The Theme Of Personal Identity In Departures

1597 Words 7 Pages
The theme of personal identity is one that features in many Japanese films. One such film is Departures, directed by Takita Yōjirō, which explores the life of the main character, Daigo, finding his identity in the world after losing his job as a cellist and accepting the job as a Nokanshi agent. The film provides insight into individual identity and how it interacts with occupation and cultural perception. Some significant points that show this exploration of personal identity include the symbolism and comparison of the two cellos to Daigo, the journey towards Daigo’s job as a Nokanshi agent, and Daigo’s relationship and rediscovery of his father. Together, these themes provide insight into not only Daigo’s identity, but the theme of identity …show more content…
The expensive cello represents the big dream that Daigo starts off with, being a cellist player in a famous orchestra. A grand cello for a grand prospective future; the cello is brand new and thus has not yet had the chance to build character for itself. This is the same for Daigo, this was the only orchestra he could get into, his career is new and has not found himself yet. When the orchestra is disbanded, Daigo mentions himself that the cello “had been too much for me.” This has two meanings, the prominent one is that he could not afford to buy the cello with what he had and had to take out a loan to buy it and thus is too much for him as he has no job to pay it back. The other meaning is that Daigo himself notes that he’s not a great cellist and thus buying an expensive professional one was out of his league. He is overshadowed by this cello; it eclipses his life up to the point that he sells it. Selling the cello is symbolic of Daigo coming to terms that he’s not going to be a grand cellist, he’s not going to make it big in the limelight, travelling around the world in a famous orchestra. Selling the cello is acceptance that his life is going to take a different route. The cello in his mother’s home, like the expensive cello, is a representation of Daigo’s identity. …show more content…
However, the cultural and social perception of his job has an impact on himself and his identity. When Daigo was still in the Orchestra, the viewer is clued in early on that he is going to lose his job due to the shots of the mostly empty audience. Shots that focus on Daigo playing show him as uncertain while the other cello players are focused and appear to be confident in their playing. Coupled with a close up shot of Daigo’s shocked expression while everyone else takes the news calmly gives the impression that only Daigo is hugely impacted by this revelation, showing how this is a big change in Daigo’s life, the first hint that he is unlikely to get another orchestra job. This starts the beginning over Daigo’s journey of self-identity, removed from his previous identity of a professional cello player, something that has been installed into him since he was a child. As he says himself, selling the cello is a relief, as though a burden has been lifted. Accepting to quit as a cellist opens himself up to new opportunities. Though at first he struggles with being a Nokanshi, due to the negative social stigma around death, he slowly finds himself through the role. It is at this point, when he has found stability in his identity, that the social stigma arises. This is shown well when his wife, Mika, confronts him about it. When he first accepted the job,

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