless, I can tell you that it did it well.
So if you want to go see a movie that will warm your heart, make you cry, and make you hold those in your life with a little more gratefulness, consider going to enjoy I Would Like to Eat Your Pancreas, despite it’s name. Then, once you’ve seen it, you can walk away appreciating it for its name like I did.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is currently in theatres. Visit Fathom Events to purchase tickets.