Your Name by Makoto Shinkai

Your Name

Your Name (君の名は) is an animated movie by Makoto Shinkai (新海 誠), also known as Hayao Miyazaki’s (宮崎 駿) successor. Since its original animated commercial in 2014, then known as Cross Roads, it was since renamed and modified to become this new movie that has grossed USD174 million worldwide thus far. No simple feat, especially for an anime. The following movie review contains spoilers, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem, because it allows you to fully enjoy the script and settings when watching the movie. A quality movie can never be spoiled by spoilers.

The movie talks about a high school girl (Mitsuha) who, like most rural Japanese teenagers, dislikes town life at Itomori (a fictitious town, surrounding a meteor crater lake from an impact 1000 years ago). Part of the reason of her hatred was because of her duty to mouth-chew white rice into sake as ancestral offering in front of town citizens, another being her sustained pressure as the mayor’s daughter. Meanwhile, a Tokyo high school boy Taki worked as a part-time waiter after high school and cram school. Both wanted to live the life of the other and that was when they switched bodies one day. The switching always started in the morning and ended at twilight. They started by exchanging names and unsuccessfully trying to call each other. Given the geographical separation, they only went to each other’s hometown once. (More about this below.) As the phenomenon occurred 2-3 days a week, Mitsuha eventually helped Taki get a date with his restaurant’s supervisor. Taki, on the other hand, helped Mitsuha get on better terms with her father and classmates.

Tower Cranes

But then the body switching phenomenon stopped, and Taki eventually decided to go to Itomori to find her, only to find out about the town’s destruction by a split-off meteor 3 years ago. 500 of the town’s 1500 people died, including Mitsuha. (It was then when he remembered her finding him in Tokyo 3 years ago, but that was before the switching took place, so he didn’t know her at the time.) He wanted to save the townspeople, especially her. Remembering where they placed her mouth-chewed sake from the previous body-switching, he went to the shrine to drink her white wine. Since it contained her saliva, he hoped her DNA could reactivate the body switching process. I believe this to be a critical moment in the movie because not everyone would want to go back in time to meet someone who haven’t confirmed his/her feelings, since no one has full control over these feelings, not even the owner. The fact that he was willing to go back, reflected his love for her regardless of whether she forgot about him, lost interest in him, or still likes him.

The body-switching did reactivate and he reentered her from 3 years ago (12 hours before meteor strike). In the midst of setting up the evacuation with her pyrotechnic friend and mayor/father, he-in-her-body ran over to the shrine and felt her-in-his-body’s presence from 3 years later. Although in the same location, they could only hear each other because of the 3-year time lag. But milliseconds before twilight, they reverted back into their own bodies. It was during this time that Taki told her it was impossible for him to react to her 3 years ago, before his timeline of the switching phenomenon took place.

Different Time

One of the side-effects of the switching process was that they’d slowly forget each other’s names and even existence, unless it’s written down with good-old ink. Taki only managed to write “I love you” on her hand, and Mitsuha only wrote 1 stroke before the time portal closed. They tried to remember each other, but then gradually lost the very important memories of each other.

5 years after Taki’s timeline, he’s now a freshly unemployed university graduate in Tokyo. Meanwhile, all of Itomori’s citizens survived the meteor strike, thanks to Taki. 8-years-after-her-timeline Mitsuha is now a Tokyo salary woman, which is what she wanted. But what the two wanted more was to regain the missing memories of each other. That was when the two saw each other by chance on passing trains and later at a flight of stairs. Hesitant as to what to say and not knowing whether the other person truly knows who he/she is, they reluctantly pass each other without speaking. And this movie could’ve ended with a really bad ending, with each character regretting for their non-action and asking themselves what-ifs every time they see a passing face in Tokyo that looks remotely like Taki or Mitsuha. Thankfully it didn’t and they finally talked to each other in real time and in real person, one sentence of which was, “What’s Your Name?”

Your Name

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