July 24, 2023•2,235 words
This isn't revised or organized but it's not like it really matters.
Each time I attempt to write a response to this film, I felt guilty and erased it all. I feel I have no right to write about a film that has to do with healing when I am far from the level of growth that Nishimiya and Inshida demonstrated. But, then again, the film does not end on them being completely healed. I appreciated that the director chose for the movie to end with a focus on Inshida as an individual and less on the romantic relationship which of course, we see is significant since the image of Nishimiya stays in view longer than the snapshots of the others. But ultimately, the X that marked each face of everyone around him revealed to be Inshida's perception not of them, but rather how he felt disconnected from others because he felt undeserving of existing. The journey that Inshida and Nishimiya experience is not as linear as it may seem and the ending only suggests that while you can have a shift in perception, there are still wounds that will linger and that is okay.
Inshida's Inner Thoughts
At the end, even when his interpersonal conflicts were resolved and his friends can be seen enjoying themselves at the amusement park, we are allowed into his inner thought of "Do I have the right to have so much fun?" This question is significant because it shows that he still questions whether he is a person deserving of feeling positive emotions. He previously emotionally punished himself to a life where only negative emotions are to be experienced, isolation as to avoid hurting others, and accepting the blame that everyone else put on him. Though he allows himself to receive help, apologies, and gifts from his friends - it has been a very long time of being surrounded by sorrow that happiness is something unfamiliar and feels unreal to him.
Inshida's Response to Nishimiya's Confession
When Nishimiya confesses her love to Inshida, he may not have understood not because of inability to translate the figurative meaning but due to not expecting that someone could feel such an emotion towards him, he unintentionally dismisses it. Something else I appreciated about this scene is that she asks him if her voice is "weird" to which he being the smooth Casanova that he is, says "yes". I saw how everyone in the comments regarded him as an idiot for that - even if they could understand his inability to accept that someone could love him.
I felt a deep sense of pain upon reading the comments that they were being pretty rough on the guy. Interestingly, Nishimiya herself was not hard on him at all because she did not assume poorly of him even if it did hurt. It is after all what makes their relationship both painful and successful - two people who are too engulfed in their own pain to want to hurt the other intentionally or even regard the other person as being a source of hurt. In any other dynamic, this could be extremely dangerous and lead them to be prey to individuals who would gladly make them the source of blame (as you can see with Nishimiya's bullies or Inshida's former friends who turned on him).
If anything, Inshida's comment shows his lack of experience in having social tact or expressing things in a more careful manner. It actually did not occur to me that Inshida was being mean at all - and maybe Nishimiya also recognized this since had she actually been too hurt, maybe she would not have dared to confess her love anyway in this manner. She acknowledged that her voice is not like the voices of others due to her deafness - but she wanted to speak to him in the language he spoke in, the same way he did for her. She overlooked his slight hurtful comment and focused on the good that he has. Again, I am not advocating for people to sweep under the rug when a person is hurtful but it is important to consider the person as a whole and determine if this is something representative of the majority of their character.
Inshida Takes a Risk
Something else that I found interesting was that Nishimiya feels deeply worried to hurt others but in her attempt to hurt herself, she hurts Inshida. Of course, this is a horrible feeling to experience when one already feels like a burden and they can now tangibly see an example of how they really do hurt others! However, it was not that she intended this harm and Inshida recognizes this. He knew the risks of helping her, he still did not let go, and at the same time he was not being reckless - he told her to grab onto the ledge because he knew he could not handle all that weight on his own. But still he felt that he could handle the majority of it. And yes, maybe he overestimated how much he could handle - but as a Muslim, we know that no harm will ever reach us except that it is written for us. Inshida was not seeking to put his life at risk but rather save her life and did the best he could. He fell off.
Yet, he survived. That is the reality of this life, whether one is risking their life (reasonably and not recklessly) for others or one is trying to cause themselves to die - death will not come to them except at their appointed time. Actually, Inshida surviving the fall confirms how strong he was and how forgiving he was to not blame her because well, truly it was not something she intended. Not many people can do something like that.
But it also shows that had it been Nishimiya, maybe she would have been the one left in a coma and not have died as she would have planned. SubhanAllah, you may wish for a thing but it is not written for you. Ironically, that would have put even more pressure and difficulty on her family and only make things exponentially harder for Nishimiya, physically and emotionally.
Helping One Another, Practically
The growth of the characters was much more on the realistic side which definitely can be seen in the nuances of the film. For example, both Nishimiya and Inshida needed help from another person - they are not superheroes. Nishimiya grabs him by the hand to be able to go to school and reminds him that he does not need to look at anyone but just look down. And Inshida helps Nishimiya reconnect with an old friend by buying the tickets for them and physically escorting her to the location. How many people say "if you ever need anything, just let me know" but they are just empty words? Here we see both of them taking actions that maybe they could not do for themselves, but they find the strength to do so for their loved one. Sometimes that is how we find ourselves.
Something else that is important in the process of healing is having a consistent figure in life who continues to show up even if it might just be to share moments of silence or being walked home. I don't think Inshida planned to make feeding carp fish one of his hobbies in life - but he wanted to see Nishimiya and eventually, there is a scene where even when she is not around, he still continues to feed the carp. He even makes sure to buy bread that is good bread and not just any bread. It becomes such a habit ingrained (haha, a bread pun sorta) in him that he wakes up on a Tuesday from his coma to make sure to meet Nishimiya. And she too, happens to be there at night wondering if she will find him.
Another interesting moment was when Inshida had to become braver to keep initiating and offering for Nishimiya to meet up. He actually does not take it offensively that she is playing with his heart but rather, at most, he just feels he may not be good enough for her. Nevertheless, he pushes past these feelings and continues to invite her. While most people might lose interest in someone who does not initiate first, Inshida remains true to his wish to see her and not fool himself by pretending to be too above showing his neediness. It takes a great level of humility to show up for love and take a risk of looking like a fool. Of course, again, I am not suggesting we should pursue someone who is harmful for us or at the cost of our own priorities - but rather, we see Inshida takes care of his other responsibilities and relationships but makes time for Nishimiya because he genuinely sees value in their bond.
There was one particular moment where even I felt a little uneasy. Inshida kept initiating and we can see they go to different places, the next day and another day. I was surprised at how uncomfortable I felt and then I realized, it just is unfamiliar to me. I could not imagine someone wanting to see me so regularly - the last time I ever felt like I wanted to see someone more than once or twice a week, I was shamed for it and told I had nothing better to do. If anything, I have much more to do than most people I know since they have others to help but I am mostly responsible for my household and when my parent is no longer around, I will be living on my own and providing for myself. But that is exactly why I appreciate relationships - you can't buy meaningful ones with money. And not everyone has them for free - and even those that do may not even appreciate them or even find peace in them.
Anyway, back to the collection of scenes where Inshida keeps initiating and seeing her - we see that Nishimiya unexpectedly invites him into her home. This shocks Inshida and he feels very undeserving and uncomfortable about being there especially due to the history he has with her mother. Nishimiya and her sister defend Inshida and make it clear that he is welcome there, too. I found that very admirable and impressive. I can appreciate this seemingly small act of Nishimiya standing up for what she believes in and making Inshida feel welcome into what is also her home, too.
Nishimiya's Mistreatment from the School
There is one more thing I wanted to say from the perspective of a teacher. Nishimiya's experiences at school definitely had to do with the way the teachers poorly approached integrating her into the school. They required her to sing in the choir group and even if they did, the cues to sing at some parts requires being able to hear the music which she cannot. Thus, she sang at the wrong times and in a way that may not be what they were seeking. This had the students see her as adding difficulty to an experience that was once easy and unfamiliar. It is expected for students to have to overcome their differences and assimilate to everyone else, no matter the cost.
Nishimiya's Subtle Talents
Nishimiya has her own set of talents that could have been more appreciated - for example, we see that she bakes. We see that she is extremely empathetic. She enjoys nature. She actually has a nice sense of style and color perhaps can be a good designer. You can see this eye for fashion when she is wearing the beautiful kimono while watching the fireworks, and her choice of pastel-colored clothing on her non-uniform days. Also, she chose a nice pastel green for the gift bag she gave to Inshida. Why do people have to have talents that appeal to the corporate world and be profitable? Can they not just be individuals?
To conclude, this film was beautifully written and it was very nuanced to be able to appeal to those who understand this difficult journey of healing. Yet it was also easy enough to follow for anyone to be able to relate even at a surface level, as we all have been like Inshida who did things in the past that we regret and we feel we cannot escape, or have felt like Nishimiya were you truly meant no harm but others chose to misunderstand you - but you still feel like the one who failed others rather than the other way around. Healing has many layers and steps - some of those you do take on your own but not all of it has to be alone or is even possible alone. Especially as Muslims, we have Allah first and secondly, He is the One Who Provides and so He will provide for us even the right people, and even keeps away certain people for our wellbeing. It just might take a long time. But just like the ending of the movie, it really does come down to our perception of life even if someone did like us - we do need others but we also need ourselves to be okay again.