After Life, Angel Beats! and anime blogging

If the anime blogosphere is a living purgatory, then the bloggers are the helpers, themselves stuck, but willing to point others in the right direction. As we see our friends come and go, sometimes it feels like there’s only a few of us left, but seeing people change is fulfilling in itself, and there’s always new people to help. And the same old faces, too; seeing a change in them is the best of all.

After Life, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, is one of most interesting films I’ve seen. Set in an (unspecified) purgatory, it’s about dead people choosing one memory (and one memory only, the rest fades) to carry with them into (an also unspecified) eternity. Upon choosing, that memory will be recreated on a film-set and recorded with you as the star. You take the resulting VHS with you. The recreation is a massive team effort, with actors, props and all kinds of film-making devices.

If you can’t choose a memory, or simply refuse to, you become a part of the staff at purgatory, helping others to move on. One man has trouble choosing his memory, and so is given a big box of VHS tapes (containing his entire life) that he spends his time pouring over, trying to remember the things he did in his lifetime. Searching for something big and meaningful, eventually, he just chooses a memory with his wife and him; an old couple, sitting on a park bench, talking. The small things can mean so much.

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