I’m sure many of you have already heard about how good Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (a.k.a. “Erased”) is, but have you ever stopped to consider all of the different meanings hidden behind each characters’ words and actions? Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is jam-packed with them and is the latest anime that I think is worthy of another Observations post. If you haven’t seen Boku Dake ga Inai Machi yet, please note that there are plenty of spoilers below.
The other day I was rewatching The Garden of Words and noticed something significant that I left out of my original post. As with every viewer, I can only analyze a story from my existing beliefs, understandings, and knowledge. That said, it is difficult at times to observe, interpret, and understand everything from a Japanese viewpoint when I was raised in Canada and taught western culture and literature. Therefore, I hope that this addendum will help others who grew up in a similar environment as me to better appreciate the beauty of The Garden of Words.
Since the release of Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, The Garden of Words, the general reaction to it has been positive with unanimous agreement that it is a visually stimulating work of art. Unfortunately, there also seems to be a number of people who think that The Garden of Words is lacking in story, character development, and closure. I have to disagree with those people as I found the 45 minute film to be bursting with hidden meanings that address all of those things. In fact, I think The Garden of Words is Shinkai’s most thought-out and deliberate film and I will discuss why by offering some of my interpretations.
I have structured this post to cover aspects in roughly the same order that they make a significant appearance in the film. It may seem awkward with the way they’re connected, but it helps to highlight just how much is going on in the background.
Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) is one of the most thought-provoking anime I’ve ever seen. The story deals with questions on the morality and ethics of society, politics, and personal relationships. One issue that is presented early on is that of eugenics, which is defined by the Oxford dictionary as, “the science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.” This field of science has been largely frowned upon as unethical and even “evil” since the end of WWII, but does that mean it shouldn’t be practiced? Does the situation in which Saki’s society in Shin Sekai Yori find itself in justify its use of eugenics?
Note: this post contains spoilers up to episode 16.
Since the end of Mawaru Penguindrum, I’ve seen a lot of people say things along the lines of, “this anime sucked, there was no real story and no explanation whatsoever.” OK, comments may not have been that extreme, but you get the idea. I actually thought that the story was great, and no great story holds your hand through the end. With that said, it’s understandable that there would be some confusion with regards to Mawaru Penguindrum. To try to dispel some of that confusion, I have outlined some of my observations and conclusions here. It is by no means complete and I can’t guarantee it’s what the writer had intended, but it’s how I viewed the series and why I enjoyed it.
I have structured this post so that observations and explanations of small details are listed first. In the conclusion I explain how I viewed the series, and you can just skip to that part if you aren’t interested in the details.
Warning: Do not read further if you have not completed Mawaru Penguindrum (or Revolutionary Girl Utena). The topics that I cover below will spoil the entire series and assumes that you have seen every episode at least once.