Home sweet home. Unbreakable bonds. Glorious goldenrod. The story of a family.
In wide shot, when characters appear at their most performative, limbs look segmented as if to match those of a puppet’s. On that note, everyone leads themselves to believe the fallout of the family isn’t of their own conception and invites the idea of someone else pulling the strings. Praise the ancestors and their glasshouse! In a desperate search for something which doesn’t exist, the UFO running gag embodies the everlasting allure of their delusions as they fall for the same trick time and time again. Misled by mirage for many moons, but it’s only a matter of time before the date with demolition is under the spotlight.
Product placement shares the same stage as artistic expression, epitomized by a camera tank marrying creation and destruction. An attempted act of violence commands the chime of a grandfather clock, preserving the illusion of anything other than a broken home and shattered glass. There’s even a meta layer of irony in animation director Satoru Utsunomiya’s incorporation of realistic movement and lighting into a work so founded on facade. The days of their lives only begin to be filled with real meaning once they indulge in dreams, larger than life or at least, grander than the pathetic life that they knew. Never mind Inumaru’s impossible hopes of a Bonnie and Clyde scenario, the relatively manageable wishes of being a responsible father figure or the family simply crowding around a hot pot together are so beyond their reach that they may only manifest in the form of fantasy. Thus, the absurdity of a granddaughter time traveling to celebrate her ancestry in person is no less of a tall tale than the thought of the Yomota family ever having a former glory to return to.
However, this imagined glory is redefined in the five-pointed star, which conflates the family lineage with the five act dramatic structure: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. Reducing family to a story, in which revelations are viewed in terms of plot twists and role reinterpretation, doesn’t just entail escapism with a negative connotation. In fact, calling it reduction is a ruse, since the roots of storytelling elevate the concept of family as high as the heavens in the eyecatch. Stories are composed of words and it is by the power of words that the Yomota family undergoes a transformation in the first place. A whisper becomes a gust of wind and family transcends itself, developing the unbelievable into a prospect worth believing in. Along with opening the doors of possibility, stories guarantee endings to an uncertain reality. From acknowledging how the house has been in shambles since its construction to the credit roll at the beginning of the finale, every step of the way is another step closer to the curtain call. The audience lives vicariously through Inumaru as he runs through chapters of this page-turner in a chilling conclusion, silently chanting the wise words of Naruto in the face of adversity.