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Literature / I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

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It's never a coincidence. It's a choice. note 

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai) is a novel by Yoru Sumino, published by Futabasha in June 2015. A live action film adaptation of the novel was released in August 2017 under the title Let Me Eat Your Pancreas. An anime film adaptation was released in 2018 by Studio VOLN and a manga adaptation was published by Futabasha between August 2016 and May 2017.

Despite its creepy name, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is actually a bittersweet Romance. The narrator is initially referred to as "I" while his real name remains a secret for much of the narrative. He finds a book with the title Disease Coexistence Journal, which belongs to his High School classmate Sakura Yamauchi, and learns that Sakura is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, leaving only a year to survive. After that meeting, these two people who never talked to each other before begin to spend their remaining time together, and Sakura's influence on the protagonist starts to slowly change him for the better. This newfound relationship, however, does not go unnoticed by those around them, not least Sakura's wary best friend Kyoko.

A sequel novel, To My Father and to Someone in My Memories (Chichi to Tsuioku no Dareka ni) was given out in certain theatres with the animated film's release in 2018, and tells the story of the protagonist's daughter Fuyumi as she finds out about the story of her father and Sakura.

This novel and its adaptations contain examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The live action film includes a segment from whole cloth set 12 years later showing Sakura's continued influence on the lives of those around her so long after her death. Conversely, the animated film includes a scene where Sakura and the protagonist watch a fireworks display, which is absent in the book.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Sakura's journal; what it's called changes across adaptations. It's called the Disease Coexistence Journal in the novel and live-action movie, the Infirmity Novel in the manga, and Living with Dying in the animated film and English manga.
  • Adapted Out: The animated film does not include the hardware store scene. Sensei doesn't appear either.
  • The All-Concealing "I": The protagonist. The only thing we know about the protagonist is that he's a guy and Named After Somebody Famous. We never get the name up until near the epilogue.
  • An Aesop: Life, and what does it mean to truly live life when there's so little time.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Although Sakura's death is a foregone conclusion, for much of the film we are inclined to think that it will be due to her illness, instead it is due to a random criminal, and it happens off-screen.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sakura is fatally attacked by the criminal, but it is revealed she managed to read Haruki's final message to her. He also ended up befriending Kyoko.
  • Black Comedy: The protagonist remarks on how Sakura is able to pull this kind of joke, considering Sakura has her days numbered. Discussed when the protagonist read her Disease Coexistence Journal and ask if that was a joke.
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: The title itself. Pulled by Sakura at the beginning of the novel. And again by the protagonist when he was contemplating what to write in his last message to Sakura.
    Protagonist: Your cannibal spirit suddenly awaken, huh?
  • Bridal Carry: During a night together, the protagonist loses a game of Truth Or Dare with Sakura and has to bring her to the bed in this fashion. Note that Sakura herself is way too drunk to go to bed by herself.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story, for the most part, is fairly lighthearted with quite of bit of Black Comedy to around. When Sakura dies, it loses most of the funny moments and replaces them for many Tearjerker abound.
  • Character Development: The protagonist. As he spent more time with Sakura, he starts to value other people and become more curious about social engagements.
  • Chekhov's News: A murderer on the run is mentioned on TV which later the protagonist and Sakura discussed. The murderer later kills Sakura.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Heavily present in the story, especially given the main female protagonist is called Sakura and the beginning of the story takes place in early spring, rife with cherry blossoms. After her death in the animated adaptation, Sakura's continued influence is represented through a single cherry blossom petal on her tombstone. Sakura also compares herself to a cherry blossom tree, waiting to meet Haruki (whose name means 'spring') to bloom, in her diary.
  • Classified Information: Haruki Shiga. The protagonist's name is changed to punny nicknames which usually concerning how others see him. It was later revealed at the end of the story when he talked with Sakura's mother. Another example is that Sakura has scribbled out his name in every entry of her journal, leaving black circles on his name.
  • The Comically Serious: A lot of comedy is milked from the protagonist's deadpan reaction to most things.
  • The Confidant: The protagonist to Sakura; he is the only person Sakura confides in about her illness.
    Sakura: You're probably the only one who can give me honest words and a normal routine for me.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Discussed. The protagonist says that it was just chance that he picked up The Disease Coexistence Journal and therefore met Sakura. Sakura disagrees, saying that he consciously chose to pick it up and that destiny does not govern everything.
  • Couple Theme Naming: Present, albeit only made clear towards the end of the story. Sakura and the protagonist turn out to have this, with the protagonist's name being Haruki, making her the Cherry Blossoms to his spring. She even lampshades this in her journal.
  • Covers Always Lie: The scene depicted on the cover never happens.
  • Dead Man Writing: At the back of The Disease Coexistence Journal, there's a draft of Sakura's will. It was never finished.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Subverted. Sakura's death is offscreen and is never seen, with her killer being arrested and confessing to having killed her in an off-hand line. More emphasis is placed on the protagonist's reaction to her death.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Male version. The protagonist is shown acting indifferent towards Sakura's illness at first, but he starts to warm up after learning more about Sakura's true self. This is the reason why Sakura chooses him to spend her time with.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The protagonist himself, who replies to most of Sakura's cajoling with snark and dry comments.
  • Deuteragonist: As a romance, it can be debated which of Haruki and Sakura is the protagonist, and which the Deuteragonist.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The Kishōtenketsu plot structure requires a third-act twist: The foreshadowed criminal just happens to attack Sakura, rather than any of the other thousands of people living in the city, and shortly after she gets discharged from the hospital and is looking forward to meeting the protagonist again at that.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: The protagonist's hair is shown to be shorter and a bit wavier when he visits Sakura's grave.
  • Extreme Doormat: The protagonist. Although he refuses to do something (usually what Sakura commands), in the end, Sakura just makes him do it.
  • First Love: Exclusive to the novel, but the protagonist relates to Sakura a story about his first love, a girl with a habit of referring to inanimate objects as "-san". The epilogue reveals Haruki made this story up and that Sakura was his First Love.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Sakura dies. In the prologue, we are shown the protagonist wasn't attending her funeral.
  • Foreshadowing: A stabbing criminal is discussed in the beginning of the movie. Turns out that same criminal would be the one that murdered Sakura.
  • Friendless Background: The protagonist. Taken to the extreme by having him claim to not remember having a single friend since elementary school.
  • Gallows Humor: By Sakura. No surprise, as she's the only character who is about to die. Maybe falling into misery isn't a choice for her.
  • Genki Girl: Sakura is initially shown as a happy-go-lucky character, unusually chipper about her looming death. Then it's revealed that she actually is afraid of dying and only acts that way to make people not worried.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Sakura's ex-boyfriend makes a brief appearance by chatting with the protagonist after a rumour that he and Sakura are going out together. Later, he appears and strikes the protagonist after seeing him going to Sakura's home.
  • Groin Attack: Sakura does this to a guy harassing an old woman.
  • Heroic BSoD: The protagonist undergoes this after Sakura is murdered. He refuses to leave the house for days.
  • Hey, You!: The protagonist and Sakura never use each other's names, with Sakura commenting on the protagonist refusing to let her mention his name. In her will, she speculates it's because he was afraid of her becoming important to him if he used her name, and so she never used his for the same reason.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: It does indeed rain at Sakura's. Lampshaded by the protagonist, who says that she wouldn't have liked it.
  • Killed Offscreen: The criminal's attack on Sakura is not depicted and protagonist and audience alike only find out via a news broadcast on TV. In the animated movie, only the scene of the crime is shown.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The protagonist delivers this twice. First, he says that only readers know where the first chapter is. Second, he says that this is not a novel.
  • Loser Gets the Girl: After the 'incident' in Sakura's home, a minor character punched the protagonist and made him fall to the ground. Sakura rushes to him and yells at the other guy while bringing the protagonist to her home.
  • Love Confession: Downplayed. During an after-school stride, Sakura and the protagonist had this exchange:
    Sakura: If I say that I want a boyfriend, what will you do?
    Protagonist: Actually, what will I do?
    Sakura: [shakes her head] Nothing. Never mind.
  • Minor Major Character: Sakura's ex-boyfriend is built up to be one of the main characters, but he only appears in two scenes.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A Reconstruction. The narrator becomes part of her life, but not the center of it. Sakura has a family, other friends she spends time with, and a best friend who naturally sees the narrator as an interloper. She needs something from him — a friend who won't overreact to her illness. And, it develops, she wants to learn something from him. Most of all, they share a friendship, not a romantic relationship. (Friendship-with-benefits is on the table, but they have only teenage-level maturity to handle it.) The characters acknowledge it might have become a romantic relationship, given enough time.
  • Meaningful Echo: The words "I want to eat your pancreas" are said several times in the story. They originally come up under the Black Comedy Cannibalism context with Sakura explaining that eating a healthy person's organs was believed to cure one's own diseased organ and therefore joking she should eat the protagonist's to cure her own illness. They come up again as the last words of Sakura and the protagonist to each other, the protagonist's final text to Sakura and the last words of Sakura's will, expressing the depth of their relationship by that point.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Sakura", or cherry blossoms, are known for being extremely beautiful flower that only lasts for a week in April. Sakura is extremely energetic and optimistic, only to be revealed that she has pancreatic cancer and has a limited time to live, which gets cut short due to her murder.
    • "Haruki" takes its first kanji from the word "haru", or spring, the season where cherry blossoms bloom. Our protagonist "blooms" Sakura into becoming the person she wants to be, and he does the same. She even remarks on the coincidence of their names matching so well in her will.
    • In the sequel novel, Fuyumi, the protagonist's daughter. Fuyu, or Winter, comes after Spring.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: The protagonist. Both parts of his name come from famous Japanese novelists and are frequently mentioned on this site. Guess who. Haruki Shiga.
  • Near-Rape Experience: When Sakura makes very clear she doesn't want a romantic relationship, then pressures Haruki to have sex, then dismisses it as a prank, he feels like she's making fun of him and slams her to the bed. When he sees Sakura starts to cry, he realizes that taking his anger out on someone he cares about hurts them (and him), then runs away.
  • Nice Guy: The student handing out gum to the protagonist. The protagonist's Character Development is displayed through his interactions with him; at first he rejects the gum, and towards the end he accepts his gum, and implicitly his friendship.
  • No Name Given: The protagonist's name isn't revealed until the end, only referred to as I/"Boku" (僕). His name is eventually revealed to be Haruki Shiga.
  • Not So Stoic: The protagonist, three times:
    • See Near-Rape Experience above
    • After Sakura is killed, he is so visibly distraught he refuses to attend her funeral and doesn't recover enough to visit her family home until days later. The animated adaptation amplifies this by showing him walking out of the living room after seeing the news broadcast announcing her death and stumbling on the stairs to his room, unable to get up.
    • After reading Sakura's farewell message, the protagonist finally sobs in front of her mother.
  • Not The Illness That Killed Them: While Sakura is dying of pancreatic cancer, she actually ends up getting murdered by a serial killer.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Sakura forces the protagonist to hug her in the hospital, Kyoko walks in. Cue a friend's rage.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: See Near-Rape Experience above.
  • Opposites Attract: How the protagonist and Sakura view each other. She explicitly states as much in Living with Dying, which Haruki reads after her death.
  • The Philosopher: Sakura Yamauchi. Despite her 'messy' attitude, her view of life and death is remarkable.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: During a train ride, the protagonist tells Sakura his name. The animated film cuts to a noise from the train as he's saying it.
  • The Pollyanna: Subverted with Sakura Yamauchi. Although she's shown to be carefree and has a happy-go-lucky attitude, she's actually desperate that she wouldn't be able to tell the truth to her beloved ones and she'll die. Alone.
  • The Prankster: Sakura Yamauchi, who spends a lot of time teasing and prodding at the protagonist. This is especially shown off during the Truth-or-Dare game and the protagonist's visit to her house, where her tendencies end up going too far.
  • The Promise: The protagonist makes Sakura promise to tell him when she'll die, and promises in return to return her copy of The Little Prince. Both promises are broken when Sakura is murdered.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Red-eyed Kyoko is one of the more hostile characters to the protagonist.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The protagonist's blue to Sakura Yamauchi's red, and Sakura herself being the friendlier blue to Kyoko's more suspicious Red.
  • The Reveal: The protagonist's name and the contents of the Disease Coexistence Journal. In order, his name is Haruki Shiga, and the contents of the diary include a will directed specifically at Haruki for him to read after her death.
    • An example exclusive to the novel's epilogue. The protagonist tells a story to Sakura about his First Love, a girl who referred to everything, even inanimate objects with "-san". He later reveals, while visiting Sakura's grave, that he lied (not having the heart to correct Sakura due to seeing her reaction), and the phrasing he uses afterwards heavily implies Sakura was his First Love.
  • Running Gag: One of the classmates keeps offering the protagonist gum. One of the signs of his change in attitude is his eventual acceptance.
  • Safety in Indifference: The protagonist's motivation in having no friends; if he doesn't have any friends, he can't be hurt, therefore remaining indifferent to others keeps him safe. He repeats this after the Near-Rape Experience and subsequently being beaten down by Sakura's ex-boyfriend, but Sakura convinces him it's worth continuing their friendship.
  • Secret Diary: Sakura's Disease Coexistence Journal.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Female version. Sakura usually answers this every time someone asks about her relationship with the protagonist.
    Some Random Kid: Are you two going out?
    Sakura: Nope! We're just good friends.
    Some Random Kid: [confused]
    • The protagonist also says this to Takahiro and Kyoko, who are unconvinced due to the amount of time he and Sakura spend alone together.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: With Sakura's, to be specific, and the protagonist not attending it.
  • The Stoic: The protagonist is unemotional and antisocial, before meeting Sakura.
  • The Stinger: After the animated film's credits, the protagonist and Kyoko visit Sakura's grave together.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Pulled by Sakura during the hardware store scene. It made the shop assistant confused, though.
    Sakura: Excuse me, I'm looking for a rope for suicide. But the one that won't leave a scar. What kind of rope do you think will do?
  • That Was the Last Entry: The Disease Coexistence Journal stopped on the date of Sakura's death and the protagonist's final message to Sakura.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Subverted by the protagonist. After bringing Sakura to the bed in the hotel, he sleeps on the sofa. Though he does relent after a Truth or Dare session in the animated movie.
  • Took a Level in Cheerfulness: The protagonist gradually becomes less aloof and starts to look at the world with a smile thanks to Sakura's influence.
  • Title Drop: See Black Comedy Cannibalism above. It is also dropped again twice towards the end; the protagonist's final message to Sakura, and the final line in Sakura's will.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The third trailer makes no attempt to hide that Sakura's cheerfulness is a Stepford Smiler act.
  • Two-Teacher School: The only teacher that shows up is Sensei, the librarian, and he does not appear in the animated film adaptation.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Sakura and the protagonist, due to Sakura's illness and the protagonist's antisocial tendencies. The Foregone Conclusion ensures that it remains unresolved.
  • Wham Line: Sakura being the victim of the criminal as relayed through the news comes as a shock to protagonist and audience alike.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Sakura's murder on the news headline.
    • The final line of The Disease Coexistence Journal has these words: "I want to eat your pancreas", which was the last text the protagonist sent Sakura.
  • Will They or Won't They?: The story goes back-and-forth on whether the protagonist and Sakura will act on their feelings. It ultimately doesn't matter, seeing as Sakura dies by the end. The heavy implication is that the only reason they didn't act on their feelings was due to Sakura's impending death, however.
  • What Does She See in Him?: The protagonist and Sakura's classmates are wondering why Sakura want to spend her time with the quietest and most unattractive guy in the class.
  • What Is This Feeling?: The protagonist is unaware of his own feelings up to the point where he reads Sakura's journal after the funeral.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Sakura, due to her terminal pancreatic disease, has only a limited time left to live. Her time is reduced as her condition worsens although she is murdered before her disease can kill her.

Alternative Title(s): Kimi No Suizou Wo Tabetai