After coming across a mysterious diary in a hospital, a high school student discovers that his classmate Sakura Yamauchi has a terminal illness in her pancreas and doesn’t have long to live. Although the discovery was by accident, Sakura begins to hang out with the student, as he is the only one outside of her family that knows of her illness and she feels as if she can be herself around him. What follows is a story about connection, self-discovery, and two people seeking to define exactly what they mean to each other as their relationship deepens.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a film based on the novel of the same name by Yoru Sumino. It comes from Studio VOLN, a studio I previously crossed paths with while reviewing of their animated series Ushio and Tora. Despite the visceral imagery conjured up by the title, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a small, sincere story about two people navigating their deepening relationship, while acknowledging that one of them will soon die. The film resembles a slice-of-life drama, focused on telling the story of the student and Sakura and their day-to-day interactions as they go to cafes, take a weekend trip, and learn more about each other. These lowkey moments are really enjoyable as the student and Sakura have genuine charisma and chemistry with each other that makes each scene fun to watch and feel really genuine, whether they’re teasing, annoying, or just talking with each other. This realness reminded me a lot of the critically acclaimed film A Silent Voice, as they are both films with grounded settings that excel at depicting drama in everyday life, using this to their advantage to deliver a realistic emotional rawness that latches onto you and doesn’t let go.
The film is also a really engaging character study, and the student and Sakura are both likeable and charismatic in different ways. As I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is primarily their story, with only one or two other supporting characters in the mix, the depiction of how the student and Sakura grow close to one another and how this changes them is very important. Thankfully, the film handles this really well. Sakura tries to live each day normally because that is what she would be doing if she wasn’t terminally ill, but she struggles with the reality of her situation and how it actually makes her feel. Because of this, she does not tell her friends about her illness and instead finds normalcy in spending time with the student. Conversely, the student is withdrawn from his classmate and initially not even interested in being friends with Sakura, but is able to open up and genuinely care about her as time goes on. They work well together as the leads of the film and as thematic parallels – both the student and Sakura are in the process of withdrawing from the people around them in one way or another, and despite being opposites on the surface, respect each other deeply. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a great story about two people finding the things they need most in each other, and the importance of connections between people. Add a sizeable helping of teenage drama and emotional realness, and you have a film that is both extremely entertaing and keeps the viewer on their toes.
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a great film from Studio VOLN, telling a focused and intelligent story of two people who find each other when they most need one another. Although the circumstances of their meeting and Sakura’s illness can be a bittersweet reminder at times, the film expertly portrays the student and Sakura’s casual but achingly intimate relationship through a charming and well-paced narrative. Although I have not addressed it directly in this review, the name I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is more than just an eye-catching title. The film begins with the student recalling his time with Sakura, and starts with the statement “I want to eat your pancreas”. From here, the narrative works towards the point where this phrase has meaning, and to the point where we understand just how important that meaning is. This is a special film, thoroughly enjoyable and achingly expressive – grab yourself a copy, and make sure you have some tissues on hand.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.
©Yoru Sumino/Futabasha Publishers Ltd 2015 ©Your Pancreas Anime Film Partners