Bubbly Anime: “Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop”

Two socially insecure teenagers are at the center of the anime movie on Netflix, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (2020).

Japanese anime can be weird to Western eyes, and this one is (to my eyes, anyway). But, really, I finally consider it more imaginative than weird, with a delicate story that is easy to follow. And the kids are relatable. Words is a romance: a boy known as Cherry wears headphones to help avoid human interaction; Smile, the girl who likes him, hides with a mouth mask the buck teeth with braces she is embarrassed by. These two are simply unformed, inexperienced, notwithstanding Smile’s admirable talent with online videos. But it’s time to mature, even to make a connection of sorts with a declining old man.

Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro, the film is chaste and amusing. Alas, it churns out easy answers for its challenging situations, but before we get there it’s a pleasant trip. As often with anime, the visuals are enchanting and beautifully on-point. The pic reminds me a little of the anime TV series Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (whose first season I saw on Amazon Prime) except, happily, it has no interest in homoerotic rags.

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