When something can never be rom-com

What ‘Last Night’ gets wrong about suicide

I saw the trailer to this and I find it bleh. I didn’t get anything out of the trailer of what it’s exactly about, at least, and I see Piolo and Toni looking at each other at a balcony of a nice-looking building or a hotel, all cutesy and lovey dovey. So this alone reduced the possibility of me ever watching it to total zero. However, I’d like to point it’s easy on the eyes, it’s nice to look at but that’s all there is to me.

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And then I read this review from CNN Phils (link above), which is a very well-written review, such an in-depth take, and so I find out that it’s about suicide — only this movie makes suicide such a trivial matter; that it’s a fun game while the “one-dimensional characters” are trying to think of horrendous ways of killing themselves and laughing it off every time they fail; that suicide can be a platform for tender moments, romance and falling in love; that one can be driven to suicide all because of a single event in the form of a break-up; that the decision to commit suicide is instantaneous; that this feeling of positivism and wanting to live again is also instantaneous for suicidal people (as if you just bumped your head lightly); and that after a failed attempt, one recovers so easily (with no serious after-thought or trauma of what was done).

It’s the kind of the film that I don’t even have to watch to know how it goes and how it ends. Besides, the review is highly detailed already. I can easily picture the scenes in my head while reading the review. I can’t blame the review for being spoiler-filled because she has to clearly point out the examples. It’s needed. After all, with or without spoilers, it’s the kind of film that’s ultimately predictable.

From the review alone, it already makes me think that it gives off the wrong message about suicide. Instead of making audiences have deeper understanding of suicidal people and mental issues, it encourages the idea that it’s fun to think of ways to kill yourself and that you can think of many creative ideas to do it, and that maybe in the process of trying to commit suicide, suddenly there’s a Romeo that’s out to save you and then, what else, of course they fall in love.

A college friend of mine (who watched the film) commented that it’s Carmina (Toni Gonzaga) who ended up saving Mark (Piolo), convincing him that life is worth living, but this doesn’t erase the fact that Mark still saved Carmina from that failed suicide attempt by the bridge (an example of a Romeo out to save a girl in the process of a suicide attempt).

My friend adds that “it doesn’t really encourage suicide but the message is that life is worth living.” Let’s say that’s the aim of the movie but by approaching the sensitive subject of suicide lightly and making it an avenue of fun, cutesy, and flirty interactions between the characters absolutely supplants that very message.

And then there’s this line. Mark tells Carmina, “Ayaw mo talagang magpakamatay. Nagpapapansin ka lang.”

If you’re an individual, whether or not you know someone who once tried to commit suicide or encountered it yourself, at least one should have an understanding that this very dialogue is so wrong. It’s because suicide should be taken seriously and not like a joke, like someone’s just acting all “papansin” (attention-seeking) and that he/she is not really going to do it even when they already showed signs and openly talked about suicidal thoughts.

Depression and suicide and others in anime and manga

The review cites “The Hours” and “Little Miss Sunshine” as good examples of films with the context of suicide and depression. As for me, I think of Ichigo Takano’s manga/anime series, “Orange” and Reiko Yoshida’s manga/anime film, “A Silent Voice” (Koe no Katachi), both of which are highly-acclaimed hits for their wonderfully-deep and well thought-out telling of depression, suicide, guilt, regrets, forgiveness, of past and present, bullying, redemption, friendship, second chances, and disability.

All these have become my anime favorites because they make me realize about so many things that matter. With Orange, I empathize so much to the main character, Kakeru and his strong sense of guilt for what happened to his mother and for Koe no Katachi, to Shouko, who is deaf and gets ostracized for being different and Shouya, for realizing the deep consequences of what he’s done to Shouko when they were kids.

Orange has love story in it but it isn’t the main focus, it’s a subplot; same goes with Koe no Katachi, the romance here doesn’t even come to light directly and is only implied.

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Another great example is also Makoto Shinkai’s definitive work, “5 Centimeters per Second” (2007) that astoundingly exemplifies the complexities and frailties of human connections and how these affect and change someone drastically, to the point of not seeing any sense in life anymore.

The same themes in literary fiction

In literary fiction, I can think of my top two favorite Haruki Murakami novels: “Norwegian Wood” (1987) and “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” (2014) as the books that gave me insight into depression and suicide and the tremendous trauma that affects the people who are left behind.

There are some subjects that you cannot make out to be humorous, fun, or romantic, and this is one example of that subject. It makes me wonder why do they always try to inject romance in everything. Makes me wonder if they’re trying to mimic the hype of “13 Reasons Why”, the novel-turned-Netflix series (which I will never see or read), only difference is this is rom-com. Makes me wonder why it always has to be cutesy.

* My own perspective is mine alone. It doesn’t apply to everyone.*

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Blade Runner anime short: Black Out

I just saw Blade Runner anime short – Blade Runner: Black Out, and it makes me feel like I wanna watch a full series of anime Blade Runner. Can we get an animated version of Ryan Gosling, director Shinichiro Watanabe?

From live action to anime / From anime to live action

It’s ironic how an original live action film/series, when it becomes an anime version; most often, the anime version enhances the original, or at par with the original and at times, even better than the original.

Blade Runner: Black Out is an original anime short though, but it’s still based on an original live action film, and serves as the prequel and bridge between the original 1982 film and the new Blade Runner that’s out starting next Friday.

However, this is not the case when it’s the other way around — when anime is the one being turned into live action version, such as the awful case of Netflix’ Death Note and Ghost in the Shell. Then there’s also the ever escalating dread to the newly-announced Hollywood remake of 2016’s biggest hit, that is Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no Na wa (Your Name). And more of that dread is expected to spread like wildfire up to when Paramount with JJ Abrams on the helm, finally reveals a teaser of the live action remake.

38th MIBF: My Japanese book haul

20170918_031742My MIBF2017 book haul. Who wouldn’t be happy; five books, each for 20% less.

If only I can get paid reading books, then I’ll have all the joy in the world.

I don’t really buy this much. I only buy one or two the most but a good-natured person 🤗☺️loaned me some money so I got to buy this much so I’m not buying any until I get to pay these five books.

 More of my fascination on Japanese literature 

Discovering and exploring other Japanese authors — Yoko Ogawa and Hiromi Kawakami. These authors I think aren’t even available at National.

“Subtle, graceful, wise and threaded on a quirky humor, this exploration of the connections and disconnections between people kept me smiling long after the last page.” – Julia Rochester’s review of Hiromi Kawakami’s The Nakano Thrift Shop.

However, I think the plot summary ultimately got me. It says “Among the jumble of paperweights, plates, typewiters, and general bric-a-brac in Mr. Nakano’s thrift store, there are treasures to be found.”

Kawakami’s The Nakano Thrift Shop is somewhat familiar as I’ve seen it on Kinokuniya SG Webstore but I didn’t click on it, so I still don’t know up until today what it is about. I also haven’t read any of her works before so entirely, she’s new to me.

“Gorgeous, cinematic… This novel has all the charm and restraint of any by Ishiguro or Kenzaburo Oe, and the whimsy of Murakami.” – Los Angeles Times review of Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor.

After reading this review and the plot summary saying “An enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family” at the back of the cover, I knew it’s a shoo-in for me. I love the cover too.

Yoko Ogawa is also entirely new to me and I totally discovered her and this book at the Fully Booked booth, which means I haven’t seen this even at Kinokuniya Webstore before.

Despite being new, Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women is also 20% off and I’ve been meaning to get it since it was released back on May 9th. And of course, After Dark — it’s been on my must-read Murakami books ever since, because of its story and the title itself speaks so much of the world where I exist.

And last but not the least, My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel. It’s released in 2012 for the 20th anniversary of the film.

I’m just so happy to be finding it at Fully Booked. It’s been on my Kinokuniya wishlist for quite some time now but haven’t really decided when I’ll buy it because I’m thinking of getting the others first, so it’s really nice I was able to buy it at a lower price than Kinokuniya’s.

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My heart was so happy when I found this – My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel. Released in 2012 in celebration of the film’s 20th anniversary.

 

38th MIBF:Manga-sightings and adoring session of classics covers

Fully Booked has a wider selections of books (compared to National Book Store or Power Books), including a lot of manga, they even have Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures in hardcover. And I just love the covers of Sense and Sensibility and Les Miserables (Not that I ever read these two already or that I will ever read them.)

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Sherlock Holmes, Gothic Science Fiction Fantasy and Grimm’s Fairy Talesv

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The real Niccolo Machiavelli. I first heard of Machiavelli from Harry Potter and back then I thought he was fictional. Love the embossed words on the cover and back of this.

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I almost shrieked with joy (internally, of course) because I thought this was The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo but it wasn’t. It’s a parody of Kondo’s book. I got fooled. But the title is humorous and I can so relate to its opening lines.

Tokyo Ghoul live action: My independent perspective

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This is the first instance I ever watched something on the first day, last screening though because I don’t wanna miss it like when I almost didn’t get to watch Your Lie in April back in December.

Not a fan of the anime as I haven’t seen it but I’m quite familiar and so far has watched some clips before seeing the film. But every time there’s a live action adaptation of manga-anime series, I always wanna check out the trailer to see if I should watch it. Then I saw the trailer of this coupled with a great ending song, I was floored and quickly decided I’ll see it.

As far as reviews go, it’s generally positive. As for me, it doesn’t disappoint from my stand-alone view of not comparing to the anime-manga of course, so I’m not saying anything about how faithful the film is from the manga, which is pointed out as one of the strong points of the film.

I enjoyed watching it and I really like it because it has a great cast that’s suitable for the characters they portray, has good balance of drama and action, the scenes and pace play out well meaning it doesn’t drag, it isn’t so gory or too violent for me, the cinematography — I love the cold dark color and atmosphere of the film, I love the effects of the kagune — it really gives me the creeps, love the fight scenes, it’s so well-done, particularly that climactic face-off between Kaneki and Amon (Masataka Kubota and Nobuyuki Suzuki really executed this part really good), and not to forget really strong performances from the cast, specifically Nobuyuki Suzuki as Amon, Yu Aoi as Rize, Yu Oizumi as CCG investigator Mado and Masataka Kubota as Ken Kaneki.

I’m so amazed right now with Masataka, that part when he gets all consumed and deranged by his ghoul instincts and about to kill and eat Amon is the highlight of his performance as Kaneki. He gets all the craziness of this character all in the right ways, even when he was still the nerd human Kaneki.

He gets my respect from this performance. I do know him from Death Note TV series but haven’t seen it but after researching him, I found out he earned a best actor award as Light. This reminds me of how Kenichi Matsuyama also earned awards from his performance as L from the Death Note movies, but this time the cards are on Light’s side for having the stronger and more talented actor between the two. #MasatakaKubota

With this, the film makes me wanna watch the anime now and I’m now considering seeing Death Note TV series despite being uninterested when I first heard about it — one reason is that I’m not exactly okay with YamaKen as L.

Kakeru, Kousei, Kou: A trio of profound suffering

 

First, I knew about Kou then Kousei and now Kakeru and then it hit me, that these three form a deep puzzle.

When I came to the realization that their names all start with the same letter — letter K, I’m like ‘what kind of enchantment is this?’ It feels like it’s meant to be, maybe intentional or perhaps pure coincidence.

Besides the first name initial, these three have issues that concern their mothers but of course not in the same exact manner — one’s mom passed away due to an illness and he can’t forgive himself because he feels responsible in taking care of his mom as he promised to his brother when their parents got divorced, thinking if only he paid more attention then he would have noticed it (Kou); the other whose mom is so ruthless that she beats him which ends up with the son finally blowing up and cursing that he hopes she dies and ultimately it does happen (Kousei); and finally, a boy’s mom who’s sickly, also divorced when he was little and who needed her son to be with her at the hospital, to which he initially agreed but changed his mind to hang out with his new friends and informing her in a not so pleasing manner, which was followed by the mother breaking down and committing suicide (Kakeru).

All three have high sense of guilt, self-hate, and extreme trauma — depression. They deal with it in different manners but similarly, their behaviors and perspectives have all changed.

Out of the three, I’d say Kakeru has the most difficult depression because he’s reached that suicidal tendency stage unlike Kou and Kousei. Then again, what Kousei said to his mom is more distressing than what Kakeru did but Kakeru ended up feeling more guilty than Kousei as people have different reactions to such situations. Kousei, I think, at the end of the series, might have subtle suicidal tendencies after suffering a double blow when Kaori passed on but I guess Tsubaki is the key so that he could avoid it.

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On a side note,  Kakeru and Kou could really pass as twin brothers, seriously. I instantly thought of Kou the first time Kakeru made an appearance except the hairstyle and the eyes. Even Futaba and Naho are so alike other than the hairstyle and color and their eyes.

Orange anime series and my Japanese inclination for such stories

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Orange has been on my list since late last year while I was occupied with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April). I’ve been listening to its soundtrack from early this year without having even started the anime series and now it’s on repeat again as I’m finally watching it.

Stories such as (depression and suicide) Orange tend to have gravitational pull towards me. It’s been a strong predilection for me but my very first venture and exposure to such themes was when I read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami back in college (Thanks to a college classmate’s recommendation). In this, three people committed suicide — Kizuki, who killed himself when he was 17, Reiko, and then eventually Naoko who had been struggling with the loss of Kizuki.

Then in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, which is now my favorite Murakami novel, there’s also suicide and depression with the character of Shiro.

With anime both series and films, such examples among my favorites are 5 Centimeters per Second’s Takaki, Ao Haru Ride’s Kou, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso’s Kousei, Koe no Katachi’s Shoya and Shouko, and then this anime series — Orange with Kakeru, which is set to become among my favorite anime series.

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Apart from the same themes, these are all Japanese. Even Kizuki’s suicide and Kakeru’s suicide in the alternative timeline are similar — both are 17.

Depression and suicide are highly complex because both are psychological and even more difficult to explain than any kind of medical illness.

I’m starting to wonder why I have so much attachment to characters and stories with the said elements. On my take, it’s something I deeply contemplate about. A close friend said, it’s because it’s something I can understand but perhaps it’s more than that.