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 Over The Moon As An Architecture Student

Over The Moon is a 2020 animation film available on Netflix and here I’ll share the things I noticed while watching the film.

For the first few minutes of the film, I immediately thought that ‘this is Chinese’ pertaining to where the film is set and the characters themselves.

When I had the thought, it got me thinking of how did I instinctively knew that the film is set in China? And so what I did was I looked for clues.

Conclude

Its really amazing how all these details have come together— nature  technological advancement, folktales, and asian culture to craft an amazing story.

Everything sums up and supports the development of the characters. Also, I hope there would be more animation films, not just in Japan, and China but in other countries as well that truly depicts their authenticity. It would be an amazing learning experience to compare different animation films (from various countries) and discuss what’s different in each of them and by then, we will be able to understand each other more deeply through film and design.

Shared: July 2020

Shared is a monthly blog post that contains books, podcasts, movies, K-dramas, articles, TED Talks, and documentaries that I recommend to everyone.

“Everyday is a new deal. Keep working and maybe something will turn up.” – Harvey Pekar


FILMS

  • Princess Mononoke

b

This movie was recommended by a fellow intern who’s main advocacy is protecting and conserving our environment. After this film, I started watching other Studio Ghibli films and became fascinated in Japanese culture.

  • Spirited Away

c

THIS FILM! The amount of details in this film in terms of the culture, tradition, and folklore of Japan, is INSANE! Miyazaki, the director of Spirited Away, used the movie as an opportunity to connect the past and current Japan. It used the show and not tell aspect of filmmaking. Hence, you would not be bombarded with information of Japanese culture, tradition and folklore while watching. So do not worry.

  • Little Women

d

This is one of the very few movies that made me cry in almost all of the scenes. The genius transition between the past and the present is perfectly made. The film has this warmth that I constantly felt while watching. Highly recommended.


K-DRAMA

  • Hospital Playlist & Prison PlaybookHospital Playlist, Ep. 1-8: A Masterclass in Friendship & Fun ...Prison Playbook Watch online streaming free tracking

Two of the best K-Dramas I highly recommend. Mind you, I do not prefer cheesy, sappy or over-comedic K-dramas so if you do too, then these dramas are perfect for you. These two dramas do have the same director and writer. These dramas are about ordinary people living ordinary lives. Dramatic plot twists and revenge scenes are non-existent in this drama. Instead, you will find “healing” (as viewers often described) when watching these two because of it’s realistic scenes.


Articles

“Bill Cunningham in Bill Cunningham New York, who gets up every day, gets on his bike, and takes pictures. Joan Rivers in Piece Of Work, who, right up until her death, was playing gig after gig. And Jiro, from Jiro Dreams of Sushi, who gets up everyday and makes the sushi.

These are the people I think we should be looking to for inspiration —
the people who every day of their lives, they get up do the work, regardless of success or failure.

Because you don’t know if or when success will come for you. The best thing you can do if you want to be an artist is to set up your life in such a way that you’re sort of insulated from success or failure.” Austin Kleon.

  • The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It

“By increasing the amount of time spent in school, expanding homework, harping constantly on the importance of scoring high on school tests, banning children from public spaces unless accompanied by an adult, and replacing free play with adult-led sports and lessons, we have created a world in which children are almost always in the presence of a supervisor, who is ready to intervene, protect, and prevent them from practicing courage, independence, and all the rest that children practice best with peers, away from adults.  I have argued elsewhere (Gray, 2011, and here) that this is why we see record levels of anxietydepressionsuicide, and feelings of powerlessness among adolescents and young adults today.” Psychology Today.

  • The Age of We Need Each Other

 “I realize that I don’t need to worry about the size of my audience or about reaching “people of influence.” My job is just to do my work with as much love and sincerity as I can. I can trust that the right people will read it. I am awed and humbled by people like Roy whom I meet in my travels and in my community. They live in service, in love, with great faith and courage, and unlike me they don’t have thousands of people telling them how important their work is.” Charles Eisenstein.

Princess Mononoke and Its Context

I’m deeply fascinated by the film Princess Mononoke. A fellow intern, Sam recommended this film to me. According to her, the film had influenced her to take her advocacy seriously. Currently, she is part of various organizations for the environment and an intern for Magwai, a company that produces reef-safe sunscreen.

Princess Mononoke has indeed the power to nudge audiences into caring for the environment deeply than ever. However, when I watched it, maybe because of my artist training, I noticed subtle details in the film that shows the rich history and culture of Japan.

SHINTOISM

World Religions: Shinto in Miyazaki's 'Princess Mononoke'

Japan’s oldest religion, Shintoism’s core belief is humans in connection with nature. Thousands of Kami (Japanese gods), that takes the form of the thing or animal it represents, made up the pantheon of Shintoism.

KAMI

In the film, humans recklessly cut trees and kill animals- an indication of disconnection to Kami. Hence we see the Boar god getting eat up by its hatred and starts acting like a wild animal, unconsciously destroying villages.

KODAMA

Pin on Studio Ghibli

These little white things called Kodama, or “tree spirits” in English, appear in forests as a sign that the forest is healthy. Kodama is one of the many Kami mentioned in the film and has its origin from Shintoism as well.

At later part of the film, when the forest is about to die, many Kodama falls from above- a sign that they had disturbed the spirit.

LEPROSY

The Complicated Power of Princess Mononoke's Villain, Lady Eboshi

In the earlier history of Japan, they considered leprosy as a punishment from the gods. As a result, they placed people who suffered from this disease in isolated facilities. In the film, they were not banned from their hometowns. Instead, they were given shelter and jobs.

A REMINDER

Although the film is relevant wherever you are, Director Hayao Miyazaki created Princess Mononoke to remind the Japanese of their Shintoism roots. Moreover, Studio Ghibli released the film in 1997, a time when Japan is ‘modernizing’ after being devastated by World War II. Miyazaki hopes that his fellow countrymen would not forget where they had come from.

THOUGHTS

This film had completely blown my mind. One must have a profound understanding of their culture and their people to create a film with such a rich historical background. Aside from its not-so-subtle environment advocacy, Princess Mononoke reminds its audience that hate plus hate does not equal peace. Actions of hatred do not end when you had hurt someone you hated, it will indirectly affect another, and so on. It will never end. Instead, as what is constantly being emphasized during the film, “View the world with eyes unclouded by hate.”

Shared: June 2020

Shared is a monthly blog post that contains books, podcasts, movies, K-dramas, articles, TED Talks, and documentaries that I recommend to everyone.

“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences.” – Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist

BOOK

  • Redirect

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by ...

This book shares why a lot of intervention programs don’t work. At the same time, it shares what does work, all backed up by scientific research. Through this book, I found the writing exercise called Best Possible Selves Exercise. College students who did the exercise for four days consistently became more optimistic and strive harder to reach their goals (they tested this after three weeks).

PODCASTS

Austin Kleon wrote in his book, Steal Like An Artist, “Everything builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.” This podcast episode talks about architectural buildings that build on what came before (well, almost everything is). As well as, how duplicate architecture developments in China are called ‘knock-offs’ while most state-building in the US is often, ‘inspired by Greek & Roman Architecture’.

What does an airport look like when it’s designed for people and not for planes?

VIDEOS

  • #BlackLivesMatter

You can donate to the #BlackLivesMatter movement without even spending a cent. Just play this video without skipping the ads. You can sign petitions here.

  • Where Joy Hides and How to Find it

In her TED Talk, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee talks about how tangible things such as flowers, fireworks, and architecture can make us feel intangible joy.

SHOWS

Ruler: Master Of The Mask' Episodes 25-26 Spoilers, Watch Online ...
© MBC

I highly recommend this KDrama as it has a great character development from the main character, the crown prince of the Joseon dynasty. The first few episodes were heartbreaking but I knew that it was necessary for the Crown Prince to grown into a wise King.

Available on Netflix. 

Frank Newbold Robbed G.oddess of Interior Design Masters
© Netflix

As an architecture student, Interior Design Masters helped me a lot on what I need to know about designing. The show explains why establishing an emotional connection to the visitor through design is significant in these times where online shopping is preferred, otherwise, why would people come?

Available on Netflix.