I Want to Eat Your Pancreas 君の膵臓をたべたい Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai (2018)
Directed and screenwritten by Shin’ichirō Ushijima (One Punch Man anime series), I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is an anime film adaptation of the 2015 Japanese novel of the same name by Yoru Sumino. It’s the second on-screen adaptation after the 2017 live-action film adaptation. The title may make it sound like the plot involves zombies or cannibalism but it’s really not like that at all. It’s more of a metaphor.
The story is about a high school student named Haruki Shiga (Mahiro Takasugi), a dull and friendless librarian who does nothing but read. One day by accident, he finds out that his popular female classmate Sakura Yamauchi (Lynn) has terminal pancreatic cancer and nobody else knows. His lack of reaction draws interest and she decides to become friends with him even though he’s not really bothered.
Don’t be fooled by it’s typical anime series style of uplifting opening theme song and low angle shots of the school girl character in short uniform skirt. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas explores real deep themes of life, friendship and taking action, while being entertaining, heartfelt and inevitably tearjerking albeit a bit predictable. It’s an anime full feature with purpose like A Silent Voice (2016) but with terminal cancer as the subject like A Fault in Our Stars (2014).
Through the main characters with complete opposite personalities in this beautiful pastel-coloured animation, the story offers seemingly simple high school drama with a bit of sweet, innocent, first love-like activities. But here’s the thing; the opening scene confirms that Sakura dies and the most of the film is Haruki’s flashback. So you’d watch the characters progress along with their relationship, and wanting them to be happily together, but at the back of your mind, you’d know it’s not going to end well.
The extremely cheerful and lively Sakura is very well portrayed and voiced though I’m not sure if an actual dying person would have so much energy all the time and a head full of hair (which are some of the same issues I had with the characters in The Fault in Our Stars). The character compelling, likable and seductive but the film pretty much challenges the audience accept her and Haruki to be fine as just friends (without benefits). Which makes the story even more impressively complex and mature. An anti-romance, if you will.
I almost cried towards the end but the 2017 live-action film adaptation effectively filled my eyes with tears twice. What’s amazing was that I watched the live-action one on the same day AFTER watching this anime version and it was still impactful. I’m not sure if it’s the anime’s English subtitles at fault but some things are better explained in the live-action version. The 2017 film also feels less rushed and I was more convinced and emotionally engaged by the relationship and bond between Haruki and Sakura in it.
However, the live-action version has a 12-year gap which I felt was really weird for the characters to take that long to find the resolve. Thankfully, this anime version has altered those parts out (though I don’t know which one is more faithful to the source material) and still manages to convey the story’s meaningful messages.
What I would’ve named this film: “A Silent Vault in Our Stars”
Malaysian censorship: While there are many low angle shots of the school girl character in short skirt, no scene actually grant the need for censorship.
Verdict: I liked the 2017 live-action adaptation a bit more but this version’s good too.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Origin / Language: Japan / Japanese
Based on: 2015 novel “Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai” by Yoru Sumino
Genre: Drama, anime
Running Time: 108 mins
Director-writer: Shinichiro Ushijima
Voice Cast: Lynn, Mahiro Takasugi, Emi Wakui, Atsuko Tanaka, Jun Fukushima, Yuma Uchida, Yukiyo Fujii
Malaysia Release Date: 24 January 2019 (TGV cinemas only)
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Studio VOLN