Recently, I started learning Japanese for a bit of fun. I don’t expect to be fluent or anything ever, but knowing a few words or sentences and recognising the symbols would be nice. Learning it is just another part of my daily routine now. Due to this I was interested in watching a few movies in Japanese and found this one from a random anime aesthetics twitter accounts, sharing screenshots from anime’s and a screenshot from the promotional material for this movie drew my eye.
I had no idea what I was getting into with this one but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. From here on out expect spoilers as I go through the story and my thoughts as I watched it for the first time.
SPOILER WARNINGIf you don’t want spoilers for this film, please stop reading here as I’m about to summarise the film and talk about my thoughts as I do.
The movie begins with a cold open to a comet falling from the sky followed by a little dialogue and a kicker kind of tv style intro for the movie. The dialogue refers to the link between the two main characters as well as the spectacle of the comet in the sky. Referring to it as “Nothing more, nothing less, than a beautiful view”. The music & visuals are absolutely stunning and it nicely introduces you to the locations, events & characters your about to see for the duration of the movie.
So your name follows the story of two high schoolers, Taki & Mitsuha who are connected through a ribbon of fate. Which in itself is a mystery. The movie starts off slow, introducing the two characters & their lives. Taki lives in the city with his father & works part time as a waiter in the evenings. He also has a crush on a colleague at said job. While Mitsuha lives in the countryside with her little sister, grandmother & father and dreams of living in the big city, she also takes part in some local traditions of the town. Nothing freaky so far. The story follows their relationship through their unique connection.
The First Twist
Right away we see the first major twist, the body swapping. They first think they are dreaming only later discovering that it is not. Starting with Taki in Mitsuha’s body for a little bit before seeing Mitsuha’s reaction to hearing what happen while she was not in control of her body the day before. A major part of the swapping is the person possessed has no memory of the events that took place while they were possessed. Seeing just a small bit of the possessed day followed by a full introduction of Mitsuha, her friends & life. While also learning of what happened the day before from the recounts of her peers makes for an opening that I really enjoyed. It was different to anything else I had seen already and made want to keep watching. I was watching this movie on my second monitor, trying to get some other work done on the main, but at this point I was hooked at this point and gave up on getting anything done that evening.
We then just to Taki with Mitsuha in control and see what happened, instead of seeing Taki’s life with Taki finding out what happened right away we instead see what Mitsuha got up-to while in Taki’s body. Being someone who wanted to live in the city it is a dream come true for Mitsuha, with cafe’s and all. Everyone around Taki can tell he’s acting strange as Mitsuha has to figure out what Taki’s life is and all. Probably one of the best interactions is when Mitsuha in Taki’s body repairs a tear in a skirt of a colleague, the lady Tai as a bit of a crush for, and she notes the more feminine side to him, which is obviously Mitsuha.
We then see Taki finding out what happened the day before and his reaction, being is pretty accurate with shock and scepticism. As well as getting some funny reactions from his peers, especially as all the guys at his work want to know what happened between him and his crush while Mitsuha was in his body. With Taki in misbelief that it even happened.
We then cut to Mitsuha who wakes up the a whole host of questions written on her, “Mitsuha? Who are you? What are you?” and her sister brings up what Taki first did when in her body, which see saw. This is followed by a short summary of what Taki got up to from her friends telling her throughout the day. Such as making a scene in class by knocking down a desk in protest of what her peers are saying about her. She is naturally shocked, just like Taki was. They then both realise they are swapping bodies, followed by another banger of a tune and a montage/summary of what the swapping is like and how they are both handling it. Which they do, in a like of love/hate relationship as they keep telling each other the do/don’ts in their bodies and personal lives. This whole montage has some funny moments in it as well.
The movie then shifts in tone to a more calming setting, again with some stunning visuals & music. We get to see a bit of the story behind Mitsuha’s town as well as the Taki finding out Mitsuha set him up with his crush for a date which caught him off guard. At the end of the day Taki tried to call Mitsuha, who left her number on his phone. At this point the next twist starts to hit. You’d think calling each other would have been the first thing to do? I did somewhat and it felt like a bit of a plot whole, but it didn’t bother me too much as the next bit explained why that wouldn’t work.
The Second Twist
The second act brings the comet that we saw at the start of the film into the movie. We see Mitsuha over the cliff at the festival, the shot from the title card at the start of the movie and and the comet split into two with a hard cut as we see the reflection of the split in her eyes with an audio cue to refer to the comet hitting the ground infront of her. We then find out that the phone call Taki made never connected, and the switching places stopped after that night.
Taki decides to travel to meet Mitsuha and his crush and school friend come with him. Its after a travel montage we find out why she didn’t pick up, she’s dead. The reveal of this is eluded to with the tone of the cut from where we last saw Mitsuha and those who pay close attention would have gotten hints to this being the case from earlier in the movie.
For me I didn’t notice the subtle hints and this was certainly a shock, I think out loud I even said “No” in a sad voice when this was revealed, I was already worried that she was dead from the audio cue in the transition when we came back to Taki. It hit me. The crystal like mysterious soundtrack here really nails the emotion here.
We learn at this point that Mitsuha died years ago, for some reason the messages on the phone get deleted which is a bit odd but needed for the plot I guess and it is confirmed Mitsuha was a casualty of the comet splitting apart. The comet being the first major clue of the time difference as there was no comet in the news in Taki’s time as it had happened years ago. With more subtle things such as the dates on their calendars on their phones not matching being an earlier reference to the time gap.
We’re then prompted to see the ribbon on Taki’s arm, another hint to the time difference. Its like the of Mitsuha had in her hair as a ribbon and we follow Taki to the shrine Mitsuha visited earlier in the movie and through drinking a bit from of Mitsuha left there at the shrine, we see some flash backing into her life and the ribbon a bit more.
Post movie I looked this up and apparently there is a thing to do with fate and the belief of being connected by hidden ribbons, they never tangle and always lead people to their destinies. Which is why the ribbon is so intertwined between Taki & Mitsuha. We also see how Mitsuha died again from the comet with the same audio cue as seen earlier, the dong acting as the comet hitting the ground.
Then Taki ends up in Mitsuha’s body again, which he is obviously relieved and then goes about trying the change the course of events in Mitsuha’s body to save her and the town. Obviously easier said than done for a high schooler. So he hatches a plan to force an evacuation with the help of Mitsuha’s friends using a bomb at the power station and the radio at the school. Knowing the school is outside the blast radius as we saw the destruction in Taki’s time from the school grounds, so its a safe place for everyone that gather.
We also learn that some of Mitsuha’s family have also experienced similar body swapping with other people and knew what was going on and new that it was Mitsuha but with someone else controlling her. This is followed by Mitsuha travelling to see Taki in her timeline, 3 years before he even knows who she is. Also trying to call Taki with no success at the same bridge Taki tries to call Mitsuha 3 years later.
The Emotions Hit
This was an emotional roller-coaster which really started now, I wanted Mitsuha to survive somehow and for them to actually meet. We see how Taki got the ribbon 3 years ago as Mitsuha gave it to him while saying her name. After only just being introduced for the first time in Taki’s eyes.
All this time Mitsuha has been making it up-to where Taki is in his timeline and the manage to meet for a moment. due to what Taki drank. They share some banter from them switching bodies which is pretty funny and Taki gives the ribbon back to Mitsuha who puts it back in her hair. You also get to see them starting to fall for each other with a really sweet soundtrack accompanying it.
They only have a moment and decided to write each others names down on their hand so they remember each other. But its suddenly cuts with the pen dropping to the floor when its Mitsuha’s turn, instantly changing to the tone with Taki struggling to remember Mitsuha’s name.
At this point the best track in the movie starts, named “Sparkle”, Taki breaks down forgetting Mitsuha’s name and we see Mitsuha executing the plan to save the town. The plan starts as intended but the adults get in the way of their plan. This whole sequence is mostly visual but gives me goosebumps every time I see it.
The most impactful moment being when Tessie see’s the comet break up as Mitsuha warned and its just in shock knowing what’s about the happen and all we can do it watch.
The music takes centre stage and is both dramatic while also being very sombre about the impending doom. Really nailing home the moment We also get to see Taki watching the comet splitting up from his rooftop in the city, having no memory of Mitsuha as this is all 3 years before the body swapping took place on his end.
We then cut to Mitsuha running to reach her father to convince him of the danger and she trips which trying to remember Taki’s name. She opens her hand to see that Taki didn’t write his name, but “I love you”. The music returns from a momentary break as Mitsuha gets up and has a stern word with her father. Then we follow the comet falling to hit the town and at this point I was literally in tears and the soundtrack hits back up into its final orchestral as the comet lands and we see the destruction it caused, not knowing if Mitsuha survived or not. But knowing that it wasn’t the same as the first time as Mitsuha wasn’t on the hill over the town watching it fall.
With Mitsuha’s fate unknown once again we return to Taki, who has returned to the city & several year have past since the visit to the comet’s creator. We see that Taki ended up just being good friends with his crush from when Mitsuha was in his body around and they reminisce over the time since and the comet accident and what happened 5 years ago when they visited the town. As expected Taki doesn’t remember what happened on the mountain, and as his friends left for the city the day before no-one was there to remind him of what he did.
Its at this point we learn that the plan worked! with some flashbacks to the news of the time reported the town was destroyed, but the residents were all at the school for an “emergency drill”. Calling it a sheer luck, coincidence. Obviously we know differently.
This is further confirmed when Taki is looking at his diary with lots of job interviews in it in a café and hearing Mitsuha’s friends in the café talking at a table behind him. On his way home we also see Taki stop and turn around at someone, who we can guess pretty easily is Mitsuha but they don’t notice each other yet.
At this point I was just wanting them to meet FINALLY! Just rooting for them fully and all. They both notice each other on a normal day through their train windows and the final sequence begins. This is another point when I was tearing up, its so well done and I rarely tear up at movies. But I was just so invested at this point.
They finally meet, initially passing each other, then both turning around thinking they have met before and the movie ends with them asking each other their names. Its a lovely way to end things, refering both to the name of the movie once more and letting the viewer guess what happens next.
I would totally recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good mystery/love story. Its not the best for replay-ability as it will never hit you as much as it does the first time watching, but that’s true for a lot of media. I watched it in the Japanese voice with subtitles as it fits better than the English dub with the emotion of the character being better portrayed in my opinion.