Your Name is a Japanese animation film released in 2016. Makoto Shinkai is the author of the novel in which the film is inspired, of which he is also director.
Your name is, to date, the highest grossing Japanese animation film in history and, in addition, has received high praise from critics. What is the reason for his enormous success?
The truth is that Your name is a film that can captivate virtually any type of viewer. Even those most reluctant to the animation can greatly enjoy the experience of their viewing.
The message he conveys is universal, appeals to feelings, to love …, but it also supposes an encounter with Japanese traditions.
In fact, if we watch the film from a Western perspective, we will not be able to reach its full meaning. Beyond the love story or connection between two young people, Your name is a sample of elements that make up the mythology of Japan. Therefore, for the public of the country, the film acquires greater importance.
However, even if we do not understand the full extent of the message that dives into the background of the film, there is a universal story that will envelop and entrap us. It is important to emphasize that we should not fall into skepticism before watching the film; Many of us, on occasion, let ourselves be guided by appearances and discard some audiovisual content without giving it a chance.
Yes, it is true that the protagonists of Your name are two teenagers, but the film does not intend to make a portrait of that stage or go too far into the problems of it. Nor is it an animated film exclusively for children or young people, but it has a good script and, of course, some exceptional images. The animation looks like photography and merges with the story.
Your name, between tradition and modernity
The film starts by introducing us to Mitsuha, a young teenager who lives in a small town called Itomori. Tired of the boring life in the village and its traditions, Mitsuha wants to be a boy from Tokyo.
Desires, however crazy they may seem, can sometimes come true. Mitsuha will begin to have strange dreams in which she leaves her body and rural life to incarnate in Taki, a young man who lives in Tokyo.
Soon, we discovered that Taki is a real boy and that those vivid dreams respond to an exchange between them. That is, Taki awakens occasionally in Mitsuha’s body and vice versa.
The exchanges occur more and more frequently and young people begin to leave messages on their mobile phones with indications for their day to day. In contemporaneity, there is still room for fantasy.
And the fact that elements appear as new technologies reinforces that vision. The real and the fantastic merge on the screen. This series of exchanges supposes, in turn, a connection with the oneiric, with the night. In the world of dreams, everything is possible and, in the night, the most magical moments take place.
In many traditions, the moment of twilight is associated with magical or supernatural events, that thin light that separates the day from the night has been seen as a line or gate between several worlds. A moment in which the real can be combined with the fictitious or life with death. In fact, in the film we see that the idea of twilight or twilight appears frequently mentioned.
In Itomori, the ancestral traditions are still deeply rooted, we see Mitsuha preparing sake in the oldest style. That is, chewing the grains of rice to later spit and let them rest. In the Japanese tradition, this drink was prepared by young and virginal women and possessed certain magical connotations. In the film, we see how it is associated with the idea of the gods.
In Your name, the two main scenarios, Tokyo and Itomori, are absolutely revealing. Tokyo is one of the most modern and technological cities in the world, but it is located in a country plagued by ancestral traditions and cultures.
Often, we forget these cultures and associate the idea of Japan only to the city of Tokyo, but Japan is much more than just a big city. Even Mitsuha herself has a totally idealized image of the big city and rejects its origins.
Your name combines tradition and modernity, leads them to meet through their protagonists and the particular story that tells us. Beyond the exchange of bodies, the plot will take a new direction at the moment in which both protagonists wish to meet. At this point, the adventures will take on a new meaning and lead us to the search for an impossible.
The legend of the red thread
In the field of fantastic fiction, the impossible can be carried out, but it is important to maintain plausibility. Your name, however, has some points where it is difficult to rely on the likelihood and can create some confusion in the viewer. The jumps from one stage to another create strangeness and, surely, if we try to find empty arguments, we find more than one.
The film fills those ‘holes’ based on Japanese mythology, on the magical and fantastic element. And only for the high quality of its animation, for the detail of the scenes that, on occasions, come very close to the picture, Your name deserves a viewing. It is not a rational or logical story, but rather an appeal to feelings, magic and love.
In the Eastern tradition, there is an ancestral legend that connects people through a red thread. A thread imperceptible, but unbreakable; it can get tangled up, stretch … but never break. It accompanies people from their birth and connects them eternally. No matter what happens and even if the distance separates them, the people at each end of the same thread are destined to meet.
The film does not speak directly of this legend, but appears on the scene from the beginning. One of the oldest traditions of Itomori is the weaving of the strings. Mitsuha always carries a red rope and will throw it to Taki at a certain time. Thanks to the rope will also occur the reminiscence, that idea of being before something known at another time or place.
In the West, perhaps, the idea of the twin souls is more familiar to us, but although we do not know the oriental legend, the presence of the red thread in the film is very visual and makes us think of a connection between the protagonists. A connection that can overcome spatial and temporal barriers, which even manages to create a new destiny in which it seemed impossible that they could meet.
Your name, the universality of love
A story of such magnitude, and also told through the eyes of two teenagers, could easily fall into the corny, in the parodible. However, he avoids these adversities to tell a universal story, to show that, even in the most artificial and technological world possible, there is a place for love, for feelings.
The beauty of the images accompanies this idea to create a poetic atmosphere, makes us forget the initial confusion to delve into the feelings. The magic of the stars, nature, the universe and contact with the spiritual are manifested in the film making us forget, for a few moments, our usual skepticism.
To all this is added the interesting initial point of view, that ‘know from the eyes of the other’, put yourself in the shoes of another person. Mitsuha wants to escape from Itomori, but Taki will fall in love with the beauty of the place; likewise, Taki is hardly aware of the possibilities he has in a city like Tokyo, while Mitsuha will find an opportunity in every corner. And it is that the world changes according to the perspective with which it is looked at.
Your name also leaves space for some moments of humor that break a bit with the sweetness of the film. In this way, it provides some realism in order not to over-sweeten the plot. Dreams, feelings, fantasy and youth make up a film that, although plagued by mythological and traditional traces, transmits a universal message.
“There is one thing that is certain, if we see each other, we will know.”