Kitchen and it’s complementary novella Moonlight Shadow has a certain Makoto Shinkai vibe on it. If you’re a fan of Makoto Shinkai’s works, you’d understand the melancholy and romance in Yoshimoto’s works as well. ‘In the uncertain ebb and the flow of time and emotions, much of one’s life history is etched in the senses. And things of no particular importance, or irreplaceable things, can suddenly resurface in a café one winter night.’
In Kitchen, death became the main element in the story. Everything revolves around death, an existence followed by a passing. Mikage and Yuichi’s life revolves around loneliness and survival from longing of the dearly dead ones. Interestingly enough, it’s not a story about how one overcomes the passing of loved ones. It’s a story of embracing a certain solitude, it’s a story of celebrating death as a part of life. Often times, you don’t regret that someone is gone. Often times, they lived in a memory, a routine, and the only sadness comes from the fact that these memories and routines are only one-sided.
Yoshimoto (like other Japanese literary writers) are amazingly incredible in infusing the essence of living in words and narrative. Several of my favourite quotes are:
“Someday, without fail, everyone will disappear, scattered into a blackness of time.” – Narrator, Mikage
“What I mean by ‘their happiness’ is living a life untouched as much as possible by the knowledge that we are really, all of us, alone. That is not a bad thing.” – Narrator, Mikage
“I realized that the world did not exist for my benefit. It followed that the ratio of pleasant and unpleasant things around me would not change.” – Eriko
“We all believe we can choose our own path from among the many alternatives. But perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we make the choice unconsciously.” – Narrator, Mikage
I will definitely read more of Banana Yoshimoto’s works.