Everyone lives happily ever after—do they really?

Happiness is a subjective word, but many of us have more or less set a bar as to what makes up a happy ending. Among many stories that we’ve experienced, either from novels, movies, tv shows, or anime, ones that ended on great note—be it positive, or negative—are the ones carved inside our memories. And only once in a while, do we feel a sudden rush of emotions into our heart that makes us say: “Ah, what a great ending.”

In most stories, a happy ending doesn’t follow the traditional ‘happily ever after’ rules because when you think about it, things don’t work out that way. So, most stories in fact, don’t really have a happy ending. No, it just cuts right after that part of the story. Unless the main characters or the world is destroyed, where all possibilities of life are eliminated, then there’d be an ending. Not a happy one, that is.

So, what does the term ‘happy ending’ actually mean?

And… why is it called that way?

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Now, the whole point of it is supposed to get you, the reader, the audience, the listener, to feel rewarded, satisfied.

But, in constrast, have you ever get the feeling that after finishing a show or a movie, you’re left completely speechless? You don’t feel particularly happy, or rewarded; you wanted more. Your mind runs in a loop recapping what you’ve just saw, again and again until everything leads to the black screen where the credits roll in. You have an indescridable feeling that you want to let the whole world know just how great the story was, and how amazed you were by it. You just want it to sink in a little deeper into your heart, etch it into your memory so that you could mark the moment down inside your book of life.

It makes you feel empty.

Like, a part of you has been grabbed away.

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Because when a story has a happy ending that everyone accomplishes what they set out to—the goals are reached, the feelings are received, the plot has come to an end—it paradoxically, does not. You’d still be thinking about how their life will go on afterwards, how their adventure continues, how many more memories that can be fit into their pages of life. A happy ending, indirectly opens up a path to much more possibilities that the characters could have chosen, leading them down different paths, and creating various stories waiting to be presented to us.

It makes you smile, just how great the ending was, and at the same time, you couldn’t help but to wonder what will happen next. But even though it’s not spelled out or portrayed to you, you know that it will certainly not disappoint you.

At least, it’s what you hope so.

Your Name, for example, had Taki not called out to Mitsuha after they go pass each other, and the camera lifts up to the clouds showing the tittle straight away, just how different would the impact be? Would it still be considered a happy ending? Does it still leave room for your imagination? But, with just one more touch to it, at the moment that they cross eyes with each other, a happy ending is established. That part of their story ends, with a new beginning.

Because happiness comes in various shapes and forms that, literally, any ending that evokes this sense of warmth for you could be defined as a happy ending. Or that they are shaped in a way which the characters’ struggles have come to a conclusion, your emotional investment on them has come to a gradual halt, and the plot intertwining them has been untangled into a straight line, leading into an uncertain, but hopeful future.

This is I think, the most despicable form of ending there is, yet it’s so captivating that I, or perhaps you as well, could not help loving it.

It never really ends, but you could feel either empty or happy when this moment comes: when you embrace how amazing conflicted emotions are—as the paradox of a happy ending strikes you.

Thanks for reading!