Short form (SF)! A very short post for an impromptu Thanksgiving special! Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t already, consider reading my article: The World’s Finest… Manipulator? Fiction, Mental Age, Maturity, & Manipulation published on November 21.
I talked about a manga called From Now On We Begin Ethics in an article quite a bit ago. For those who don’t know, the manga is set in a high school ethics class taught by a man named Takayanagi. In it, I discussed the excellent tone set by mangaka Shiori Amase and since then it has gotten a live action adaptation consisting of 8 episodes. The cinematography isn’t particularly impressive, the tone feels different than the manga, and the mannerisms of Takayanagi paint a different picture of his character than the impression I had- but this isn’t a review. If that’s what you’re interested in: the quality is good enough to warrant a watch and it’s interesting seeing a conscious effort to diversify shooting locations. In fact, there’s one reason I would in fact recommend watching it if you’re a fan of the ongoing manga: the live action ending.
An important theme I drew from my reading of the manga was the practical application of philosophy to the real world. The characters within its universe are presented as learning from Takayanagi’s lessons and nearly always their lives are better as a result. Important here is that the students themselves, armed with what they know and in conjunction with what they learn, make their own decision and decide their way forward. That way, even after school is over and Takayanagi is only a distant memory, they’re able to conjure their own beliefs and think for themselves. It’s a pleasant depiction of education and the live action adaptation actually enhances the factor of application in its closing moments.
The last episode‘s climax is bittersweet to say the least as Aizawa confesses to Takayanagi but is ultimately rejected. Not everyone can get what they want, and Takayanagi cannot ethically date Aizawa as her teacher. His words do give way to speculation about his backstory and previous relationships, but I opt to think this is more set dressing and a way to let her down as gently as possible. This confession isn’t what I want to focus on- it’s the montage that comes after. The show, with its high school setting, was filmed on location and not a soundstage, but that didn’t mean the artificial atmosphere a television show exudes wasn’t present. There’s a certain sterileness that can be felt, despite many shots being naturally lit from what I could tell. Yet, in a sobering and brilliant moment, the façade of a show fades away into the present.
Usually, when we talk about the present as a setting, we’re transitioning from a significant amount of time in the past. At the least, it’s a few decades. That isn’t the case here however. Instead, the show presents us with a Japan post-COVID. Whether it be convenience store workers, people commuting to and from their job, or students out and about, they wear face masks. It’s in this mass of reality do we find the characters from the show going about their lives the same as any other person. They’re normal people in the same circumstances as we are. They’ve gone through difficult trials and tribulations, but they’re no superhero. They’re just like you and me, all collectively in the same world, able to move forward one step at a time. Would it have worked animated or in the manga? Sure. Would it have had the same impact? I don’t think so. Let’s celebrate then that live action adaptations do have a benefit!