‘The Parades’ Ending Explained & 2024 Film Summary: Does Nana Meet Ryo?


The Parades is a new Japanese supernatural drama film released on Netflix that sets out to tell an emotional story from a unique perspective. The film is centered around Minako, a woman who gets estranged from her young son Ryo after a devastating natural disaster and has to go to extreme lengths looking for her boy. Along the way, Minako comes across some unusual experiences and is helped by some great friends, even though they are not exactly normal humans. Overall, The Parades is a heartwarming film that takes its time to play out, leaving a soft, soothing effect on the mind.

Spoiler Alert

Plot Summary: What is the film about?

The Parades begins with an unconscious woman being rolled around by sea waves, as she is evidently in quite some trouble. Some time after the waves have calmed down, the woman wakes up on the shore amidst strewn rubble after having miraculously survived. But the triumph of this survival is not what she thinks of, for she is immediately concerned for someone else. The woman is the very protagonist of the film, Minako, and she realizes that her beloved son Ryo is not by her side. Running all across the beach, Minako desperately calls out to Ryo, with no reply from anywhere. The rubble and objects strewn all around the beach and also in the sea make it clear that an earthquake and a resulting tsunami have just hit the coast, leading to massive damage to livelihoods in the area. 

Minako continues searching for her son and tries to ask the rescue workers nearby, but to no avail. She runs to the emergency shelter that has been put up nearby, but finds no sign of Ryo and receives no help from others either. Things seem very odd, for nobody is willing to talk to her or even acknowledge her presence and instead looks through her, almost as if she does not exist at all. Minako has no option but to leave, walking towards her home, where she lived only with Ryo. The place has been destroyed as well, and the boy is nowhere to be seen. All Minako can find amongst the ruins is an old photograph of her and Ryo from one of their earlier visits to the beach. Right around this time, she hears a man call out to her, telling her to be careful, and as Minako turns, she sees him driving away in a white van.

This is the first person in a while who has spoken to Minako directly, and so she immediately asks for clarification from him about the strange situation. The young man introduces himself as Akira, and he soon takes the protagonist to a spot in the vicinity. The place is warmly lit with bright lights and is amidst an amusement park, which now also acts as the home of a group of people. Minako gets introduced to these people and is simply shocked to know who they are. Akira and his friends reveal that Minako has actually died and is in the spirit world, where they all have been living because of some regret or unfulfilled desire from their living days.

Why does Minako decide to stay with the group?

As the group tells Minako about what exactly happened with her, things do start to add up in her mind. After all, she had been too deep in the sea at the beginning of the film, and she could not really make any supremely miraculous recovery. The fact that she was dead all along and was only a ghost roaming the streets and shelters is why nobody was interacting with her. Despite the inhabitants of the spirit world being able to see and walk through the world of the living, they cannot really interact or communicate with them, and so Minako literally did not exist to all the people she asked for help from. But she also does not take this new information very well, and understandably so, for she needs to get comfortable with the idea that she has actually passed away. Along with the shock and disbelief is also the realization that Minako cannot now ever meet her son Ryo unless he too dies, which is an even more horrific thought.

Minako spends the first few days by herself, even though she takes shelter at the amusement park, in a room that had reportedly been vacated very recently, after the previous spirit moved on. During the day, she goes around the town searching for any sign or proof of Ryo but finds none. Minako used to work as a reporter at a local news agency, and so she tries to get hold of any information from the place, too. While she notices her own name among the ones officially declared missing, there is no mention of Ryo, perhaps giving her hope that he is still alive. But back at her new home, she is rather irritated and angered at seeing the other spirits simply lazing around all day, doing nothing about their unfulfilled desires, and showing no sign of wanting to move past the spirit realm. 

Minako is frustrated at the unity and sense of togetherness that the spirits show amongst each other and finds it ridiculous. Having just come to an understanding of what losing her life meant, she simply misses the purpose of such an existence. However, the protagonist has a change of mind when she is made a part of the procession that takes place in the spirit world on every full moon night. On these nights, all the spirits walk together with the hope of meeting the ones they desire to see in their mortal lives. Such meetings take place as well, essentially when the family members also lose their lives and come over to the spirit world, and Minako is overwhelmed to see the support and love the spirits show to one another. This is enough for her to decide to stay back at the amusement park and also take help from her new friends in fulfilling her desire.

Can Minako meet Ryo for one last time?

During her stay in the spirit world, and especially once she becomes friends with the others, Minako learns the basic rules of this space. Any human soul who has some regret or unfulfillment from their mortal lives is transferred to this spirit world, from where they can move on only when they have served their purpose or attained mental peace and acceptance. For Minako, she wants to ensure the safety of her son Ryo and somehow reach out to him one last time, making his life easier for the future. But she is unable to find him anywhere, and her search for the boy is also helped by the rest of the spirits.

The cheerful woman spirit Kaori had died before her children could grow up to a considerable age, and she always had the wish to see her daughter give birth to her kids, essentially wanting to be a grandmother. But since Kaori could not get to live this, she still keeps returning to her house and looking over her family members, and she is finally able to see her daughter give birth. The shy and composed young man, Akira, wants to write about everything in the spirit world, and he reveals that his regret from mortal life was blaming his parents for his untimely illness, even though they could do nothing about it. Like Kaori, Akira too keeps visiting his house and sees his elderly father write a book about him, and these experiences gradually heal his pains and make him ready to move on from the spirit world.

Shori has a tough exterior and also a dark past, for he was part of the Yakuza, as his father was the leader of the clan. But Shori’s lover and fiancée, Mizuki, did not like him being involved in such a dangerous life, and her fears came true when Shori was shot to death because of his criminal identity. Therefore, Shori now still longs to be with Mizuki, and after seven years of being in the spirit world, he truly wants his ex-lover to move on from the grief of his loss and start a new life. He does eventually get to see Mizuki heal the pains from her past and settle with a new boyfriend, and this makes Shori immensely happy, making him the very first in the group to leave the spirit world permanently.

Similarly, the protagonist, Mizuki, also gets to carry out her desire, which was to see Ryo one last time. One night, Michael announces that Ryo has finally been found, and all the spirits rush to the children’s hospital where the boy is being treated. However, Ryo is still in a state of shock and extreme sickness, as he keeps calling out for his mother. When the boy is completely alone, Mizuki walks up to him and comforts him for one last time, also apologizing for having left him alone in the world. Although Ryo does not technically see his mother, he seems to feel her presence through the flickering of the lights. The boy behaves as if he can very well see and hear his mother, and it seems like it all takes place in his dream or imagination. In fact, another young girl towards the beginning had also seemingly seen Mizuki, perhaps suggesting that the children in The Parades are able to see or feel spirits because of their strong imagination and lack of inhibitions. This experience heals both Ryo and Mizuki, as the boy miraculously recovers from all illness the next morning, and Mizuki is finally relieved of the burden and can leave the spirit world.

Does Michael get to complete his film?

The eldest member among the group of spirits at the amusement park, Michael, initially seems to be just a boastful character with little truth in his tall claims. While his claims are never proven, the reason for his existence as a spirit is gradually revealed. As an absolute lover of cinema, Michael had chosen his profession to be that of a film producer, but he was also in the process of writing and shooting his own film. This film was indeed based on a very personal memory, back from the days of his youth, when he had been part of the student uprisings. At the time, he was very close friends with a man named Sasaki and also a woman named Maiko. Michael and Maiko were falling in love with each other, but the man decided to leave her as he no longer wanted to be a part of the protests and uprising. 

Maiko was obviously very saddened by this sudden abandonment, and she married Sasaki and lived the rest of her life with him, despite having a deep love for Michael. Over time, Michael also realized that he had made a very selfish and grave mistake, and so he wanted to make a film about their younger days as a sort of apology to Maiko. He tells his friends that he had made a promise to Maiko about the film but had died halfway through making it. This was the reason why Michael was stuck as a spirit, and now Mizuki decided to help him out.

Bringing all the spirits together, Mizuki shoots Michael’s film, shifting the plot to fifty years later, when the protagonist of the film is an old man. By this time, another young girl named Nana had come to the spirit world, as she had slit her own wrists because of incessant bullying at school. Nana agrees to play the fictional role of Maiko’s granddaughter, who meets Michael on the beach and takes him to the woman’s grave. While this ending to Michael’s film is definitely fictional, it does put a warm end to his unfulfilled romance with Maiko. He then also takes the film to Maiko’s house in Tokyo to meet Sasaki, who had passed away as well. Maiko is still alive, and she spends most of her days watching films at her home alone. When Michael sees her and can express his feelings, despite the woman not being able to hear them, he is finally ready to move on from the spirit world.

How does Nana meet Ryo?

During The Parades‘ ending, we see a boy walking through the streets of Tokyo to go to a particular cafe, where he meets Nana. This boy is a grown-up Ryo, indicating that a number of years have passed, and he is very much alive and well. However, it was also shown that Nana suddenly woke up in the real world, with a tear rolling down her face almost immediately. Nana had actually not died, but she was in a comatose state, very close to death, because of which she had been transferred to the spirit world. As soon as she recovers, Nana wakes up in the real world, and the tears in her eyes probably suggest that she remembered all the experiences from the spirit world.

This has indeed proved true in the present time, as she is now a director, debuting her very first film, which is aptly titled “The Parades.” In fact, the film is shown to be the very film that we viewers have been watching for this long, and Ryo is simply delighted to watch his mother’s story play out on the screen. Nana had earlier told Mizuki that she would make her the protagonist in her film if she ever made any, and she has now kept her promise. Nana’s film is also dedicated to the memory of Michael, who instilled a love for cinema in her mind. In the end of The Parades, each of the family members of the spirits look up at the exact spots where their respective relatives and friends had stood, suggesting that each of the characters is still remembered and loved by their close ones. The amusement park and Michael’s favorite cinema theater are also shown to be in ruins, as the spirits living at the place have now moved in. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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