Flavors of Youth presents 3 stories which present the minimal needed for you to not close out your Netflix tab.
|Director(s)||Haoling Li, Yoshitaka Takeuch, Xiaoxing Yi|
|Writer(s)||Yoshitaka Takeuch, Xiaoxing Yi|
|Genre||Slice of Life, Drama, Romance|
|Good If You Like||People Talking Poetically About Food|
Fears of Aging
|Xiao Ming||Taito Ban|
|Yi Lin||Kotobuki Minako|
|Xiao Yu||Hasegawa Ikumi|
Hidamari no Choshoku – Beginning
This short is a poetic ode to San Xian noodles and the various ways it can be prepared. Yes, this whole 17-minute segment is pretty much about the noodles our lead Xiao Ming eats and a little bit about the people who make the noodles.
I was ready to turn off this movie and mark it off my calendar. I’m all for someone loving what they eat but his ode to noodles had me feeling like I was experiencing a niche that I just can’t click with. Luckily, the only polarizing one went first and things got better with each entry.
Chiisana Fashion Show – Starts Around 17:20
Yi Lin has been modeling for quite some time now and it is how she supports herself and her little sister Lulu. Someone she is raising since both of their parents are dead. Problem is, as Yi Lin gets older, she is already seeing herself slowly become irrelevant and replaced. Some new thing comes in and is getting the magazine covers she used to get and her man even transitions to this dude. Leaving her in a desperate state to stay thin to the point of collapse.
Luckily, while her sister Lulu is worried, even fights with her once she starts getting better, she forever has her sister’s back. Hence why she, with her own fashion brand, using her and her sister’s initials, gives her sister a grand comeback.
This was better, yet only in terms of story. Emotion wise, it just wasn’t clicking with me. Did I understand her aging and feeling replaceable hurt? Yes. Did I understand that she had no skills outside of modeling so losing that one thing, which supports her and her sister, is fearful? Absolutely. Yet, understanding and feeling her pain are two different things.
Which is the problem with this short. You get it, but even as you see Yi Lin struggle, it doesn’t hit you. I want to say it is because of the time length, but what more could they have added to make a bigger impact? They basically tell us Yi Lin was anorexic, with her not consuming anything besides maybe some alcohol. So, for reasons I can’t fathom, while all the details you need are there, it is hard to feel anything above “Well, her life was unfortunate” with this.
Shanghai Koi – Starts Around 43:48
A simple romance. Li-mo had a crush on Xiao Yu since there were in middle school but, like most middle school kids, they weren’t really confident enough to speak on their feelings. However, they were part of a three-person group, the third being Pan, and were quite happy. That is, until high school and university became an issue and this split the group apart.
Fast forward 3 years and things are awkward, but cordial. However, similar to Us and Them, clearly things would never be the same. Yet, somehow, 6 years after that, a full-on reconciliation happens and we get a happy ending.
I wanna say they saved the best for last but I feel the need to asterisk the word best in this scenario. Best when you compare to the rest of the shorts, but best in terms of this being on par with other anime out there? No. Like with the other shorts, you get just enough to maybe get into the story – depending on what you are into. For me, someone who gorges on teen and young adult romance, this was okay. Even if this was the sole short, while I wouldn’t be hooting and hollering about this, I would label it mixed and likely forget about it in a week.
Primarily because it just doesn’t have any real standout features. I will note Xiao Yu’s father being violent, to the point of her ending up in the hospital, was shocking. However, that’s about it. Otherwise, it hit a bunch of checkboxes, in terms of things productions like this would have, and delivered. No shining moment or anything like that. You expected young romance and the possibility of reconciliation and like a fast food restaurant, you get what you ordered with just enough time and attention for it to be consumable.
On The Fence
It’s A Appetizer vs. a Meal
Keeping up with this food theme, one of the things I’ve learn to like about shorts is that they pitch to you the desire for something more, something longer. The problem with the shorts presented is they don’t push you to think you really need more. Do you really want to hear one ode after another to noodles? Would making Yi Lin’s rise, fall, and resurgence in life and fashion make her story more emotional? Could it have made it where you wanted to see her get into the industry and likely be the prey to that man she was with? Maybe see her relationship with her manager, Steve, more? Maybe?
Then, when it comes to Li-mo and Xiao Yu, you do get something there. With them sending a cassette tape back and forth to communicate, you get a cute gimmick. One which reminds you of how in Your Name, the body switchers found a way to talk. However, just with making that connection, it makes you wonder if this side road taken would really justify a full-length film?
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
And those issues are what makes Flavors of Youth divisive. Are there likable stories here? Yes. Some like Chiisana Fashion Show don’t inspire quick comparison and, in the case of Shanghai Koi, you can see a simple romance you can get into. As for Hidamari no Choshoku, well a foodie anime movie might not be my thing, but I’m sure someone would like it.
But, overall, the main reason this is labeled as mixed is because each short doesn’t have a strong selling point. They seem like projects made to follow Your Name that were pitched and just didn’t test well. Yet, to just put something out there, this is what was delivered.