Dareka no Manazashi, aka Someone’s Gaze, is another short Shinkai Makoto film of only about 6-7 minutes.
The stage is set at near future. Okamura Aya, also known as “Aachan”, started to live by herself as she started a new job after graduation. Her mother needed to go overseas to work as a doctor, so now only her father and a cat, Mii-san, live in a Proud apartment. Since Aachan moved out, her father has been trying to reach out to her but somehow there is an awkward gap between the two. And the cat Mii-san, which Aachan has kept since she was a child, is getting old… One night, Aachan came back from a tiring day and threw herself on the bed. She closed her eyes and remembered the happy days she spent with her parents and when Mii-san came to comfort her when she got lonely after her mother left…. And then the phone rang…
So you may have guessed by the way the above summary ends, but Mii-san passes away about midway through this short. It’s really a short told from Mii-san’s perspective on Aachan and her father’s relationship. It’s the typical story of a child growing up and away from their parents. Fortunately they’re reunited while reminiscing about Mii-san, and the father even gets a new kitten in the end when the mother finally returns home.
The first thought I had when starting this film is how much the art style is immensely better than Voices of a Distant Star. It actually reminds me a bit of Cowboy Bebop with its retro-futuristic look. But what I really want to complement this short on is its ability to drop the feels-train out of orbit in such a short amount of time. I think Makoto’s signature in his films is his ability to make the audience connect emotionally with the characters with little-to-no backstory. He does this like any good creator by making his stories relatable, however he’s able to do so without wasting time. There isn’t a long climb up the emotional rollercoaster before the drop. He starts you near the top and sends you down the second you get your bearings.
This short actually really hit home for me as it reminds me of when my last dog, Tootsie died back in 2014. It made me wish my family had come together at the time in the same way. But while life doesn’t often get to reflect fantasy, it at least reminded me of some of the many good times I had with Tootsie before she died. It’s also a reminder to appreciate my current puppers while I still can — and maybe mend some bridges with family.