I recently saw The Last: Naruto the Movie in theaters. Thought I’d share some quick thoughts.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
Still with me? Good!
One of my favorite things about Japanese animation and comics is that on top of plot and characters, the stories tend to be very theme driven. And those themes are often reinforced with consistent symbolic imagery. One of the central images in The Last: Naruto The Movie is the “red thread of fate.” Longtime readers of Art-Eater (is there such a thing? :O) will already be familiar with this classical allusion when we first wrote about it as a central motif in Kill La Kill.
To recap: In Chinese culture, there’s a very ancient concept of the “red thread of fate” (姻緣紅線). It is an invisible string, spun by the god of marriage, Yue Xia Laoren (月下老人) whose name means “Old Man Under The Moon.” When two people are connected by this thread, their fates are inextricably intertwined and they are destined to fall in love. Over the centuries, this idea has spread to all East Asian cultures including Japan.
The red thread of fate makes its appearance in Naruto in the form of a scarf. It’s present in an early Flashback, where a very young Naruto attempts to save Hinata from some bullies. In the process they beat him up and tear up his red scarf. Naruto tosses it aside without a second thought, but it becomes a treasure for Hinata. And thus their fates are tied.
Years later, as an adult Hinata tries to work up the courage to confess her feelings to Naruto. She decides that she will do so while presenting him with a red scarf that she’s knitted for him. Things don’t go quite as planned as their village is attacked by an unknown enemy. The ensuing adventure takes them all the way to the moon, and throughout it all the red scarf looms, sometimes quietly in the background, sometimes violently at the forefront of conflict. It is discarded then recovered. It is stretched, torn, and burned, but eventually mended. And ultimately it binds the two together.
I thought this was a sweet bit of visual poetry on top of a fun action film. Can you think of other stories where the red thread of fate is present? (there are tons!)