You know, I am a confusing and annoying mix of emotions and logic, aka human. Mostly rational, but I do have my heartfelt moments. This animated movie forced me to get in touch with my feelings. And in a very good way, really.
I find the second World War extremely fascinating. And please don't take this the wrong way, because I am a steadfast pacifist, through and through.
But I do see that WWII literally had a tremendous global impact. Socially, culturally, economically, geographically, politically, etc. More so than any other wars in human history. Generally speaking I see people (myself included) view WWII from a political perspective. Almost like a chessboard.
You are free to disagree, but in my humble opinion, I feel as if the majority of us regular people are never truly in touch with our own politics. The very politics that eventually makes it to the very force that runs a nation, the government. The main reason perhaps is that we lack unity in our priorities. Regardless if we live in a diverse or homogenous country, there will be a difference of opinion on some commonly shared human issue.
Yet when I speak with people about WWII, we talk about how Adolf Hitler was a poster child for psychopathy. We talk about his young wife of a day. His obsession with the Aryan race. His life really. We speak of US and Pearl Harbor, of Britain and colonies, of Japan and China, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Russian winters. Essentially, governments and their place in the war.
But what we never spoke of, as much, is the suffering of the regular people. And when we did mention it briefly, our sympathies was always with those that died by Nazis. Jewish people and gypsies. Which it should be, no doubt.
But even then in regards to WWII, the discussion of human suffering is always on the peripheral, compared to whether Hitler had the right political agenda or not. It's pretty telling of how we may have evolved in tech, but still need an advancement in humanity and empathy.
This movie, in a nutshell, is about a Japanese average house-wife, and the family she married into. The reason I emphasize Japan is because my education system's perspective when I was in school, was that team Germany was bad, and team Britain was good. And you know which country was on team Germany? Japan! The Japanese government (or was it a kingdom back then?) was one of Germany's allies.
Generally, Germany and its allies for that time are considered to be the bad guys. The horrors that the Japanese army inflicted on China is still apparently felt strong between the two countries. Long story short, Japan didn't have a lot of sympathizers. Or so I feel, living in my corner of the world.
Even when me and my friends discussed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the general consensus was: what did Japan expect after attacking the United States of America?
This movie, though? It will force you, or at least most of you, to recognize that it's really not that simple. That war, no matter who "wins," is always a loss on both sides. A loss for humanity, of innocence, of good people who only wish to be happy with their loved ones. It made me remember the fact that there are always two sides to a war.
And those two sides are really not between two opposing uniforms. If anything, all soldiers are on the same boat. Kill or be killed. The real difference lies between those who hold the power, and those that don't.
It was the character of Suzu, the protagonist of the movie, who reminded me of that. Here we have an absent minded (like me) young woman whose only desire is to make her family happy, and draw as a hobby. She marries into a relatively normal family. A loving husband, fortunately with good in-laws, and an uppity sister-in-law (Keiko).
Suzu charmingly goes about her normal life, taking care of her family, drawing in her spare time, and baby sitting (for a lack of a better word) her husband's niece Harumi. In the meantime, you also connect and sympathize with Keiko, as you learn her own back story.
Until tragedy hits, which I won't get into because I do think one should get the impact of those moments while watching the movie. And it literally hits you. As I said, that war is not that simple.
But the most brilliant aspect of this movie is how everything is flowing and not exaggerated or dramatized. Whenever a social justice live-action movie comes out in Hollywood, I often hear people say why does this issue matter in present time? That we no longer are racist, sexist, or prejudiced in any other way. The victims or children of victims of discrimination argue differently. The thing with Hollywood and political movies is that it creates two opposing sides. Or perhaps that's the American culture.
But I do think that Hollywood tends to incite us when it comes to such matters, rather than truly educate us. What this movie really does is not only force us to think, but also feel more things other than righteous anger.
The main reason this movie is able to do so is because it's essentially an anime (aka adult cartoon). So it takes away our subjective biases quite a bit. The other reason is because the movie does not focus only on the war. And even when it focuses on the war, it is really not political as much as it is a social issue. Plus, there are many other things going on in the lives of Suzu and her family unrelated to the war.
And even when all hope is lost, Suzu does end up finding herself again. This movie not only is thought provoking on war philosophies. But it also gave me some valuable personal lessons. Reminders that I am so very grateful for.
I do think everyone should give this movie a chance. You truly won't regret it.