I first heard of Your Name when I studying abroad last year in Tokyo from my friends and family. It was the most popular movie at that time and everyone was obsessed. Months later, I finally sat down to watch it, and was mesmerized. The film was visually stunning, had heart-felt music, showcased a lovely storyline of reversal/body swapping with relatable characters. The film shows both the border and grey areas between masculinity and femininity, and modern versus traditional.
Warning: Contains Spoilers!!!
Kimi no na wa, or Your Name, is a highly successful animated Japanese movie. Within the movie, based on a novel, elements of Japanese culture, daily life, and gender are prominent. These can be seen throughout the film as it follows Mitsuha and Taki, both high school students living different lives. Mitsuha lives in a small, conservative town in a family temple while Taki attends school in Tokyo, living with his father and has a part-time job. Although they are both Japanese high school students, their lives can be viewed as opposites. Your Name tackles the differences between boy vs girl and modern vs traditional through having these two characters switch bodies and experience an opposite life.
From this gender reversal, gender stereotypes in Japan become clear. Mitsuha’s family is conservative therefore she is relatively well behaved and obedient. She performs rituals for her family temple and although is respectful of that life, wishes she were in Tokyo, or quite specifically, a handsome boy in Tokyo. Meanwhile Taki is a Tokyoite who attends school and his part-time job, in addition to hanging out with his friends. He lives in a small apartment with his father and is a typical modern boy.
Certainly, when thrown into gender reveal scenarios, adjusting to a new world can be difficult. First, physically the bodies are different. In America gender reversal or body swapping moves, a lack of acknowledgment of these body parts is shown. However, in Your Name, the first scene is Taki, in Mitsuha’s body, grabbing her breasts. This is seen as comedic, and also shows the acknowledgment of the body differences. It shows a more realistic picture of what would happen in a gender reversal. Second, the form of speech varies by gender. On the first day Mitsuha switched into Taki’s body and met his friends, she said “I” when referring to herself in a feminine way. Females in Japan refer to themselves with “watashi”, so when she said that as Taki, his friends were confused. Therefore she said a more masculine way of “i”, “boku”, and they were still confused and worried, as “boku” is masculine but not what high school boys would use. Finally, she tries the most masculine way of saying “I”, “ore” and his friends are satisfied. Changes in speech pattern and vocabulary is a hard challenge that both had to deal with. When asking the big question “Who are you?” Mitsuha askes “Anata wa dare?” and Taki uses “Omae wa dare da?”, which are both feminine and masculine ways of asking the same question. And third, behavioral expectations. When she switches bodies with Taki, Mitsuha brings her feminine side to his character, while he brings his brash, masculine attributes to her’s. On days they switched bodies, Mitsuha’s friends would tell her what kind of things she did (when she was actually Taki), like sitting at her desk with her legs open despite wearing a skirt, kicking her desk to stand up for herself, etc. These clearly show aspects of Taki’s masculinity with lack of awareness of how Mitsuha’s feminine character is. On the other hand, Mitsuha turns Taki’s character into a more calm and likable personality. Taki had a crush on his coworker at his part-time job but never managed to make any progress being himself. With Mitsuha suing her feminine attributes, she appeals to Taki’s coworker with offering to sew her ripped skirt; something that the real Taki would never do/know how to do. After embroidering a cute design, they walked to the station together and becomes closer. Mitsuha’s character showed feminine attributes to Taki’s coworker and helped him make progress in his love life. To conclude, Your Name clearly outlines the genre norms in Japanese society through these body differences, different in speech patterns, and behavioral expectations
Finally, one aspect of Your Name that I noticed which drew it apart from other gender reversal/body swapping moves is the lack of explanation for characters. There was no part in the film where the characters asked questions or were given instruction that their bodies had indeed swapped. The watchers find out the same time as the characters when their friends tell them how weird the acted the previous days. This aspic of the film allows the audience to be in the same perspective as the characters, to have the same sense of unknowing and confusion of what is going on. This later changes as the viewers gain knowledge on both sides of what is going on with each character, however, the lack of obvious notification on the situation adds the whole experience and film.
To conclude, Your Name is a lovable movie for all ages to experience the animated epic of everyday life of high schoolers in urban and rural Japan being upset by gender reversal and awesome powers of nature.