Ritual

Ritual ★★★★½

"Tomorrow is my birthday."

Escapism by means of a cycle of aimlessness. Trauma does not automatically heal itself. When family ceases to be family; when it systematically crumbles until there is nothing left but negative emotions and a lack of will to live, what is the next step supposed to be? Death seems like a release. Almost like a ray of hope to finally end the torture and get it over with; to finally be free. But it's not the answer. There's still time to set things right.

"Tomorrow is my birthday."

For a long while, it feels like the man and the woman are the only ones in the suburban Japanese cityscape. Red umbrella, an abandoned building, rain and tears, railway tracks, and rituals. The ritual of holding on to the edge of the world and letting the whims of your psyche decide whether you live or die. If she lets go, she falls. If she falls, her trauma wins. But a man - simply called "Director" - stops her from falling. He is somewhat of an enigma whose past is hinted at but never explicitly mentioned. Like a guardian angel, he sets out to save her from herself.

"Tomorrow is my birthday."

Ritual takes place over a span of 33 days. Hideaki Anno's exploration of despair, escapism, depression, loneliness, and familial scars are as authentic here as in Evangelion. The delicate heart of "She" desperately needs the sort of love that she never got in her life, not even from her family. All of this ends in a cathartic heart-to-heart conversation between two broken souls, and she finally begins to heal. No more falling from the edge of the world to the depths of an abyss fueled by misery. No more rituals. She gets to live now.

"Tomorrow is my birthday."

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