Netflix’s Drifting Home Ending, Explained: Is Noppo a Ghost?

Produced by Studio Colorido, Netflix’s ‘Drifting Home’ is a fantasy adventure movie directed by Hiroyasu Ishida. The film revolves around a group of elementary school students who mysteriously end up in the middle of the sea while visiting a six-decade-old apartment complex. It marks the beginning of their incredible journey as they struggle for their lives while exploring the complexities of human emotions. They also learn the importance of letting go of loved ones when the time is right and making peace with it. Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Drifting Home.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Drifting Home Plot Summary

Despite being very close to each other for quite some time, Natsume and Kousuke have started to drift apart following the death of grandpa Yasuji. They often fight with each other in front of their friends and the tension between them has only gotten worse. Meanwhile, Natsume has kept the emotional trauma of losing Yasuji to herself and often visits her room in the Kamonomiya complex just to relive some of the old memories.

Since the six-decade-old building is about to be demolished, Kousuke and some other students from their class visit it unbeknownst to the dangers they are putting themselves in. When Natsume and Kousuke end up fighting over petty things, their differences lead to a scuffle following which the former slips from the top of the building and is about to fall to the ground. Although Kousuke manages to grab her by her hands, he soon loses grip.

But something strange happens at that moment and the very next second they find themselves along with the dilapidated apartment complex in the middle of the sea. Soon they find themselves struggling for basic needs like food and water. Luckily when the apartment complex ends up running into department stores and other uninhabited buildings from time to time, the sixth-graders put their lives on the line to get the much-needed supplies. It is during one such attempt that Juri ends up getting seriously injured and Reina blames Natsume for it.

Unfortunately, in the next few days, Natsume and her friends start losing hope, and dying in the middle of nowhere starts looking like a plausible possibility. Although Kousuke feels that Noppo is hiding something, he later learns that he does not know how they ended up in the middle of the sea but does blame himself partly for it.

Everyone’s worst fears are realized when the apartment complex starts sinking slowly. Natsume and her friends are quick on their feet and they build a boat to save themselves. But at the last moment, Noppo refuses to accompany them and stays back. Natsume feels that she can’t allow this and jumps out of the boat to convince him to come with them. This change everything as Kousuke and others are also forced to turn back to save the sinking apartment complex.

Luckily they find a Ferris wheel on their way and use it to take save the apartment complex from sinking. As they drift in the sea for a few more hours, they suddenly find themselves slowly drifting towards an island.

Drifting Home Ending: Why Was Grandfather Yasuji’s Death a Personal Loss For Natsume?

From a young age, Natsume saw her parents fight with each other. It eventually had a deep psychological effect on her and she would often cry hoping it will change things. However, she eventually realized that crying didn’t help her or her parents so she started pretending that things were fine. However, when she met grandpa Yasuji, her life changed forever.

Grandpa Yasuji not only welcomed her with open arms but gave her a stable and happy life. Natsume soon noticed that she no longer needed to pretend to be fine, as he was genuinely happy. Therefore, when he passed away, the stability and normalcy that he brought to her life appeared to be slipping away. Apart from the aforementioned reasons, the emotional bond that they had formed made his death a very personal loss for Natsume.

Is Noppo a Ghost? Why Does He Part Ways With His Friends?

Noppo is one of the main characters throughout the film. In the story, he is the thread that binds Natsume and Kousuke’s past to the present. As explained by him during one of the moving scenes, he has actually been there since the apartment complex was constructed some six decades ago and has even observed the two friends closely for years. While the film does not directly confirm it at any point, one could reasonably conclude from the story that he is obviously a ghost.

As mentioned above, he has been at the Kamonomiya complex for several decades and has hardly shown any signs of aging. Furthermore, he mentions observing Natsume and Kousuke spend time with the latter’s grandfather for quite some time, but the two friends do not recall ever seeing him. His omnipresence at the complex coupled with the ability to remain unseen clearly leaves no doubt that he is undoubtedly a ghost. Before Kousuke and his friends return to their families, the apartment complex reaches a mysterious island that is inhabited by ghosts like Noppo.

Noppo explains that this is where he must part ways with them. If they try to stay on the island they would, unfortunately, be lost there forever and can never return to their homes. Although Natsume has fought hard till this point to keep him with everyone, when she realizes that Noppo has made peace with his future there, she does not try to persuade him anymore. Therefore, Noppo parts ways with his new friends as he plans to stay on the island where he belongs.

Do Natsume, Kousuke, And Their Friends Eventually Return to Their Families? How Does Their Experience at the Sea Change Them?

As they bid Noppo a final goodbye, they learn from him that they can now return safely to their families. The mysterious blue glow soon begins to surround them again. Noppo refers to them as little guys and tells his friends that they will now guide them forward. Soon the building is carried away by it and Kousuke and his friends drift away from the mysterious island slowly. A few moments later the entire apartment complex is slowly engulfed by the blue glow and before they could fully comprehend what’s happening they realize that the building has somehow returned to its original place.

Natsume realizes that her mother has been desperately looking for her which is surprising as she has previously assumed that she would be better off without her. In the following days, it becomes evident that they have learned to be grateful for their loved ones as they have almost felt as if they have lost everything on several instances while being lost at the sea. The final few minutes of the film beautifully capture the theme of separation and its emotional impact on children. Natsume and her friends grow from their experience and learn the lesson of holding onto loves ones and also letting them go when the time is right.

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