Mari Okada’s directorial film debut, Maquia – When the Promised Flower Blooms, is going to be screened in Canada on July 20th (the same day as that it’ll screen in America) and I, for one, am very excited.
The film’s synopsis is as follows.
Maquia is from a clan where all the members stop aging in their mid teens. She has no parents and, although her days are peaceful, she feels lonely. Their peace is shattered when an army invades, seeking the secret to her people’s immortality. Leilia, the most beautiful girl in her clan, is taken away, and the boy Maquia has secret feelings for disappears. Maquia is able to escape, but she loses her friends and her home. Wandering alone in the forest, she finds Erial, a baby boy who has lost his parents. The story follows the changing relationship between the two as Erial grows up and Maquia does not. (From AnimeNewsNetwork) (2).
If you’re a current anime fan, chances are you’ve heard of Mari Okada, or at the very least heard of her work. She’s done a lot of productions over the last few years, including anohana, Kiznaiver, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans. While they’re all from quite different genres, they all have Okada’s signature melodrama.
That is not a bad thing.
Melodrama is defined as “a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions” (Dictionary.com) and as a result, often has a reputation of being excessive, silly and poor form in both writing and real life. To be fair, that’s all true, but that doesn’t stop Okada’s stuff to be, for me, fantastic. The screaming emotions and tragedy just ooze out the inner passions, the emotions that demand to be heard by the listener and the audience.
Spoilers for Iron Blooded Orphans season 2
Take the final confrontation
between Gaelio and McGillis, two childhood friends turned enemies (…because
McGillis betrayed Gaelio for his own reasons). It starts with a fantastic mecha
battle between the two, with sword and lance clashing while the rest of the
soldier’s in the area simply look on in awe (and also, y’know, survival). While
McGillis is shouting about how the other soldiers can’t help but be speechless
in the display of such power, Gaelio is focused on taking down his former
friend, yelling at him that because he fights alone, he will lose.
It all culminates in a hallway, both pilots out of their Gundams, with McGillis wounded from the earlier mech fight. They spot each other. McGillis screams Gaelio’s name. They each fire a single shot. McGillis aimed for Gaelio’s head but his helmet (aka Char mask) deflects it, while McGillis is shot and staggers to a wall.
There is a heart-to-heart, where McGillis starts to lament his decisions. He tries to reach out and call Gaelio his friend, but Gaelio stops him mid-sentence; if McGillis says it, then Gaelio might just forgive him.
This all happens to mournful music,
tears flowing from bishonen eyes, coalescing in mid-air due to lack of gravity.
Apart from being a fantastic inversion of the Char/Garma trope (Char betrays his friend Garma. Char = McGillis, Garma = Gaelio), it is one of the finest melodramatics I’ve seen. All the emotion, the seething rage, the determination and the loss on both sides are put on full display, the characters bearing their souls to each other as well as to the audience.
That is what melodrama is to me.
When done well, melodrama is a pure statement of one’s own soul. It is raw,
over the top theatrics. It is of the person standing, naked, giving everything
they’ve got to the listener in order to get their point across.
Except haven’t we all done it before, as naïve adolescents wanting the world to hear our screams? The painful tears, the pure anger, the screaming and shouting, haven’t we outgrown out of those clichés? To this, I say, who cares!
Those thoughts and feelings we keep
inside of ourselves are our emotions, and sometimes they demand to be let out!
Just because they’re unoriginal or overly dramatic doesn’t mean they aren’t
real – and that’s exactly what makes Okada’s melodrama so great to me; they
feel real, even if they’re wrapped up in an otherworldly setting.
Maquia – When the Promised Flower
Blooms, looks like it’ll continue the trend of melodrama, and I for one, look
forward to seeing it on July 20th.
Trailer is linked below.
1. “UK trailer and poster for anime feature Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms” Flickering Myth. May 17, 2018. Accessed June 1, 2018.
2. “Maquia - When the Promised Flower Blooms” Anime News Network. https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19848 Accessed June 1, 2018
Hey this is Sulfy! Maybe you’ve seen my name around; I’m the one posting the Caligula reviews every week (and what a trainwreck it is). For the Six TAY Days of Writing challenge, I’ll be writing posts that share the common theme of “tackling human emotion.” If you’re interested, keep an eye out for it!
This is part 1 of it, and what better way than to start with…melodrama.