The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Dareka no Manazashi

Title: Dareka no Manazashi aka Someone’s Gaze
Genre: Drama
Company: CoMix Wave Films
Format: Movie; 7 minutes.
Dates: 10 Feb 2010

Synopsis: Okamura Aya is trying so hard to make it on her own. She recently got a job and moved into a small apartment. When her father calls one evening to ask her to dinner, she lies to get out of it. His next call is to let her know that her beloved pet cat, Mii, has passed away. She rushes home to share the pain with her father.

The Highlights
Shinkai magic: Follows the style of his earlier works in its simplicity and focus.
Length: Just enough to pluck a heart string.
Narration: Told from the cat’s perspective.
Theme Song: A gorgeous piano ballad.

Dareka no Manazashi is very reminiscent of director Shinkai Makoto’s very first work, She and Her Cat. In both pieces, it is the cat that sees the deeper emotion the characters seek to hide. Here Mii the cat reminisces about Aya as a child and how her perceptions of her family, especially her father, have changed as she matured. Aya wants to believe she can be successful on her own, and that means not accepting help or support from her father, who feels lonely with his wife and daughter gone. Mii sees how much they miss one another, even as they both unquestioningly accept that growing up means not being together as they used to be. It is Mii’s death that brings them back together and helps them realize how much they need one another. Sharing the loss of a dear pet shows them how connected they still are.

In these short seven minutes, Shinkai’s simple and quiet storytelling hits its mark. There is no conflict, no great drama, yet it lets us intuitively understand how both Aya and her father feel. It’s a window on relationships between parents and children in many modern societies. The struggle for independence as a measure of maturity and identity is one that is paralleled across several cultures, including my own.

Shinkai’s signature art style is as beautiful as always, but more understated than in some of his other works. The rain, lighting and colours serve to enhance the melancholy mood of the story and the tale lacks Shinkai‘s usual science fiction focal point. Instead, Aya and her father use technology just slightly more advanced than our own, with its casual use implying evolution from the tools of today. This choice allows the technology to remain part of the background, keeping the focus on the emotion and illustrating that even in a high tech world human relationships will never become obsolete.

Like in 5 cm per second, the latter segment features a song, though in this case the artist was selected especially for this project. The piece is a gorgeous piano ballad that suits the tone perfectly. Altogether, this short story may be exactly what’s needed for those days you feel worn down and alone as a quick reminder of the love that’s out there when we need it.

The Rating: 8
8/10

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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