Monday, May 11, 2020

Si shi qing chun/Flavors of Youth (2018)

A little over two years ago, I visited my brother in China for his wedding.  Over the course of about three weeks, I got to see a lot of the surrounding area and take a lot of pictures.  Imagine my surprise when I recognized one of the buildings in an animated Netflix movie.  I had a little trouble finding the photo, as I thought I had a better picture of it, but I’m pretty sure the building in the middle is featured in the last segment of Flavors of Youth.

That being said, Flavors of Youth is divided into three segments, with people recalling some memory of their respective childhoods.  It might be common or insignificant to most, but the narrators recall some time when they were happy.

In The Rice Noodles, Xiao Ming recalls living with his grandmother.  They had a place not too far from a noodle place that served his favorite San Xian noodles.  People came from all over to eat there.  Other places throughout his life served a similar dish, but no place was as good as the original.

With A Little Fashion Show, Yi Lin is a fashion model.  She recalls taking care of her younger sister, Lulu.  A series of events leads Yi Lin to take a break from modeling.  During this time she comes to realize what’s important.

The final segment is called Love in Shanghai.  It’s told from the perspective of Li Mo, about him and his friend, Xiao Yu.  They have a bit of a romantic interest in each other.  They record messages for each other on a tape, which they pass back and forth at school.  Her parents want her to attend a good university, which she applies for.  He works hard and applies, too, hoping to be with her.  She fails the test, hoping to stay with Li Mo.  He gets in and moves away.  After failing the test, Xiao Yu and her family move away.

Each story is about thirty minutes in length.  Although the animation is the same, the story tends to vary in quality.  I felt that A Little Fashion Show was the weakest.  It seemed to be the most generic of the three segments.  The other two seemed to have better detail.  The Rice Noodles had a nice progression, showing the main character’s development and his various reasons for going to the different noodle places.  Love in Shanghai had an ironic twist that was relatable, even if you’ve never been in that situation.

On Netflix, it’s called Flavors of Youth: International Version.  I’m not sure what that means.  Neither IMDb nor Wikipedia mentions what is international about it, other than it’s shown outside of China and Japan.  I was able to watch it in Japanese with English subtitles.  So far as I know, there’s no additional footage, nor was anything removed.  The only difference might be an English dub.

It’s worth noting that there’s a post-credits scene with all of the main characters, implying that it’s all in the same universe.  This would seem to be the closest that the various characters get to interacting with each other.  I would say that the movie is worth watching if you have Netflix.  It would appear to be hand drawn, but there are a few scenes that seem more like CGI.  None of the stories are overly involved or complex, making for three simple, easy-to-follow narratives.  It’s a great thing to watch if you’re looking for something different while isolated in your house.

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