Take me home, concrete roads.
February 17, 2013 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Watched Studio Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart several days ago, and am now obsessed with introspective movies/TV series about young students living in Tokyo. Suggestions?

OK, maybe an indirect set of conditions, but Whisper of the Heart pretty much pressed all of my buttons-- introspective, gentle, and about art, love, and youth, while being set in a wistful urban (West Tokyo) environment. I spent 70% of the movie sighing over the train system and the appearance of the sidewalks and utility poles and other subtly romantic things I miss about living in the city. Shizuku discovering curious shops, new neighborhoods she'd never seen before, and abruptly beautiful vistas was part of the urban wonder. Plus, I'm just obsessed with bildungsromans, sweet love stories, and stories about young people discovering that they're artists (like the non-animated Ghost World, for example). I also like living in the city and I like watching how families live in the city as a matter of curiosity, since I grew up in a rural environment. Watching how family life played out in a modern city in Whispers of the Heart was nice.

I know there are plenty of anime series about youths living and going to school in Tokyo-- I watched season after season of Sailor Moon because I liked the sense of urban adventure and the reminiscence of how momentous everything is to a junior-high-schooler.

So what I'm looking for are other shows, movies or comics (particularly anime/manga, just because) that fall into these guidelines (even if somewhat loosely) that are really top drawer for one reason or another. I'm not very into series like Naruto-- I'm more "girls' comics" than "boys' comics," I guess. But I'm disinclined to just dig into anything that looks "girly" hoping for what I'm looking for.

Now I'm just rambling-- really what I'm looking for are just bildungsromans set in the city, but slightly more geared toward a female than male audience, usually with female protagonists (not always). Really exceptional non-anime/manga TV and comics welcome as well, but I'd prefer if those stuck relatively close to the preferences stated. Thanks!
posted by stoneandstar to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Princess Jellyfish!
posted by alexei at 9:06 PM on February 17, 2013

Honey and Clover -- I just started watching it this afternoon and have now watched 6 episodes. I'm enjoying it for all the same reasons I enjoyed Whisper of the Heart (and I do so love WotH), so perhaps you'll feel the same way.

Only Yesterday is a Ghibli film that is a little bit harder to track down. More about the rural than the urban, but does spend a fair bit of time comparing the two. Very, very touching.
posted by AmandaA at 9:09 PM on February 17, 2013

Solanin, both the manga and the live action film adaptation, involves many of the things you've listed. Warning though: it's pretty heartbreaking.
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 9:23 PM on February 17, 2013

I wish is what you want.
posted by empath at 9:28 PM on February 17, 2013

Tatami Galaxy is a fantastic anime that meets some of your criteria (bildungsroman, love, I recall it being set in tokyo, etc.), and it's available for streaming on hulu (link in 'galaxy'). It's probably not the best match but it's very good and at least tangentially related so I felt compelled to recommend it.
posted by Tarev at 9:32 PM on February 17, 2013

Best answer: There's gotta be an adaptation or two of Murakami novels, which met all your criteria.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:43 PM on February 17, 2013

Best answer: You've heard of the literary term mono no aware?

The stuff you are looking for would be tagged slice-of-life, but it is an overused category.


All of these are very loose fits with what you are looking for, or are at least wistful:

Itoshi No Kana (a bit racy, but not vulgar.)
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
Kabu No Isaki
Little Forrest
Position N
Natsu No Arashi
Hyakki Yakoushou
Natsume Yuujinchou
Ran To Haiiro No Sekai
Gunjou Gakusha
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:48 PM on February 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

I know you're asking for movies, but (give or take a healthy dose of the bizarre) you're describing the main feeling of pretty much every Haruki Murakami novel and short story ever written.

Movie wise, there's Norwegian Wood, which is an interesting attempt, and does try gamely to capture the era, but doesn't really do the book justice.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:21 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honey and Clover is really what you want, plotwise. To sum it up: Tokyo art college students fall in love, out of love, back in love with someone else, and so on. It is the most wistful and sweet. I don't know that it has the urban feeling you're looking for, but check it out anyway, because it's lovely.
posted by snorkmaiden at 5:23 AM on February 18, 2013

I wish you wanted something like this, but I think only bits and pieces of it fit your bill.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:40 AM on February 18, 2013

Honey and Clover is top notch (the live-action series [not the live-action film, which I can't couch for, or the korean live-action series, which I also have not seen] is not bad, but don't watch it first). The soundtrack alone will rip your heart out.

Nodame Cantabile is about music students falling in love. The first season, in particular, is great fun. The do-rama of this is good, too, and actually has a much more satisfying ending than the anime or manga (which both just kind of stop).

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Denno Coil are cool sci-fi takes on the genre.
posted by rikschell at 7:42 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The above suggestions are all great. I also thought of 5cm per second, which is a very lush and impressionistic slice of life short film. The protagonist is male, though.
posted by selfnoise at 8:23 AM on February 18, 2013

My Neighbors the Yamadas might be a good fit for you -- It's a watercolor animated movie, and it's about modern relationships. Each little vignette is marked out with a haiku. It's SO lovely.
posted by spunweb at 5:19 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I made a list and I'm going to track these all down.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:50 AM on February 23, 2013

« Older Help me not be bald!   |   Helpful Books/Links for Drawing with Wacom? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.