‘Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.’
This story isn’t about the people who die, this story is about the survivors, those who have to continue to live. If only for the sake of living.
When 17-year-old Kizuki suddenly commits suicide, he leaves his best friend Watanabe and his girlfriend Naoko behind. ‘Continue to live’ is what they’re supposed to do, but that’s easier said than done for the survivors; does being able to breath, talk and read, mean that you’re living? When a loved one has suddenly died in such a way, time seems to stop for those who are left. It’s not living, nor dying; it goes beyond that, almost emotionless, but painful when you allow yourself to feel the pain. There’s only the emptiness one’s trying to fill with nothing more than mindless conversations, travelling and reading, which all seemed like nothing more than running away.
That’s how Watanabe attempted to continue his life, by moving away from the place where in one moment all of his certainties had crashed down. Naoko did the same and though they’d parted ways, they did meet again in Tokyo. Mindless conversations followed and not a word was spoken about Kizuki. At the moment of Naoko’s 20th birthday Watanabe accidentally spoke about him, which caused Naoko to run away again.
Is it ‘love’ that made Watanabe wanting to care for Naoko? Or was it that he felt responsible for her, since his best friend wasn’t there anymore to take care of her?
The same goes for Naoko; did she want to be with Watanabe because she loved him? Fancied him? In what way? Did she want comfort? Did she feel guilty for what happened with Kizuki? Did she might wonder: ‘Was it because he didn’t love me that he’d committed suicide?’
To continue to live for those who are left is an extremely hard thing to do. Naoko did try, but because she couldn’t do it on her own her parents sent her to a sanatorium in the mountains of Kyoto. By breathing the fresh air and being surrounded by nature everyone hoped this would be her cure, as a broken soul is a disease too. With the love she received from Watanabe it almost seemed like she did became better, but nothing was less true as eventually she died too.
‘Your presence is painful to me!’
After all that had happened Watanabe eventually chose to stay strong, to live and to grow up. Time had stopped when Kizuki was 17 and again when Naoko was 21, but now he felt it was about time he continued to live.
Midori, a former classmate of Watanabe, had a major influence in this decision. She tries to seem like a smart and almost cunning girl, but in the end all she wants is comfort and the certainty of being loved and not being left. Because of his feelings for Naoko, Watanabe almost seemed blind towards Midori, as if he couldn’t see her desire for comfort or simply ignored it because he didn’t want to be bothered by it. In the end he did love her, maybe in a even more real way than he had loved Naoko.
What it is that makes two people love each other anyway?
Never before was I this touched by the emotions of a movie character. As if he was standing beside me in my room and I could feel his pain radiate through everything, it hurt me too. This raw acting wasn’t acting; it was real, it was all real and it took me some time to realize that it wasn’t.
Everything was presented in a raw and real way, nothing was made more beautiful than it actually was. But just as it is the imperfection of a person that makes him perfect, it was because this movie seemed so real to me, that it was beautiful. It didn’t try to make the viewer cry, it simply told the story of something that could have happened and that itself was painful enough.
After reading this, please listen to the soundtrack of the movie here. The music had in my opinion a great influence on presenting the story in a raw way.
Reading the book this movie was based on is the next thing on my to-do-list.