Ryosuke Oshiro‘s Playground, like most things I discuss on here, reminds me of childhood. Childhood is a strange thing since it largely becomes mythical and separated from reality the further we wander from it. Depending on our moods, state of mind, state of life, it can become the harrowing escape or the lost Garden of Eden of our lives.
I don’t know if it’s because I somehow got lost and became an optimist after so long living in cynicism, but I tend to only remember the good things about the life I lived in the past, and so childhood remains beautiful and a bright time full of hope and love, even when I felt haunted by the ghosts of my own creation.
I’m a so-called lone wolf.
At home, at school, everywhere, I enjoy being alone.
At least, that’s how I feel.
This is how we begin Playground. These words immediately hit very deep into me. Deep into the child I was [and continue to be], deep into the human I am. I’m neither an introvert nor an extrovert, and I’ve always been of the opinion that our obsession with labelling one another for every behavior and expression is so incredibly destructive. It hurts one another, and especially hurts impressionable teens, like too many of us are, who are perhaps sad or lonely or who feel misunderstood, so they start typing symptoms of their behavior into google or wikipedia until they find things that sound right. We discover that not only are we lonely, but we’re also introverted, possibly schizoid affective, maybe psychopathic or sociopathic or borderline personality disorder or bipolar. We start taking tests online to discover more about who the internet might think we are. If you’re a teenager doing this now, maybe you’re scouring buzzfeed for your personality, maybe you want to be a writer so you’re reading lists on flavorwire to discover what kind of tortured artist you can model your life on.
But maybe life is far simpler. Maybe you’re just a person who feels separated from the people around you, and especially the people you’re forced to spend most of your days with. Public schools are filled with other humans and the only thing that binds you to these people, the only thing that’s forced them into your life and you into their life is geographic proximity, just like the only reason you were born the way you are at all is a random combination of genetic information. What if just a few genes were different? Would you be kinder? Would you feel more comfortable with other humans? Would you be less attached to your dog?
I was a very lonely child when my family moved from the city to the suburb. I went from having nearly forty children my age within a mile of where I lived to having no children my age within five miles. More than that, I felt very little connection to the people I was forced to share my brief life with. There was very little overlap in my interests and the interests of those around me.
It wasn’t difficult for me to make friends or to understand that people liked me, enjoyed spending time with me, but I rarely wanted to be with them. Not because I was antisocial or felt uncomfortable around people, but because the worlds inside my head were more interesting than the world the rest of us lived in. Few people seemed to be able to see what I saw or share in the visions that flooded me.
So I sought often to be alone and would hole up in my room or the basement, trying to escape my siblings or all the many people who wanted to be my friend. I wanted to bring the worlds inside me to life. I wanted other people to see these worlds. I wanted this all to be real.
And so watching Playground late last night, in the dull afterglow of Thanksgiving, I almost cried for the child I once was, for the human I still am, who spends maybe too much time alone. Time spent alone not to escape other people, but to bring these so essential parts of me, these fundamental realities inside me, to life.
The music fills me with beauty and longing. The imagery of Playground is gorgeous, but not in the way I typically enjoy. It’s sort of chaotic and simple. It has a slant towards anime but reminds me more of sketches in old notebooks.
I had this experience. We weren’t drawing. We were sharing words, exchanging poems, short stories. These words that belonged to only us, that would never be shared with another person.
It was the first time I didn’t feel alone.
It’s a memory I’ll always hold onto.
When I met you on the internet even though we went to school together.
When you became best friends with me before I had even seen your face.
It took me a long time to feel comfortable in this world but I’ll never forget those nights in the dark reading your words, knowing you were reading mine.
It’s a beautiful and impossibly monumental thing to experience, and I hope all of you who lived a life like me have had that experience.
I hope this short film fills you with beauty and reminds you of those moments that made your life better than you thought it could ever be.