Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is a 2021 Japanese Anime movie that is centered around a shy boy who expresses himself through haiku, and a bubbly but self-conscious girl who both share a brief, magical summer. After meeting one day, Cherry and Smile decide to become friends and explore each other’s hobbies.
Cherry is a shy boy who expresses his inner thoughts and feelings with haiku poems. The headphones, smartphone, and haiku book are important objects that reflect his introspective loner personality, as Cherry is afraid to share his haikus with anyone. His fear of reciting his haiku symbolizes isolation, keeping personal secrets to himself by forming a wall between himself and other people. In addition, he is often shy among girls his age. Cherry wears headphones to avoid talking to people. Smile’s insecurities revolve around her dental situation. She is self-conscious about her braces and buckteeth, and having to wear braces all the time. She fears people will laugh at her for having braces and uses a face mask to hide them. Similar to Cherry’s headphones, the writers have visualized how we often find creative ways to hide our insecurities and/or insulate ourselves from the world. The face mask is symbolically tied to COVID-19 during the pandemic. The face mask is what people wear on their faces to protect themselves from disease, cold air, and allergens. In this case, Smile wears her face mask throughout the majority of Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, to protect herself from the cruelty of others. It is a clever play on expectations.
As expected in a Japanese anime movie, as all of the cast and crew members are of Japanese descent. Japanese culture is well represented. There are Japanese titles written on signs and in texts with English subtitles. Also, we see a strong representation of women, as there are many female characters given major and supporting roles.
In one prominent scene where Cherry and Smile are in split screen, we see how Cherry and Smile communicate with each other through their smartphones. They send texts to each other, sharing happy thoughts; these thoughts are transcribed in English. The activity on Smile’s page on her smartphone symbolizes her intelligence in online communities. Cherry and Smile become best friends, though they face problems with their relationship among the way. The film feels modern with the inclusion of smartphones and face masks, for better or worse. This is a sweet slice-of-life anime that is perfect for those of us on overload from shonen big action scenes.
In the conclusion, Cherry overcomes his fear of speaking in front of an audience and mentions the phrase “words bubble up like soda pop”, a reference to the movie’s title. Then, Smile becomes confident enough to show her braces and smile at Cherry, and they share their first kiss.