Before this class, my knowledge of anime was restricted to the childhood shows I used to watch like Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and Beyblade. I wasn’t aware of the consistent and ongoing genre of anime as much.
Thus, I had never heard of Your Name before. I wasn’t aware that it was the huge hit that it was. So, before watching the movie I saw the summary online and I wasn’t very impressed it seemed to be like any other gender reversal story like ‘it’s a boy girl thing’ where two classmates change identities one morning after a series of incidents the night before.
Thus, I started watching the movie with some apprehension. The setup, in the beginning, was average, Mitsuha is a high school-age girl who lives in the fictional Itomori, a gorgeous, quaint village in the Hida region of Japan; Taki is a slightly older boy living in Tokyo. They are both average kids with their own social circles, but they have no actual connection, and lead very different lives, at least partially defined by their equally gorgeous settings of city vs. country.
However, what drew me in since the beginning was the visually striking settings like the train system in Tokyo, its gorgeous skyscrapers touching the sky, a never-ending horizon in Itomori, or even just a series of streets on a mountainside. It made me keep watching.
What I found the most interesting was also the part that this movie differentiated itself from all the other Hollywood gender reversal movies I had seen. The two main characters were not in the same setting, they had virtually no idea of who the other person was and then suddenly they switched bodies. They moved through the days not knowing what was happening or who they’d become. It was all very confusing and we could feel the same way from the lead characters.
But it’s not as if they are left to fend for themselves, they work to help each other, leaving each other notes and diaries about what happened when they switched places. For example, Mitsuha has the courage to talk to the girl Taki likes. But one day, they stop switching, and Taki can’t get a hold of Mitsuha in any way. He has vague memories from Mitsuha’s life and he sets out to try to find her.
What was also very interesting to me was that the lead characters, Mitsuha and Taki, maintain gender differences without feeling clichéd in the boy vs. girl way We feel like these two very different people find commonality in gender and class without losing their personalities at the same time. Mitsuha and Taki would likely never interact in the real world, but they start to become supportive of each other, and essential to each other’s happiness.
The idea that struck me most was that someone you’ve never met and would never otherwise interact with has the same needs, joys, and fears as you. This seemed like a major theme and message from the movie and a very important one that we all should remember at this time in the world.