Lessons from Soul (2020)

Joe, the main lead in the film, wants to become a jazz musician. He’s so focused on the goal that he missed out on living. He thought, “I’ll be happy when I will finally landed on this big break. My life will finally change forever.”

To make the story short, he finally landed on this “big break”. But after performing, he felt odd because nothing changed in how he perceived his life, he still is him.

On a post entitled, 10 lessons I Learned This Year (2020) I wrote,

When this blog reached 1,000 views, I feel grateful but things just went back to the way it was. I am still reading and writing. When this blog reached 80,000 views, I am still feeling grateful but that’s it. I’m still me. My mindset did not magically change. I am still reading, writing, doing homework, and doing household chores.

And this is why I am thankful that I do not depend my happiness on external outcomes such as “I will be happy once I reached 10k views.” or “I’ll be happy once I passed this project.” because once I achieved any of that, nothing really much changed. I still have more work to do. There are still things to check off in my to-do list.

So with that, I learned to do things just for the sake of doing it because depending my happiness on the things that I do not have control over will make me want “more.”

In other words, I will never be satisfied because I will keep chasing that feeling of “I made it” but the truth is, there never really is that feeling of “I made it.” There will always be another thing to do. So the enjoyment itself is not on the results but on the process of doing it.”

And this is why I love the very last scene of Soul the most, because it shows us a scene wherein Joe, the main character, taking account his environment—feeling the breeze, smelling the wind, and looking at the sky.

Soemtimes, when we rush through life we forgot to live. We missed out on the subtleties of life. Hence, even when there is so many academic works to do (hooray! finals month!), I make time to hangout under the sun, play games and watch movies with my family, reading a book, listening to music, and writing. Because, Now is the only moment I will ever get to have. I want it to be well-lived.

My main takeaway from the film is that your spark or what keeps you going in life doesn’t have to be this big dream of wanting to be a jazz musician or a scientist, or a CEO. Sometimes, it can be sky-watching, walking, talking to other people, teaching/coaching, or even eating.

Life doesn’t start after reaching a goal. Life is today. It is where we all are in right now. In the movie, someone asked Joe what he will do in his life right now and he said “I don’t know. But I’m gonna seize every moment.” (non-verbatim)

Things I Noticed in Hayop Ka! As An Architecture Student

Hayop Ka! (‘you son of a bitch!’ in English) is a Filipino romcom animation film produced by Rocketsheep Studio and Spring Films, distributed by Netflix.

The film runs for a bit after an hour but I spent around two hours watching this because I kept stopping it and taking screenshots. I want to understand certain things about the design of the environment and also, the animal puns (which I’ll get into below).

Watching this got me so excited because of the insane amount of details!! And here we go:

Nimfa’s Clothes (Protagonist)

Nimfa is the main character of this animation film and I noticed that her clothes, or should I say, work uniform is what she wore in most scenes of the film and they used the color red to have her stand out in almost all of the scenes. There were a few scenes wherein she wore a bright violet dress. Nevertheless, still allowing the character to stand out.

Nimfa in a corporate tower. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Nimfa in a clinic. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Nimfa with her family. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Nimfa with the rich character. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Still wearing a red clothing even out of work. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
The only time she did not wear any “red” clothing but still stood out. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

The clothes of other characters pale in comparison with Nimfa’s clothes except Jerry’s (the one who she ended up with). I think having neither of the two men wore red throughout the film is a clue that neither of them will be with her in the end. According to someone from Rocketsheep Studio, the end signifies “a new start in her life and her relationship with Jerry did not start as a lust or pursuit of material wealth”

Nimfa and Jerry. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

Environment

The overall environment of the film is influenced by Manila, the capital of the Philippines. It’s like having a bit of a field trip in Manila (the slums as well as the place where the rich are).

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Is this EDSA? Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Quiapo Church in the background. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

Baybayin

On the upper left reads, “Tatas” from the word Patatas (meaning potato) and on the right, the sign of the coffee shop reads “Kahe” or Cafe. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

Baybayin is the alphabet that our ancestors used and although it is not the alphabet that we commonly use today, I saw that they used a bit of it in the film!

Cell Tower

Cell Tower inspired from the Eiffel Tower. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films

This cell tower seems to be one of the focal points as this is somewhat inspired from the Eiffel Tower (since this is a romance film) and it is in red too, similar to the protagonist’s color of clothes (hinting its importance).

Homes & Kiosks

In the film, we see characters that vary in terms of their socioeconomic status.

In the main protagonist’s home, you would see that there is an abundance of items at home and too many colors.

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

And the home of the rich character displays a coordinated color scheme and wideness.

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

In other aspects too, we can see how the animators played with sizes and space to distinguish what is something where the rich go/lives. For example, in the screenshots below, there are two perfume kiosks. The first is what you’ll call a luxury brand while the other is not.

Luxury brand kiosk. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
The not luxury brand. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

In order to give the feel that the first kiosk is a luxury brand, they used size. They enlarged the display to induce the feeling of intimidation and having its own carpet in order to make it “stand out” or better yet, giving a feel that this “kiosk” is different from other kiosks on that floor.

May God Bless Our Trip and others that will give you an idea of Filipino culture

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

May God Bless Our Trip is something that you see often in public transport everywhere in the Philippines and I am so happy they included this lol. Also, it shows how religious we are as a country (in general).

Sale Posters

Sale naman lagi poster on the upper left. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

In malls in the Philippines, sale posters are everywhere and every time. I laughed so hard when I read the poster, “SALE NAMAN LAGI” (WE ARE ALWAYS ON SALE in English)

The heart struck with an arrow tattoo

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

If you are Filipino, there is one moment in your life when you had seen someone with this tattoo. I’m not sure where did this originated but I have seen this tattoo so many times in old Philippine films.

Posters/Banners with a politician name

No Littering poster with a politician name. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films
Banner with a politician name. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films

One thing frequent in the streets of the Philippines (excluding the streets of rich gated subdivisions) is a poster/banner with a politician’s name. It can be a welcome banner, or a reminder not to do “insert bad deed here”. Sometimes, it’s posters for elections.

Animal Puns

Every time I saw animal puns in the background, I paused the film because I want to read and understand them all! And I am amazed by how witty the animators are. I captured a few of them.

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films
“Catinko” from Katinko. Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
Ibonmaya” from Rivermaya (a Filipino band). Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.
“Bisugo” (a fish) from Sogo (a hotel). Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films

Additional:

Credits to Netflix, Rocketsheep Studio, and Spring Films.

I laughed when I saw the “somewhere in Batangas, Philippines” in the address lol. Someone got too tired to create a fake address or maybe he/she just wanted to add something funny.

Thoughts

If it had been released in theaters, I doubt that it would even get that much attention. But instead, this film was released on Netflix and that’s a good thing for the filmmakers and the whole Filipino animation industry.

Since a lot of Filipinos are now subscribed to Netflix, the Filipino animation industry would not really worry so much whether anyone would watch what they produced because of how easy it is to just watch a movie on Netflix.

My thoughts on the plot of the film is another story. In this post, I just want to celebrate the effort that they put in the smallest of details. They gave their best in recreating Manila and they accomplished that very well.

Honestly, I feel that our animation industry is only just starting and our animators have so much more to offer given enough experience and more budget.

Also, I want to share how exciting it is to write a blog post like this for an animation film that is made by my fellow countrymen. I had done a few Things I Noticed As An Architecture Student blog posts for foreign animation films but this is the first time that I did it for a Filipino animation film.

It’s very different when writing “what I noticed” in animation films that are influenced by my culture and one that is foreign because the former allows me to resonate with it in a way that I would seldom (or maybe not ever) feel in foreign animation films.

Related links:

Things I Noticed in Zootopia As An Architecture Student

Things I Noticed in Over The Moon As An Architecture Student

Things I Noticed in Zootopia As An Architecture Student

Zootopia is 2016 animation film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, one of my favorite animation films ever because of how its plot is a metaphor for today’s society. And the plot of the story itself is another matter to discuss. In this article, I’ll write down things I noticed in the film as an architecture student. I am aware that in animation, everything is done with intention and so, I know that there are a lot of easter eggs hidden in the film regarding design so, if you have anymore to add, please do!

Doorways come in different shapes and sizes.

Animals are vastly different in terms of how wide and tall they are and honestly, they could have decided to just let all animals go in in a single big doorway in a train for example or in a police station. But I love how they intentionally designed various doorways to accommodate various sizes of animals, i.e the train doors in the photo below.

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Train doors

This detail is one of the amazing things because this speaks so much that they understand that it is dangerous and, honestly, non-animal-centered to have them all pass in a one single large doorway. And this is where equality vs equity comes in.

Equality vs Equity in Zootopia

So, there are a lot of details in Zootopia that shows equity (which should be the standard). Let’s take for example, the train again in the photo above, equality is when every single animal are given the same doors to go inside or alight from the train while equity is giving various sizes of train doors to meet the various needs of the variety of animals who take the train. In other words, equity is acknowledging that there are various types of animals that have different needs from each other.

Another example, the roads in Zootopia are designed to accommodate the standard-big car sizes and a bit of the road is for tiny cars (which are used by mice) (photo below)

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Notice how the tiny truck overtake with the big police mobile (LOVE THIS DETAIL SO MUCH)

Again, they could have just designed a one whole road but they did not and I love them for that.

Another example, in the photo below which is the police station: there are two different sizes for both doors and benches.

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Here are some more:

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how various animals get to the main city (pt 1)
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how various animals get to the main city (pt 2)
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train handles in different heights
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Three different sizes of garbage bins
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It’s a juice bar, not only serving giraffes but also medium-sized animals (noticed the animals on the far left holding drinks too) Best example, so far, of equity

But these details are for public spaces, hence, a lot of things are considered when designing environments. But how about in private spaces?

In the photo below, in a private room located at the Precinct One, the context here is that ALL animals who are police officers are somewhat in almost the same heights. Thus, desks and chair heights are all the same. This shows that no one as small like a bunny has ever become a police office before.

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Zootopia’s protagonist Judy Hopps, the first-ever bunny police graduate, has to stand up because when she sat down, one can’t barely see her (good thing she has long ears)

Furthermore, I love that they created an environment for rodents. Everything is really tiny in scale.

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Here is another detail in the Little Rodentia:

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In connecting buildings, bridges with no overhead are simply okay BUT what the animators did is that they enclosed this bridges. My hypothesis is that rodents are tiny and in a “height” like that, they might get blown off by the wind. Hence, they enclosed it.

To conclude, I love how every single thing is designed with intention. I watched this film four years ago but I haven’t noticed this details before! This goes to show that we discover new things or ideas as we re-discover them and that is great because we are growing every time!

Going back, I mentioned that Zootopia is a metaphor to our society in terms of the plot but it can be in terms of the design too (but super duper better). It’s obvious when we look at it with animals, they are in various sizes so of course they have different needs to be met but we, humans, are different from each other too.

Public spaces should be designed in a way that it can accommodate a variety of people but what do we got? Roads are car-centric, sidewalks are too narrow, etc.

We can learn a thing or two about better urban planning from animation films.