Despite its intentionally misleading title, the anime film I want to eat your pancreas is one of the most heartfelt and unexpectedly profound dramas in recent years. This painful story of love and loss begins with an unnamed protagonist who takes a diary with an odd title, “Living with Death,” on a trip to the hospital.
He soon meets his energetic owner, Sakura, who is secretly suffering from a terminal pancreatic disease. Putting their differences aside, the two connect, giving audiences a fascinating tale of friendship prevailing in the face of death. Sakura’s story can teach viewers many important lessons about life’s subtle joys and unbearable tragedies.
10/10 Meaningful connections make life worth living
The unnamed protagonist of the film, who the audience later discovers goes by the name Haruki Shiga, spent his teenage years in isolation before meeting Sakura. He tries his best not to get attached to others and sees no point in forming close ties.
Ironically, meeting Sakura helped Haruki see how boring and meaningless life is without friends and loved ones to share in its joys and disappointments. Even after her first real friend passes away, Haruki continues to live by the lesson she taught him, bonding with Sakura’s best friend Kyoko.
9/10 Live each day as if it were your last
Sakura, diagnosed with a terminal pancreatic disease, realizes that her days are numbered. However, she refuses to let impending death crush her spirit. The girl is determined to make the most of the time she has left, writing a wish list of everything she still wants to experience.
Sakura’s eagerness to pass the time she has left teaches viewers a valuable lesson about the fleeting nature of life. Instead of being afraid of the inevitable end of life, Sakura encourages the audience that she never stops and makes every day unforgettable.
8/10 Inspiration can hide in unexpected places
The listless hero of the film, Haruki, never felt inspired to add meaning to his monotonous routine. Lonely and antisocial, the boy wasn’t motivated to change anything until he met Sakura, someone he had no interest in befriending at first.
However, the fateful encounter with a terminally ill girl helped Haruki see his life from a different perspective. While he never imagined getting so much out of her short-lived relationship, the bond with Sakura was an unexpected boost Haruki needed to turn her life around.
7/10 Medical conditions should not affect how people are treated
One of the main aspects of Haruki’s personality that interested Sakura in befriending the boy is his indifferent treatment towards her despite her condition. All of her life, Sakura had to deal with people walking on eggshells around her due to her terminal illness.
Instead, the girl just wanted a normal life and appreciated Haruki’s refusal to treat Sakura any differently due to her pancreatic disease. The film conveys that people with disorders, diseases, disabilities, or other differences deserve to be treated like everyone else.
6/10 People with seemingly opposite experiences can learn a lot from each other.
Opposites attract is a popular statement, yet no media outlet conveys the message behind it as effectively as I want to eat your pancreas. Haruki and Sakura couldn’t have been more different from each other.
However, the cheerful girl with a dark and tragic secret and the shy, emotionless boy with no friends are changed for the better. Their polar opposite experiences helped Sakura and Haruki look at life from a different angle, appreciating aspects they would never see on their own.
5/10 Even the saddest parts of life can be filled with happy moments.
Sakura’s teenage years were spent in hospitals, surrounded by crying parents and apologetic doctors. Nothing in such a gloomy childhood seems to be able to make the girl smile. However, Sakura was always determined to fill her short life with precious moments and happy memories.
From taking an impromptu train ride to Fukuoka with Haruki to sneaking out of the hospital to watch the fireworks, Sakura sought out experiences that would bring her joy. It’s easy to forget that moments of happiness brighten up even the darkest periods of life.
4/10 Illness does not define a person
The media have a bad habit of framing characters with illnesses from the perspective of their struggles, reducing them to their illnesses. Rather, Sakura teaches the audience that medical conditions do not define people’s personalities or outlook on life.
While her pancreatic disease had a tremendous effect on her life, Sakura’s most notable characteristics are her outgoing personality, courageous nature, and playful attitude. The heroine herself views illness as the least notable aspect of her character, and Sakura does not tolerate others equating it to her condition.
3/10 The unpredictability of fate should not deter anyone from fighting against all odds
No one knows how his story will end. Sakura lived her life prepared to collapse from her pancreatic disease at any moment. In the end, she died suddenly and violently from a stabbing on a random night.
No one can control their destiny, but that doesn’t mean what people choose to do with their lives doesn’t matter. The central message of the film is that destiny is the result of thousands of decisions that people make throughout their lives, and even the most insignificant decisions can make a difference.
2/10 Grief is a normal human state that should not be erased
When the usually emotionless Haruki learns of Sakura’s passing, he breaks down realizing that he lost someone truly irreplaceable for the first time in his life. Grief hits people differently, and Haruki was so overwhelmed by his grief that he couldn’t even attend Sakura’s funeral.
Despite knowing that Sakura will die from the start, Haruki still finds her death unbearable. Her blunt, grounding grief shows audiences that there is no right or wrong way to process something as devastating as the death of a loved one.
1/10 Moving on does not mean forgetting loved ones who have passed away.
After retrieving “Living with Dying” from Sakura’s mother and reading the girl’s final messages, Haruki realizes how much Sakura meant to him. Haruki continues to live on the things that his short friendship taught her.
While Haruki is shown a year later visiting Sakura’s grave with Kyoko, it’s clear that both teens found the strength to carry on after their friend’s passing. The film ends with a strong message about the persistence of life, as even after losing Sakura, Haruki continues to live, holding on to the fond memories they shared of him.
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