Things I Learned While Watching Asian Film

Things I Learned While Watching Asian Film– Joelle Halon

Asian cinema has a lot to offer from weepy melodramas to outlandish comedies guaranteed to make you say “what the heck did I just watch?” That’s part of its beauty: There’s something for everyone, and most will keep viewers on their toes. Many of us eat these films up without a second thought.
Recently, I went to an Asian film marathon and engaged the part of my brain that spent years in school learning how to analyze and see the deeper meaning in things. As it turns out, I did not need to tap into these skills because Asian media often has a spill-over of life lessons for all to see, if they care to pay attention. It’s easy to learn something from these films as I found out. Here is what I discovered.

Ending scene from 200 Pounds Beauty, 2006 /via YouTube

Ending scene from 200 Pounds Beauty, 2006 /via YouTube

Trying to be Perfect May Not be Worth It
There are too many times we try to be perfect, fit into an ideal, or try to change in order to feel accepted in society. But, by trying to adapt to what people may want or expect from us, we get further away from who we really are. We should accept our flaws and let our beautiful selves shine! Remember, it’s okay…

 

 

Japanese film NaNa, 2005./via Wiki Creative Commons

Japanese film NaNa, 2005./via Wiki Creative Commons

…To Be Ourselves
You may be quirky, a tomboy, or an extreme girly-girl. You may be obsessed with a band, a hobby, or even a job. You could be like me: Dropping everything and struggling to chase the dream of becoming a writer, but you may want to be a singer or an actor. You may question your decisions. You may want to throw in the towel, scream your frustrations from a mountain, or even run away from it all. Some days, you may feel like the world wants you to conform, but it’s your responsibility to let your personality and every unique element that makes you who you are take center stage. You only have one life (YOLO!), so be you! No one else can take that from you, but keep in mind,

 

 

 

Korean film, Love so Divine, 2004/via YouTube

Korean film, Love so Divine, 2004/via YouTube

Life is Crazy-Unpredictable!
We can make all the plans we want, but fate may have something else in store. Always keep an open mind and never feel like your plans are cemented. Something will always come along to make you wonder why you planned anything at all and that fate’s plan may be the right path for you.

 

 

 

This one is an animated GIF I made. Attached separately as "Stairway to Heaven, 2003"

This one is an animated GIF I made. Attached separately as “Stairway to Heaven, 2003”

But it Really Depends on What Path You Take
According to movies, cars are pretty squirrelly and they will dramatically hit you during pivotal moments of your life. Fight with your boyfriend? Watch for them cars. Life-changing decisions need to be made? Perhaps it’s best to stay indoors in the comfort of your home under some comfy blankets and cushions. You need to run across town for a life-bettering job? For the love of puppies, look both ways before crossing the street! Otherwise, you will get hit and possibly die! Maybe you’re better off talking about things with friends.

 

 

Japanese film Kamikaze Girls, 2002/ Viz Media

Japanese film Kamikaze Girls, 2002/ Viz Media

Good Friends Will Hear You Out After All
You don’t have to deal with life’s struggles alone. If you have good friends, no matter how strange or indifferent they may be, they’ll have your back and may even help you fight the good fight. Don’t be afraid to be open!

 

 

 

 

Korean film Sunny, 2011/ CJ E&M

Korean film Sunny, 2011/ CJ E&M

If You’re Feeling Down, Your Friends Will Pick You Up
Great friends know when you’re in need. Even if you may need a shoulder to cry on, don’t forget that friends will make you laugh, helping troubled times feel better even if it’s a temporary high. You don’t have to be alone when you have amazing friends who may drop everything for you. But if you lack these types of friends,

 

 

Japanese films Firefly Dreams (L), 2001; Grave of the Fireflies, 1998/ via YouTube

Japanese films Firefly Dreams (L), 2001; Grave of the Fireflies, 1998/ via YouTube

Sometimes Family Will Lift You Up
With some families, if one person is struggling, everyone else will struggle with you, creating a unified front. In some instances, family may be the only people you can count on when your world feels like it’s falling to pieces. They may help you,

 

 

Chinese-American, Saving Face, 2004/ via YouTube

Chinese-American, Saving Face, 2004/ via YouTube

Even If it Feels Like They Don’t Accept You
You may be surprised how much a family can help, if something is awry. You may not always agree on lifestyle choices and different topics such as politics, religion, whether a raw food diet is acceptable for children, or even, if getting a tattoo on your face is a brilliant idea, but that doesn’t mean love isn’t there underneath all the differences.

 

 

 

Japan: The Taste of Tea, 2004/ Viz Media

Japan: The Taste of Tea, 2004/ Viz Media

Families are Quirky
Part of what makes different families unique is that they’re all a bunch of different people—blood relatives, adopted individuals, foster kids, furbabies, or even friends who feel like family— thrown together under one roof. Everyone is on a separate journey trying to find his or her place in the world. Not everyone can see eye-to-eye, but we can learn to accept each other’s weirdness in order to see the whole picture of what our own life roles may become.

 

Clockwise from left: My Little Bride (Korean); Oasis (Korean); Love Com (Japanese); Shinobi: Heart under Blade (Japanese); Jeni-Juno (Korean); Saving Face (Chinese-American)

Clockwise from left: My Little Bride (Korean); Oasis (Korean); Love Com (Japanese); Shinobi: Heart under Blade (Japanese); Jeni-Juno (Korean); Saving Face (Chinese-American)

Love Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
Sometimes, friends and family may not be enough, so choosing a mate is in order. When choosing a partner, love comes in many forms. Never settle, but don’t set your standards so high you may miss out on some wonderful adventures. The right person may be there in front of you, but you may miss that person, if you keep hoping for someone who looks like TOP and has Bang Yong Guk’s heart, brains, and creativity, and Himchan’s sense of style and goofy sense of humor. Trust me, if this person existed, he’d be mine anyway, so stop looking for this person. Just kidding, but seriously, love doesn’t have a standard.

 

 

 

Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005/ via YouTube

Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005/ via YouTube

Love Truthfully and with an Open Heart
Sometimes, we tend to close off aspects of ourselves when it comes to matters-of-the-heart. We may fear being judged by our partners, because of our pasts, our secrets, and our insecurities. Sometimes we feel that by closing off, we’re helping the other party, but we may end up pushing them away and hurting them despite our best intentions not to do so. Be open and truthful; you may
find you’re more of a team than you think.

 

 

 

 

Korean, Virgin Snow, 2007/ via YouTube

Korean, Virgin Snow, 2007/ via YouTube

Keep Promises
Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. In relationships of any kind, promises are important and could mean a lot to the other person. Of course, if someone confesses a crime or something dangerous and asks you to promise to never tell, then all bets are off. Other than that, never bail on a promise.

 

 

 

Japanese, Millennium Actress, 2001; Madhouse

Japanese, Millennium Actress, 2001; Madhouse

Cherish Memories
Memories—good and bad—are important and help make you who you are. Memories are your story, so never hesitate to tell anyone your tale, so your memories will live on. You never know whom your tale may impact, and you may not realize how important these memories are until…

 

 

 

Japanese, After Life, 1998/ via YouTube

Japanese, After Life, 1998/ via YouTube

…You Realize Too Late
Then you don’t realize what you had was important until it’s gone. Do you ever wonder what your favorite memory is? Do you ever wish to continue to relive that memory repeatedly?
We all experience loss, heartache, and pain. Usually when this happens, we realize all the things we should have said and miss all the memories we could have made with loved ones. Instead of living with regret, try creating memories worth reflecting upon later on in life.

 

Korean, A Moment to Remember, 2004/ via YouTube

Korean, A Moment to Remember, 2004/ via YouTube

Most Importantly, Never Forget to Say “I Love You”
These small words carry so much weight. They’re so small, yet they can mean so much to someone even if they may not mean much to you. One day, you may miss your chance to say them, but by then, you may not have another chance.

 

 

Japan, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, 2005/via Wiki Creative Commons

Japan, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, 2005/via Wiki Creative Commons

Life is a Journey
Despite the melodrama, craziness, and times where we may understand where we’re headed, life is a journey, and we need to grasp it. This is what I learned.
Looking back, did you learn anything from watching anything in Asian cinema or television? What could you discover?

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