Vibrator: Information Overload and the Need to Be Loved

by: Natalie Jongjaroenlarp

Japan 70

Okabe’s first physical contact with Rei.

The “talking” advertisement that explains why she needs to buy the product in order to look better.

In Ryuichi Hiroki’s Vibrator, Rei travels around Tokyo with a stranger she unexpectedly meets at a convenience store on a whim. In her life, Rei has trouble trying to understand the world around her. Her main problem lies with how she processes the things that she encounters in her life. “Voices” in her head come from the environment around her. Because of this, she develops an eating disorder. For Rei, food is her defense against the information and “voices” around her that bother her. For instance, in the opening scene, Rei comes into contact with a “talking” advertisement that provides criticism on her physical appearance in an attempt to sell a product. Her eating disorder allows her to feel secure within the confines of society. She is insecure because she feels the need to conform along with society’s standards and expectations.

In addition, Rei has an alcohol disorder. She believes alcohol relieves her stress that stems from the voices that she wishes to escape. As the plot continues, she progressively learns more about herself and consistently questions her beliefs and opinions. For instance, she questions why women must get caught up in their physical appearances. She finds it unnecessary as men do not worry about such trivial things such as this. In her opinion, she states that she can only be herself and that is enough for her.

Her strong desire to fit into society is especially prominent in the scene where Rei has her first encounter with Okabe. It reveals the more sensitive side of her, which reflects her absolute need to be with someone and have physical contact with another person. The “vibrations” that Rei gets as Okabe walks through the door and looks at her are not only as a result of her phone vibrating in her pocket, but also the emotional attachments she establishes with him once she sees his face. This becomes increasingly pronounced as he walks toward her and lightly taps her on the back pocket of her pants. The sound starts off in a relatively slow rhythm and develops into full being as the scene continues. The sound coupled with the short, abrupt sequences that recite what is going on in her head, at each given moment, provide for an artistic scene that relates the barriers society puts up as a key element to which she uses to learn more about herself and the world in which she lives. It makes it realistic in the fact that what she chooses to say in her head is not expressed outwardly. The encounter, while staying true to the realistic aspects of the scene, is also equally as imaginative as a fantasy that could have easily been thought up by Rei herself. The camera angles also add to the realistic aspects of the scene because they follow the subject in naturally jerky motions. It is clear that the angles are not meant to be pristine and clear-cut, they are meant to assure the audience that what is happening on screen is a real encounter and not merely a figment of Rei’s imagination. The scene itself provides a good example of how Rei’s disorders are a result of her need to be loved and live in the free world as her own unique self.

The conflicts and restrictions that society provides are what cause Rei to take a chance to learn more about herself. She extends beyond the confines of her disorders and ultimately learns that she does not need to take what society considers “ideal” and make it a reality. For, there simply is no such thing as perfect.

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