I noted Turning Red has some good stuff going on beneath the surface. There’s plenty of it! And one of the biggest that underpins the story is about integration. It’s about yin and yang. And it shows up most prominently in the film in two ways.
The first deals with synthesis and about how we can blend. Mei doesn’t have to follow her mother or become her mother… or follow tradition or become tradition… but she doesn’t need to entirely abandon them either. She can engage with both and, above all, make it her own.
Life and all of us within it are not trapped within a series of binary opposites. The idea of “You are either this, or this” is not accurate. Nor is the idea that our tastes, interests, attentions, fandoms, and more must be in opposition to others. We don’t need to hate something else in order to like something.* Instead, we can embrace broadly.
Mei’s admission of “But I’m scared, it will take me away from you,” is the crux moment for this thread. Both she and her mother realize in that moment that it needn’t take either away. We can all explore and grow and create ourselves (whether we’re 13 or older!) not in opposition to tradition but growing from it and even remaining in dialogue with it. And we can pour in all else we love, mixing and synthesizing and dancing with it all as it becomes our own personal, glorious, and authentic self-expression.
* Quite the contrary, and I enthusiastically invite everyone to enjoy what they enjoy without engaging in denigrating that which you don’t enjoy.
** This idea and theme of synthesis also plays out beautifully in the movie when the old school chanting is joined by, and musically merges perfectly with, 4*Town’s Nobody Like U…