Anime Short Review: “Someone’s Gaze”

“Someone’s Gaze” (which is known as “Dareka no Manazashi” in Japan) is an anime short from 2013 that was directed by Makoto Shinkai. The short was originally screened by Nomura Real Estate during “Proud Box Kanshasai,” which is a home living exposition that ran from February 10-11, 2013; the short also ran with the Japanese theatrical run of Shinkai’s The Garden of Words. The short was made available for streaming by Nomura Real Estate’s ProudChannel on YouTube; there are English subtitles on the stream if you turn on the Closed Captioning feature on the stream.

“Someone’s Gaze” is set in a time that appears to be slightly in the future. The main character of the short is Aya Okamura, a young woman who is in the workforce and has started living on her own for a job opportunity. Her mother works overseas, so Aya’s father is now living alone with Mii, the family’s longtime pet cat.

Aya returns from a long day at work, and remembers about the times she spent with her family; the focus is on the sadness she felt when her mother left to go overseas, and how happy she felt when her father brought home Mii in order to comfort her. Her thoughts are interrupted by a phone call, which causes Aya to rush to her father’s home; it turns out Mii has died. The rest of the short shows how father and daughter react to and cope with the loss of Mii.

There’s quite a bit of narration that takes place in the short. At first, I was a little frustrated by how much narration was taking place; however, as the short went along, I figured out who the narrator of the piece was. When I made that connection, all of a sudden I understood the narration and it made the story even more moving.

The animation in this short includes the artistry and detail that I have come to expect from Shinkai’s work. The animation works perfectly to illustrate the story that’s being told in “Someone’s Gaze.”

For this piece, Shinkai utilized the shorter runtime very well. It ended up being enough time to tell the story without the audience feeling like they were truly missing anything. For the story that’s being told, it just would not have worked with a longer runtime.

“Someone’s Gaze” is also a piece that made me think, especially after realizing who it was that was providing the narration for the story. It’s a very sweet story, and I think it can enjoyed by anime viewers who can relate to losing a pet or who have experienced the growing distance between parent and child that is shown in this short with Aya and her father. I will admit that I was so moved by this story that I was almost in tears by the time I finished watching this short.

If you get the chance, I would highly recommend watching the stream of “Someone’s Gaze” on Nomura Real Estate’s ProudChannel on YouTube.

Additional reviews of Makoto Shinkai’s work:

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