There’s a lot to be said about what a story make you feel, but how? How does it manage to make you feel what you felt in the first place? If we factor out the common ones, then there’d be:
- Engaging animation.
- Captivating visuals.
- Playful interaction.
- Silencing pauses.
- Cinematic perspectives.
- Adoring reactions.
- Orchestral music.
- Immersive experience.
A lot more can be said, limited to our vocabulary, but none can be exactly pinpointed to.
This is when structure of a story being presented is important. The way the characters are introduced, the sequences to the events that occurred, and the scenes that portray an act are important. Changing the way information is presented in a story, or a single post can just ruin everything. It is in the choice of the creator/director/writer.
Because ultimately, any story leads to an ending… that might just be more fitting as the beginning.
My Closing Statement
All in all, Eiga Daisuki Pompo-san delivered more than what I expected, under 90 minutes.
It was like a huge slap to what I have been missing from watching movies, especially anime movies all along.
It is a meta-movie that is masterfully structured and edited, long enough to capture the captivating elements and inspiring core theme inside, yet short enough to retain the audience attention.
It is not a masterpiece that excels at every cinematic aspects, but rather one that executes well, and a worthwhile story to experience and explore further.
My Main Body
In order to emphasize and extract any theme of any story, editing is one of the most important stages. In movies, you cut and rearrange; in writing, you cut and rephrase.
All the details that seemed to be important during the shooting, the moment of creation, that seemed precious could be ended up removed at the end of the final cut. But, there comes a real important question—how do you know which to cut, which is important?
From the 20+ anime music videos (AMVs) I have made in the past, I struggled with this question. Because during editing music videos, two choices arise: either you edit a video based on its music, or you edit a music to fit the video.
If it’s a story-based video, a lot of video clips containing different segment of stories basing on a single theme is needed, yet if the clips are too short and monotonous, you won’t be able to evoke any emotions. But if it’s too long, it’s dreadful and exhausting.
Every shot in the clips, from the characters’ expression, dialogue, transition, all the way to the background, are important in building the atmosphere. Cut too much—there’s no attachment. Cut too little—the scene became tedious.
And at the end of all the buildup, there should be a climax, like the punchline in the joke, that merge and envelope every pieces together.
Most often that not, this one particular scene carries the weight of the entire movie; it pulls back the underlying theme, inspires the audience to connect the dots, and gives closure to the nagging, aching feeling that the audience has.
It announces that: “This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for. Every single moment leads to this.”
And you’d be surprise at how clearer everything suddenly becomes. The plot became ingenious, the dialogues became memorable, the characters became vivid, the songs and music became evoking, as you take a sip of a small breath.
“Oh, I was waiting for this. I didn’t even know.”
This is why how a movie is structured, with its plot laid out in a given time frame is crucial to storytelling. A TV series can span over a few episodes, more than just a few hours, but not movies. They have to be clear, concise, yet impactful.
For a typical story, there are five stages:
exposition -> rising action -> climax -> falling action -> resolution
Pompo-san follows this. Exposition deals with clear uncertainties of the main characters’ role in the movie, shifting the power dynamic around to make the audience guess how is it all going to be tied together. Rising action elevates this uncertainty. Climax represents the life-or-death kind of situation. Falling action denotes the consequences of climax. Resolution puts an end to every events and actions that were initiated and explored.
What Pompo-san does differently is with the execution at each stage, it added a climax of its own. Thus, what it achieves is actually this:
climax -> climax -> climax -> climax -> climax
And I believe, this is what people meant when they said the audience is kept at the edge of their seat, wanting to see more, and know more. But, what I actually felt, was this:
climax -> climax -> resolution -> climax -> climax
Somewhere in the climax of the plot, the theme of the story had come to a conclusion, reached a closure. The rest are just scenes to emphasize this core theme. This aftertaste.
And that’s exactly what makes Pompo-san so great.
As the story reaches the ending, you are not met up with the credits scenes rolled on screen. But rather more drama, higher climax, doubled anticipation to how this aftertaste can be enhanced with another layer of flavor.
The catharsis feeling at the resolution stage is pulled and extended, leading the audience on, engaging this feeling and making a promise that, “we have more”. It is this bubbly feeling of excitement that Pompo-san portrays further enforce the core theme:
to find your aria
Aria, by definition, symbolizes a long accompanied song for a solo voice; it embodies the core of the voice that one yearns to express, and the motivation that pushes one to do things that we never think of.
It is in essence, a life principle that we live by, but rarely notice of.
It is the theme of a story that is worth staying for till’ the end.
Because to what extent can you go to achieve your dream? To live the life you desire? To sacrifice everything you ever loved or care for? To continue working on it even when it seems hopeless? To persist however long it may take? To pour efforts unconditionally? To grind and struggle, or to stop and quit?
As an actress, a director, a producer, and a human.
All in all, everything depends on your choice.
Because you are, ultimately the main protagonist in your own story.
And it is your theme, to seek.