By Robert Kondo
October is a great time to watch your favorite horror/thriller movies, shows, and anime. However, for those of you who cringe at the sight of blood, hate jump scares, and prefer to sleep at night, I have just the ticket! I recently saw the movie Kimi no Na Wa, Your Name, and even though I lost about 30 percent of the Japanese I found myself moved beyond words.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I have a very particular preference for anime. Your Name provided for me everything I could have ever asked for in an anime movie. Not only was the story very well laid out, the art and style was well balanced with the score provided by the popular Japanese rock band RADWIMPS. Attention to blissful detail is something I always appreciate in an anime and without a doubt it was very crucial to the plot.
The story-line of the movie comes wrapped nicely. Following the journey of young high schoolers Mitsuha and Taki, the two begin to have dreams about living each other’s lives. The twist, Mitsuha lives in the countryside,Taki in Tokyo. Prior to their dreams, the two had never met before, but are mysteriously bound by a once in a thousand year meteor shower. This provides a somewhat straight-forward star crossed lover vibe, causing us to believe that Mitsuha and Taki are destined to met. How and why, well you’ll have to go and watch for yourself!
Initially I had doubts about the body-switching element, a trope that has been used before in movies and TV shows as a way to teach a life lesson about appreciating your own life. Though it isn’t as typical a lesson, the interactions between the main characters and their respective friends/family during the body-switched dreams emphasizes the importance of the religious bond Japanese culture has with tradition. The only cliche, if any, is Mitsuha’s longing to leave her slow countryside life to live a fast paced ‘high tension’ dream-life in Tokyo. This is where the realism art style really comes into play.
After getting over my purely blind love of the movie, I could see why it’s so popular. There’s something tragically pure and beautiful about how Mitsuha embodies the cultural phenomenon of today’s Japanese youth. Though she willingly embraces her family’s traditions and cultural heritage, she dreams of more beyond what her little town doesn’t have. From the displays of the crystal clear nature, to the sparkle and shine of the city: the art style, scenery, and story capture the dreams of youth and for some a past that is both here and there.
If you believe you have a pretty good grasp of Japanese, I would recommend giving Kimi no Na Wa a shot at a theater nearest you. I for one can’t wait for the digital release. Though it was good practice, watching a movie in another language without subtitles is strenuous and forgoes some information. I can only imagine what I missed and how I’ll feel after watching it with no hindrances what so ever!