Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A life investment

Byousoku 5 cm: Cosmonaut
Taken alone, Oukashou may have been a typical romantic short, if only because it had a proper end, which is to say that the two characters actually see each other off. But with respect to the second question, a confusing story with an extreme adherence to show don't tell is not in anyway unique to anime. In that sense, Byousoku 5 cm does fall into the general art film category.

What may be particularly head-scratching to the viewer, though, is that they aren't really watching the usual kind of story that has a beginning, middle, and end. There's no villain, no mystery, barely a whiff of a definitive relationship by the end of it all. The only time anyone says goodbye to anyone else is in Oukashou. To many viewers, what exactly is an ending that features no partings?

Having never seen something quite like it before, it may take some time to get comfortable with watching life, and not the reality TV kind, either.

Nor is Byousoku 5 cm life caricatured, exaggerating personalities and situations for dramatic and comedic effect. Here, the characters don't blow up or melt down in spectacular fashion. They let fear eat away at them, paralyze them. People are put on pedestals. Characters burn out. Regret does not lead to action, it leads to lingering bitterness. Unrequited love goes unrequited.

These three short stories are polished into a mirror-like finish. I suspect that gazing upon it necessarily means reflecting on your life up to that point. To take an extreme example, you can't show this to a 6 year old; they'll haven't a clue that what they're witnessing in the last short is a hollowing out of the human soul.

Perhaps one might say that if you derive nothing from watching Byousoku 5 cm, then you truly haven't lived yet. But all are welcome to join the club in due time. At the end of the day, you get what you put in.


Owen S said...

>>Perhaps one might say that if you derive nothing from watching Byousoku 5 cm, then you truly haven't lived yet.

Amen to that. I agree wholeheartedly. (: