Here we are at my fourth film in this series as I work my way to 400 anime titles. I should perhaps rename this series as there is no way that I’ll finish this series of posts in ten days–real life has a way of mucking up one’s plans! But, I shall eventually post on all of these movies and even a little on the present season. *Spoilers from here on*
As good as the characters and animation in Garakowa are, nothing so impressed me about the film as the courage of its message. Many might have missed it, but my mind has been preoccupied by this idea of late, as you may guess from my post on The Wind Rises. This idea is that we are witnessing the demise of cultures through depopulation. What a sad age we live in where so many people have not the smallest inclination to perpetuate themselves!
The film does not exactly connect the demise of humanity in the film to modern problems, but perhaps the Japanese and other ageing populations can do that for themselves. The world tour undertaken by our heroines highlight both the beauty of humanity, the wickedness of humanity, and the beauty of the world itself. The wickedness faced by the trio in humanity’s fallen nature asks the question of whether humanity is worth keeping around. However, before they answer that question, we discover that the answer has already been made for the world: all humanity has gone extinct.
At present, it is not all humanity which is in danger of ethnic suicide but cultures of the first world; yet, it can be dangerous to mention this unpleasant fact. Pat Buchanan did so in his book The Death of the West, and was labelled a racist by many. His profiling of races involved in violent crime and antiquated views on segregation were part of the reason for the ire he received, but his highlighting the falling birth rate among white Americans and Europeans did not make him popular either.
But, is it a bad thing to worry about the extinction of ethnic groups? We’re quick to raise a furor over a nation or group committing genocide, but when a country slowly does it to themselves, we say not a word. We say that nothing is wrong with Germans or Japanese disappearing. I am reminded of what Mark Twain called the “lie of silent assertion.” This quote is from his short story “The First Lie I Ever Told”: “… The clammy stillness created the lie of silent assertion–the silent assertion that there wasn’t anything going on which human and intelligent people were interested.” In the modern world, we have the lie that the population decline of various ethnicities is nothing to worry about. To use Garakowa, “Mother” is taking care of us. We have a better standard of living and more personal freedom, so why should we care whether certain races die out?
Garakowa rather eschews all the politically loaded material above and instead asks, in a most gentlemanly and Japanese fashion: “Is it not a shame that these peoples no longer exist? Weren’t they worth preserving? Even despite their flaws and the evils in their histories?” I think so, though certain diabolical persons are looking forward to the day when they can say “delete” to the last German, Japanese, or another ethnic group.
For the film’s bold yet subtle theme, likable characters, and splendid animation, I rate it thus: