Movie Review - Kimi no Na wa (Your Name.) (2016)

by Emily


Posted on
707 Hits

Tags: movies 1, tg 1, tgmovie 1, tgtransformation 1, MovieReview 1
Reactions:


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5311514/

Country: Japan

Language: Japanese (English dub available)

Type of story: Magical Body Swap

Does it show the transformation? This body swap takes place while the MC is sleeping and is not visible.

Sexuality: Doesn’t change

Nudity: No.

How I watched it: I rented it on Amazon Prime for $3.99. (Watch Here in Original Japanese; Watch Here dubbed in English)

When I last watched it: June 13, 2023


Let’s examine the popular anime, 君の名は (Kimi no Na wa) aka Your Name.


I first watched Your Name in 2021 when I was researching body swap tropes for Masquerades 101.  It was my first anime. I never really watched anime because I associated it with my weird college roommate. But I saw this on a list of Body Swap movies and knew I had to put my reservations aside and watch it.  And I’m glad I did.


I’ve been waiting to rewatch this and review it because it was just so good during that first viewing.


* A note about movie versions.  I watched the English Dub on Prime Video.  I do that because I’d rather watch the movie than read it.  I find I miss too many on-screen elements if I'm too busy reading subtitles.  That’s my personal opinion though.  This version would translate on-screen Japanese text into English subtitles.  Some versions don’t do that. This is actually very important since the main characters often write notes rather than speaking them. You’ll miss out on important plot points if you can’t read their writing. Of course, the English dub isn’t perfect because there are jokes dependent on the grammar of the Japanese language, which isn’t picked up in English. If you’ve ever read a translated manga, you’ll know what I’m talking about - gendered first-person pronouns.


My synopsis (spoiler-free):


Mitsuha (voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi [jap] and Stephanie Sheh [eng]) is a small town girl from fictional Itomori, Japan. Taki (voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki [jap] and Michael Sinterniklaas [eng]) is a city boy from Tokyo. Suddenly they find themselves switching places.  One day he’d be her and she’d be him.  The next day, they’d be back as themselves and their memories of that day fade away like a dream.  And repeat. They don’t know each other and live in separate parts of Japan.  Their only way of communication is leaving each other notes on each other’s skin, in notebooks, or cellphone diaries.  As the back and forth swapping continues, they naturally start interfering in each other’s lives. Then one day Taki realizes the swapping has stopped, and he is compelled to figure out why.


* * Spoilers ahead * *


Taki obsesses over his memories of Mitsuha and Itomori such that he goes looking for her.  And what he finds is soul-crushing.


NOTE: If you have NOT seen the movie, stop reading right now and go watch it.


Taki finds out Itomori was destroyed by a meteor that broke off of a comet the night of the Festival in 2013 and struck the town! That’s why the swapping stopped.  Mitsuha, her friends, and family were among the hundreds of victims. Everyone you met in the Itomori scenes - dead.


But not just dead two weeks ago when the swapping stopped - the meteor wiped out the town  three years ago!


Prepare for temporal displacement. Taki and Mitsuha weren’t just swapping across space.  They were swapping across time.  You see, they are separated by 3 years, with Taki living in 2016 Tokyo and Mitshua living in 2013 Itomori. All attempts at calling and meeting each other are unsuccessful because they’re time displaced.  Remember the Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock letter-writing romance The Lake House (2006)? Yeah - like that. (In fact, these two movies have some eerie similarities. I wonder if writer/director Makoto Shinkai saw The Lake House and thought he could do that concept better.)


Obviously the swapping stopped because Mitshua died the day of the last swap-back.


The remainder of the movie is Taki trying to figure out what happened and see if there is a way he could travel to the past one last time and save the people of Itomori.


Now, I actually stopped taking notes around the climax.  It was too good and so emotional that I wanted to just enjoy the ride.  I encourage you to do the same so I won’t really talk about the climax - but it’s gorgeous, thrilling, will keep you on the edge of your seat, and may produce tears.


The Transformation and Swap back: Well, this movie is kinda unique as there isn’t just one swap.  They repeatedly swap back and forth for the first half of the movie.


Our first swap is brief. Taki wakes up as Mitsuha. Grabs his boobs and is confused.  Mitsuha’s younger sister comes in, is weirded out by her sister groping herself.  Taki assumes this is a dream, goes to the mirror and removes his pajamas - and screams.


We then cut to Mitsuha back in her own body a day later, although it isn’t obvious to most viewers at first. Her friends and family comment that she was acting weird all day yesterday. She finds notes in her school notebook.  “Who are you?”  She claims she doesn’t remember doing all of this weird stuff and chalks it up to stress.  She hates her small town. At the end of the day, she yells into the cosmos that she wishes she was a handsome Tokyo Boy in her next life.


Now we come to the second swap. We continue to follow Mitsuha who wakes up as Taki. Mitsuha grabs her flat chest - then her penis - and screams.  When she leaves the house she is mesmerized by being in Tokyo. This is what she’s dreamt about for so long. Such that she is late for school and subsequently late for work. She’s still convinced this is all a dream. At the end of the day, she answers Taki’s question, “Who are you?” “Mitsuha,” she writes on his hand.  She then proceeds to document her day on Taki's cellphone.


Now the swap back. We remain with Taki’s body. He wakes up, sees “Mitsuha” on his hand and the notes on his phone and thinks someone’s playing a prank on him.  Just like with Mitsua the day after Taki was there, he’s also weirded out by all the things everyone said he did yesterday, but can’t remember.


The swapping continues for days.  As they read each other’s notes they finally put the puzzle together.  Thirty minutes into the movie they both realize these aren’t dreams, “We’re switching places!” Cue the musical montage!


Once they realize this, they make rules for the swap.  Taki can’t see Mitshua naked.  Mitsuha needs to stop spending all of Taki’s money. Etc. If your movie version translates Japanese text, you’ll see all of their rules on the screen.


The montage of all of the swaps is great, and their notes back and forth are priceless.  Talking about it won’t do any justice here.


Soundtrack: Speaking of the montage, let me pause the story review for a moment to rave about the music. This soundtrack rocks! The Radwimps are a Japanese rock band.  From the rock ballads to the quiet emotional moments, everything is perfect.  During the rock ballads, the electric guitar player shreds.  I downloaded the soundtrack the first time I watched the movie.  Listening to the soundtrack is like watching the movie again in my memories.


They adapt: Unlike other body swap movies where both swappers learn to adapt in their new lives, that doesn’t really apply here.  The memory of the swap fades like a dream.  But during their time in each other’s bodies, Mitshua explores the big city, and Taki learns about Itomori’s rich culture and spirituality.


Gender & Sexuality: At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be addressed.  But it is. It’s there if you watch the aforementioned montage multiple times (like I did, because it’s fun and ZenZenZense rocks!). Some interpretations suggest that both Mitsuha and Taki could be trans.  Definitely Mitusua who was frustrated with her gender and and positively living it up in Taki’s life, and literally said she wished she was a Tokyo boy.  The same can be said for Taki.  Though Taki had no outward signs of dysphoria, he’s clearly at home in Mitusha’s life. Euphoria is a sign of being trans too!


As for their sexuality - again, at first glance you don’t see it. Neither are dating anyway. Taki has a crush on Miss Okudera but hasn’t done anything about it. It’s Mitshua who actually starts pursuing dating her.  Meanwhile Taki as Mitsuha is getting both boys and girls to confess their love to her/him. This is another reason it appears both are actually comfortable and at home in their opposite genders. They actually are enjoying subverting gender roles while they’re swapped.


There is a moment where both wake up crying after they swap back.  Dysphoria? Mitsusa had planned a date with Miss Okudera to a museum. As she gets ready for school, she reminisces that she wishes she was going on that date with Miss Okudera.  The questions left open to interpretation are - Does Mitusa want to date Miss Okudera? Does she want to date Taki? Or does she just want to be Taki?  How you interpret this scene is how you will interpret this movie.  Is it a trans allegory, or romance, neither, or all of the above?


The problem is that this is a movie and those scenes fly by during the montage.  If this was a novel, we’d slow down and actually see Taki flirting with boys and girls.  We’d actually see Mitsuha enjoy being a boy in the big city.  If we slowed down, we’d get to see Taki interact with Mitshua’s family. Be a big sister.  If we slowed down, we’d get to see what’s up with Taki’s lack-of-family through Mitsuha’s eyes.


During the climax of the movie, it appears that our two protagonists did fall in love with each other.  Is this movie a romance? Can you really love someone you’ve never met? Someone you can’t remember? This movie says yes.  And it’s beautiful in its support of that thesis.  


And why does it have to be a romantic love?  Can’t it just be a platonic love? These two have just shared a very intimate experience. Their relationship goes beyond space and time.


The Animation: Oh yeah.  This movie is gorgeous. The rural landscape of Itomori.  The urban cityscape of Tokyo. The sky.  The comet. The colors and detail. How can a cartoon look so pretty?


The subtext: This movie is so deep and has so many layers it’s really hard to fully dive into it. There is a lot of commentary on Japanese culture and politics that may go over American audience’s heads. But since this movie has global appeal, those things aren’t necessary to enjoy the movie. There’s the contrast between the city and the country. Old traditions vs the contemporary world. Most of it went over my head at first viewing. Every moment, every scene is trying to say something.  Even Mitusuha’s grandmother’s monologues about their traditions actually explains the entire movie and foreshadows the ending.  There’s also the deep character development and foreshadowing in the background.  There is a scene that shows Mitsuha’s entire life story which gives depth not only to her, but her whole family.  


The Climax and Ending: I said I wasn’t going to go into too much detail, but here’s the quick run-down.  When Taki realizes Itomori was destroyed, he visits the crater where the town used to be. He remembers all of the mystical stuff Mitsuha’s grandmother told him.  So he finds a way to execute one final swap.  As he wakes up as Mitsuha in 2013 he cries tears of joy that she is alive.  But - it’s the day of the comet.


He frantically tries to warn everyone.  Nobody is heeding his warnings.  Mitsuha’s father is the mayor of Itomori and refuses to evacuate the town.  He needs Mitsuha’s help.


Mitshua wakes up as Taki in 2016 at the crater.  She sees the future for the first time and realizes everyone she knew is dead.


During twilight or the “magic hour” where supernatural occurrences are possible, Mitshua and Taki, standing at the same spot, yet displaced by 3 years, finally see and talk to each other. (Their banter here is proof that they shared an intimate experience which gives weight to them actually loving each other.  Whether that be a platonic love or an intimate love.)


Mitsuha returns to her body and the past just as Taki was about to have them write each other’s names to help them remember. 


It’s now Mitsuha’s turn to save the townspeople.  In a beautiful moment of music and animation, we see the comet split and the fragment comes and the town is destroyed in one of the most emotional scenes of the movie.


Taki in the present tries to remember Mitshua’s name, but it fades.  As well as the reason he’s there.


Five years pass (it’s 2022 if you’re keeping count). All of the old news reports have now changed.  The townspeople successfully evacuated. This is a clever way to address the grandfather paradox.  He doesn’t remember the original timeline. Taki and now-alive Mitsuha still feel they’re looking for something.  For someone.  In the closing moments, they see each other on passing trains.  They get off and run to each other.  Finally, Taki asks if they’ve met. Mitsuha is in tears and says she wonders the same thing.  Then they in unison ask “What is your name?”


* Wipes tear away.  I’m not crying as I type this.  It’s just allergies. *


Random Thoughts and Quotes that stuck with me:

  • They’ve never met, yet they argue like a married couple! Mitsuha - “But you work waay too many shifts!”  Taki - “Because you keep wasting my money!”

  • Girl crush! Mitsuha - “A girl came up and confessed [her love] to me!”  Taki - “It's not my fault... I can't help it! Besides, you're more popular when I'm you”

  • Taki - “I drank your kuchikamisake” Mitsuha - “You drank that? You idiot! Pervert! Oh yeah, and you touched my boobs!”

  • After Mitshua wishes she was the one on Taki and Miss Okudera’s date, she is seen with shorter hair. This is misdirection by the movie making you think that she wishes she was Taki or a boy.  But what we don’t see until later in the movie is that she cut her hair because she went to Tokyo and gave her hair ribbon to Taki in the past.

  • The ribbon - or braided cord. Taki wears it to remember the girl on the train. I feel like I need to go back and watch again, but does it appear on his wrist when Mitsuha is Taki? If so, you’d think Mitsuha would recognize that Taki has her hair tie? ANSWER: I went back and watched it again. The attention to detail is nice. When Taki is in Mitsuha, he does not wear a ribbon and instead wears a hair-tie. When Mitsuha is Taki, she doesn’t wear the ribbon on his wrist. They aren’t even aware it exists in both places.

  • Speaking of being aware during the swap. If you go back and watch it several times, you’ll notice the year shows up in multiple places.  That Taki and Mitusha don’t realize this reinforced the dream-state they’re having. 

  • They’re both in high school, but 3 years apart.  The internet says they’re both 17 in their respective time periods. So when Mitshua see’s Taki on the train and gives him her ribbon, he’s 14.  When we see them both at the end, Mitsuha is 25 and Taki is 22.

  • Did anyone notice the comet hits Mitsuha’s house directly? Go back and watch the impact.  It clearly hits HER house.

  • During the last swap, Taki didn’t swap with the version of Mitsuha from that morning.  He swapped with the one that had already died.  She remembered dying. Then she saw the crater. When they swap back, Mitsuha has already lived that day and has the opportunity to change it.



What I disliked about it?

In my first viewing I was annoyed they couldn’t remember their swaps or the climax. Yes they meet each other at the end.  I wanted them to meet and reminisce about the time they shared each other's lives and saved hundreds of people. But they don’t know how they remember each other.  Just a feeling of familiarity.  On second viewing, I'm less annoyed because I believe the writers were trying to tell us it doesn’t matter.  These two love each other and they don’t need their memories to prove that.  It’s a bold strategy.  That’s it.  That’s the only thing I don’t like, and even then, that dislike is fading just like their memories.


Since this movie has been living rent-free in my head for a week, I watched videos and read commentary from critics.  Is this movie perfect? No. It does have plot holes. None of which are large enough to fly a comet through though.  Most of those can be rationalized by the dream-like state of the swaps. Is Taki a one-dimensional character? Sure, but that’s the point. (I can write a whole essay on why this makes sense).  Does the girl-meets-boy ending ruin Mitsuha’s arc? No. She’s living her dream - independent and living in the city. 


All of this can be forgiven because this movie draws out raw emotions from the viewers.


What I liked about it? Oh geez, where do I begin?  It’s a time-travel body-and-gender-swapping romance with beautiful animation, a rocking soundtrack and emotional beats enough to make an adult weep for days.


Your Name has won MANY awards, and as of writing this, it is the 3rd highest grossing anime movie globally of all time! Writer and director Makoto Shinkai is now one of hottest directors in anime making 2 more movies, one of which came out last year.


It’s almost not fair to compare Your Name to the other Body Swap stories I’ve reviewed. They were comedies.  This is not. This is also so deep and so layered that it makes all of the other movies I’ve reviewed look like amateur hour.


Should you see it? YES. Beautiful, moving, and memorable.  


Questions for my readers to ponder:

  • Wibbly wobbly timey wimey. What do you think of the time-shenanigans? It appears to be a closed loop.  Mitshuha sets the events back into motion by visiting Tokyo and giving Taki the braided cord, which joins them together in the space time continuum. But that happens after she’s already swapped with him, creating a bootstrap paradox. At the same time, her final actions in the past set up a grandfather paradox that creates a new timeline.  Can a movie about time have it both ways? Predestination AND multi-timeline?

  • So let me get this straight? Itomori’s entire religion is based on the comet? And every 1200 years a fragment from the comet strikes the town? And it’s happened three times? Once for the crater, Once for the lake, and in 2013? And all of the customs and traditions of the Shrine Maidens are to prevent the people from dying? But they’ve all forgotten why they’re doing it because of a fire long ago?

  • What do you think? Did Mishua fall in love with Taki, or did she just want to be Taki?

  • Be honest.  When did you tear up? At the Itomori destruction reveal? At Magic Hour? When Mitshua meets Taki in the past? When the comment strikes Itomori? At the closing seconds of the movie?


tags

Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for me to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

Leave a Comment

You need to logged-in to leave a comment. Register | Log in

Elron

I am so glad you chose to review this movie, because I never would have seen it otherwise.  I'd never heard of it, and I generally don't follow anime.  So, thank you for that.  And for your detailed and comprehensive review.

As for the movie itself, anything that manages to combine TG and time travel is exponentially better than either one individually.  It manages to inject an appropriate amount of humor into what is otherwise a disaster movie on a level with the great Hollywood disaster films.

I especially liked the character of Mitshuha's younger sister. She steals several scenes, especially when Taki is inhabiting Mitshuha's body. Also noteworthy is Mitshuha's grandmother. She is wise beyond all time and space.

Anytime you have a story that involves time travel you risk complicating the plot to the point the storyline can no longer be followed. Especially when you bring alternate timelines into play. Your name is no exception, compounded by the number of TG/time travel swaps. I had a tough time following things the longer the movie went on. Fortunately, the movie has a cult-like following, and there are numerous websites and YouTube videos dedicated to explaining every nuance, if not every frame, of the movie.

I also enjoyed the cinematography and the soundtrack. My limited experience with anime is that it is highly exaggerated and repetitious. Your Name is more like western animation and attempts to present itself as a live action movie. Given the popularity of the anime, I wonder if any studio will ever attempt a live-action version? Maybe the TG aspect is considered taboo for most movies?

Emily's Questions:
1. Time Travel - Sure, it complicates a straight, forward timeline. But good writing and execution can make it flow in a believable and understandable fashion. Time travel is one of the most common sci-fi plots or plot devices in the movies. Even lesser movies have managed to be believable.

2. The comet - Yeah, you would think something that has happened with definite regularity in the past would be taken seriously the moment the astronomers saw the comet returning. Evacuate the region. Even the national government would have stepped in to augment or take over for the local government.

3. Love or Desire? - I think they were in love with each other. Sure, Mitshuha, said she wanted to be a Tokyo boy, but I think once she was able to interact with Taki she fell in love with him. Of course, I'm a hopeless romantic, and want to believe they fell in love. Prove me wrong.

4. Crying? - I'm not crying, you're crying. And it began when they met at the crater.

There are some plot holes, to me the most glaring of which is the fact that almost no one remembers the most recent meteor strike, only a few years ago. The tsunami that struck Japan was over 10 years ago and it is still newsworthy. I can see people forgetting the last meteor, 1200 years ago, but here in the internet age, the entire world's history is at our fingertips. And I don't buy that it was far away, or a small remote village. I can see the legend of Itomori being taught in Japanese schools with some kind of moral lesson attached to it.

Finally, my own question: If you could be Taki, would you go back in time like he did knowing there was a very good chance you could be stuck and killed by the meteor?

Again, thank you Emily for your excellent review that opened my eyes to something I never would have found on my own.
Edit:
Reply:

You need to logged-in to reply. Register | Log in

Emily

Thanks for the review, Elron! To answer your questions. The only plot hole about nobody remembering the comet is only directed at Taki. Even his friends remember it once they heard the name "Itomori." Taki, not only saw it streak through the sky in 2013, but must've forgotten everything else until 2016 where in the new timeline he became obsessed. If I was Taki? I would do what he and Mitsuha did initially. Try to get everyone out. Then focus on loved ones. At some point, i'd just have to go to the high school to get out of dodge. Mitsuha certainly did cut it close, but was successful.
Edit:
Reply:

You need to logged-in to reply. Register | Log in


More Journals from tags