Slices of Life: “Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop”

It’s raining where I am right now, but I’m dreaming about traversing the countryside on clear summer days, cooling off in shopping malls, searching for a musical memory long lost, and scribbling poetry on my phone along the way. This is the delightful world of the 2020 slice of life animated movie, “Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop.”

Directed by Kyōhei Ishiguro, also known for the anime adaptation of “Your Lie in April,” “Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop” starts with a phone swap between Cherry, a surly young poet working at an elderly day care center at the Nouvelle Mall for his last summer in Oda City and Smile, a bubbly social media influencer. After they run into each other and notice their phones aren’t theirs, they meet up to swap them back, only to become fast friends. They bond over Cherry’s haikus and Smile’s livestreams, and just before the summer ends, the two come together to help one of the day care attendees, Fujiyama, find a lost music record with significant ties to the past. 

This movie is absolutely magical in its rendition of summertime. I love the dreamy synth score and the whimsical color palette that pops with neon and haiku graffiti. The movie also feels like summer—the story is slow-paced and organic in the way it unfolds, and it ties its young protagonists to the history of Oda City and its residents in spontaneous fashion. Fujiyama’s record store and the history of the mall are core locations that add to the nostalgia for the movie, but I also love the elements of social media that place the movie solidly in the 2020s—Smile’s history of being on Curiosity, the social media platform in this universe, and her popularity is a great contrast to Cherry, who feels like he’s sending his haikus into a void on the same platform.    

If you’re looking for one last taste of summer, I highly recommend this sweet, feel-good 87 minutes of pure, slice of life escapism.  

“Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop” is available to stream on Netflix. If there’s some slice of life media you’d enjoy seeing in the column, @ me on Twitter (@frankiemilktea) to let me know. Catch you on the flippity flip :>

Frankie Martinez is a writer from California. Her work has appeared in 3 Moon Magazine and Poetically Magazine.

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