Like a lot of people in the US (and maybe other countries, I’m not sure), I remember fondly the early years of M. Night Shyamalan plot twists. For a while, he was a bit of a craftsman at subtly hinting at some darker secret throughout the whole movie right up until the big reveal at the end. It was so exciting that I actually didn’t even try to figure it out most of the time because the reveal was part of the fun.
I would actually say my pick for today’s category is an abnormal plot twist choice, but I would still argue that it is a plot twist nonetheless. Now, obviously, I will be discussing one of the biggest reveals in the movie (yes, today is a movie), so if you don’t want spoilers, read no further.
Today we will be discussing the movie I Want to Eat Your Pancreas.
Surprisingly, this movie opens up from the end. It’s the funeral of our protagonists new best friend, Sakura. She has died after tragically suffering from an incurable disease to her pancreas that is ultimately fatal in nature.
For Sakura, it was always better to keep her illness as a secret from all but her family so that her peers wouldn’t treat her any differently. Life was best lived as if nothing was wrong. The problem is, our protagonist (and a total stranger) Haruki (which is another mini spoiler if you understand Japanese) discovered her diary, “Living with Dying”, by accident in the hospital and learned her secret. So she has now turned to him to help her cross off all of the items on her bucket list.
You might be wondering what plot twist could possibly be waiting for us if we already know that she has a fatal illness and has died in the first few minutes of the movie. The plot twist actually ends up being how she died.
While she may be living with a fatal disease, at the moment, it’s being held under control through medicine and close supervision by her doctors. Towards the end of the movie, Sakura ends up spending a few weeks in the hospital because some of her vitals were off. Fortunately, it’s handled easily and soon she is released with plans to meet Haruki at a cafe. But, Sakura never shows.
Tragically, Sakura is murdered in a random act of violence by a street thug while she is on her way to meet Haruki.
Haruki ends up waiting all day at the cafe for Sakura. When he does return to his house that evening, he happens to catch a newscast of her murder on the television. He hears the broadcaster, sees her picture, and everything falls into place. Her already short life has been cut even shorter, stealing what last few years he expected to have with her.
Like all good plot twists, the movie actually hints that this could happen very early on in another scene. Like this one, his parents are watching the news broadcast and the same murderer is mentioned as being on the loose. Haruki’s parents briefly discuss it and it isn’t brought up again until the end.
Of course, the movie doesn’t simply end with her murder. The final moments of the movie follow Haruki as he tries to figure out a way to deal with her death. He has to face her memorial, her family, and her friends from school. And ultimately, her effect on his life has gigantic personal reach, catapulting him into a future that is much brighter and full of life.
It’s a beautiful story and I highly recommend that you watch it. It’s a lot more than just a dying girl trying to complete her bucket list. It’s the story of what it means to be alive and part of a living and breathing humanity.
What’s your favorite anime plot twist?