Hair like the moon’s colour, a golden ring in their eyes, ethereal youth and grace are together a blessing and a curse to the Iorphians, known in tales as old as The Clan of Partings. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms follows the journey of Maquia, a lonely orphan belonging to this mythical clan. The plot begins when her peaceful days of weaving through Hibiol are interrupted by the greedy and ambitious military forces of a neighbouring nation, and she is separated from all that she knew. Dreams, love, separation and most important of all, a mother’s essence lie in the heart of this film, all of which is built up so subtly throughout that you will be left stunned in tears.
With Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, Mari Okada makes a brilliant directorial debut. It stands amidst the most prolific writers in the industry with various acclaimed works such as Anohana and Kiznaiver.
What Hibiol Symbolises
“The warp threads are a flow of time, dyed by the sky’s colour as the seasons change. All the memories that encompass the years past is remembered by the Hibiol. Even those who were unable to say goodbye cry with you inside the Hibiol.”
As the clan that lives surpassing all other creatures, Iorphians dedicate their hearts into weaving the days of their own and others into tapestries called the Hibiol. When she is caught crying alone by the elder of the clan, Maquia is comforted when reminded of where she is: the Hibiol tower, and the destiny promised to the Clan of Partings. Hibiol is the reminder that our lives are not solely the measurement of our own, it is also an anthology of dispersed streams of those before us, those who raised us or had a part in shaping who we are today. We are constantly planting our stories and proof that we have lived, and will live on in the people that we love. They manifest in the promises that we make and try to fulfil, through the lessons that we learn, and our shared regrets. These are our Hibiol.
We all feel a little alone sometimes. Some of us more than others, and some of us all the time. But when we remember that our pasts and lives are ceaselessly interconnected in so many ways, we can’t help but find a little solace that is just enough to push us forward.
A Mother’s Essence
“When I first found you, I thought you’ll cry with me, that you’re my Hibiol. When I remember you, I become myself. If you call me, I don’t care if it isn’t ‘Mom’, no matter what name it is, that name will surely be mine”
Motherhood is said to be a quest that one would never be able to understand without being a mother themselves. Maquia who has lost her way home was ready to give up all hope when she is disrupted in her thoughts by the heart-wrenching sobs of little Ariel, face red from crying his heart out. As she raises Ariel as her own child, the question of what being a mother means and doubts on her ability to be a mother conflicted with Maquia, to which she didn’t fail to conquer. Perhaps that’s one part of being a mother—always rising to the occasion with your child’s best interest at heart. For mothers, being the best that is worthy of shaping their children’s lives and to be able to fulfil their need for guidance and support is one of a mother’s life purposes.
Perhaps a mother’s essence is not only giving, but being whatever your child needs, owning the name with which they call you and reach for you.
Being a mother means teaching your child the harder things in life, like what it means to protect the ones you love. Other times, being a mother simply means teaching them how to say one word that fills your heart with joy unlike any other you’ve felt before in a field of dandelion seeds.
Partings are for New Meetings
“The Clan of Partings sees off many departures, sees off change. Time for them continues without end. And that is why they will have encounters and will weave.”
For the Clan of Partings, it is in their nature to not have lingering attachments to the past or struggle with departure — time for them is frozen after all. “I won’t cry, I promise,” vows Maquia to Ariel. But as she stands in the same field of dandelion seeds where the most precious memories of Ariel were made, Maquia breaks her promise. She bursts into tears, with dandelion seeds blowing in the wind as if to accompany her in her final goodbye.
No matter how many times I’ve watched this ending scene, I will always cry, and so will you. Partings will always be painful, each in its own way, regardless of how many “goodbyes” you’ve said before. Even then, it’s impossible to not love as we continue to have fateful encounters. Our Hibiol does not end with separation, it goes on forever, it disperses into the sky like dandelion seeds and is carried on by those we will come to love.
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is a sentimental rendition of life and what makes it worthy of living shown through beautiful, dream-like animation. Mari Okada has always aimed to incorporate themes of time and human relationships in her works. This time, although portrayed through a maternal perspective, it is somehow still a perspective that can deeply resonate for anyone watching. To those who have reached this far without watching, I would like to stress that Maquia is something for you to experience, and I hope you’ll experience a fateful discovery of your own as you watch it.
Written by Sofea Balqish.
Featured image by Netflix.