Who are You Supposed to Be? (Your Name)

This is Day 9 of the 12 Days of Aniblogging holiday rumpus. Today I am going to talk about the anime film Your Name. (Or rather, your name. — again with the lower case letters and the period…)

art by tekitouga

art by tekitouga

Makoto Shinkai has directed some of my top favorite anime films — namely Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters Per Second. As soon as I learned Shinkai had a new film out, I had to go see it. I watched it in a theater in Japan — and though I’m not fluent in Japanese, I was able to follow the story pretty easily. (I checked some plot summaries online afterward to fill in some of the gaps.) Overall I really enjoyed it. I need to see it properly with English subs before I can decide if it’s my new favorite Shinkai film, but I can at least say for now that it’s very good. And it’s great to see a Shinkai film finally achieve such great success. I feel like the two films I mentioned before should have caught the world’s attention just as much, but I can understand Your Name being much more accessible to general audiences.

I’m not here to write a review though. I want to talk about how Your Name resonated with me. There was a book I wrote in the not-too-distant past that worked with a very similar premise to Your Name. In this story I wrote, a girl and a boy who lived in distant lands from one another switched bodies every night. There was also a strong apocalyptic element to the story, and a good chunk of the plot was about the two characters figuring out how to actually meet up with each other. There were even religious rituals tied to the magic of the story, and the girl was from a small village while the boy was from a large city.

Suffice to say, I felt like Makoto Shinkai and I really do think on a similar wavelength! (I’m not about to claim I’m anywhere near as good of a writer though, ha ha.)

One of the biggest themes in both my story and Shinkai’s (in my opinion) was the theme of identity. What is an individual? What makes you you? If you wake up in a different person’s body, are you still you? Are you now that person? Or are you some new person that is neither really you nor that person? If you woke up the next morning with amnesia, would your general character be the same as it was before, or is there a chance you would behave and think in entirely new ways? When your personality and inclinations change from one year to the next, are you still technically the same person?

I felt like that, in Your Name at least, a lot of what constitutes an individual’s identity is tied to her relationships with others. The sum of everyone’s interactions with you is just as much you as what you think you are… I’m not sure if that’s the best way to word it, but that’s what I’ll settle on for now.

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