Have you ever cowered in fear of people's judgment because you're different? Being different and standing out sometimes makes us a minority in society. People's cold stares can easily hurt us, so we tend to try to hide our differences to avoid being hurt. However, standing out can also mean that we are irreplaceable and special in the world. When people make an effort to embrace their differences, rather than ignore them, our world can shine with the unique charms of each other.
"I have been different from other children since I was born."
The main character, Yun-jae, is a child born with alexithymia, which is a condition that prevents a person from easily recognizing, feeling, and expressing emotions well. His mother teaches him that he should act normally like everyone else. However, Yun-jae's life changed on his 16th birthday, when he was trying to live a normal life while hiding his differences. In a motiveless stabbing, the boy's grandmother was killed and his mother left in a coma. Alone in the world, he is treated like a monster for not being able to grieve after witnessing this event right in front of him. The boy lives a lonely life until one day he meets a special friend, Gon, who often gets angry with people because he is afraid of being hurt. As Yun-jae learns about other people's feelings through his relationship with Gon, he discovers that Gon is being bullied by Cheol-sa, a former juvenile delinquent. This makes Yun-jae realize that he cares about someone else and tries to rescue Gon. Will he be able to rescue his friend safely and recognize the emotions stirring in his own heart?
What makes this book unique is that it's told from the point of view of a protagonist who doesn't feel emotions the way most people do. Since Yun-jae has no idea what emotions such as anger, sadness, and joy feel like, the reader is able to reconsider what those emotions feel like. In addition, the author's clear writing style emphasizes the narrative of the emotionless Yun-jae in a concise manner. At the beginning of the book, the tragedy that befalls his family is told calmly. As the story progresses, it's also noteworthy that the description style starts to become enriched by the people Yun-jae meets. The change from simple sentences with no emotion to words with emotional feeling like "worried" and "sad" shows the change in the protagonist. Readers can follow along as Yun-jae strives to empathize with others and have a heartwarming experience as the various emotions that unfold in the boy's heart resonate with their own.
"There are a million reasons why this can't work. A million nos. But there's also one yes. We touched."
The movie is set in Elemental City, a place where the elements live. Fire is the minority element here, and they live in Fire Town because the other elements are uncomfortable with them. The main character, Amber, is the daughter of a merchant who owns a large store in Fire Town. Amber's longtime dream is to take over her father's store, so she learns the work there. One day, Amber is stressed out about a customer. To avoid losing her temper in front of the customer, she sets off a spark of anger in the basement of the shop. The spark bursts a pipe in the shop, and Wade, a water element who is a city inspector, leaps out of the pipe. He accidentally got sucked down a drain and arrived at Amber's shop. As Wade looks around, he realizes that the shop was built without a permit from the city. He tells Amber that since the store is operating without a license, he'll have to shut it down and hurries off to City Hall. To save the store, Amber leaves Fire Town for the first time in her life and takes the train to Elemental City. Will she be able to reunite with Wade and save her father's store?
The fun part of the movie is that the elements represent different races. In the case of water, the first element, it can be inferred that it symbolizes the white majority in American society. The fourth element, fire also can be inferred as a racial minority in American society. In this way, the film uses the meeting of water, the element that symbolizes the majority, and fire, the element that symbolizes the minority, as a metaphor for racial issues. Lines like Wade's family telling her, "You sound like a native," and the elementals staring at her when they see Amber's lights in the movie theater, address these issues. Therefore, when Wade tells her that she's special because she's different, the line touches not only her but also the audience. The elemental romance not only gives the audience a feeling of outlandishness but also a sense of anticipation about whether the love between water and fire is possible.