English Dub Review: I Want To Eat Your Pancreas

Growing closer.

Our Take:

No, it’s not about cannibalism. Yes, I was disappointed too.

Our main character is pretty bland, but purposefully so. He is afraid of letting people in, afraid of what people think of him, afraid of getting hurt. He takes it to such a degree that nobody approaches him, and that we don’t know his name. It isn’t until the very end of the movie that he reveals what it is. Our co-protagonist, Sakura, is suffering from pancreatic failure. It has stopped working altogether, and soon, she will die. She takes an interest in the protagonist, and decides that she wants to spend time with him. The movie covers them growing closer, and learning from each other, with the protagonist slowly opening up to others, and Sakura learning how to frame herself and her desires when she doesn’t have to maintain a public persona.

It’s a very even-toned and quiet movie, and that makes it heartfelt. I can see why that might be a turn-off to some people, but these kind of stories don’t need action, bombast or high stakes. It doesn’t need emotional miscommunication and heavy handed drama, just two people figuring out who they are. Melodrama has become so key in these types of stories that it seems expected, so I wasn’t expecting something so serene. It was really a nice change of pace.

What I truly appreciated about this movie was that there was no romance. The protagonist doesn’t get the girl before she dies, they don’t tell anyone about their friendship, and that never evolves into romance. There’s love, but there’s no romance. Romance doesn’t save the day, it doesn’t cure Sakura, it doesn’t make her feel better- in fact, the one person who is romantically interested in Sakura ends up being incredibly machismo, something she’s disgusted with. She has her own agency, even for something outside of her control. She is uncompromising on that, There is no fate. There’s only choices- especially the choices made by two people learning from each other.

Another thing I enjoyed was how nonchalant Sakura is about her impending death. She is so nonchalant that the protagonist ends up doubting her several times as to whether she is really dying. But she is, she firmly says every single time, and nothing will ever change that. In the meantime, she wants to happily live her life, going as far as to not tell her best friend, because she knew that she’d be treated differently had the news been made public. Sakura doesn’t want to be pitied, she just wants to have fun , up until she dies. This is honestly the issue I have with a lot of ‘sick lit’, that there is no joy. There is hope, but in the end, it’s more focused on what makes the characters upset instead of what gives them peace. What makes them happy beyond romance, beyond wishing they could be better, just being happy until the end. Of course, this isn’t a universal truth, as people approach tragedy and their demise differently. Still, it’s nice to see someone just having fun, no manipulations, no something learned from their death, just someone living out the rest of their days.

Sakura’s pancreas is failing, but that’s not why she says the titular words. According to Sakura, the act of consuming someone’s pancreas means taking on some of their life, assimilating their soul and very being into you, and taking on who they are as a person. In this case, that’s exactly what happens- the two people become so affected by each other, learn from each other, that they have metaphorically borrowed traits as they learn from one another. Both are so profoundly affected by the presence of the other, permanently, that it’s as if they have consumed each other’s pancreases. It isn’t necessarily romantic love, but proof that the two of them managed to help each other grow, and that affected them in a profound way.

It’s a lovely movie. It’s not something to watch if you want your heart to start racing, but it is something to watch on a quiet, melancholy day when you need to feel better. It’s nothing special, but that’s a highlight of it. It’s peaceful, and sometimes that’s all you need.


Noelle Ogawa

A writer, editor, and 4th generation New Yorker. An avid fan of comics and manga, particularly psychological thrillers, or featuring sports. Can't stay away from the horror genre. Long-time kaiju enthusiast.

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