This will have spoilers because I can’t avoid them as my feelings changed dramatically over one thing that I believe was somehow meant to be a twist.
Which, you know, let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. The “twist” of her dying by being stabbed by some unknown serial killer on the loose is something completely telegraphed within the first literal actual 5 minutes of the fucking movie and is also just stupid. Fiction has nothing for no reason, this is a basic thing you should know if you’ve consumed pretty much ANY storytelling. In the first minutes of the film there is a news broadcast on the TV in the main character’s home for about 8 seconds talking about a man stabbing people to death in the area, nothing else is going on in the scene even though the TV isn’t super zoomed in on or something because they thought as long as it’s not 100% of the screen it’s subtle. Gee. I wonder if that’s irrelevant fluff. Writers – especially mediocre ones – will never, ever, put something like that in without it having some relevance to tie it back in later. It’s a little tease, a horribly un-subtle attempt at, well, being subtle. They thought they were clever but they shoved it in your face by hiding it so poorly instead. And lo-and-behold she ends up dying by being stabbed by the guy at the end of the movie.
That’s not nitpicking either, the stabbing is the entire crux of the film, even the very first seconds of it and the title itself come from that event occurring as well as the ending and the conclusion of both main character’s story arcs and the entire plot as a whole. The entire film is built on that stabbing happening for some stupid fucking reason and it suffers horribly for it.
That being said, I can definitely see why this is popular and held so highly by the same people who could somehow stomach the complete trashfire that is A Silent Voice. It’s for people who have never seen romance, never seen drama, and have never really consumed entertainment beyond comedy or mindless action. I’ve even made sure of it by talking to a lot of people who love both movies about what other similar media they’ve consumed and it’s basically none.
It’s also for the most frustrating crowd – those who refuse to actually pay real attention to what they’re watching and actually think about it at the time or even afterwards, those who think analyzing something at all makes you an asshole and you should just enjoy it because “it’s just a movie maaaan” yet believe they can have a valid opinion on something while pretending having an opinion that is validated based on information and thought is somehow ridiculous.
The only thing well written was the romantic aspect, as a lot of it was made up of touching little lines I’ve said myself to people I loved so it came off as believable albeit overly cheesy as I’m fairly self aware when it comes to how I am in that respect, but it made it a believable awkward/cheesy romance which was at least kind of nice to see. It was heartwarming, sweet, and felt pretty naturally developed between a quiet to-himself guy and an extroverted girl. The hotel trip especially stands out as probably the best sequence in the film and is easily the most memorable part.
When I started the movie my biggest concern was “they’re gonna treat her dying at the end or having some disease as the twist” akin to something like a few romantic drama anime series in the past (I forgot the name, but especially one with a lot of purple colors that took place in a hospital), then as soon as that news report came on it was just an “oh.” moment, especially once they reveal her pancreatic issues pretty much 5 minutes after that so the possibility of the former being a twist became impossible. IF this went with that more generic story this would have been a lot better; if they literally kept the entire rest of the film identical except having her die ANY WAY AT ALL EXCEPT RANDOM OCCURRENCE it would have actually been much better, still not amazing but a pretty good bittersweet romance about this detached guy falling in love with a dying girl and finding himself through that love.
And no, her dying by an unrelated-to-her-illness thing is not some poetic thing, it was just stupid, however the aspect of him realizing the true nature of his feelings and getting himself to be clear about them coming just a minute too late actually kind of was. When he gets her cellphone from her mom and sees the message as read, knowing she received all his feelings before her life ended, was actually a great touch. It’s just wasted when you consider a random guy ran up and gutted her for drama rather than anything else.
The smaller elements were badly done too; especially the friend characters. We all know friend characters in anime and that in romance they almost always all have their own little story and romantic closure for themselves, typically between one another. Here, the female friend and the male friend pretty much don’t exist in the entire movie, in fact the male one is as irrelevant as the serial killer to the point I thought there might be another twist that it was him. Literally the ONLY TIMES HE EXISTS IN THE ENTIRE FILM YET SOMEHOW IS TREATED AS A FRIEND/SUPPORTING CAST MEMBER is I think 3 times total he sits there and asks the MC if he wants a piece of gum and the MC doesn’t like him so he always says no or ignores him. That’s it. Literally, that’s everything. He’s in the movie for about 30 total seconds and has the same line 3 times. Best friends!
The friend of the girl at least kind of sort of exists, I guess? She is more relevant than the guy friend because she is an ACTUAL FRIEND CHARACTER of the main girl unlike this guy who doesn’t know either of them and just goes “Gum?”. She has a few scenes, some lines…but even then, nothing to earn the end result which IS her hooking up with the gum guy. No explanation, no hints, the two NEVER even interact a single fucking time, but they love each other now…because!
Another part of the movie nearly as bad as the random serial killing takes place a little bit earlier. MC visits the main girl at her house because I forget why, she wasn’t coming to school or some shit, and she blueballs him. So he tries to rape her. Well, not tries, but is one step away from it and sits there for like 3 full minutes considering it while she begs and begs him to get off of her and to stop. It’s not a misunderstanding, it’s not him just locking up, he is canonically about to rape her and his mind takes over and has him thinking through it and holding himself back just a second away from actually doing it and eventually it talks him out of it. Then, within 30 seconds of him controlling himself and leaving her house he gets bumped into by this non-character who had no lines and existed in the background in 1 prior scene, the generic perfect intellectual jock who is into the main girl and he IS A BIG BAD BULLY and throws MC down on the street aggressively. Girl, who was just almost raped, runs out to give her precious loverboy who literally just tried to rape her an umbrella because its a little rainy out and she sees this happen and loses her shit at Mr. Forced Drama and immediately comforts poor MC who got a scrape after almost raping her not even 90 seconds ago.
Really that’s the entire problem with the movie as a whole. There is this odd requirement by the director or original writer or whoever decided on it to have these interjected random moments that make no sense and shouldn’t exist in the first place and yet making them be insanely important to the entire story and cast.
I still think it was alright and I don’t regret seeing it the one time or anything, but I also can’t recommend it at all. Was my time WASTED on it? No, but did I get anything of value from the ~90 minutes I spent with it? Had it not been for that final ‘twist’ element my answer might be different because as a romance lover this at times does a really good job with that aspect and establishing the two as a really cute unofficial couple – but that whole conclusion and the stuff after it really just ruins all the positive elements that took place prior. Plus the retarded artsy bullshit that took place during the sequence where he reads her journal post-mortem just really tanked my ability to give a shit, it tried WAY too hard during that whole part.
Also, “living with dying” really would have been such a better title, too bad they were too obsessed with her dying from a random stab wound and needing to misdirect with the pancreas stuff so they just relegated that to being the name of her stupid fucking diary.