The aloof protagonist: a bookworm who is deeply detached from the world he resides in. He has no interest in others and is firmly convinced that nobody has any interest in him either. His story begins when he stumbles across a handwritten book, titled "Living with Dying." He soon identifies it as a secret diary belonging to his popular, bubbly classmate Sakura Yamauchi. She then confides in him about the pancreatic disease she is suffering from and that her time left is finite. Only her family knows about her terminal illness; not even her best friends are aware. Despite this revelation, he shows zero sympathy for her plight, but caught in the waves of Sakura's persistent buoyancy, he eventually concedes to accompanying her for her remaining days.
As the pair of polar opposites interact, their connection strengthens, interweaving through their choices made with each passing day. Her apparent nonchalance and unpredictability disrupts the protagonist's impassive flow of life, gradually opening his heart as he discovers and embraces the true meaning of living.
Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai is an anime adaption of Yoru Sumino's novel of the same title. Originally a web novel published on the user-generated content site Shōsetsuka ni Narō in 2014, it was subsequently re-published in 2015 by Futabasha. The English licensor, Seven Seas Entertainment released the novel in English on November 20, 2018.
A Japanese live-action film based on the novel, which also shares the same title, premiered in Japan on July 28, 2017.
'I Want to Eat Your Pancreas' is a common drama production to this industry. It offers generic school settings with rather superficial teenage characters. The only thing it tries to accomplish is toy with its viewers' emotions to the point of some cheap tearjerking. Those who are okay with this will most definitely see how the movie accomplishes exactly all the thing it wants to. Those who want something more from anime, should look elsewhere.
This movie is a story about death. It starts when the most perfect mary sue on the planet starts randomly talking with a no-life loser dude who happens to be her
classmate. Our characters start frequently interacting with each others and supposedly grow close. They hang out and talk about dying all the time. That's pretty much the entirety of their relationship. It feels random and forced and unnatural.
Our dude is dense and has never had any friends during his pathetic life.. that's pretty much him. Our girl is really perfect and chill and that's also pretty much her. The catch being that she will die soon which further makes these two character - who are the opposites of each others (according to the narration at least) - even more the opposite because the dude is actually alive. Great.
The drama is a separate entity in the work, mainly because it is there constantly whispering to the characters --and especially to its viewers ears-- that shit will go down, just wait and see. Since the great twist is obvious from the start, the whole thing relies on the journey... where nothing spectacular ever happens and the characters feel more like meridians that try to connect the viewers to the emotions.
One could defend most of the events by looking it more from the characters perspective. I found this to be quite hard as they don't feel like real, genuine people at all. If they did, it would be understandable for our heroine to open up to a stranger, as to most people, it's often easier to talk with 3rd parties than to people close to you. Especially the whole fear of death is amazing as a concept, but I don't really see it as anything more than waste of potential in this case.
The whole main dude realizing that people actually die in real life is definitely quite an interesting idea as well.. at least to those who have never experienced this type of thing or considered that all of this could happen to literally anyone. I doubt any person who is aware of how fragile thing person's existence is, can find this specific work do them any further waking up enlightenment, other sudden realization of such things or offer much feels at all. If this movie ever serves someone, it's those viewers who are unaware of how life works, and instead of following our characters for what they are, fall into self-insert. This is one of the rare things with what the author seems self-aware of, as they say "to live is to empathize with someone." And moreover, named the male lead simply "boku" which means "I/me".
There are also several other things I'd want to complain about. Like the claim in narration that our characters are "pure and innocent." Which is really just a try hard attempt on making the viewer accept these thoughts, but the content (teenagers and alcohol) and our characters behavior (random snapping incidents) among several other scenes is the polar opposite of what I'd considered to be either of these things.. which further makes me question the author's ability to even recognize their own work for what it is. I can't say I feel very respected as a viewer when such contradictions exist in the narration.. or perhaps my comprehension of "pure" just differs with the writer.
Our writing is practically a collection of romance cliches. The only remotely original things are the concepts which it deals rather poorly with. Every event, every side character archetype and every moment that drives the story and the relationship development onward, is loaned content. There is not a single thing any romance fan hasn't seen at least 50 times before, and not only that, but the execution is so lame that I would call it offensively bad if the work managed to be less bland, but unfortunately it's not even worth of getting mad over.
If this had been 50 episodes long tv series that offered a real character portray to both of our main characters and their life, connected them, dealt with the same heavy themes. all the copy-pasted events and cliches had been abandon and the story was written by Adachi Mitsuru: this could have been the best drama the anime industry has to offer. Now it mainly looks like a random, shallow past story from any fighting tournament shonen from Nanatsu no Tanzai to Naruto except there is no character depth present in this movie and therefore it is significantly worse than let's say zero arc from Fairy Tail which dealt with rather similar concept.
Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai (I Want to Eat Your Pancreas) is predictable, heavy-handed, unoriginal, and, yet, I still love this film. I do not love the movie in any sort of guilty-pleasure way either; I unironically think Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai is one of the best anime films I have ever seen. Why, though? Well, the film uses its predictability, heavy-handedness, and unoriginality to craft a message that is so unbelievably powerful, and it struck a chord with me and left my emotions in absolute, complete shambles. I honestly doubt most people could misinterpret the themes of Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai, so
I also want to try and dig into why this movie hits so hard, for so many.
Spoiler Warning: I am going to spoil the entire movie (but so does the movie itself). If you choose to opt out here, know that I highly recommend this film.
There are two main themes of Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai. The first is spelled out on for us on the heroine’s, Sakura’s, dairy, “Living with Dying”. Sakura has a pancreatic illness that will eventually cut her life short. As anyone would be in this predicament, Sakura is terrified. She tries to come to terms with her situation and live her remaining days as the same carefree girl she was before. Everyone’s time will eventually end, and, unfortunately for Sakura, her time will end a bit earlier than most. No one knows when they will die though—not even Sakura. Before her illness can even take her life, Sakura is stabbed in the streets and dies at the age of seven-teen. The film clearly sets up Sakura’s death to be an abrupt one, but this was the one event that even caught me slightly off-guard. The first scene of the movie is Sakura’s funeral, so, just like Sakura, the viewer is supposed to enter the story with the acceptance of her death, but, just like Sakura, we struggle to. No matter what, death will always be sudden, frightening, and sad. The way the film handles Sakura’s death should have be obvious to the viewer, but even if you see it coming, it still somehow catches you off guard, just like Sakura. Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai weaves Sakura’s feelings into the viewing experience itself and forces the viewer to empathize with her situation. If the movie did its job, the viewer will be sobbing by the end of the film, just like Haruki.
Without Haruki, Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai would be a hollow experience. Sakura’s story might be powerful, but it is Haruki’s that is truly moving. Prior to meeting Sakura, Haruki is a shell of person. He has no personality, no emotions, and he shuts himself off from the rest of the world. Sakura is the first person to extend an olive branch to him, and throughout the time Haruki spends with Sakura, although reluctant, he slowly starts to open up to her. For the first time in his life, Haruki makes a connection with someone else. Haruki knows that Sakura will not be around for much longer, but just like everyone else, he cannot handle losing her. After her death, Haruki starts to close himself off again, but he is not the same person as before he met Sakura. Haruki starts to realize how difficult being alone really is and starts pursuing other relationships. Although Sakura is gone, her impact on the people around her, especially Haruki, will remain. Haruki is meant to be a surrogate character for the viewer, and, because he so basic at the start of the movie, he is extremely easy to project yourself onto. At the emotional climax of the film, Haruki breaks down into tears alongside the viewer, strengthening the bond the two share and makes the following message of “the importance of connections” hit even harder.
No doubt, the story of Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai is constructed with the main purpose of eliciting specific emotions and sending home simple, but still important, messages, and the production does more of the same. The film has strong animation and direction, but the real standout is the music. Although the OST has a few solid tracks itself, the most memorable part is definitely the handful of songs done by Sumika. They do the OP, ED, and an insert song during a pivotal scene, and all of them hammer home the emotions being felt by the viewer and adds even more to an already great experience.
I recognize that Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai is not the film some people want it to be. The movie is certainly a shallow one: predictable, heavy-handed, and unoriginal. Although the movie might be simple, it is still effective. Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai is not the type of movie that is supposed to spark discussion (even though I am still doing it lul), it evokes a feeling and leaves impact. In my opinion, two movies that tackle similar themes better are Colorful and Koe no Katachi, but both of them are certainly more flawed than Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai. Actually, I consider both those other two to be in my top-ten anime of all time, so hopefully by me considering Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai to be their equal, you can understand how much I truly do love and recommend this film.
A lot of anime fans seem to be under the impression that as long as some sort of tragedy is featured and said tragedy happens to a cute girl, an anime automatically qualifies as “good” with its flaws being dismissed due to its label as a ‘tearjerker’ or ‘feels’ anime. Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai, or ‘I Want to Eat Your Pancreas’, is a recent addition to this label and, while falling into the same traps as many of its predecessors, the movie manages to accumulate even more flaws on its own, resulting in something that is ultimately underwhelming.
[Note: This review was
written following the movie’s premiere in Australian cinemas. I have not read the source material. Once again, the review is NOT spoiler-free]
Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai’s story, having been done dozens of times before, is very basic: it revolves around an unnamed protagonist (let’s call him Character A) as he spends time with Yamauchi Sakura, a popular classmate whose days are numbered due her terminal pancreatic disease. As Character A helps Sakura ticks off her bucket list, he develops a close relationship and eventually falls for her. Following her death, Character A breaks free of his shell and learns to befriend those around him. On the surface, the plot structure is sound and has the potential to pull the audience’s heartstrings, if done right.
Except it wasn’t.
By treading ground on what has been done to death before in the plot department, Pancreas exposes itself to the risk of being extremely predictable. While this is not inherently a flaw, the movie’s presentation seems to be fully set on sapping the enjoyment of the audience, being narrated in the most uninteresting way possible by Character A. While one could argue for his lack of energy in the delivery of lines to be tied to his characterisation, it doesn’t change that Character A’s monotony worked against the intended emotional impact of many scenes.
And yet, this wasn’t the biggest issue with the plot. In fact, for something so cliché, Pancreas’s greatest vice, ironically, is its attempt to subvert audience’s expectations.
Given the synopsis, most people in the audience would expect the movie to eventually lead to Sakura and Character A’s tearful farewells as she lets go of her last breath on a hospital bed, succumbing to her illness with a satisfied smile on her face. Although this is very conventional, it would have worked. However, in the actual movie, Sakura died from being stabbed off-screen. Yes, stabbed. By a serial killer on the loose.
There is no excuse for this “twist”. Even if the killer did not appear out of nowhere (thanks to an extremely poor attempt at “foreshadowing” or Chekhov’s gun or whatever earlier in the movie), to remove Sakura from the story in this way is, at best, questionable, and, at worst, utterly nonsensical. One could greatly reach in linking this stupid development to the philosophical message that “death may come from every corner” but the sheer silliness of the situation completely nullifies the intended emotional effect. When you look past the shock value, all that remains is, quite frankly, comical.
After this shocking twist, the plot quickly resumes its original course until the conclusion, leaving much to be desired due to the lack of originality and monotonous presentation.
Pancreas’s art is conventional but pleasing to look at. Except for Character A (who looks completely unremarkable), the character design is serviceable. Background art for the movie is quite good and up to the expected standard of a theatrical anime production. Animation is nothing exceptional for the most part aside from a couple sequences that are animated in much more detail. A minor complaint is the movie’s use of still-shots montages, which cheapens the audience’s impression of the movie’s production.
The best part of the movie. sumika did a great job with the opening and ending songs, and the OST, while nothing exceptional, did its job when required.
Character A is a blatant self-insert for the audience. From the generic ‘anime male high school student’ design to demeanour, he is utterly unremarkable as a character for most of the movie’s running time. He has little personality on the outside, exuding no energy in his narration and interaction with other characters. While the behaviour is not completely unrealistic considering that he is a loner, it makes for a jarring watching experience as the audience is forced to follow the perspective of someone who almost never expresses his opinion. The lack of more extensive inner monologue makes the unnamed protagonist hard to relate to or like. On the rare occasions that Character A vocalises something other than some form of “Yes”, a large amount of his dialogue revolves around the gag that he has no friends. While it was somewhat funny (in a sad way) at first, the excessive repetition of this character trait got old very quickly and only highlights how little Character A has going for him outside of his status as the outsider in the class. As a result, the development that Character A later received after Sakura’s death felt unnatural and forced due to plot reasons.
As for Sakura, the movie desperately tries to sell her as an emotionally fragile girl hiding behind a carefree mask. In reality, her character is never effectively explored past the ‘cutesy anime girl’ act. How the movie examines the more sensitive side of Sakura’s psyche is anything but subtle, with her telling Character A (and the audience by extension) outright that she was fragile underneath her cheerful demeanour. With that being the case, Sakura is more like a caricature of a person close to death rather than a relatable character to be invested in. Pancreas’s failure to bring out and develop Sakura’s character in a poignant way is a major reason why the movie lacks any meaningful emotional impact and fails as a ‘tearjerker’.
The relationship between the two characters is questionable, to say the least. By conventional (anime) logic, the combination of a quiet character (Character A) and a lively character (Sakura) provides an ideal environment for them to play off each other’s personality traits. Yet, there is little dynamic between the them, to the point that one must wonder how the relationship is able to sustain itself without the plot requiring it to. Character A appears perpetually uninterested in pretty much everything he does, as if he was sick of her shenanigans. Interestingly, this is probably the most realistic and interesting part of his character considering Sakura’s characterisation. She acts selfishly and becomes increasingly more obnoxious as the movie goes on, forcing Character A to tag along with her to anything she feels like. Despite his reluctance, Character A always plays along with Sakura’s whims anyway, the cause of which can be traced to Sakura’s regular mentions of her dying soon in a cheerful demeanour. All this shows is that Sakura is manipulative and is constantly guilting Character A into feeling bad for her. The impact of Sakura’s unnecessarily cruel antics comes to a boiling point during the bedroom scene. While the protagonist’s behaviour is undoubtedly wrong, Sakura is not at all faultless in bringing about the situation. What is more disappointing is that this MAJOR conflict, despite its serious implications on the nature of the relationship, is not explored in a meaningful way at all. Instead, it is trivialised and resolved lazily with the intervention of a third party: Sakura’s ex who serves no other purpose other than uniting the main couple through his douchebaggery (and waltzing out of existence as soon as he accomplishes his mission). Sakura’s selfish behaviour is, once again, played off lightly as part of her being a cute anime girl and Character A never stops to think for himself or reconsiders participating in the toxic relationship.
The side characters of Pancreas are unnecessary and insignificant in the grand scheme of the plot. Kyoko, Sakura’s best friend, incessantly harasses the unnamed protagonist for hanging out with Sakura. Worse yet, she never attempts to sort out their differences, perceiving the protagonist in an overly negative light that is never justified due to her lack of characterisation. Takahiro, Sakura’s ex, serves no purpose but to resolve the climactic conflict between the two main characters, appearing in a total of two scenes in the movie. Without exaggeration, he disappears and is never heard from again after he fulfils his role. The most mindboggling side character is, without a doubt, Miyata, not for any of his personal intrigue but for the sheer pointlessness of his inclusion in the movie. For anime with a school setting, the dumb sidekick character has traditionally been a staple. With that said, Miyata does not even satisfactorily fulfil that role. He has nothing resembling a relationship with Character A, only occasionally offering him gum and getting refused. While his character’s action can be interpreted to mirror Character A’s growth as a character, what is presented to the audience falls short, resulting in a pointless, random and unnecessary husk of a character. None of the side characters has any business being included in the movie considering their (lack of) characterisation and nothing would have changed in the grand scheme of things if Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai only revolved around the unnamed protagonist and Sakura.
Despite my low initial expectations, I left the cinema feeling wholly disappointed. From feeling bored at how cliché everything was since minute one, I was aggravated by how in-your-face the movie got as it went on, treating the audience like complete idiots who could not think for themselves. The philosophical statements on life and death from the main characters are shallow, bringing nothing new to a topic that has been done to death already. From an emotional perspective, Pancreas falls flat, its supposedly climatic or shocking moments eliciting little due to how unrelatable the main characters are. Overall, Pancreas was unenjoyable and had me wondering when the movie was going to finish as it trudges through a tired, uninspired narrative.
Say what you want about this movie being generic or being acclaimed only because it is a “tearjerker”, but I don’t care. I loved this movie, and I cried my eyes out. The reason people love tearjerkers is because people want to be moved. We want to experience something that will truly take us away from our lives and make us feel something so strong that we are moved to tears. This movie did just that. In an effort to avoid spoiling anything for anyone, I won’t write about the climax and ending, but it was unexpected. That said, I couldn’t imagine it ending any
other way. This was a beautiful portrayal of a genuinely unique and special relationship between two people. I highly recommend it!