Never have I had the urge to write about something so soon after seeing it.
As I start this, I am literally just coming off from watching Your Name. (or Kimi no Na wa) for a friend’s birthday; we finished it about ten minutes ago. And honestly, I hate what it’s done to me.
The premise of Your Name. starts off fairly simple. A girl in rural Japan named Mitsuha is fed up with country life and wishes to be a boy in Tokyo in her next life. This wish is granted to a certain extent: Mitsuha actually swaps bodies with Taki (a boy in Tokyo) randomly several times a week, and the two intervene with the other’s life. After a while, the two suddenly stop switching bodies, and the film becomes about trying to find the other.
If you go to MyAnimeList’s top anime list right now (November 13, 2016), you’ll see that Your Name. has actually dethroned FMA:B as the top anime of all time. And for good reason; it plays with the heart in so many different ways, weaving a different tale at each twist and turn. It starts off innocuous enough, evoking laughter and grimaces from the visual humor (Taki groping himself/herself every morning was particularly amusing) and awkward scenarios, but at the end of the second act it suddenly yanks you along, keeping you off-balance and on your toes until the credits roll.
And it does this by appealing to the heart. Despite its fantastical and theoretical setting, Your Name. resonated with me on a deeper level. It’s clear by the middle of the movie (and to a certain extent, in the beginning) that it’s about searching for something fulfilling. Throughout the entirety of its run, this fulfillment is teased at every corner, but withdrawn at the last moment. The movie settles on a routine of body switching at random intervals, telling the other about the events that transpired while said bodies were switched, scolding the other for the actions they took without permission, etc. Then the switching stops, and apparently Taki is convinced that the events were dreams. Later, we learn that their timelines were actually misaligned; though the magic of movie editing led us to believe that Taki and Mitsuha were switching bodies at the same time, Mitsuha was actually having these events happen to her three years before Taki. The two manage to meet across time due to kataware doki (part of a phenomenon explained in the film) and resolve to write their names on the other’s hand as to not forget, but Taki writes “I love you” and the moment ends before Mitsuha could write her name. This sort of bait-and-switch happens again and again throughout, and yet never feels old. In the end, due to events that transpire, both Taki and Mitsuha forget the other’s name. The film ends with the two running into each other in Tokyo and asking the other’s name, thinking that there’s a familiarity between them.
As I said, this film resonated with me on a deeper level. Not to sound overly dramatic or world-weary, but we are all looking for something fulfilling, yet will almost never be able to find it. Your Name. ended in a similar way. We soon learn that there are two separate timelines: in the original, Mitsuha was killed when half of a comet falls on her village. Taki learns about this in his time, and desperately looks for a way to save Mitsuha. The two succeed in saving the village, but instead of taking the easy route and ending on a happy ending, Your Name. hits us with Taki and Mitsuha’s “first” meeting. Ultimately, it’s a reflection on life. By definition, there was a happy ending: both Taki and Mitsuha survive, and years after their events occur they manage to find each other, but there’s a certain empty, bittersweet tang that stays with you when the credits roll. It’s as if reminding us to keep searching to fill that hole in our hearts – that perhaps the resolution we want isn’t necessarily the resolution we need.
Of course, this sort of emptiness gives rise to frustration and despair. How many times can we have our emotions toyed with when all we want is to see Taki and Mitsuha find each other? I’ll admit, I ship them extremely hard; though they’re technically a canon pair I wanted to see it go further, especially with the chemistry and developing bond that was so cruelly stripped from them. There’s even a variant of the red string of fate in Mitsuha’s hair ribbon/Taki’s bracelet (they’re the same object). In my desperate mind, I came up with a number of theories: why didn’t Taki just write his freaking name instead of “I love you”? Why didn’t he tell his name to the grandmother, who apparently knew exactly what was going on? Why didn’t Mitsuha write her name when she visited him three years in his past? The theories go on and on, though another, more pessimistic theory has me rationalizing that both Mitsuha and Taki sacrificed their connection to each other in order to leave the underworld (in accordance to the grandmother’s words). There are also logic questions (although normally you kind of skip those when time travel’s involved). If each person’s personality changes were characterized by the other’s body switching, what sort of memories do they have from that time – do they just attribute it to shifting hormones? How do the two timelines line up? In what way were each person’s memories changed?
Eventually, I’ll accept it. I read somewhere that Your Name. is a film led almost entirely by the heart rather than the head, and the way my emotions raged and ranged prove that, even in smaller yet equally poignant scenes. In a similar way to how I had to accept theNendings of Avatar and Kindred Spirits on the Roof, I’ll make my peace with the ending of Your name. It may take me a week, or it may take me a month. If need be, I do have fanfiction, though I know that if I go there I’ll be beating myself over this for far longer.
In closure, Your Name. is a bittersweet experience dealing with an everlasting, yearning search for fulfillment. In this case, it’s a certain special person. This film is not for the faint of heart; it will certainly play with your emotions in a brutal way. It’s wrecked me from an audience standpoint, forcing me to watch these two well-crafted characters be unable to reach a final closure with each other, and it’s forced me to think about life in whole. That being said, it’s a beautiful film, both in concept and in art (I realize I didn’t talk much about that, having focused on the content more than the presentation, but the visuals are gorgeous). I think Your Name. is a must-watch for any anime fan.
Also, I’m sorry if this post is rant-ier than you’d like (I did register this website as The Ranting Gamer). I wanted to get all my thoughts on paper (on screen?) before they faded.
…much like how they did in the film…
*Your Name. is coming to American theaters for a shot at the Oscars.