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Anime / Flavors of Youth

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Flavors of Youth (JP: 詩季織々 Shikioriori, lit. "From Season to Season"; CN: 肆式青春 Si Shi Qing Chun) is a 2018 anime film. A Sino-Japanese coproduction between CoMix Wave Films and Haoliners Animation League, it is an anthology of three short films, chief directed by Li Haoling but each with its own director. It was released internationally via StudioCanal and Netflix as well as in China and Japan on August 4, 2018.

Hidamari no Chōshoku (lit. "Sunny Breakfast", official English title "The Rice Noodles"), directed by Jiaoshou Yi Xiaoxing, focuses on Xiao Ming, a young man working in Beijing who misses the noodles, specifically San Xian rice vermicelli, he and his grandmother had in his Hunan hometown.

Chiisana Fashion Show (lit. "A Little Fashion Show"), directed by Yoshitaka Takeuchi, is the story of Yi Lin and Lulu, Guangzhou-based sisters whose relationship is fraying due to the older sister's work as a fashion model coming under threat from a younger rival.

Shanghai Koi (lit. "Shanghai Love", official English title "Love in Shanghai"), directed by Li Haoling, is set in Shanghai between 1999 and 2008 and tells the tale of Limo, Pan and Xiao Yu, childhood friends who get separated for years after Limo moves away.

This animated film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Xiao Yu’s father slaps her at one point, and after she fails her high school entrance exam he beats her badly enough to hospitalize her.
  • Airplane of Love: An airplane is shown up in the sky shortly before the camera pans down to show Limo and Pan in a taxi, with the latter lamenting that traffic jam has prevented them from seeing Xiao Yu off at the airport.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Shanghai Koi ends with a woman showing up at the guesthouse run by Pan and Limo, who Limo apparently recognises, and the two exchange smiles. She's implied to be Xiao Yu, but the segment ends shortly afterwards without showing her face or any words spoken between the two, leaving it unknown. Subverted by the stinger, which confirms that it is indeed her.
  • Ambiguously Gay: When Yi Lin tells her manager Steve not to hit on Lulu, he exaggeratedly retorts that he doesn't hit on girls. Whether he actually is gay, was merely saying it to reassure her, or something else is going on, we never find out, and there are no other definitive signs of his sexuality.
  • Big Fun: Pan is gregarious and a much larger man than Limo.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Shui Jing is never unpleasant to Yi Lin, but everything she says to her has a definite air of condescension, and it becomes clear that she's eager to seize the spotlight and doesn't care what happens to Yi Lin in the process.
  • The Casanova: One of Yi Lin's boyfriends is introduced early on and is shown to be the type of guy who is always on the lookout for the next young talent to woo. He shows up to congratulate Yi Lin on another successful fashion show, but he starts flirting with Shui Jing the instant he sees her, even giving her a rose out of the bouquet he got for Yi Lin while she's holding it. Later, as Yi Lin is jogging, she sees him driving with Shui Jing.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Shanghai Koi, the path to Limo's house is shown to be heavily cracked and passersby are warned about it. Shortly afterwards, Xiao Yu sprains her ankle on it, necessitating a piggyback ride from Limo home. 9 years later, it's still in disrepair.
  • Dramatic Drop: Limo drops his acceptance letter to Yangpu after he learns that Xiao Yu was hospitalised for injuries inflicted by her father.
  • Dramatic Irony: Limo's father is willing to humour the boy's desire to go study in Yangpu District because the shikumen are slated for demolition. Since Shanghai Koi's opening scene has Limo looking down on the still mostly-intact shikumen, it was evidently not to be.
  • Dramatic Thunder: A thunderclap occurs as Xiao Ming receives a call from his father that we later learn is about his dying grandmother.
  • Fanservice: Averted; you might expect this in Chiisana Fashion Show since modeling and fashion are key story elements, but the only scene that might legitimately count is Yi Lin on a treadmill during her Hard-Work Montage.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: In The Stinger, Xiao Ming says a line, which the rest of the segments' protagonists take up, before they say the last part together.
  • Food Porn: Xiao Ming's childhood memories of San Xian rice vermicelli being prepared, both the visuals and his descriptions of the ingredients, make for a positively mouthwatering experience. Subverted in a later scene where, as an adult, he orders the same dish at a restaurant, noting that while it's not bad, the factory-precise ingredients and the stinginess of their amounts rob the dish of the things that made it so appealing to him.
  • Gratuitous English: When Pan tells Limo that there's no "ladies first" among friends, "ladies first" is said in English.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Averted for Xiao Yu, who has a ponytail in 1999 but is short-haired when 2002 comes around.
  • Hard-Work Montage: A montage is shown of the extents Yi Lin goes to in order to maintain her physique.
  • Homage:
    • Like in 5 Centimeters per Second, there is a scene in Shanghai Koi where one of the protagonists uncovers in a box of old possessions something of significance to the Love Interest.
    • Xiao Yu walking past Limo on the overhead bridge to go home in 2002 is composed similarly to Taki and Mitsuha's near-meeting in Your Name.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Yi Lin is quite tall, and mentions that she hated being tall growing up due to how much it made her stand out. However, as a model her height is eye-catching and she's learned to live with it.
  • Killed Offscreen: By 2008 when Limo returns to the shikumen he grew up in, his grandfather is already dead, leaving his grandmother to go on by herself.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Calling Shui Jing outright malicious might be a stretch but she is definitely the haughty younger rival to older Yi Lin.
  • Painting the Medium: During the fashion show where Yi Lin collapses and hurts her foot, the camera blurs and shakes to reflect her poor physical state.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Limo wanting to go to Yangpu to be with Xiao Yu, but failing to admit this to her (plus not wanting to jinx it in case he doesn't get in despite hard work), and his working his butt off to the point of not finding time for the tape she gave him both contribute to their separation.
  • The Reveal: The final tape Xiao Yu tried to give to Limo but he'd never listened to because he was too busy studying reveals both Internally and externally that she had given up on her wish to attend Yangpu because she wanted to be with him.
  • Sorry That I'm Dying: The last thing Xiao Ming's grandmother says to him is an apology for not being able to eat with him again.
  • Spiritual Successor: Chief Director Li is an avowed fan of 5 Centimeters per Second and it shows, not just in the similar structure but also in the similar theme of the transience of life and relationships.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening spoils Xiao Yu having come back for Limo in adulthood.
  • The Stinger: The three segments' protagonists are shown arriving at the same waiting area of an airport and leaving for the same flight.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: One common thread between the films is how, after years away from their hometowns, the protagonists return to find things looking unfamiliar.
  • Technology Marches On: Two In-Universe examples in Shanghai Koi:
    • Xiao Yu notices Limo listening to music on a CD player, and he says that he doesn’t listen to tapes anymore because the music quality is so much better on CDs. This stings Xiao Yu, especially when Limo doesn't remember the last tape she gave him.
    • Limo asks Pan if he has a cassette player to listen to a cassette Xiao Yu had given back in high school, prompting the latter to rhetorically ask him what year it is now.
  • Title Drop:
    • "Small Fashion Show" gets mentioned in the last sentence of the eponymous segment in reference to how the sisters worked things out.
    • A near thing in Shanghai Koi; one of the last shots of the segment is a flowerpot with "I love Shanghai" on the side in English.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Subverted. Yi Lin knows that her time as a top model is limited and that younger talent will eventually replace her, but actually being confronted with that reality causes her to work herself to exhaustion and, eventually, injury to try to keep up. She eventually gets her head straight with Lulu's help and is able to continue getting modeling work.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Subverted. The movie opens with all its major characters in the same waiting area of an airport, and in The Stinger they're all shown coming together and leaving at the same time, but each story's characters never interact with those from the other stories.