This post includes a brief plot summary and an explanation about the ending of the film I Want To Eat Your Pancreas / Kimi no suizô o tabetai (2018). Beware of spoilers.
Directed by Shin’ichirô Ushijima, the 2018 Japanese anime is based on a 2014 novel of the same name written by Yoru Sumino.
I Want To Eat Your Pancreas (2018) – Plot Summary
Haruki is a teenage boy with no friends at high school. One day, the boy stumbles upon a little notebook. The diary belongs to a girl named Sakura, a fellow classmate. Sakura tells Haruki that she has a terminal illness but he shows very little empathy for her. The boy’s reaction intrigues Sakura and she follows him around.
Despite of Sakura’s efforts to befriend Haruki, he displays almost no interest in her. However, Sakura is persistent and “forces” Haruki to hang out with her. After spending more time together, the two eventually grow closer.
Every classmate is talking about Sakura and Haruki. There are dating rumours about those two circulating at school. Nonetheless, Kyoko (Sakura’s best friend) is not too happy about it. Despite of being the closest person to Sakura, Kyoko has no idea that her friend is dying from a terminal illness.
After going on a trip together, Sakura’s health condition worsens. Haruki goes to visit Sakura at the hospital. One day, Sakura sneaks out of the hospital and takes Haruki to see the fireworks. Later, the hospital discharges Sakura.
To celebrate her return, Sakura and Haruki arrange to meet up. The boy chooses the very first coffee shop that they went together. However, Sakura doesn’t show up. When Haruki arrives home, he learns that Sakura died. On her way to meet Haruki, a complete stranger just stabbed Sakura in the chest. This news leaves the boy completely devastated and he misses her funeral.
When Haruki was finally able to accept Sakura’s death, he goes to her house. There, the boy meets Sakura’s mother. The woman hands her daughter’s diary to Haruki. While reading her last notes to him, Haruki imagines a final encounter between him and Sakura.
After making peace with Sakura’s death, Haruki reaches out to Kyoko. He shows her Sakura’s diary. An angry Kyoko storms out of the coffee shop. She is furious at Haruki for not telling her the truth.
Haruki goes after Kyoko. Despite of Kyoko’s negative response, Haruki hopes that one day they can become friends (Sakura’s wish). One year later, Haruki and Kyoko go visit Sakura’s tomb as friends.
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I Want To Eat Your Pancreas (2018) – Ending Explained
The ending of “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas” is somehow bittersweet. Right when Haruki decided to change his old ways, Sakura dies in the most gruesome way possible. However, that last final (imagined) encounter between Haruki and Sakura sort of balances out the tragedy because it gives the two characters a certain sense of closure.
By the way, what does Haruki’s last text message to Sakura mean? And why was it so important for him to see whether she read it or not? Lastly, what does the world “living” mean?
What does “I want to eat your pancreas” mean?
During one of their initial interactions, Sakura said that she watched a show about people eating organs to heal a particular illness. Then, Sakura goes one step further and tells Haruki that if an individual eats another person’s organs, part of their soul will stay with them. Therefore, Sakura suggests Haruki to eat her pancreas (as a joke), which he declined.
Spending time with Sakura made Haruki discover another side of her that intrigues him. Having said that, Haruki went from being completely indifferent to this girl to someone who really cares about Sakura. Her ways definitely had a positive influence on Haruki. Hanging out with Sakura made Haruki want to change his old habits and make a greater effort towards being more social and amicable to other people.
That last text message that Haruki sent to Sakura represents how much he appreciates her. Saying “I want to eat your pancreas” is Haruki’s way of saying that he wants to be more like Sakura. That’s why it was so important for him, that she read the message (before dying). Hakuri didn’t want Sakura to leave this world without knowing that she was a great influence in his life.
What does “living” mean?
The film starts with Sakura coping with her death and then, it ends with Haruki learning how to “live”. So what does living mean?
When Haruki asked Sakura what living means to her, the girl’s answer was very plain and simple: having a bond with others. In other words, Sakura defines her own existence through the interactions that she has with other people. So, she exists because others acknowledge her. This is the part where Haruki and Sakura differ the most.
On a surface level, nothing seems to bother Haruki. He’s a quiet teenage boy who spends most of his time in the company of books. Due to his introverted nature, Haruki has no friends at school. Despite of his “stoic” behaviour, Haruki is actually afraid of people.
Sakura was right when she called Haruki a coward. The boy shies away from people because he doesn’t want drama. Haruki is someone who dreads the thought of losing someone. Although he never admits it, Haruki can’t handle emotional wounds very well. According to the boy’s logic, if he doesn’t care about others then, no one can hurt him.
Needless to say, a lot of Haruki’s insecurities are in his head. That’s why Sakura often makes fun of Haruki for overthinking about how others view him. Spending time with Sakura made Haruki realize that it’s okay to open himself to others.
Haruki’s classmates don’t hate him or have anything against him. They just don’t know anything about him. Therefore, how can they act friendly towards a complete stranger?
After hearing Sakura defining what living meant to her, Haruki changed his mindset. First, he starts to act more nicely towards the gum guy. Then, Haruki really tries to befriend Kyoko despite of her initial refusal to talk to him.
In the end, everything works out fine for Haruki. He’s no longer a loner, because he made an actual effort to change his ways. Being a better version of himself was his way of paying back to the girl who showed him what living meant. Before meeting Sakura, Haruki had no friends. After Sakura’s death, Haruki got out of his comfort zone and did something to change his current situation.
Both Sakura and Haruki had very different ways of “living”. However, the little time that they spent together made them learn from each other. For instance, Haruki learned that in order to have friends, he has to let people know something about himself. On the other hand, Sakura learned that she doesn’t need others’ approval to exist. In a way, they both admired each other: Sakura showed Haruki how to “live” and he showed her how to be more “independent” from others.
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Sakura and Haruki – Relationship Analysis
Sakura and Haruki’s relationship is quite unique. They aren’t regular friends but they aren’t exactly lovers either.
Did Haruki have romantic feelings for Sakura (and vice-versa)? The boy was not indifferent to Sakura. Otherwise, he would’ve attended her funeral like every other classmate. However, he did not. Haruki’s emotional state after learning about Sakura’s death hints that she was indeed someone very important in his life.
In a way, Sakura and Haruki were in the cusp of becoming more than friends. However, time was not on their side. Even if these two moved their relationship to the next level, their romance wouldn’t last very long.
Both Sakura and Haruki were aware of their own limitations, hence, their mutual hesitation in pursuing each other. Although Sakura likes to tease Haruki by flirting with him, it never goes beyond that.
Now of all the people, why did Sakura choose to befriend Haruki? Anonymity. Sakura was dying, but she didn’t have anyone to confide to. Despite of having friends, the girl didn’t want them to know about her “secret”. The thought of them treating her differently or becoming distant scared Sakura.
It was easier for Sakura to talk to a complete stranger about her terminal illness than to one of her close friends. That person happened to be Haruki, for two main reasons. First, Haruki doesn’t belong to Sakura’s circle of acquainted. Second, Haruki has no friends. Having said that, everything that Sakura tells Haruki will essentially stay between them. Plus, Haruki didn’t seem to be an emotional guy (at first).
All the reasons above made Sakura believe that Haruki was the anonymous and emotion-free confidant that she was looking for.
If I had to choose one word to define “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas” it would be: unexpected. The starting scene of the film is very misleading. Right from the get-go the film informs us that Sakura is already dead. Shortly after, we learn that Sakura had a terminal illness. Having said that, most of us just assumed that she died from her pancreatic illness. However, that was not the case.
Sakura’s murder was definitely the film’s biggest plot twist. Not seeing it coming, made her death a much more devastating experience to digest. Why was it so tragic? First of all, Sakura was too young to have a terminal illness. Then, a random stranger just pops up and shortens her already short life even more. It’s revolting to say the least. Lastly, it was sad to see Haruki waiting for Sakura at the coffee shop. He probably thought that she stood him up or was playing with his feelings.
At first, “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas” seems like the typical story of an extrovert girl who teaches the introvert guy how to be more sociable. However, the film is so much more that. Both Sakura and Haruki are learning from each other. The loner is learning how to lose of his fear of creating bonds with others. Meanwhile, the social butterfly is learning how to be more “independent”: she doesn’t need others’ validation to “exist”.
By the way, Sakura and Haruki’s relationship felt very realistic. Both were trying not to fall in love with each other. It was refreshing to see two characters just interacting without second intentions. That alone made their bond much more meaningful. If those two were in a romance, it would’ve been a complete cliché, not to say boring.
Overall, “I Want To Eat Your Pancreas” is a very noteworthy film to watch. However, it’s definitely not a crowd pleaser. Some might find Sakura’s tragic death hard to digest. Despite of its bittersweet ending, the film touches very interesting subjects. Sakura having a terminal illness at such a young age and trying to enjoy her last moments the best way she could was very inspiring to watch. In addition, watching Haruki making efforts to be more sociable was also another great lesson: it’s never too late to change.