The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Makoto Shinkai

A Photogrammetry Exercise in Kimi no Na wa (Your Name): Determining the location of Taki’s Apartment and a fly-through from Tokyo to Hida

“Where is Taki’s apartment located?”

This question was posed by one of our readers shortly after Your Name began screening in Japan, and at the time, information about the film, especially amongst the English language anime community, was limited. Consequently, when I received the question, I wondered if it were even possible to answer it accurately. For one, metro Tokyo is the world’s largest city, and even Tokyo Proper has a surface area of 2187.66 km² and a population of 13 617 445 as of 2016. By comparison, Calgary has a tenth of the population, and it’s already tricky enough to find things here — it took me ages to realise that Pure Pwnage‘s Lannagedon event was hosted at the Bowness Community Centre, for instance. However, the challenge was an intriguing one, and I began wondering how to go about solving it. When I recalled an episode of The Raccoons back in July, I felt that I had my answer: in the episode “Search and Rescue”, Bert Raccoon and Cedric Sneer go looking for a meteorite that lands on Jack Pine Island in the Evergreen Forest. Assuming that recovering the meteorite is a day trip, the two do not leave any information behind as to where they went, and when their raft floats off from the island, the two find themselves stranded. Despite the effort of their friends, who search the Evergreen Forest through the night for them, the two are not found until the next morning. After Lady Baden-Baden reveals that she saw the meteorite, Professor Smedley-Smythe is able to use triangulation to work out where the impactor landed, leading to Bert and Cedric’s rescue. The concept of triangulation is a reasonably simple one: if there are at least two known points, then the location of an unknown point can be determined by forming a triangle by means of the existing points. The version in The Raccoons is the simplest one: the baseline distance and angles are not used, as a map is available. However, slightly more involved forms allow for a distance to the unknown point to be determined provided that one knows the baseline distance between two observes and the relative angle of this baseline to their line of sight. In this exercise, I apply a variation of the technique, plus several landmarks in the Tokyo, to form the starting point for answering this question.

Locating Taki’s Apartment

  • Figure I: Taki viewing Tiamat’s fragment splitting up in the eastward direction. The Yoyogi Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building are highlighted in this image for clarity. All of the images in this post can be expanded for viewing at full resolution.

  • Figure II: A section of the Tokyo skyline seen in Your Name. Here, I’ve highlighted some of the buildings visible in the image. Landmarks with a red label were used in my preliminary estimates to narrow down which area Taki’s apartment is located in.

  • Figure III: Approximation of where the skyline in Figure II might be viewed from. Using the four landmarks and roughly their angles, the area one can begin looking for Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, enclosed by the sightlines. All of the map data in this discussion are sourced from Google Maps and have been modified to improve clarity.

From footage in Your Name, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the nearby Yoyogi Building is visible from Taki’s apartment (Fig I). In the image, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is right of the Yoyogi building. Inspection of a map allows us to work out that Taki’s apartment must be east of these buildings. The second set of points we can use can be derived from the fact that Taki is seen leaving home with Tokyo’s skyline visible on the horizon (Fig II, Fig IV, Fig V, Fig VI, Fig VII). Visible in the frame’s left-hand-side is Akasaka Palace, accommodations for visiting state dignitaries. Tokyo Tower is also visible, along with the Embassy of Canada as the frame pans right. Thus, we can use Tokyo Tower and the Embassy of Canada as the first of the known points for our calculations: in the images, the Tokyo Tower is left of the Embassy of Canada, so we can reason out that the scene is taken from a point north of these buildings. The estimated sight lines allow us to constrain Taki’s apartment to an area in Shinanomachi, Wakaba, Yotsuyasakamachi (Fig III). These are densely-built up neighbourhoods, and while we’ve worked out roughly where Taki’s apartment could be, exploring the area bit-by-bit would still take a while. Fortunately, we have two more points that makes the calculations easier to approximate: Akasaka State Property is visible in the frame shown when Taki (Mitsuha) is looking over Tokyo. We use this to further constrain the possible region to an area west of the Akasaka State Property (Fig II). The second point is rather more subtle – there’s a small apartment complex called the Meiji Park Heights, and it is visible in the image’s lower right hand corner (Fig VII, VIII). This apartment is located southwest of Taki, so using the same technique and tracing backwards, we find a line that passes over a community centre north of the Chou Main Line (Fig IX).

  • Figure IV: Identifying buildings visible from the perspective seen in Your Name. When we zoom in to the area highlighted in Figure III and rotate the camera, we find a distinct set of landmarks not dissimilar to the buildings seen in Figure II. I use some of the more distinct skyscrapers in the image as comparisons.

  • Figure V: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. Amongst the buildings I’ve looked at include the 43-story Park Court Akasaka: The Tower, a residential complex that was completed in 2009, the Sogetsu Concert Hall and the Embassy of Canada. The Embassy of Canada was chosen as a point primarily because of its distinct roof. This building was completed in 1991.

  • Figure VI: Panning east from the perspective in Figure IV. When the camera pans right, other buildings become visible, including Tokyo Midtown, a mixed-use building that is, with its height of 248 meters (814 feet), the second-tallest in Tokyo. By comparison, Brookfield Place East of Calgary will have a completed height of 247 meters (810 feet). Other buildings highlighted for their visibility include the International Medical Welfare University Graduate School, Honda Welcome Plaza Aoyama and the TK Minami-Aoyama Building.

  • Figure VII: The equivalent spot from Figure IV in Your Name. With the number of familiar landmarks visible in Your Name, we can say that Taki’s apartment must be located close to the Akasaka Imperial Property. There is one final structure that is present when the camera pans, and this is the Meiji Park Heights, with its distinct roof and windows.

  • Figure VIII: A closer view of Meiji Park Heights. Despite its unassuming appearance from 3D imagery, the building houses spacious, luxury apartment units and is conveniently located to two train stations, as well as the Akasaka grounds. With two-bedroom units that have a total area of close to 1125 square feet (110.41 square meters), rentals start at 350000 Yen per month (3900 CAD), more than double that of an equivalent in Calgary (1500 CAD per month).

  • Figure IX: Using the Akasaka State Property and Meiji Park Heights to constrain the possible region of Taki’s apartment further. The Akasaka State Property was visible in Figure II, and together with the Meiji Park Heights, allow us to say that Taki’s apartment must be in a narrow area where both structures are visible. Using the sightlines running east-west, the possible location of Taki’s apartment can be searched for in the highlighted area.

We now have an area small enough so that we can start looking around manually, and immediately north of the community centre are some apartment complexes. We are left with several options: Taki lives in an apartment with an outdoor hallway, which allows us to eliminate a larger apartment nearby with windows facing south, as well as a green-roofed apartment (Fig X, XI). Adjacent to the green-roofed apartment is a slightly taller apartment, and while it has south-facing balconies, this is our candidate, located at the address 〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15. The building itself is called 離宮ハイム (Rikyū haimu), and from details in the film, Taki lives on the sixth floor. Despite the descrepancies in design, especially with respect to the placement of balconies and the angle of sunlight seen in the film, when we descend down for a closer look along a road, it becomes apparent that we’ve located Taki’s apartment. Details in the road he’s seen running along, both to school and to meet up with Miki for his date, line up with what is visible from the site’s real world location (Fig XII, XIII, XIV, XV). Without the use of too much trigonometry, we’ve found Taki’s apartment with some reasoning, a bit more guesswork and liberal use of Google Maps. I remark that a more precise and sophisticated technique can be applied here: because we have the heights of the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, clever use of a clinometer and the screenshots can also allow one to approximate the distance to the buildings and determine where the screenshots are roughly located.

  • Figure X: Highlighting Taki’s apartment and the route he’s seen taking to school and on his date with Miki. Taki’s apartment is highlighted in blue, while the route we see him take is given in red. From exploring the area given in Figure IX, Taki’s apartment was located in the space of around two minutes.

  • Figure XI: Corridor outside of Taki’s aparment. Close inspection of the unit numbers find that Taki lives on the sixth floor, although his apartment has a covered corridor compared to the unit located in the real-world location. However, as the structure needs to be suited for plot-related elements, the discrepancies are readily accepted without much concern.

  • Figure XII: Street-level view looking south from the road leading from Taki’s apartment. Quite ordinary and unremarkable by any definition, it is possible to use Google Street View to approximate a small section of Taki’s route, and I imagine that folks in Tokyo familiar with the region can trace his path to school and the route he takes when meeting Miki for a date with total accuracy.

  • Figure XIII: The equivalent spot from Figure XII in Your Name. The extent to which details are reproduced are incredible: whether it be the placement of mirrors, the potted plants beside the apartment on the right, the vending machine or the skyline, we have a near-perfect reproduction within Your Name of the location.

  • Figure XIV: The road going down the hillside leading from Taki’s apartment. The real-world location is filled with shrubbery, with the skyline barely visible, whereas in Your Name, there is less vegetation that allows the skyline to be more clearly seen.

  • Figure XV: The equivalent spot from Figure XIV in Your Name. While I never visited this spot during my time in Tokyo back in May, the closest I got from Taki’s apartment and the Suga Shrine would have been around 2.6 klicks, when I visited the Meiji Jingu Garden. This was the first destination that was on my itinerary in Tokyo.

The Giant Flythough Kimi no Na Wa

During the opening credits to Your Name, there’s also a brief moment where the camera flies from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo, through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, out to rural Japan and eventually, Itomori (Fig XVI). This is undoubtedly an impressive feat of animation and a visual treat to behold on its own, but there is a pleasant surprise to this, as well – if one were to project a line from Taki’s apartment in the heading as depicted in the film, they would end up in Hida, Gifu, passing over Lake Suwa along the way (Fig XVII, XVIII). In total, roughly 237 kilometers of distance separates the location of Taki’s apartment in Tokyo from Hida in the Gifu prefecture. While some might consider this a mere coincidence, the level of detail Makoto Shinkai and his team put into their art is nothing short of exceptional, so I imagine that this was a deliberate design in keeping with the thematic elements within the movie. Whereas Shinkai’s earlier themes were more about distance, Your Name deals predominantly with connections and how distances can be closed: the Chinese term “緣份” (pinyin: yuán fèn, “fate”) describes the movie neatly, as it appears that supernatural forces compel Taki and Mitsuha to meet. That their homes lie along the same line is a clever element added to the film, and while subtle, serves to reinforce notions that Taki and Mitsuha must meet in order to convey the thematic elements in the movie. With this in mind, it is likely that Shinkai and his team worked backwards, choosing the rural location and then corresponding it with a location in Tokyo; it is considerably more difficult to pick a rural location suitable for Mitsuha, whereas in Tokyo, the dense urban build-up means that Taki could have been placed anywhere in central Tokyo without any substantial impact to the narrative.

  • Figure XVI: Stills from the opening scene in Your Name depicting a fly-over from Taki’s apartment in Tokyo to Mitsuha’s house in Itomori. Starting from the roof of Taki’s apartment (1) and flying east over the Tokyo cityscape (2) towards the Tokyo Metropolitian Government Building (3), the camera moves through the gap between the two towers (4) out into rural Japan after a transition (5), eventually landing in Itomori (6).

  • Figure XVII: Approximation of the route covered by the route seen in the opening in the real world. The red path highlighted shows this: in the upper left, the route covered between Figure XVI’s (1), (2) and (3) are shown. The opening shortens things after (4) is reached. Curiously enough, the line intersects Suwa Lake before landing in the small town of Hida in Gifu. During my visit to Japan, we passed by Suwa Lake after leaving the Ikenotaira Hotel beside the shores of Shirakaba Lake en route to Nagoya and Gifu.

  • Figure XVIII: Overhead view of the entire route from Tokyo to Hida, Gifu, intersecting with Lake Suwa. The total distance separating Taki’s apartment from Suwa Lake is 154 kilometers, while the full distance from Hida to Tokyo as the mole digs is 243 kilometers. To put things in perspective, Red Deer to Calgary is a little less than 154 kilometers, while Edmonton and Calgary are separated by a distance of 270 kilometers.

Closing Remarks

An interesting point to note is that only 480 metres separates Taki’s old apartment from the Suga Shrine. This entire exercise only took around five minutes to complete, although the post itself took a ways longer to draft out: from exploring the areas by means of Google Maps’ Street View and 3D utilities, it becomes clear that, as with Suga Shrine, Your Name takes some creative liberties in recreating locales for the film but nonetheless retains considerable accuracy. That it is possible to apply a bit of triangulation and make use of a commonplace tool to precisely determine where the events of an anime film occur, is itself a testament to how far technology has come in recent years. Sophisticated techniques for obtaining stereographic data to create 3D maps has made photogrammetry, the process of using imagery for locating structures and objects, increasingly accessible to all users: Google has optimised their 3D maps so even computers with an Intel Iris GPU can view maps in 3D. Such tools make it effortless to figure out where one’s destinations are, what road layout and traffic controls lie along a hitherto unexplored route and gain a preview of what things look like on the ground at a location halfway across the world. With tools of this calibre, quickly ascertaining locations within anime becomes a much more straightforwards task, especially if one is familiar with a handful of landmarks in the area of interest. All of these sophisticated tools means that hopefully, I’ve adequately answered the question posed: when asked “where is Taki’s apartment located?”, I can suitably respond “〒160-0011 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba, 1 Chome-22-15“. Back in The Raccoons, for Bert and Cedric, being lost on an island now simply means sending out a phone call and tagging their location to simplify the search and rescue process. Having said this, some lessons, such as informing others of their intended activities and destinations, continue to endure even if the technology we’ve presently got far outstrips anything that was available in 1989.

Warm, Winter Canada: Canada The Anime, or, Makoto Shinkai brings to life Canada’s most famous season in time for Canada 150

“Ours is a land of original peoples, and of newcomers. And our greatest pride is that you can come here from anywhere in the world, build a good life and be part of our community. We don’t care where you’re from, or what religion you practice, or whom you love, you are all welcome in Canada!” —The Rt Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The rest of the world knows the True North as a nation of maple syrup-loving, hockey-watching and polite folks accustomed to the second most intense winters of the world (Canada loses the crown of having the harshest winters only to Russia, for which our weak winters are no match for Real Soviet Winter™). Here’s an insider secret – only half of that is true, half of the time. What remains steadfast in our nation, however, is our multiculturalism and wonderfully diverse seasons – these are the things that I am most proud of as a Canadian, and this year also happens to be the nation’s 150th birthday. Known officially as the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Canada 150 commemorates the point in our history where Canada became an independent nation when, back in 1867, the Quebec Conference saw the unification of British Colonies into a single Dominion. Compared to other nations, such as Egypt and China, we are definitely a young nation whose name on the world stage once extended to humanitarianism, a staunch commitment to peacekeeping and a general acceptance of diversity. The vast wilderness of Canada is also something Canada is known for around the world, drawing over twenty million visitors last year. It is this side of Canada that Makoto Shinkai chooses to depict in his thirty-second advertisement, which follows Yuya Miyagi, a salaryman who’s been working for five years. Behind his stoic and practical exterior lies an adventurous side. So, when his girlfriend, Satsuki Koumi, finds herself under tremendous stress from work, Yuya decides to invite her to the True North Strong, where they visit some of Canada’s most celebrated destinations by winter.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The first moment in Warm, Winter Canada is of Cascade Mountain in Banff from Banff Avenue at Buffalo Street. The Dave White Block is visible on the left of the image, while the Clocktower Village Mall can be seen to the right hand side. A town of 7847 as of 2016, Banff is one of the most famous destinations in the Canadian Rockies and was founded in 1885, two years after William McCardell and Frank McCabe descended down a fallen tree trunk into a hole in the ground, stumbling across what is now the Cave and Basin. Knowledge of the hot springs predates these two railway workers – James Hector made the first mention of the site in 1859 while on the Palliser Expedition.

  • Yuya and Satsuki enjoy a view of Rundle Mountain from the frozen surface of Lake Minnewanka. Visible from the Trans-Canada Highway, Mount Rundle has a distinct knife-like shape when seen from the Vermillion Lakes, extends twelve kilometers, and its highest point is 2949 metres. I’ve never actually been to Banff by winter before owing to winter roads, but having seen photographs (and now, this short), I’m compelled to make use of the complementary park pass and swing by come December, when Banff Avenue is adjorned with Christmas decorations and lights.

  • This talk on Warm, Winter Canada now holds the distinction of having the highest screenshot density of any post I’ve ever written: the previous record belonged to Utopia (a True TearsHanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari crossover), with one screenshot per 6.67 seconds. Before Utopia, my talk on Cross road held the record for one screenshot every 12 seconds, and Someone’s Gaze had one screenshot every 18 seconds. However, with a runtime of thirty seconds, and the fact that I have a total of twenty screenshots here, Warm, Winter Canada utterly defeats the old numbers with one screenshot every 1.5 seconds.

  • Satsuki and Yuya gaze at the “frozen bubbles” phenomenon at Abraham Lake, located alongside the David Thompson Highway between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg. Despite being an artificial lake, it has a distinct blue colouration as a result of rock flour, and the bubbles in the lake are caused by decaying plant matter from the lake bed. Of all the locations in Warm, Winter Canada, this is the only place I’ve not visited.

  • On the slopes of Mount Norquay overlooking the Banff Townsite. From here, Mount Norquay Road and the Banff Fenland Recreation Center are visible immediately beside Satsuki, along with the townsite and Banff Springs Hotel. This particular location was captured from an open meadow on the Banff Viewpoint, located two-thirds of the way up the Mount Norquay Scenic Drive. Admittedly, it feels nice to be doing a talk on locations I’m very familiar with: the first part of Warm, Winter Canada is set right in my backyard, located an hour and a half from Calgary.

  • Yuya and Satsuki visit the Granville Island Public Market next, with a span of the Granville Street Bridge visible in the background. The island was once an industrial area, but by 1972, the federal government invested in the area and converted it into a shopping district, adding the Public Market building in 1979. Since then, Granville Island has become one of Vancouver’s most well-known areas, renowned for an unparalleled shopping experience, offering a Farmer’s Market, street vendors and artists. The last time I visited Granville Island was back in 2001, and I still vividly recall the atmosphere.

  • JJ Bean is a coffee company that was established in 1996 by John Neate Jr. Headquartered in Vancouver, this coffee shop prides itself on using the best coffee beans and roasting techniques to create their coffee, although I’ve never tried their beverages out before, as they only have locations in Vancouver and Toronto.

  • Of the vendors at Granville Island Market, the Four Seasons Farms, Sunlight Farms and Granville Island Produce sell produce. Warm, Winter Canada depicts these items in extensive detail: fruits are especially appealing to render because of their rich colours and the play of light on them: this single frame showcases the sort of details that Shinkai’s team can render. With this in mind, I think that seafood, especially grilled Pacific Salmon with a maple syrup glaze, would be more reflective of Vancouver’s cuisine.

  • Yuya and Satsuki browse through the wares inside the Granville Island Market: Duso’s is visible to the left, and from this frame, it would appear the still of fresh blueberries, grapes, raspberries and apples are from Granville Island Produce. Duso’s is a store that specialises in Italian products, from cheese and cooking oil to marinara sauces and pasta. Established in the 1960s by the Duso family, this is one of the oldest establishments on Granville Island. The nature of the market reminds me somewhat of Sha Tin’s wet market, which I visited back in May.

  • Here, Yuya and Satsuki sample nuts at The Nut Merchant, a speciality shop that sells nuts of all manner. In addition to conventional salted nuts, The Nut Merchant also has amongst its offerings, maple almond. One must admire the attention to details in Warm, Winter Canada – I’ve taken a look at Japanese border laws, and it states that boiled, roasted, dried or salted nuts (save walnuts) can be brought back into Japan. Canadian customs allow nuts to be brought back if they have been commercially packaged, although being an agricultural nation, things like fresh produce, meat and dairy products must be declared and not exceed a certain amount.

  • Canada Place is a convention centre and cruise ship terminal on the Burrard Inlet at the heart of Vancouver. Completed in 1985, the site was expanded in 2001, and in 2003, I departed from here on a family vacation, a cruise with Celebrity Cruises to Alaska’s Inside Passage. In 2003, the distinct sculpture, The Drop, had not been available at the site yet: this addition was made in 2009. I’ve not been to Vancouver proper since 2003 – my last four visits were merely stop-overs at their airport.

  • Compared to Calgary, Vancouver has a warmer climate, more opportunity in technology and software and superior culture all around, but the caveat is that being the nicest city in Canada has also driven up the cost of living. While much less sophisticated, Calgary has the advantage of shorter commutes, a slightly lower cost of living and more weather diversity (we’re one of the few places in the world where it goes from -20ºC to 15ºC because of the Chinook). I’m at that stage in my life where I’m wondering about whether or not I should put down roots in my home town or if I should pack it up and go where the opportunity is – so far, I’m inclined to put down roots here.

  • In the summer of 2008, I went to Eastern Canada, which encompassed Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. Seeing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls was wonderful, and we were able to ride the Maid of the Mist, seen here by winter. In the summer, the mist coming from the falls is most comfortable, and we were treated to the full tour on our visit, encompassing history of the falls, interesting figures and even a trip up the Skylon tower. Come the summer of 2011, I visited the American side of the falls, where we donned ponchos and walked along a walkway close to the American falls.

  • The only thing that surpasses Makoto Shinkai’s rendering of Horseshoe Falls is an actual photograph of the falls. The page quote comes from Canada’s current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Politics is something I tend not to discuss here, since my beliefs are my own. On the whole, I find that Prime Minister Trudeau to have a ways to go in fulfilling his campaign promises, and although he may hold different beliefs than his predecessor, Steven Harper, things have not changed too substantially since Trudeau took office back in 2015.

  • This is the Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. The largest public square of its kind in Canada, it was completed in 1965, covers 4.85 hectares and is located adjacent to Toronto’s city hall. Like Calgary’s Olympic Plaza, becomes a skating rink in winter. The large TORONTO sign was an addition from the 2015 Pan-American games, and once the events were over, the sign was intended to be moved to another location. However, it’s since remained at the location.

  • The Toronto City Hall is visible in the background here: it’s one of Toronto’s most distinct landmarks, with its twin curved towers and space-age design. I admit that I’ve never been too much of a skater, and ever since an accident where I split my chin open while skating about some years back, I’ve not been too keen in skating. I still have the scars. Back in Warm, Winter Canada, another Canadian skater helps prevent Satsuki from falling. This simple moment captures what people abroad think of Canadians – a polite people. It’s probably not the case, but we do tend to apologise proportionately more than our neighbours down south.

  • If I had to guess, this particular location would be somewhere close to the Ward Island Ferry Dock. The Toronto skyline by night is beautiful, and being Canada’s largest city, is considered to be top-tier with respect to dining, entertainment and culture. I know Toronto best for being the home of Pure Pwnage, a hilarious mockumentary about gamer culture that culminated in last year’s movie. Despite its whacky premise and zany characters, Pure Pwnage provides numerous life lessons within its outlandish narrative, being both fun and somewhat instructive during its run.

  • The last location in Warm, Winter Canada is not given on screen – Yuya and Satsuki are enjoying the Aurora Borealis: one of the greatest misconceptions out there is that the northern lights can only occur by winter, when in fact, they can be visible any time of year depending on solar activity. Having said this, the winter months are better for chasing the northern lights because the hours of darkness are longer: the further up north one goes by summer, the longer daylight hours become.The Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories are the best places in the country for viewing northern lights, as are the northern reaches of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

  • While the technical explanation would be very long and involve math I do not understand, I can offer the layman’s explanation for what causes the aurora borealis. Highly charged, energised particles from solar ejecta interact with atoms in our atmosphere, causing electrons to change orbitals (electrons tend to occupy specific orbitals). When the electrons lose their energy and return from a high energy orbit to a lower one, they emit photons with an energy corresponding with which orbits they return to, in turn affecting the wavelength of the light. In oxygen, green is the most common colour, while nitrogen usually exudes a red light (or more rarely, blue).

  • This was a surprisingly fun post to write for, especially for the fact that I don’t get to talk about places from my homeland very often. What isn’t shown in Warm, Winter Canada is that Real Canadian Winter™ is not all fun and games: snowy days can shut down whole cities, making roads impassible or uncommonly slippery, while heavy storms can knock out the power and plunge neighbourhoods into the winter chill. Wind chill can drop temperatures below -40ºC, and vehicles become reluctant to start if left outside during the night. Having said this, the commercial is a beautiful one that goes quite a way in reminding me that I live in a majestic nation of great beauty.

In the thirty second short, Yuya and Satsuki experience the Canadian winter, but far from being the frigid wastelands that might be expected of a nation who spends more than half the year locked under short days, grey skies and icy roads, they find Canada to be a welcoming, majestic and warm nation whose people and landscapes do much to offset the harshness of a Canadian winter. Produced in a collaboration with the Japanese branch of Destination Canada (a Crown Corporation responsible for promoting tourism in Canada), this short is a part of a contest for Japanese citizens involving a trivia quiz. Participants are eligible for prizes, which include travel guides, Aboriginal crafts and Canadian perfumes, with the grand prize being a trip to Canada. The short itself was produced by the same team who worked on Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, one of the biggest animated films in Japanese history: animation itself is attributed to Hisayuki Tabata. Its short length belies the beauty that is Canada, and while Shinkai may have a predisposition towards stories of distance and the like, his animation team’s works outside of film retain all of the quality found in his films. With Your Name in the books, I’ve long expressed a wish for Shinkai and his team to work on a story set outside of Japan: the landscapes and stories of Canada, from the Fur Trade to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the discovery of hot springs in what is now Banff National Park and the gold rush in the Yukon are all worth exploring with the visual fidelity that few can match. Of course, such a project is unlikely, but it nonetheless remains impressive that the same team that created Your Name now lend their talents bringing parts of my homeland to life in anime form, vividly capturing the sights and places with the detail and attention befitting some of the nation’s greatest attractions. As for the contest behind this advertisement, I can say that whoever wins the grand prize is in for a fantastic treat when they visit Canada.

The Stairs to Suga Shrine in Yotsuya, Shinjuku, Home of the Fateful Meeting in Kimi no Na wa (Your Name)

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” —Bruce Feirstein

The history behind Suga Shrine dates back to the Edo period; the shrine itself is actually the merger between the Gozutennou and Inari shrines, which, after the Meiji Restoration, became enshrined together to become the Suga Shrine. The shrine takes its name from Japanese mythology, where hero Susano no Mikoto defeated an eight-headed serpent and remarked 「吾れ此の地に来たりて心須賀、須賀し」(Romaji: “Warere kono ji ni ki tarite kokoro suga, suga shi”, literally “I come to this place, and my heart becomes purified”). The shrine itself features unique paintings on its ceiling depicting the Sanjurokkasen (The Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry) a group of poets from the Asuka, Nara and Heian Periods renowned for their poetic ability. The painting was dedicated to the shrine in 1836, being the work of Unpou Ooka, while the lettering was done by Arikoto Chigusa. Besides the painting, the site also is home to the Komainu, a guardian dog statue dating back to 1728, as well as the Yotsuya mitsuke memorial stone. With a bit of history behind it, the Suga Shrine is an intriguing place to visit for folks travelling in Japan, being close in proximity to the Tokyo Toy Museum and Shinjuku Historical Museum. However, I imagine that most folks are not here for some Lonely Planet-esque entry on the Suga Shrine: the stairwell leading up from the main road to the Shrine was quite trivial until the première of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, and since the film’s release, has become a popular spot for visitors looking to tread the same path that inspired the place Mitsuha and Taki, the film’s protagonists, meet properly for the first time.

  • Because we are going through Your Name again, the presence of duplicate images in this post are unavoidable. The post itself comes out of the blue, precisely a year after Your Name premièred in Japanese theatres; it is a consequence of a request I’ve had from a member of Tango-Victor-Tango, who was looking for a well-written location post and was kind enough to supply me with the photographs they’d taken. I’m not sure how visible this post will be in the grand scheme of things, since search engines are saturated with sub-standard location posts from Your Name, but at the very least, I hope that the post, featuring fifteen images each for the real-world location and movie incarnation, will be helpful for this particular member.

  • Most of the images of the film’s final moments are set in the streets surrounding Suga Shrine, and while attesting to the exceptional amount of attention Shinkai’s art team has paid to detail, such as illustrating of street signs, protrusions in the road and even the reflection of light on wet surfaces, the locations themselves are rather unremarkable, so this post’s figure captions will not deal predominantly with the locations themselves. Instead, I will take another look at the ending of Your Name, which has been considered inappropriate in the days following the home release.

  • Criticisms of the film’s ending as being inordinately happy have been made by a handful of individuals, asserting that a happy ending is, and I quote “…a lie that people actively seek because they can’t accept the shitty mess that is real life”. Such an assertion evidently can only come from individuals who have yet to find fulfilment or purpose in their lives – if they have such aversions to notions of serendipity, it follows that such people hold a degree of resentment against society itself, lacking the drive to better themselves and improve things around them.

  • The same individual goes on the claim that “…endings are the ones which realistically portray the cost of all their characters’ actions and why, in the end, the choices were worth it, despite what they gave up in exchange”. The irony of this is that even by their definition, Your Name‘s conclusion is enjoyable. I remarked that one of the main themes of Your Name, missed elsewhere even by reviews published to major news sources, is that love transcends spatial-temporal boundaries. As such, after everything that Taki and Mitsuha had gone through, it is realistic in portraying how the two reach their destination.

  • Because Your Name places so much emphasis on the unusual properties of how fate can bind individuals together and makes extensive use of the red ribbon as a metaphor for this connection, it stands to reason that the film was aiming to illustrate the strength of this connection. To have Mitsuha and Taki pass by one another and passively resign themselves to a fruitless search would be to contradict the very themes that Shinkai strives to convey. Mitsuha and Taki make sacrifices on the course of their journey to find one another, and the end result is the culmination of these choices.

  • The reason why there is seemingly “no patience for contrarian opinions” is not for the fact that contrarian opinions exist, but because the opinions themselves seemed intent on painting the movie as a sub-par “feel-good” effort that deviated too greatly from realism. I found that the film succeeded in telling the story it set out to tell, and with its combination of comedy and drama, managed to capture the audiences’ attention from start to finish. While not a masterpiece that dramatically altered my worldview, it nonetheless remains an immensely enjoyable film; it is evident that folks who found the film unsatisfactory are in the minority.

  • Owing to the film’s widespread popularity and reach, there have also been numerous cases of armchair experts coming out of the woodwork to comment on the film, asserting that there is a much deeper meaning in the film that other viewers have missed and that they alone understand. The counterclaim for this is simple enough: the fact that Your Name is so popular and relatable for such a diverse population is precisely because the film’s themes, symbols and motifs are universally understood. By conveying these ideas in a visually stimulating manner, through the perspectives of two everyday characters, the messages in the film are never obfuscated.

  • One indication that execution of Your Name is masterfully done is that the film was able to present abstract topics in a highly accessible manner. One of the long-lasting lessons I took away from my time in academia, one that endures, is that an idea that it takes genius to make the complex understandable. The concept is attributed to Albert Einstein, and my former supervisor certainly encouraged his students to think this way: while other professors gave jargon-heavy talks, with slides filled to the brim with text, my former supervisor explained complex systems in simple terms, preferring to let visuals and diagrams augment his lectures. Shinkai is likewise able to express complex ideas in an approachable manner, which lends itself to his films’ ability to move such a number of viewers.

  • The most noticeable differences between the real-world staircase in Suga Shrine and the incarnation seen in Your Name is visible in this image: while largely faithful to the real location in composition, lanterns from the shrine are not present in the film, giving the sense that it is down an ordinary street that Mitsuha and Taki meet, rather than beside a shrine. While Your Name makes extensive use of real-world locations, it also integrates fictionalised locations, as well, standing in contrast with Five Centimeters per Second and The Garden of Words.

  • One of the most suspenseful moments in Your Name was watching to see if Taki and Mitsuha would go the route that Takaki experienced in Five Centimeters per Second. In Your Name, Mitsuha and Taki come close to missing their moment, but ultimately seize the chance to address the longing in their hearts. It is a welcome, deserved ending for two characters for whom the film persistently present as being fated to meet one another: their longing was purely to meet, and the film allows this modicum of solace in being able to do so.

  • While long held to be Shinkai’s best work, and a movie that I count as being a full-fledged masterpiece for having changed the way I saw the world, I presently find that Your Name is an excellent companion to Five Centimeters per Second in that it confers another, different perspective on what things could be. While prima facie differnt in their endings, Your Name ends in an open manner just as Five Centimeters per Second did, to remind audiences that meeting is not sufficient, but it is necessary, for a meaningful relationship to occur. Much like how Takaki accepts what’s happening and see where things go, Taki decides to take a chance and see where things go, as well. The endings are, in retrospect, more similar than initially apparent.

  • I’ll take a moment to remark that I’m not particularly fond of going down long flights of steps, since the longer the stairs are, the more likely I’ll feel as though I’ll trip on the way down. This image is almost identical to the one I used in my original Your Name review, and in the comparison between reality and Your Name, both similarities and differences become quite apparent here. I imagine that the choice to blend reality with fabricated cityscapes is meant to mirror the fact that Your Name uses both fictional and realistic elements.

  • Besides the ending, one conversation topic that seems to plague discussions of Your Name is why Taki and Mitsuha remain oblivious to the differences in their years, especially considering how the current year is almost always actively in one’s mind owing to the prevalence of calendars. I imagine that the sheer lunacy of the conscious exchanging phenomenon pushes the year into the back of Mitsuha and Taki’s minds, which is not improbably considering just how shocking such an experience would be. Others yet contend that their different iPhone models should immediately give away the year, but such a remark is indicative of naïveté: the iPhone 5 that Mitsuha uses is still quite widespread, explaining why Taki has no trouble with using one, while Mitsuha, being from the country, assumes that she’s been out of the loop with respect to iPhone models as a result of living in the countryside and accepts Taki’s iPhone 6 without too much difficulty.

  • One of the things I’ve never mentioned about Your Name but greatly enjoyed was Mitsuha’s version of the song Nandemonaiya: the RADWIMPS version was quite nice, but having Mone Kamishiraishi perform it was to give the song a particularly strong emotional feeling to it surpassing even that of RADWIMPS’ performance.

  • With this last image, so ends a locations post that was thrown together on a moment’s notice. This one comes across being more unusual in focussing less on the setting and more on topics (somewhat) relevant to the film itself. The reason for this is that there is only so much I can talk about concerning stairwells, and not being an engineer, I won’t be able to offer any technical details about the bending moment of a stairwell or anything of that sort. Regular programming resumes in a few hours, where I will be detailing my incredibly enjoyable experiences with Battlefield 1‘s Łupków Pass update and the insane things I’ve done with the armoured train on that map.

The question is then, how does one reach this location? Owing to the exceptional mass transit system of Tokyo, this is not particularly challenging as an endeavour: Suga Shrine is an eight-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Yotsuya-Sanchome Station, and ten minutes away from JR Yotsuya Station, being located at 5 Sugacho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. The actual detail of the stairs leading up to the shrine is quite different than that of Your Name, as is the cityscape visible from the top of the stairs, but as outlined in the Your Name Official Artbook, this is one of the major locations in Tokyo featured in Your Name, along with Gaien (the pedestrian overpass is located here near the Shinanomachi station and is the site where Taki and Miki share several conversations over the course of the movie), Yoyogi (where Mitsuha first visits in an attempt to meet up with Taki), Roppongi (Miki and Taki have their date at the Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musée Restaurant on the third floor, after meeting up at Yotsuya) and Sendagaya (Mitsuha can be seen running here at the train station trying to catch a glimpse of a seemlingly-familiar face). Outside of Tokyo, the town of Itomori is evidently a fictional location, drawing inspiration from Hida in the Gifu Prefecture and Lake Suwa of the Nagano Prefecture. The dormant caldera is modelled after Aogashima; located south of Hachijojima, it is very remote and typically, can only be accessed by helicopter or boat. The latter is a tricky gamble owing to dangerous terrain surrounding the island, accounting for the general reluctance of fans to visit.

Kimi no Na wa (Your Name): A Review and Full Recommendation on Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 Film

“Love isn’t something that we invented. It’s observable. Powerful. It has to mean something. Maybe it means something more, something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artefact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. Love is the one thing that we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.” —Dr. Amelia Brand, Interstellar

Premièred in late August 2016, Kimi no Na wa (English title “Your Name“, which will be used for the remainder of this discussion) is Makoto Shinkai’s latest feature film, being his fifth full-length feature. It is adapted from his novel; since its release, Your Name has been widely praised for its narrative and visuals — the film has received universal acclaim, and its box office numbers have been nothing short of impressive. As of July 4, the film has grossed a total of at least 444 million CAD, and with audiences praising Your Name to an almost improbable extent, it is worth taking a look at the film that has caused such a commotion amongst the community. At the movie’s core is a seemingly unassuming premise: Mitsuha Miyamizu is a girl living in the rural community of Itomori who is greatly dissatisfied with her life, her father and her role in the community as a shrine maiden. Long yearning to be a handsome guy in the city, Mitsuha begins to experience an unusual phenomenon of switching into Taki Tachibana’s life. A high school student living in Tokyo, Taki works part time at an Italian restaurant and holds a crush on Miki Okudera, one of his seniors. Taki realises that he is switching out with a girl living in rural Japan, and as the two begin acclimatising to the phenomenon, they begin intervening in the other’s life — Taki presents Mitsuha as being more bold and open, bolstering her popularity amongst her peers, while Mitsuha is able to help Taki become closer to Miki, managing to ask her out on a date. The phenomenon ceases as quickly as it came, but, his sense of curiosity piqued, Taki decides to travel to the Itomori region and visit Mitsuha in person.

Taki’s trek proves unsuccessful and unearths a bizarre truth: the area had been obliterated three years previously when a fragment of a comet impacted with the surface. Refusing to give up, Taki manages to find the kuchikamizake that Mitsuha had made as an offering: he finds himself as Mitsuha and sets out with the goal of saving the citizens, enlisting Mitsuha’s friends to create a diversion in order to force an evacuation, while Mitsuha, now as Taki, heads towards the shrine on the mountain on the feeling that she might find Taki there. At the mountain’s summit under the evening skies, Taki and Mitsuha manage to meet for the first time and promise to recall one another’s names, but their memories of one another begin fading: Mitsuha is only left with Taki’s message that he’d fallen in love with her. While unable to stop the comet fragment from destroying Itomori, Mitsuha manages to convince her father to aid her in evacuating the region. Eight years later, Taki has graduated from university and is struggling to find work, all the while haunted by vague memories connecte to Itomori. One day, Taki disembarks from a train to find a woman who seems familiar; she seems to feel the same way about Taki, and meeting at a flight of steps, Mitsuha and Taki ask for one another’s respective name. Your Name represents a return to the fantastical from Shinkai’s earlier The Garden of Words (2013) and Five Centimeters per Second (2007), making use of the supernatural to present a very specific set of ideas in his film — while their inclusion is noticeable, fantasy elements never overwhelm Your Name, instead, being finely woven into the narrative to subtly hint at the complexities of human emotions.

Major themes in the movie

At the core of Your Name is the exploration of human emotions and their incredible sophistication; the brain is often touted as being the most sophisticated machine in the known universe, and presently, it is still unknown how things like memories and emotions operate at the bio-molecular level. While science has yet to yield more insight into this particular mystery, authors of fiction definitely appreciate this complexity; the inclusion of phenomenon such as body-swapping is meant to overcome constraints in reality to see how people may respond when presented with extraordinary circumstances that allow them to experience the world from a different perspective. In the beginning, Taki and Mitsuha’s exchanges are characterised by a strong sense of curiosity. While initially dismissing these as dreams, the persuasiveness of the body switches eventually drives Taki to try and meet Mitsuha, to confirm that his experiences are real. Curiosity soon gives way to understanding one another as they continue living life from the others’ perspective, and even after the first set of phenomenon ceases, the memories and emotions imparted continue to linger. In fact, they are sufficiently strong that Taki decides to take action, trying to reach Itomori. When he arrives, the strength of his desire to understand overcomes spatial and temporal boundaries, allowing him to meet Mitsuha in person for the first time. Similarly, even after his memories of Mitsuha fade from his life, Taki is left with a sense of longing. This is a consequence of having reached mutual understanding with her through their shared experiences — despite never saying so, the two become as close as lovers, as each knows what the other’s feelings and thoughts are. It is therefore unsurprising that, having gone through so much, Taki and Mitsuha understand one another as though they were the other: these feelings are strong and continue to persist over space and time. In his portrayal of Taki and Mitsuha, Shinkai aims to portray love as being an immensely strong emotion, being able to endure and bring people together even against the very laws that govern time and space.

It came as quite a surprise to learn that Interstellar, in a single quote, succinctly and accurately captures the main thematic element of Your Name. Love being an entity able to transcend the known laws of space and time have been explored in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, former NASA pilot Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter, Murphy (Jessica Chastain), are separated when Cooper is sent on a mission to explore habitable worlds through a wormhole to find a new home for humanity before Earth’s biosphere fails. In this journey, Cooper ends up passing over the event horizon of a black hole and enters a space with a fourth dimension, reaching a point where he is able to communicate with a past Murphy and transmit vital data allowing her to find the solutions the equations that John Brand (Michael Caine) had dedicated his life to solving. At around the film’s midpoint, John Brand’s daughter, Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) mentions that love is something seemingly with no social utility during a conversation with Cooper, and suggests that it is a force with trusting, even if it has no tangible, quantifiable form. Although Cooper initially is dismissive, inside the black hole, he finds that this holds true: his love for his daughter moves through space-time when he transmits the information allowing her to complete John Brand’s work. Similarly, the feelings that Mitsuha and Taki share over the course of their experiences are powerful, persisting long after their initial memories of one another fade. Makoto Shinkai and Christopher Nolan thus share the commonality in that they leave the precise mechanism as secondary to the presentation of this notion, emphasising that being able to experience love is far more important than the exact workings behind things.

While a wondrous aspect of being human, love is also a desperately tricky emotion to understand, leading capable folks to do things they might not otherwise partake in while in rational control of their actions. Indeed, Shinkai suggests that love is an emotion that may require external intervention in order to adequately explore, and in Your Name, this intervention takes the form of body-swapping. A commonly-employed storytelling device, body-swapping aims to present individuals with a different perspective, a literal “walking a mile in someone’s shoes”: as humans, individuals are constrained to viewing the world from a single perspective and as such, while people are generally able to empathise with others and imagine themselves in a different person’s viewpoint, it does not quite compare to actually experiencing or viewing the world as another individual. Most narratives using this element do so in order to broaden the individuals’ perspectives, and in Your Name, the phenomenon is utilised to provide an unequivocal sense that Mitsuha and Taki have walked in the others’ shoes sufficiently to know what the other is longing for. By providing the means for the two to experience life from another perspective, Shinkai pushes them to understand one another more profoundly than would be possible in reality, but even with newfound perspective conferred through a supernatural means, it takes some time for Taki and Mitsuha to acclimatise and understand one another. Over time, this sense of connection strengthens, and leaves a particularly profound impact on Taki, enough to prompt him to visit Itomori and Mitsuha.

Taki and Mitsuha’s decision to seize the initiative and seek out answers surrounding their feelings represents a welcome return to Shinkai’s usual approach: Five Centimeters per Second, long held to be the strongest of Shinkai’s films, featured a protagonist whose efforts to take charge in his life was met with resistance upon resistance, resulting in a character who gives the semblance of being unable to control the events in his life. By comparison, Taki acts on his feelings to ascertain them: he desires to learn more about Itomori and meet Mitsuha in person, arranging to travel there himself. Even when met with failure, Taki continues to persist: his journey to Mitsuha is fraught with challenges, but Taki continues to endure. In his determination, he challenges fate, trying to evacuate Itomori’s citizens with the aim of saving Mitsuha for the singular purpose of seeing her. While his efforts initially seem to be for naught, Your Name‘s ending shows that his actions ultimately prevailed. By taking the initiative to do something, rather than remaining passive and consigning himself to the flow of events, Taki sets in motion the very events that lead him to finally encounter Mitsuha properly in person. Similarly, Mitsuha is consumed with curiosity and yearning, visiting Tokyo in an attempt to find Taki even though at this point in her time, Taki does not know her. Nonetheless, the chance meeting sets the stage that ultimately drives them together. Where this goes is left open to the audiences, but given the overarching messages presented in Your Name, having taken the pains to figure out who the other is, Mitsuha and Taki will become acquainted with one another — their experiences allow them to understand one another to an extent that a relationship would certainly be within the realm of possibility.

Personal thoughts on the movie

With themes of love being a force beyond comprehension, the idea that even supernatural phenomenon can have their limits in allowing people to understand one another and fall in love, and that it is ultimately an individual’s own will to act governing the narrative in Your Name, Makoto Shinkai delivers a masterful story in this movie. It is therefore quite unsurprising that the film has been met with near-universal critical acclaim: Your Name is a tale where determination triumphs over distance and time, one that reminds audiences that not all dreams necessarily are doomed to failure or obscurity. In leaving bleaker endings behind for one that is much more optimistic in nature, Shinkai succeeds in creating a film that resonates with a much wider audience. The unique combination of Shinkai’s storytelling and art style coupled with a satisfying ending creates a memorable film; even though Your Name does come across as being a classic feel-good movie, its execution is solid on all accounts. Aside from its narrative elements, Your Name‘s incredible attention towards details further contribute to its world-class qualities, ranging from its adherence to scientific aspects even in spite of its liberal application of body-switching, to the top-tier artwork and animation that Makoto Shinkai wields to bring his stories to life with a sense of fluidity and realism that remains unparalleled.

In spite of its supernatural premise, Your Name manages to retain a modicum of scientific accuracy in depicting the impact event that levels Itomori. When it was first announced that an impact event involving a comet would figure in Your Name, questions would immediately be raised: comets are usually no larger than ten kilometers in width (larger comets that have come closer than Saturn have been estimated to be twenty to sixty kilometers in diameter), but even a smaller comet with a nuclei of around eight hundred meters in diameter would create a crater around fifteen kilometers wide and impact with 50 gigatons of TNT equivalent. Thus, even an impact by a smaller comet would completely devastate Japan and have global effects. However, Your Name decides to go with a much smaller body, no larger than forty meters: as Comet Tiamat flies by the Earth, observers are treated to a large scale meteor shower, with the media reporting that the nucleus is disintegrating despite the Roche Limit not being exceeded. The release of gases from the comet’s interior has weakened its structural integrity, and as comets are composed mostly of rocky ices, the surface damage should is limited, as the objects would melt and lose much of their mass. Despite reassurances that the odds of an actual impact would be slim, a small, surviving rocky fragment of around two to five meters wide is headed for Itomori, striking the hillside and decimates the area, leaving a crater several hundred metres wide. The depicted blast is under ten kilotons, smaller than that of the first atomic bombs; obtaining figures from the novel, the object has diameter of forty meters and an impact velocity of 32 km/s. Shinkai’s novel describes the impactor as creating an 800 metre-wide crater. In Arizona, the Meteor Crater was created by a body 50 metres across, impacting at around 12.8 km/s with 10 MT of force. Meteor crater is 1.186 kilometres across, and residues show that this was likely a nickel-iron body. By comparison, the 800 metre wide crater in Your Name is consistent with a body with a much lower density, although its high impact velocity would have likely created a sizeable explosion, as well. The film depicts the body as having a diameter of no more than ten meters, which would have yielded a crater less than 400 meters across. While there are some inconsistencies, and perhaps not completely precise, it is quite clear that in Your Name, Makoto Shinkai has taken the time to research the effects of a smaller impact to craft a plausible outcome of the aftermath of the fragment’s collision with Itomori. In doing so, Your Name manages to strike a balance between the supernatural and the scientific, furthering the film’s notion of blurring boundaries to yield something novel.

Aside from its solid narrative and compelling characters, the artwork and animation in Your Name is top-tier, truly world class in ever sense of the word. In fact, it is not audacious to suggest that Makoto Shinkai’s attention to detail, whether it be the reflection of light on Taki’s iPhone 6, to the visual clutter of interiors to them a lived-in feel, or the majesty of Tiamat’s tail as it passes over the planet, makes Your Name by far the most intricate, best-looking anime that audiences will have seen — graphics in Your name are truly in a league of their own, matched only by Shinkai’s earlier films and Studio Ghibli’s best works. Under the well-chosen lighting and associated effects, Shinkai capitalises on the colours and tones to vastly augment his characters’ emotions and feelings. Warmer environments and more saturated colours show the characters to be at ease or content, while colder, moodier colours convey a sense of desolation. It is under the most brilliant skies that the pivotal moments of Your Name take place, whether it be the myriad of colours that paint the sky under which Taki and Mitsuha finally set eyes on one another, or the majesty of the night sky split in two by Tiamat’s passing. In this masterful application of colour, Shinkai demonstrates that he genuinely understands how to best project his characters’ thoughts and feelings to the audience, making use of it to supplement the dialogue and aural elements within Your Name that succeed in leaving a powerful impression long after the scenes have concluded.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Your Name begins with a cold open, depicting an asteroid plunging towards the surface, but like the artbook I purchased in Osaka, I’ve decided to open things with Mitsuha beginning her day. This movie is not the longest I’ve waited for an anime movie: that title belongs to Girls und Panzer Der Film, which was announced back in 2013 and finally saw a home release in May 2016. Compared to that, Your Name was not a long wait, although the ceaseless articles from Anime News Network about the film’s reception and box office numbers made the wait feel much longer than it actually was. One of my friends remarked that he couldn’t care less about the reception: what mattered most was being able to see the film.

  • Shinkai takes a bold new direction with Your Name; the unique situation that allows Taki to possess Mitsuha’s body means that Shinkai’s characters can do what his previous characters do not, and here, Mitsuha performs a physical check to make certain that she’s back, leading Yotsuha, Mitsuha’s younger sister, to wonder whiskey-tango-foxtrot is going on here. Taking on learnings from Children who Chase lost Voices From Deep Below and The Garden of Words, Shinkai’s female leads have a much more fluid, human feel to them, whereas earlier on, his female characters feel much more ethereal in nature.

  • The interior of the Miyamizu residence is intricately detailed — this scene marks the first time that pantsu have been shown in any capacity in a Makoto Shinkai movie. Closer inspection of this moment also finds that Mitsuha’s personal effects are drawn to a very high quality. Going from this image alone, Mitsuha seems quite organised: her room is very tidy save a few spots.

  • Breakfasts in Japan are typified by their inclusion of items such as rice, fish, vegetables and an omelette; to folks outside of Japan, this can be somewhat unusual these items expected from a dinner, rather than breakfast. With this in mind, Cantonese people typically have congee with Chinese doughnut (油炸鬼), fried noodles or rice noodle rolls (腸粉) for breakfast: this comes across as different even for me (I’m Canadian-Chinese and grew up with Canadian breakfasts), as I typically have such foods during lunch.

  • Whether it be the greenery or reflections in a window, each minute of this film is a visual treat, even if it is not high-intensity from an emotional or narrative perspective. Depicting common, every-day events is critical to set a tone in anime; all stories arise as a consequence of some status quo being disrupted, so in order to understand why a story happens, it becomes important to understand what things are like prior to that disruption.

  • Before we continue further into this discussion of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, I remark that I was wondering if it would be meaningless to write a post of this scale, considering that almost all readers coming in will have seen the film. However, having read through other discussions and interpretations of the film, this review is not entirely unnecessary: for one, I can offer a completely unique perspective of the film that has not been previously explored, and second, there are full-resolution screenshots that can be utilised as wallpapers. Having established that I am not wasting my time with this discussion (and hopefully, not yours), we can proceed.

  • This Your Name post surpasses even the Girls und Panzer Der Film post as the longest post this blog hosts: the discussion features a hundred images, all of which are available for viewing in 1080p such that viewers may enjoy the exceptional artwork in the latest film from Makoto Shinkai. As with every post before this one, I accumulated a non-trivial number of images, and to give each of them figure captions would mean spending an inordinate amount of time (to the tune of twenty-five hours) getting this post out. While the internet’s most exhaustive collection of screenshots at the time of writing, it should be apparent that one hundred images is not sufficient to capture everything within the film.

  • To put things in perspective, this post has a total of 14401 words: the total encompasses everything including the figure captions and paragraphs. Such a post would have taken at least fifteen hours to construct, certainly impossible to achieve immediately after the BDs became available especially considering that I’m working, but the film was also unique in that I had a chance to see it several times previously. Armed with this knowledge and the artbook, I have put together a serviceable review within the space of three hours. I note that even though this is the largest review I’ve ever done, with a hundred screenshots (or frame-grabs, whatever you’d like to call them), I do not feel I’ve adequately captured all of the moments in the movie.

  • Mitsuha’s friends, Katsuhiko Teshigawara and Sayaka Natori, walk with her to school. Katsuhiko is skilful with construction implement and explosives, while Sayaka is a member of the school’s broadcast club and is generally quite bashful. On her way to school, Mitsuha runs into her father, the mayor of Itomori, and is reprimanded in front of her classmates for not standing straight, to her embarrassment. One of the upcoming challenges any blogger will encounter while writing about Your Name using the approach I’ve got here will be determining who’s who. I will use a simple but consistent convention in my own discussion: whenever a character is being run by the other, I will use brackets to indicate thus. So, Mitsuha (Taki) corresponds with Taki being in Mitsuha’s body, and similarly, Taki (Mitsuha) means that Mitsuha is inhabiting Taki’s body.

  • Yukari Yukino is the Japanese literature instructor in Mitsuha’s class: reprising her role from The Garden of Words, Yukari is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, whom I best know for her roles as Angel Beats! Kanade Tachibana, Nagi no Asukara‘s Manaka Mukaido and Charlotte Dunois of Infinite Stratos. Unlike some voice actors, whose voices I can discern almost immediately (Ayane Sakura, Kikou Inoue and Inori Minase, to name a few), Hanazawa’s voice talent is quite diverse; I doubled over in surprise when I found out that Yukari and Charlette Dunois share a voice actor. Here, Yukari is presenting a bit of classical poetry; while foreshadowing the film’s events, the single lines chosen are not capable of describing the entire film as some individuals have asserted.

  • Returning to Your Name, Mitsuha’s classmates regard her strangely and wonder why things seem a little off: she cannot recall any of her behaviours from the previous day and assumes that she’s been dreaming. It is only during lunch that her classmates fill her in on what happened, affirming that, while her experiences felt like a dream, the events did indeed occur. Such a revelation can only come as a surprise to Mitsuha: phenomenon such as this in reality firmly remains impossible, and it is perhaps a blessing that our consciousness is confined to a single perspective (our minds would not likely be able to handle the strains associated with multiple lives).

  • The passage of time in Your Name is depicted in a linear fashion, although the flow of time in the film’s beginning is chaotic, conveying to audiences the sense of confusion and bemusement that Taki and Mitsuha face when experiencing this phenomenon for the first time. It is initially difficult to gauge who’s who because there is no precedent for what Taki and Mitsuha’s respective personalities are; when properly executed, a narrative can drive audiences to feel exactly what the characters themselves are feeling to create a sense of immersion.

  • Mechanics behind how Makoto Shinkai uses body switching are never explained in any real capacity: the limitations and constraints associated with switching bodies, such as the preservation of knowledge and experiences, are largely left arbitrary. The largest question audiences are left wondering about is just how much of the other’s memory one has access to when their bodies are switched. From the sounds of it, spatial orientation does not seem to carry over, nor do some skills that require training, such as Mitsuha’s involvement in weaving braided cords for her shrine duties, so it’s safe to assume that it’s a complete transfer.

  • Mitsuha is a miko (shrine maiden) for the family shrine, performing a kagura dance here. Literally “God-dance”, the kagura are a ritual dance performed by shrine maidens for the Imperial court and later propagated back into the villages, telling stories of folklore or fables. They are said to have had an influence on noh and even kabuki; modern kagura are performed to pay respect to the kami at the shrine.

  • As a miko, Mitsuha exudes a much more mature, even alluring quality to her character. Embarrassed by the complex history surrounding the shrine and her entanglement in its politics, Mitsuha would rather have nothing to do with things, although the choice is outside her control to make. Here, she produces Kuchikamizake, a form of sake produced by chewing on rice. The resulting alcohol is a white colour and very sour; production of this sort of sake for ceremonial purposes is still carried out on some Okinawa islands.

  • The use of flat visual layers to indicate a character’s imagination is a first in any of Makoto Shinkai’s films; typically, these are seen in something like Glasslip or Girls und Panzer. These effects are used precisely twice in the film, with the first instance being Mitsuha imagining herself acting in a mortifying manner most unlike herself. Visuals tell a story very succinctly, and in his earlier films, Shinkai’s characters are exceptionally articulate. They give highly poetic monologues that yield insight into their minds. In English, these sound tightly structured and highly formal, as seen in The Sky Longing For Memories.

  • While utterly hilarious to behold, watching Mitsuha shout out her displeasure about life in general, and that she wants to respawn (or reincarnate, for folks who don’t game) as a handsome Tokyo boy in her next life. While I’ve never really wished to be anyone but myself, I wonder what life would be like as someone else; to that end, if respawns are a thing (whether or not they are is not something I count as within the scope of this discussion), I would probably want to be someone with a much more relaxed, carefree outlook on life for diversity’s sake.

  • Perspectives shift to that of Taki’s. He fumbles for his iPhone, bringing to mind my iPhone 6, which has been in service for a shade more than a year now, acting as my workhorse platform for testing the apps that I am writing. I originally purchased one in 2015 November to replacing my ageing Nokia Lumia 520 in preparation for being able to test iOS apps, and since then, the iPhone 6 has been a remarkable asset: besides testing apps on a live device, the iPhone 6 has proven indispensable for my travels last year: the offline maps offered by Maps.me allowed me to navigate the streets of Laval, France, and I managed to save myself a bit of trouble by using the phone to book last-minute transportation from the Cancún International Airport to the Zona Hotelera. I’ve heard that the iPhone 8 will kick ass, but because I prefer to make my devices last, I have a feeling I’ll retire my iPhone 6 by the time the iPhone 10 comes out.

  • Taki feels as though he’s in a very strange dream, but nonetheless sets about getting ready for his day. From what is seen in Your Name, Taki lives with his father, and his mother’s whereabouts is never explicitly mentioned. In Five Centimeters per Second, Takaki’s parents were never shown on-screen, although very subtle details in the environment, such as handwritten notes from his parents, show that Takaki was loved by his family even if his parents were busy with work and thus, rarely around to spend time with him. Consequently, I imagine that inspection of seemingly trivial details in the environment may yield more insight into Taki’s family.

  • In contrast to the quiet of the Japanese countryside, Tokyo is packed with people as Taki sets off towards high school. In this scene, Shinkai captures the Chinese concept of “人山人海”: this expression, pronounced “Rén shān rén hǎi”, translates directly to “mountains (of) people, ocean (of) people” and commonly indicates a crowd of gargantuan proportions. This is an occurrence that is uncommon in my current city of a million; while I love the quiet that offers, some of my friends note that the city’s lack of night life is a major drawback.

  • The interior of Taki’s high school is ultra-modern, with large glass skylights that allow in a great deal of natural light. The buildings housing the faculty of nursing/social work and architecture on the university grounds have a a very similar design: with their large atriums, these buildings were a part of campus I rarely frequented. I took walks here during the quieter parts of the day and most often during the summer: from the top floor, one can look below to see open offices, and the area distinctly reminds me of some of the architecture seen in Portal 2.

  • Taki (Mitsuha) hangs out with his friends by lunch hour on the school rooftop: Tsukasa Fujii is in the center and expresses concern whenever Taki switches out with Mitsuha, while Shinta Takagi is an optimistic fellow who is keen on helping those around him. Here, Tsukasa’s remarks suggest that the body swapping phenomenon does not carry all of one’s memories over, explaining why Taki gets lost going to school whenever Mitsuha’s consciousness is inhabiting his body.

  • Taki (Mitsuha) expresses pure joy when visiting a café in Tokyo: the menu items are hugely expensive for her, and a cursory glance at some of the offerings (roughly 20-25 dollars for pancakes) indicates that the prices are expensive for me, too. However, under the assumption that it’s a dream, Taki (Mitsuha) finds that it’s okay and decides to indulge in afternoon tea, savouring the moment.

  • Anyone whose curiosity led them to click on the hyperlinks around in my older articles may find themselves staring at a photograph of food — ever since I bought my iPhone, I’ve grown fond of and have fallen into the habit of photographing the poutines and more casual things I’ve eaten, and it’s served to make memories of a day or event all the more vivid. Using clever flow, Shinkai captures the passage of time by depicting the plate as being finished by the time Taki (Mitsuha) removes his camera.

  • Later, Taki (Mitsuha) has trouble dealing with some difficult customers at work and is bailed out by his senior Miki Okudera, a university student whom Taki has a crush on, and who is more commonly referred to as Okudera-san or senpai in the movie owing to her seniority relative to Taki. Miki defuses the situation but her skirt is damaged by these customers in the process in an act of aggression. Miki notices here that Taki (Mitsuha) is acting contrary to his usual self: Taki is ordinarily short-tempered and likely would have told these customers to shove it, which is how Miki picks up that something seems unusual.

  • Inheriting Mitsuha’s skill with sewing, Taki (Mitsuha) repairs Miki’s dress, surprising her with an apparently hitherto undisplayed skill. I am almost certain that those close to me would notice something is off if I suddenly acquire the ability to sew: while I’ve become reasonably proficient with housekeeping skills, sewing is not on that list. As Taki, Mitsuha’s actions trigger Miki’s interest in him, a turn of events that Taki did not expect.

  • Things return to Itomori, where Sayaka remarks that Mitusha had acted quite contrary to her usual self during the previous day. Mitsuha occupies the back-most seat near the window in her class: this seat has been occupied by The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi‘s Kyon, Tomoya Okazaki of CLANNAD and Yui Hirasawa of K-On! in other anime. Giving a sense of distance and melancholy in some cases, there is actually a practical reason why anime protagonists so often occupy the back rows — it allows for the play of light to better bring out the character’s feelings, and also reduces the number of other people that need to be rendered on screen. It’s a simple technical element, certainly not important enough to warrant an statistical study.

  • I include in this post several screenshots of room interiors and landscapes to truly capture the extent of the artwork that is present in Your Name: this is an art class at the high school in Itomori, and as per Shinkai’s strength, the room is highly cluttered and detailed. Volumetric lighting effects can be seen in this image, and because this scattering occurs as a result of dust particles in the room, it stands to reason that the art room is a dusty sort of environment.

  • When Mitsuha (Taki) boldly knocks over a desk with her leg and dares anyone to challenge her identity, her entire art class goes silent. She smiles in a mischievous, dangerous-looking fashion that is certainly not how Mitsuha would ordinarily react, and when Sayaka informs her of this, Mitsuha is bewildered that something like this could happen. This may seem a very far-fetched phenomenon from a scientific perspective, but swapping consciousness is, strictly speaking, not an impossibility. In a study by UCLA’s Martin Monti using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), it was found that consciousness is an emergent property arising from the firing of billions of neurons in the brain.

  • In order to document these events, Taki and Mitsuha take to jotting down their experiences as one another. The nature of their body-switching becomes increasingly real, allowing for some humour to arise as each intervenes in the other’s life using their experiences to drive things in a new direction. Advertised as a critical element in Your Name, body-switching was originally speculated to be utilised for comedy back when trailers for Your Name began airing. This is true to some extent, and a great deal of Your Name‘s magic actually comes utilising this feature for both the comedic and the dramatic.

  • Their looks of horror mirror one another, and the similarities in their facial morphologies (besides being hilarious) is an early, subtle hint that these two are going to be closely connected, sufficiently so that they begin interfering in the other’s life. However, to emphasise differences in their background, Taki’s initial notes to Mitsuha are made on paper, while Mitsuha recounts her experiences as Taki in his iPhone’s electronic journal. The calendar app Taki uses is strikingly similar to the interface used in CareKit, a framework I am absolutely not fond of for its inflexibility and lack of support.

  • The music in Your Name is produced by RADWIMPS, a Japanese rock band. Your Name features the greatest number of vocal pieces in any of Makoto Shinkai’s films (another first), and beyond this, one of their most impressive feats for Your Name is that, for the English dub of the movie, they’ve performed each and every one of their inset songs in English.

  • Overall, the instrumental soundtrack in Your Name is a solid one, featuring a fine balance between the ambient background songs that serve to create a lighter atmosphere, as wells the pieces that are more intensive from an emotional perspective; these tracks make extensive use of piano and string to create a moving piece that serves to further augment the psychological tenour of a moment to clearly spell out what mood or tone a particular scene is intended to convey. I’ve never been big on male Japanese rock bands, but when enlightened with what the lyrics meant, their vocal pieces proved very enjoyable to listen to.

  • Taki’s first act is touching Mitsuha’s breasts following their initial switch. You, my readers, may laugh, but I am highly doubtful that folks have that level of discipline if they had switched over to a body of the opposite gender, they would not succumb to curiosity. Numerous fictional works suggest that this is the first thing that would happen because likely, it is the first thing the author would do if they were to undergo such a transition, and because curiosity is an integral part of human nature, I suppose it is only natural to do something like this.

  • As Mitsuha and Taki become accustomed to their situation, they ascertain that the phenomenon occurs with a random frequency, only occurs when both are sleeping, and has an unknown cause. In order to preserve the integrity of the other’s physical body, neither is allowed to stare excessively at oneself in the mirror or hit the showers. Furthermore, they must learn the other’s schedules, speech patterns and not unnecessarily waste money. Finally, to track things, a detailed list of activities is to be left on each’s mobile devices so they can recall any actions. It’s surprisingly thorough and shows that both Taki and Mitsuha are doing their best to figure things out.

  • Hypothetically, using a sophisticated form of fMRI and electroencephalography (EEG), brain activity could be captured and transferred onto computers far surpassing what we presently have, then use means beyond our current technological level to upload that data into a brain in a different body. This is to say nothing of the implications that would arise from memories of one gender residing in a brain of the opposite gender: even if male and female brains are very similar structurally, subtle differences could alter their functionality (e.g. personalities, emotions), and hormonal differences would create a challenge for the individual as they adapt to their new body. Transferring minds with the frequency seen in Your Name could lead to memory loss, function impairment or even brain damage if the technology is not sufficiently advanced for the task. Owing to all of the unknowns in the brain, much less digitising its contents, I imagine that such technologies can only reach a useful state once humanity reaches the same level of technological advancement as that of Halo‘s Forerunners.

  • My application of science into the matter turns me into a wet blanket, so I close off on the note that while scientifically improbable given humanity’s technological progress, using a supernatural means of switching consciousness for a story is perfectly acceptable — at the end of the day, I’m just here for a good story, not to pick apart the feasibility of switching bodies. As time wears on, both Taki and Mitsuha become wise to the extraordinary phenomenon they are experiencing and begin recording their experiences.

  • The most entertaining scene during the montage, as far as I’m concerned, shows Mitsuha (Taki) landing a perfect shot in basketball mid-air and landing with enough force to oscillate her mammaries in the z-axis. Earlier, Mitsuha berates Taki for sitting as a guy would. This has never been seen before in a Makoto Shinkai film before, giving Your Name a much bolder sense than his earlier works, and while Shinkai capitalises on the unique situation to field moments his previous characters are not subject to, they never become excessively distracting from the main narrative.

  • Whereas Mitsuha begins bringing Taki closer to Miki with her knowledge of how a woman’s thought process works, Taki draws on his confidence to improve Mitsuha’s image at school. Despite being unaccustomed to dealing with aspects in the other’s life, Taki and Mitsuha begin imparting positive impacts on the other’s life through their actions, suggesting that sometimes, improvements in life do require another perspective. While quite impossible from a literal sense, it is certainly true from a figurative sense.

  • If someone were to switch places with me, unless they had basic knowledge of C# or Swift 4 (released with Apple’s upcoming Xcode 9), they’d likely be in for an unpleasant surprise. Similarly, I’d probably be ill-suited for whatever occupation they are in. This is why high school students are used in Your Name: given the earlier assumption that Taki and Mitsuha change places completely, the impacts, while still noticeable, would be far less detrimental. I shudder to think what would happen if I lost even a day’s worth of time at work and dealing with the consequences after coming in the next day.

  • As things progress, the different perspectives that Taki and Mitsuha bring to one another’s lives begins altering their relationships amongst other. Both critique the other for having not done such a bang-up job maintaining their own social lives and consequently, are single. Yet, Mitusha manages to elevate Miki’s interest in Taki, while Taki introduces a noticeable change in Mitsuha that leads a few guys and even a girl to give her love letters. When it comes to relationships, I’ve never made it past square one, and I do find myself wondering if things will turn around.

  • Mitsuha (Taki) and Yotsuha take hike through the mountains to visit the body of their deity. During this process, Taki learns more about the Musubi-no-kami (having nothing to do with the rice balls or Hawaiian snack of the same name), the Shinto God of love whose functional counterpart in Chinese mythology is Yuè Lǎo, who unify couples with red cords. The story has its origins in the Tang Dynasty, and Yuè Lǎo takes the form of an elderly man who appears by night.

  • Mitsuha and Yotsuha’s grandmother explain that these red cords rule the unity between people, govern the flow of time, and in the darkness, bind them. The cords are meant to symbolise the relationship between human emotion and time. This is the physical representation of the theme that I derive from Your Name — the movie is about the strength of emotions enduring through time. Consequently, it is fortunate that a particularly egregious analysis has not gained too much traction. In this “analysis”, the conclusion reached is incorrectly that the “vague yet aching sense of clinging to memory [both Mitsuha and Taki experience] underpins the entire point of [Your Name]”.

  • Upon arriving at the top of the mountain, a vast caldera is beheld with a rock at its centre. Mitsuha’s grandmother informs her and Yotsuha that this is the god’s main body, accessed by a small passageway into the underworld (Yuè Lǎo, while said to live on the moon, alternatively lives in the Chinese equivalent of Hades in some accounts) from which return to the overworld is only permissible through a sacrific. Continuing from points earlier, notions that Your Name is about a “juxtaposition of written and oral traditions, the difficulties of transmitting and interpreting each when transported to a different time and place” simply don’t apply: the supernatural phenomenon surrounding Mitsuha and Taki are not lost in time and space, but rather, endure because of the strength of the connection that the two share.

  • It is explained that the Kuchikamizake is an offering made because it contains something of great value: a bit of Mitsuha herself, in its essence. This is sufficient to appease the gods and allows for safe passage into the underworld. The scenery of the Caldera and the mythology Mitsuha’s grandmother brings to the table is reminiscent of that of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, which was likewise set in rural Japan and also the fictional world of Agartha. The fantastical setting allowed for some wondrous scenery to be created.

  • The Garden of Words marked a return to the urban settings Shinkai masterfully created in The Place Promised In Our Early Days and Five Centimeters Per Second. These locales are absolutely stunning, but I also enjoyed the fantasy world of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below and the science-fiction setting of Voices of a Distant Star. Consequently, while I’ve no qualms with the beautifully depicted forests, peaks and cities of Your Name, a part of me wonders if the time is appropriate for Shinkai to revisit the military/science-fiction stories that his earlier films were constructed around.

  • As the sun dips below the horizon, the day enters twilight. In standard Japanese, this is is indicated as 黄昏 (tusogare, Huáng hūn in Chinese); kawatare-doki (かはたれどき) stems from an archaic dialect form of expressing twilight. However, owing to mechanics in the Japanese language, kawatare-doki can also be written as 彼は誰時 (which is approximated as “when is the time of who he is”). The implications are that twilights are that time frame where it is neither day nor night, when time blurs, and thus, is when one is likely to experience uncommon phenomenon. As an aside, 黄昏 shares some phonetic similarity with the phrase 誰そ彼 (Daresokare).

  • These similarities in the linguistics form a poetic explanation of why the body-switching phenomenon can only occur while the other is sleeping: it’s technically occurring owing to the transition of day and night, when time itself seemingly becomes unfocused. As Grand Admiral Thrawn might say, it’s very artistically done, serving to suggest that who we are and when we are become unclear under some circumstances. It’s as much of a mystery as the feelings that endure in our hearts, and this is the truth of the thematic elements in Your Name. Thus, I strongly disagree with claims that defining the different forms of kawatare-doki and their relation to the braided cords is the entire theme of Your Name. These are merely the symbols and motifs that serve to act as a tangible indicator of what the movie’s theme is, and as such, to the aforementioned egregious analysis, I note that no credit is offered for partial answers: pointing out the symbols and saying that they are the themes in whole leads to an incomplete conclusion being draw.

  • As evening sets in, Mitsuha’s grandmother notes that Mitsuha must be dreaming; she’s aware that Taki is inhabiting her body at this point in time, but as the revelation sets in, Taki suddenly comes to back home. He learns quite suddenly that he’s set for a date with Miki, organised courtesy of Mitsuha, and rushes out the door, reaching the train station just in time to meet up with Miki. As his first date, things are a bit quiet between Taki and Miki. With little to say, Taki finds himself engrossed at a gallery depicting Itomori, and Miki puts two and two together, feeling that Taki’s fallen in love with someone else. While Taki denies this, the outcome is not particularly surprising: having flitted in and out of Mitsuha’s mind, he knows her nearly as well as she does herself.

  • I was quite fortunate to watch Your Name shortly after its original release and made a note of it in early October, to review this movie properly when it became available. The main reason why I am insistent on reviewing anime movies only after the home releases are available is motivated by two reasons: the first is a practical reason, being that I am an ardent believer that visual elements serve to augment a blog. Having screenshots allow me to properly express reactions and make a commentary of what’s happening on screen while providing a solid context for what I am discussing. I greatly enjoy drawing connections, and this is one of the reasons why quotes from Lord of the Rings, Futurama and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith made their way into this review.

  • The second reason for why I only will review an anime movie after the home release is available is out of fairness to readers. Brazenly leaving spoilers in the open and ruining the experiences for other folks interested in watching the movie is not my modus operandi. By presenting a review very shortly after the release date, this gives people a chance to watch the movie for themselves and also discuss the film to a much more interesting depth than if I alone were to be holding all of the cards.

  • Meanwhile, Mitsuha’s cut her hair, much to her friends’ surprise. It’s an old tradition arising from ancient Japanese women regarding their hair as the symbol of their womanhood. To cut it, then, it is a powerful representation of severing ties with the past and indicate the turning over of a new leaf, hence its the assumption that a girl who cuts her hair shorter must have suffered a break-up with someone. In Your Name, Mitsuha has experienced no heartbreak, but does feel different in the aftermath of her time as Taki. Again, this is not particularly surprising, since her experiences in Taki’s shoes mean she understands him second only to how well she knows herself.

  • When considered as an Oscar nominees for 2016, fans were excited: the film was counted as having a “very rightful possibility for the Best Foreign Film and Best Animated Feature for the Oscars”. Your Name ultimately did not make the list, the same fans went ballistic, denouncing the Oscars as an unsatisfactory metric for gauging a film’s quality. Oscar or no, Your Name is a fantastic film to watch, and that should be all that is relevant.

  • Subsequently, the body-switching phenomenon ceases to be, and Taki finds himself growing restless as his memories of Mitsuha gradually fade. However, unlike Takaki of Five Centimeters per Second, Taki seizes the initiative to sate his curiosity and meet up with Mitsuha in person. This singular decision is why the “vague yet aching sense to memory” can hardly be considered an overarching theme in Your Name: this conclusion fails to take into account the decisions that the characters make to explore their own feelings further. For someone who alleges to “appreciate anime with deep storylines and multi-faceted, yet very human characters”, the individual behind this analysis falls short of understanding what’s driving Your Name.

  • Curiosity soon turns to reality when Taki plans out a trip into the rural regions of Japan with the hope of finding Itomori and meeting with Mitsuha for the first time. Miki and Tsukasa accompany him on this trek out of concern for his well-being, leaving Shinta to handle Taki’s shifts at work. In spite of their efforts in speaking with folks in the Japanese countryside, their initial attempts wind up unsuccessful and no one has heard of the town that Taki seeks. In spite of this adventure turning up fruitless, Miki and Tsukasa end up having a bit of fun in enjoying area cuisine and taking in the sights outside of Tokyo.

  • During my time in Japan, I’d not ridden on any of their trains until the final day, when I was leaving Osaka for the Kansai International Airport. Other than that, a tour bus ferried me across the different parts of the nation. I am a little envious of Europe and Japan, where high population densities accommodate the infrastructure required to run cross-country trains: Canada is so vast and sparsely populated that it simply won’t be feasible to run a high speed rail from Vancouver to Halifax. In fact, such a journey lasts two weeks and starts a cost of 3200 CAD – train rides such as these are so uncommon we would count them as a vacation that evokes the journeys that pioneers made, rather than being a commonly-utilised mode of transportation.

  • After reaching a ramen shop and ordering some ramen, Taki asks the others if they’d like to turn back. However, a bit of fate in this moment gives Taki the intel he’s been seeking: his drawings turn out to be the town of Itomori, and thr ramen shop’s waitress and cook identify it as such, with the latter having grown up here. The lateness of the hour forgotten, Taki’s excitement gets the better of him and he asks for Itomori’s location. However, he learns that the entire region was annihilated three years earlier. The moment brings to mind my evening meal in Gifu, where I visited a ramen shop near my hotel and had a Pork Ramen to wrap up a fantastic day of travels.

“Mitsuha stood me up and died? I’m so angry. I mean, I’m so sad. But I’m still pretty angry. But also sad. Can I be both?” —Leela, The Late Philip J. Fry, Futurama

  • Surely enough, when Taki, Miki and Tsukasa reach Itomori, they find the town has been blown away, with a large parameter prohibiting trespassers and beyond, wreckage strewn about. The lake has a second shore formed from the impact crater, several hundred meters across. The surprise that Taki feels with this revelation is likely that of the audience’s; in keeping audiences on the edge, Your Name is very difficult predict and thus, captures the audience’s attention in full. This is an impressive accomplishment, and not all movies can pull this off: even if they do possess an exceptional execution in depicting how an outcome is reached, the outcome itself can often be derived with a bit of reasoning.  A most unusual phenomenon unfolds at the fringes of Itomori: Taki’s records of Mitsuha begin erasing themselves from his phone, and the very neurons in his brain are reorganised in a manner that fogs his memories of Mitsuha. Such an occurrence can only be counted as supernatural: there are no known mechanisms in the natural world that can simultaneously affect electronic storage or the biochemical processes within our brains. Incidentally, this memory loss takes place as the sun sets, and the skies darken; it’s a callback to the notion of kawatare-doki.

“Where is Mitsuha? Is she safe? Is she all right?”
“It seems in your haste, you let the meteor kill her.
“I…? I couldn’t have! She was alive…I felt it!”

—Darth Vader and Darth Sidious, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

  • As the hour becomes later, Taki and his friends stop at an inn to rest for the evening. However, Taki can find no rest and digs through article after article, eventually learning that Mitsuha, Sayaka and Katsuhiko were among the casualties when Itomori was incinerated in the impact. Taki is pulled in two directions: on one hand, seeing things for himself leads him to conclude that this really was a fool’s errand, and steels himself to return to Tokyo. However, when he sees the braided cords that he’d made while Mitsuha was inhabiting his body, a few neurons in his mind fire, driving his desire to continue delving into the mystery to at least gain some closure.

  • Thus, Taki thanks Miki and Tsukasa for having accompanied him thus far, asks that they return to Tokyo so as not to continue on this journey, and continues onwards alone even as a thunderstorm rages in the area. As with The Garden of Words previously, details in the rainstorm are meticulously rendered, whether it be the beads of moisture glistening on a spider’s web or the spray caused by rainfall coming in contact with the surface. Rain figured prominently in The Garden of Words, coinciding with the Great Flood of 2013. There’s been a great deal of snowfall this year in my AO, and June was quite rainy, but July’s been quite pleasant, warmer than usual: we’ve been fortunate to have had pleasant weather this year.

  • Amidst the pouring rain, Taki ascends to the summit of the mountain where the Mizumiya deity resides. Google-fu finds that this mountain is a custom variation of Aogashima Island, a volcanic island some 358 kilometers south of Tokyo. Its maximum height is 423 meters on the island’s southern edge, and it is very much an active site for volcanic activity; its last eruption in 1785 and killed around half of the island’s population. Today, the island is home to around 170 people. In Your Name, the island’s design is dramatically modified for use as a setting for a major plot point.

  • Recalling that Mitsuha’s Kuchikamizake contains a bit of her essence, Taki decides to do the unthinkable and drinks it. While it is probably consumable, that it has been left to sit under the mountain for upwards of three years in an environment conducive for the growth of moulds meant that Taki runs the risk of growing very sick when consuming it. However, for the narrative’s sake, I will set aside my inner health scientist and allow this to slide, since his actions allow things to advance.

“From her first memory to the events of yesterday, I journeyed through the past. Until at last, I saw the times that we both shared and remembered as vividly as our own. Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time. The stars wheeled overhead and every day was as long as a life age of the earth. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I’ve been sent back until my task is done.” —Gandalf the White, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

  • The effects of the Kuchikamizake send Taki into a journey through time and space: in this journey, he learns more about Mitsuha’s family and past; her father was a folkorist who fell deeply in love with Futaba Miyamizu, Mitsuha and Yotsuha’s mother, but following her death, became more grim and silent than before. That Your Name chooses to focus on Mitsuha’s past suggests that Taki’s past is rather more ordinary; it is presumably fate that brings his destiny with Mitsuha’s. The women of the Miyamizu family were attuned to impact events and experienced concious-swappings, but previously, no actions were taken, resulting in death and destruction: Itomori’s original lake had formed from an impact event.

  • After this blast through the past, Taki comes to as Mitsuha, gropes her out of relief and causes Yotsuha to feel that Mitsuha’s marbles have been lost. Taki seizes the initiative to try and save Itomori with the aim of preventing Mitsuha’s death, and to this end, manages to convince Sayaka and Katsuhiko to help out: Sayaka is to operate the radio broadcast system after hijacking the transmission signal, while Katsuhiko will place charges at a nearby transformer to create a diversion and small crisis in order to evacuate the area. In order to prepare for this, the three cut class, with Sayaka stepping out to purchase some snacks. Note the detail in the convenience store; from the items on the shelves to the play of light on the floor surface, every thing is intricately rendered in classic Makoto Shinkai style.

  • Likewise, the interior of the clubroom is filled with clutter to give a lived-in sense; besides photographs and flags posted to the walls, an eye examination chart of the same type seen in Sora no Woto is also visible. Mitsuha (Taki) is pleased that Katsuhiko is able to help and gets a little too close for comfort: to Taki, this is natural, but Katsuhiko is unaware of the switch. Later, when they describe their plan to Sayaka, Mitsuha (Taki) and Katsuhiko share a fist bump.

  • With the aim of convincing her father, Mitsuha (Taki) heads to the town hall and recounts her situation. However, being a strict, no-nonsense sort of individual, he’s convinced that Mitsuha is insane in the membrane and makes to call for an ambulance when she seizes him by the collar. This is Taki’s doing and is so out-of-character that Mitsuha’s father can only wonder who he’s dealing with, and Mitsuha (Taki) subsequently leaves without another word. This moment has been parodied by an artist who stylises the characters from Your Name in a manner reminiscent of those of Kiseki Himura’s Tawawa on Monday.

  • Yotsuha grows concerned about Mitsuha’s behaviours and chooses the moment to inquire as to why Mitsuha suddenly took off for Tokyo. In her monologue, Mitsuha wonders if the endeavour will be worth it and privately hopes that Taki will be glad to see her. She finds him studying for an exam, unaware that she’s meeting the Taki three years previously, and while Taki is unnerved, Mitsuha manages to give Taki her cord and name before they are separated.

  • Moments such as these unequivocally illustrate the enduring nature of human emotions, if they can persist through time and bring two people together in such a manner. This initiative, noticeably absent in Five Centimeters per Second, makes a triumphant return: while Shinkai portrays distance throughout his films as a core element, in Your Name, his deliberate and careful use of cords signify that feelings can bind people together even though temporal distance separates them. It’s a breath of fresh air, and with this in mind, Five Centimeters per Second is the outlier in his filmography with respect to his thematic elements.

  • Elsewhere, Taki (Mitsuha) has come to and stares down at the landscape below from the summit: she is horrified to learn that Itomori is no more and wonders how she is in this future. She hears Taki’s voice nearby as herself, and makes to try and find him. They pass by one another, but once the sun sets fully, under the time of transitions known as twilight, the two finally meet one another face to face for the first time.

  • In the eleven months since Your Name first screened in Japanese and select Southeast Asian theatres, my work has shifted from building Unity visualisations to designing and implementing iOS apps. Compared to my old university experiences, pacing is radically different, and on most days, I feel as though I’m getting the equivalent of a week’s worth of work done. Time simply blazes by in the blink of an eye, and each day is filled with new challenges to design solutions for – remarkably rewarding work, it’s also a full-time occupation. For Girls und Panzer Der Film, I was fortunate that the home release coincided with a weekend, but for Your Name, the film was set to release on a weeknight.

  • The hesitancy in Mitsuha’s voice captures her apprehension perfectly as she sets out to meet Taki for the first time, not knowing about the time difference that exists between the two. Mitsuha thus runs into Taki, who is studying English while on board a train to classes. He shows no sign of recognising her, and it is here that the disparity of time periods come into play. It is this element that led me to my comparison between Interstellar and Your Name; as different as the movies are in execution, their end messages ended up being surprisingly similar to one another. In a sense, Your Name can be seen as a Japanese interpretation of the idea that love can transcend space and time.

  • Because the lake and crater below are no longer visible, it becomes a challenge to tell whether Taki and Mitsuha will meet in Taki’s timeframe or Mitsuha; in fact, this creates a timeless sense that underlines the ethereal atmosphere surrounding their first meeting. It is during this time that the two finally meet one another for the first time, in a place that is in a literal sense, neither here nor there.

  • Under twilight, Mitsuha berates Taki for having groped her and being bold enough to drink the Kuchikamizake, but their conversation soon turns into a warm one — despite having never met physically, the two are as close as any friends, and after resolving to try her best to help evacuate the town, Mitsuha and Taki write their names down so they will remember after they return to their own timelines. The two revert into their original bodies after, and Mitsuha sets off to try and save Itomori’s inhabitants.

“Start the broadcast, Taki. Let’s just evacuate the damn townspeople and get back to our own time.”
“But-but won’t that change history?”
“Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I’m-My-Own-Girlfriend! Let’s get the hell out of here already! Screw history!”

— Professor Farnsworth and Fry, Roswell That Ends Well, Futurama

  • Back in town, the explosive charges that Katsuhiko have placed go off, destroying the transformers and causing a blackout in the area. Over the speakers, Sayaka begins announcing that the explosion has triggered the danger of forest fires in the region. On the ground, Mitsuha and Katsuhiko try to spread the word in an effort to get the people to leave the area. Folks are skeptical, and most choose to remain behind even though the festival’s been disrupted.

  • After Sayaka is busted, Yukari Yukino is seen among the escorts leading her away from the broadcast room. One of the questions floating around on the anime equivalent of Stack Overflow is whether or not Yukari manages to escape the disaster. My answer will not be quite as patronising as the tone adopted by the author of the accepted answer; it’s mentioned later that casualties were avoided because the town was in the midst of an evacuation drill, allowing them to leave the area before the comet fragment made earthfall.

  • While work has been busy, I’ve nonetheless found time to kick back and make the most of the time that I do have off. Last Friday, I decided to stop by my old lab and see how a colleague was doing with his degree. We shared conversations of his research, future directions and game development over dinner at Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse, where their delicious smoked ribs make for a fantastic evening meal. This time around, I ordered their Prime Rib Beef Bone dinner, which features four gargantuan smoked ribs. Accompanying the ribs were sweet potato fries, horseradish mayonnaise, fried green tomatos and cornbread. Everything was fantastic as always – the meat is flavourful and falls off the bone, and the fried green tomatoes proved quite delicious, being simultaneously refreshing and hearty. Big T’s is not just a name; their portions are massive, and while I’ve been defeated the past three times I’ve eaten here, in the perpetual struggle between man and food, I managed to finish everything to score my first-ever victory for MAN.

  • During this past weekend, I woke up at the crack of dawn to finally capitalise on the complementary Parks Pass the Canadian Government has offered: the destination was Yoho National Park a province over in British Columbia. I visited Takakkaw Falls for the first time since seeing images presented in photobooks of the Rocky Mountains ten years ago – a three hundred meter high, glacier fed waterfall, Takakkaw takes its name from Cree for “magnificent”, and magnificent, it is. There’s a short footpath that leads to the base of the waterfall, and it was well worth it to walk this trail. With few crowds and a complete sense of calm, I finally check off one of the sights in the Rocky Mountains I’ve longed to see. We also visited the Natural Bridge and drove by Emerald Lake before turning around for Canmore, but not before my vehicle’s Check Engine light came on.

  • In Tokyo, the Taki who has yet to formally meet Mitsuha marvels at the beautiful scene unfolding before his eyes. It’s been quite some time since any comets were visible in the northern hemisphere; the last one was Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, and I only have vague memories of seeing that comet for myself. As a bit of simple statistical analysis suggests that great comets are visible every twenty five to forty years in each hemisphere, and with Hale-Bopp’s perihelion was some twenty years ago, the numbers suggest we might be in range of a comet to match Tiamat in majesty.

  • In the film’s climax, Mitsuha trips en route to the town hall, and a glance at her arm reveals that Taki had written “I love you” in place of his name. The hiragana reads すきが (formally 好き): is the equivalent of the English “I like you”, to indicate an interest in starting a relationship. A much deeper form of love is expressed as 愛してる (aishiteru), although its usage is quite rare. With this in mind, the English expression “I love you” is one that holds a great deal of weight, and despite being only three syllables, is said to be exceptionally difficult to say.

“Never mind, Houston, never mind the story! Ah, it’s starting to get hot in here. OK. Alright, the way I see it, there’s only two possible outcomes. Either I make it down there in one piece and I have one hell of a story to tell, or I burn up in the next ten minutes. Either way, whichever way, no harm no foul. ‘Cuz either way, it’ll be one hell of a ride. I’m ready.” —Ryan Stone, Gravity

  • The re-entry scene in the 2013 film Gravity is probably the only movie I know that surpasses Your Name‘s comet entry with respect to visual quality and emotional impact, which is saying something: the combination of exceptional cinematography and the aural masterpiece titled “Shenzhou” create a moment that gave me the chills. Incidentally, “Shenzhou” fits rather well the moments in Your Name right before the piece of Tiamat impacts the surface. Now, if a comet come within a lunar distance to the planet and the probability aligned for a fragment to make earthfall in the near future, we would not have the means to effectively stop it from colliding with the surface with this little notice. Most of the impact avoidance strategies proposed to be effective involve long term manoeuvring of the object to alter its trajectory so it misses the planet. Short term strategies involve kinetic impact or nuclear solutions, which are more inexpensive but run the risk of turning the body into a fragmented cluster of smaller asteroids.

“Circular error probability zero. Impact with high-order detonation. Have a nice day.” —John Clark, Clear and Present Danger

  • The moment impact of the Tiamat fragment with Itomori is executed in silence, and shortly after, a tremendous blast rips through the area. While Makoto Shinkai and his team have done a fantastic job of presenting the visuals in this movie, I note that the moments following the impact demonstrate the artists’ commitment to visual fidelity — immediately after the collision, clouds are blown away by the blast wave, which faintly spreads through the area and triggers a tsunami in the lake near Itomori. Ever since watching a bit of refraction resulting from the blast wave of explosions in MythBusters, I’ve always found myself impressed at their depiction in media even though technically, the blast wave would travel at speeds exceeding that of sound and wouldn’t be visible at 24 FPS or 60 FPS: one would need a high speed camera with a minimum of 1000 FPS to capture the wave. Motoko Rich claims that the meteor impact was supposed to represent the aftermath of the Fukushima Earthquake in 2011, but this is an element that is not explored at all in Your Name, and as such, does not have any bearing on Your Name‘s thematic elements whatsoever.

  • The next morning, Taki finds himself on the top of the mountain and cannot recall why he arrived there, nor why his friends returned ahead of him. He returns to Tokyo, haunted by memories of a longing he cannot explain, and over the course of five years, has completed an undergraduate degree in architecture. Taki begins the ardous process of job hunting and is turned down everywhere he goes, while his friends fare better and have a number of job offers. The transition between university and working is immensely challenging, but once one finds their first job, the experiences and learnings are invaluable.

  • Shinkai has depicted the Tokyo skyline in his works previously, but by the time of Your Name, the subtle technical elements, such as watching the movement of trains amidst the cityscape has been improved. I remarked in an earlier review that the level of visual fidelity in Shinkai’s films has reached an upper ceiling on how detailed scenes can be; the difference between Your Name and The Garden of Words is roughly the difference between Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 4, but both successors utilise a novel execution to stand out from their predecessors.

  • In the five years that have elapsed since his trip to Itomori, Taki no longer vividly recalls the events of that day. Instead, he is left with lingering memories of what happened previously, and the knowledge that Itomori was successfully evacuated before the impact, leaving a minimum number of casualties. The dénouement of Your Name comes into play here as Taki is shown in trying to apply for work while his friends have already begun receiving offers for work. He meets up with Miki and shares a conversation with her, where she hopes he can find his happiness. A brief cut shows her with an engagement ring, and perhaps attesting to the milestone I’ve reached in age, I’ve become more attuned towards picking these things up now, although whether or not this is good or bad will be left as an exercise to the reader.

  • Shortly after Your Name was shown in Japan, an acquaintance of mine who’d seen the movie noted the song was perfectly describing their relationship and how couples will gain a great deal from watching the movie together, that “the distance and hardships now seem small compared to how much love there is…working on our dreams together, [couples] wouldn’t have it any other way”. However, I would argue that Your Name resonates deeply with folks who appreciate a good story, regardless of whether or not they are in a relationship or not, and that it would be nothing short of folly to pre-suppose that the film is intended solely for couples to enjoy.

  • My copy of the novel arrived a few months ago, and reading through it thoroughly has allowed for some insights to be conferred about both Mitsuha and Taki’s characters. In the ending remarks, Shinkai notes that the book and film complement one another, although the better experience is certainly from the film itself (for instance, the lack of a soundtrack means some emotions aren’t conveyed quite as readily). However, in providing the character’s thoughts, readers learn that Itomori Lake was once formed by another impact event, that the Miyamizu family has an uncommon history of being able to switch consciousness with another individual and that Taki manages to find employment by the time he encounters Mitsuha during the film’s end.

  • The combined insights from the novel and the powerhouse performance of Your Name means that reading and watching both is the most complete Your Name experience. I remark that purchasing the novel and having a professional translation of it was well worth the price of admissions: comparing the novel against fan translations find the latter to be inferior to the genuine article. Meanings are mangled, and subtleties are lost, whereas a professional translation allows most of the original meaning to be retained. The end result is an indispensable companion to the film.

  • Unlike Taki, who is minimally aware that he is searching for someone important in his life, I do not have that fortune. However, I would not wish to be in Taki’s situation — between having someone in my life and a starting point for my career, right now, I feel that the career is more important. I can get by without a partner, but I won’t last long in this world without a career. After sitting alone in a café, Taki overhears a conversation between Katsuhiko and Sayaka, who’ve become engaged to one another by this point in time. However, when he turns around, they’ve left. While the odds of this seem astronomically small, reality does things beyond comprehension, and even now, I’ve crossed paths with the people I’ve met years before.

  • One of the biggest challenge about writing this post is, because it deals so heavily with themes of love and strength of the heart even against space and time, I experienced a continuous, mild chest pain while writing it. I don’t normally have chest pain unless it’s from lifting weights, and are generally otherwise of a reasonably fit and healthy standard: I lift and run on a consistent basis. My curiosity got the better of me: this is the first time where a blog post has done this, and it’s not healthy to be feeling like this, so I decided to look at what was going on. As it turns out, the necessity of revisiting some old memories and emotions fire the same neurons in the brain responsible for processing physical pain.

  • The scene where Taki crosses a bridge on a snowy evening and runs into some who appears to be Mitsuha is designed with a very similar feel as seen in Five Centimeters per Second. However, rather than the moody shadows and prevalence of dark blue hues, in Your Name, the scene is better lit, with yellow sodium lights casting a different colour to break up the scene. This is intentionally done to remind audiences that Taki is not experiencing the same that Takaki had in Five Centimeters per Second. The importance of lighting cannot be understated, and misunderstanding how lighting in Five Centimeters Per Second played out is what led folks to draw the wrong conclusion about the movie.

  • Fortunately, I’ve got some training in stress management, so the pain will go away after I publish this post and busy myself with some Battlefield 1 and Far Cry 4. In Your Name, the application of time lapses is probably one of the surest indicators of how far Makoto Shinkai and his team have come since The Place Promised In Our Early Days: these scenes involve intricate lighting and dynamic shadows that must be painstakingly drawn for each position of the sun to ensure everything looks consistent. It was quite inspiring to learn that Shinkai hired graduates with a painting background rather than animators, which gave every film since The Place Promised In Our Early Days a distinct aesthetic.

  • Your Name‘s final moments appear quite similar to the short Paperman (2012), where a fellow by the name of George encounters a woman named Meg while riding a train to work. His efforts to catch her attention are to no avail, but through the power of love, fate brings the two together. Easily one of the most moving shorts I’ve seen, Paperman captures the intricacies of falling in love into a short span of six minutes, and moved one of my friends greatly: we were in a software engineering tutorial, and the TA had allowed us to watch the video near the end of semester. I imagine it would be lovely to have fate create those sorts of moments.

  • As with Gundam Unicorn‘s finale, “Over the Rainbow” and Girls und Panzer Der Film, I’ve made allusions to several different works. Among some of the works mentioned include Futurama, Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith, and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The page quote itself is sourced from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, whose relationship with Your Name has already been discovered to some extent. While some may regard the defacing of these great quotes as an insult to Your Name or their original works, I contend that they are present to lighten the mood up throughout the post.

  • At a flight of steps, a dejected-looking Taki ascends, wondering where Mitsuha had gone. Precisely here and now, Mitsuha is descending, with an equally glum expression, having lost sight of the person she’s longed to talk to and meet. This precise spot became the location of great interest amongst viewers: for those in Tokyo with a bit of extra time to explore, the nearest train stations to the flight of steps are Yotsuya Station (JR Chuuou Line) and Tokyo Metro (Marunouchi Line/ Nanboku Line).

  • That Mitsuha and Taki meet one another again after all this time is attributed to fate, but fate alone is meaningless unless acted upon. One of the issues with Five Centimeters per Second is that Takaki seems very passive, acting based on the path of least resistance and never really taking the initiative to move forward and live in the present. As such, he finds himself unable to do anything when Kanae dissolves in tears in front of him during her failed confession, and why his subsequent relationships continue disintegrating.

  • Conversely, Taki shows a considerable degree of initiative: Shinkai’s characters are strong-willed and determined, so Takaki seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Here, Taki decides to throw caution to the wind and see if this person really is Mitsuha. Turning around, he asks out loud that she seems familiar, and wonders if they’ve met before, setting in motion events that set Your Name as being a world apart from Five Centimeters per Second in terms of how decisive the outcome is.

  • There was another challenge in drafting this post — this one is rather more benign and involves screenshot collection. Some of the moments towards the end of Your Name are shown in the movie’s beginning, and the use of flashbacks means that there is the risk of using duplicate images. In order to ensure that every image is unique, I had to go through the set of screenshots I’ve picked to be in the final review and replace any duplicates. However, even in spite of this extra effort, I was able to get this post out in a timely fashion; I don’t imagine there exist a large collection of screenshots, commentary and discussion out there as of right now, although this will change very quickly once other bloggers get their heads in the game. For the next hour or so, however, this post will hold the distinction of being the most comprehensive English-language resource for Your Name to have ever graced this planet Earth.

  • Lost memories come back, and tears find their way to Mitsuha, who realises that this is the person she’s been searching for. Both long to ask one another the question that’s been on their minds for the past several years, “君の名は,” bringing the film to a close as both characters begin to explore a direction they’d given up to be impossible. The morning light and clear weather throughout the scene hints at the movie’s outcome, and with Your Name under my belt, I can decisively say that this movie is worth watching; its combination of a rewarding ending and visual effects means that Your Name is able to appeal to a very diverse group of viewers.

  • The sum of taking Shinkai’s learnings from his previous films and integrating them into a single entity, the top-tier artwork and animation and a story that combines elements from Japanese folklore and literature with modern components and real-world setting means that overall, on a letter grade system, Your Name scores a 9.5 of 10 (which corresponds to an A+ using the system my university uses). The reasoning is that, while incredibly entertaining to experience, Your Name did not change my world-view to any significant extent, which is the requirement for a perfect ten. Makoto Shinkai himself has expressed that the film is far from perfect, the combination of effective application of things taken from his previous movies packaged up into a single entity telling an immensely satisfying story means that this film is indeed worthy of its overwhelmingly positive reception. I hope that all of my readers have a chance to see this film for themselves.

Whole-movie reflection and closing remarks

The last time I watched a Makoto Shinkai movie was The Garden of Words during the summer of 2013, ironically, while it was pouring so heavily outside that the Bow River overflowed its bank and created the worst flooding in my area in over a century. Before that was Children Who Chases Lost Voices From Deep Below during late 2011. Both movies, already of an impressive quality, have been eclipsed by Your Name from a box office and reception perspective, but the question that remains is whether or not it Your Name does anything unique from a narrative perspective that sets it apart from his earlier works. From my perspective, it is able to take the fantastical elements of Children Who Chases Lost Voices From Deep Below, open drama of The Garden of Words and the emotional aspects of Five Centimeters Per Second, incorporating them into a cohesive story whose ending is one of optimism. While Makoto Shinkai has certainly had impressive works previously, Your Name shows that Shinkai has definitely been applying lessons taken from his earlier movies and using these to further hone his craft — Your Name represents his years of experience feeding into each scene to create a compelling story. This is my answer to the question; I don’t find the film to displace any of his earlier works in terms of quality. Each of his preceding films are outstanding and merits of watching, and Your Name reflects on the accumulated learnings from these earlier movies: the end result is an outstanding movie that definitely is a meaningful one to watch. For Your Name, I give it a strong recommendation without any question — the sum of its narrative, artwork, aural and thematic aspects makes it a moving experience to watch for both existing anime fans and folks who do not count themselves as anime fans.

Revisiting Kotonoha no Niwa (The Garden of Words): Another Review and Reflection

“We’re heading into tough times. As people get into their homes and their home is in trouble, people will feel despair…we have to lift them up with our love and support.” –Mayor Naheed Nenshi, The City of Calgary

The home release to Makoto Shinkai’s The Garden of Words came out four years ago today, right amidst the Great Flood of 2013: I was watching the film even as a heavy rainstorm swept through the region, dropping upwards of 200mm of precipitation in the Rocky Mountains that, in conjunction with saturated lands and snow on the surface, overwhelmed the waterways that flowed through my city: by the morning of June 21, the university had emailed its staff, saying that campus would be closed. Throughout the day, the media showed the whole of the city center covered with waist-high water, and having left my laptop on campus, I was unable to work on my simulations. The only other pursuit was to watch The Garden of Words, which a colleague had informed me of while we were out for lunch at an Indian restaurant. Sure enough, The Garden of Words turned out to be a highly enjoyable film: fifteen-year-old Takao Akizuki is a high school student and aspiring shoe-maker. Fond of skipping his morning classes whenever it rains, he frequents Shinjuku Gyoen and one morning, encounters the enigmatic Yukari Yukino, who happens to be skipping work. Amidst the problems that both face in their respective lives, the two strike up a friendship. When the summer break draws to a close, Takao learns that Yukari is a literature instructor at his high school who had been subject to harassment from students. The attendent anxiety led her to skip work, and Yukari began losing her way until she’d met Takao. She subsequently resigns, and later runs into Takao at Shinjuku Gyoen. After a storm hits, they return to Yukari’s apartment, where Takao confesses his love to Yukari. Taken aback, she notes that she’s moving back to Shikoku, leaving Takao heartbroken. He makes to leave, but Yukari catches up with him and tearfully admits that it was through his kindness that she’s managed to find her way again. In the epilogue, Takao continues with his dreams of becoming a shoemaker, while Yukari has resumed teaching.

Despite its short runtime, The Garden of Words manages to condense into its narrative an exceptional degree of symbolism, evident in the tanka that Yukari recites and shoes as a metaphor for life experiences. Shinkai himself makes it clear that the central theme of The Garden of Words is loneliness, captured in Yukari and Takao’s interactions with the individuals around them. Both characters share the commonality of being isolated: Yukari is withdrawn from her colleagues and family, being limited to dealing with her troubles on her own, while Takao receives little support from his family while he pursues his career. While this overarching theme applies to The Garden of Words, Shinkai also manages to bring about another, emergent theme through the decision to feature a noticeable age gap between Yukari and Takao. The companionship and understanding that the two find in one another, amidst a garden of both greenery and the literal garden of words they craft together, form very naturally. In a place where age, background and station are hidden away, Shinjuku Gyoen acts as the perfect sanctuary for two individuals brought together by the seemingly-mundane occurrence of rain, to begin opening up with one another and drive forwards the events in The Garden of Words. Shinkai intended for The Garden of Words to capture love in a traditional sense: Yukari and Takao’s time together, caring about and helping one another out, is a form of love that can be experienced independently of age and station. It is the deliberate choosing of a high school student and an instructor in a setting crafted of rain and greenery, that expresses the idea that this particular tenderness is a form of love that is as genuine and authentic as any romantic love.

The presentation of rain as being a multi-faceted force in The Garden of Words is central to the movie’s magic: at times, it is a gentle, natural force that allow Yukari and Takao to interact together in slow, tender steps, but by the film’s conclusion, it is a tempest that crescendos into Takao’s confession and Yukari finally opening up to him. Occupying both ends of the spectrum, Shinkai’s masterful use of rain allows The Garden of Words to express emotions and thoughts that even colours and scenery together cannot. Weather has been utilised to great effect in fiction to further develop a narrative, and The Garden of Words is no different: in this film, Shinkai demonstrates that he is able to further his artwork’s ability to convey an idea in ways that his previous films did not explore too rigourously. A powerful force in The Garden of Words in bringing Yukari and Takao together, the power of rain was shortly demonstrated in reality: the Great Flood of 2013 I’ve alluded to in several of my earlier discussions is an interesting example of rain being able to cause both separation and togetherness. In its excess, the rainfall responsible for causing flooding throughout southern Alberta physically separated people, but it was in these difficult times that communities were unified by the flood, demonstrating exemplary citizenship to help one another out in the ways they could, whether it be something as simple as making a generous donation to the Red Cross and flood recovery efforts, or else selflessly stepping out into the field and helping flood victims clean up. Regardless of the scale of their actions, each individual who reached out in their own way to help was a part of that community, and while the Great Flood of 2013’s effects are still felt four years later, it is only because of the community’s actions that recovery has made substantial strides.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Almost all of my posts this month have been gaming-related so far, and I have an inkling that readers grow weary of this trend. One might even say it’s getting dank. To rectify this, I will be posting about anime for the remainder of the month (unless I find time to write about Battlefield 1‘s “Nivelle Nights” update). When I last wrote about The Garden of Words, it was 2013. Battlefield 4 had been announced for three months, I had graduated with an Honours degree in Health Sciences, and a flood had hit my area, causing my research to grind to a halt as I did not have a Mac to work on at the time. I noted that by The Garden of Words, Shinkai and his team had so finely honed their craft that his visuals became comparable to photographs in terms of detail and colouration. This image of the Tokyo streets is one such example, and at a glance, it really does look like a photograph.

  • The original The Garden of Words post I wrote featured thirty screenshots, but looking back, the post is quite devoid of content besides a basic “their loneliness brings them together”, praised the film for giving the male characters a more driven personality (as opposed to the passiveness that defines Takaki) and remarked that the movie’s strongest point is how focused and concise it is. Rather than diverting time towards symbolism, The Garden of Words weaves symbolism directly into the narrative. In doing so, the character’s eventual fates are clearly presented, leaving no loose ends that became somewhat of a challenge in Five Centimeters per Second.

  • When Takao first meets Yukari, there’s little indicator of what she does or how old she is. She leaves Takao with a tanka from the manyōshū‘s eleventh volume: besides suggesting that the rain brought them together, it’s something that only literature instructors or enthusiasts would be able to recite. Takao is wrapped up in the moment and does not realise this, taking an interest in the fact that Yukari has an enigmatic air to her that seems quite enchanting. This chance meeting, seemingly willed by the rain itself, sets in motion the film’s events.

  • To emphasise the theme of isolation in The Garden of Words, Shinkai presents his supporting characters as being distant, engrossed in their own worlds to be of much help to either Yukari or Takao. For Takao, his mother is more interested in chasing men than caring for her family, while his older brother is moving out with his girlfriend and cannot otherwise spare much time to listen to Takao’s concerns. Similarly, Yukari’s colleagues and coworkers are only able to do so much for her. Thus, with limited support from the most obvious sources, Yukari and Takao’s fateful meeting drive them to turn towards one another.

  • As they spend more time together, bits and pieces of each individual comes out into play. Yukari reveals that her reason for drinking beer and eating chocolate near-exclusively is that she has hypogeusia, a diminished sense of taste (some articles label it as dysgeusia, a superset of taste disorders that describes both partial and total loss of taste). Shinkai himself describes Yukari’s taste disorder as a metaphor for her mental health, and while it is seemingly a fanciful condition tailored to drive The Garden of Words‘ narrative, the working through things suggests that Yukari’s stress causes the quality of her diet to decrease, in turn resulting in a lessened zinc consumption. Zinc is a cofactor in enzymes and is involved in taste-related pathways, so a zinc deficiency sufficient to cause Yukari to lose much of her sense of taste would be indicative of her situation.

  • The events of The Garden of Words also deal greatly with mental health; while Shinkai may have intended for his works to convey a certain theme, and the more prominent anime writers out there have largely focused on the movie as a love story of sorts, the focus of The Garden of Words on everyday events means that some ideas can be derived from the film’s events even if they are not immediately apparent. This is the advantage about being multi-disciplinary – one is afforded different perspectives on things that would be missed in the absence of familiarity with a particular discipline.

  • In this case, Yukari’s mental health is the crux of her problems within the movie. Previous events have given her anxiety and depression, leading her to skip work and suffer from a decreased quality of life. Alone and without much in the way of assistance, it takes intervention taking the form of the determined Takao, to help her get back on track. In dealing with mental health, I’ve seen that a good support system is perhaps the single most aspect of intervention and recovery. These topics are always a challenge to deal with, especially since reporting is tricky and the lack of good data makes it difficult to learn the cause and potential solutions. However, awareness for mental health is much greater now than it was earlier, thanks to growing understanding of the importance of emotional well-being.

  • After the flood waters receded, the weather in Southern Alberta became remarkably nice: Canada Day that year saw some of the most spectacular weather I’d known, but I still vividly recall feeling quite down in the aftermath of the flood. Under a blazing hot sun, I enjoyed a Flamethrower Grill burger from the DQ nearby and spent the afternoon playing Vindictus, but I had been filled with a sense of longing and for the longest time, did not really understand what was the reason behind this feeling of melancholy. Four years later, I think I can answer that question – matters of the heart were troubling me, and the flood’s disruption precluded opportunities to assuage the sense of emptiness that was welling as my friends began going their separate ways following convocation.

  • Unlike myself, Takao has a very clear vision of where his dreams lie, and what it takes to reach his chosen career of being a shoemaker even while in high school. At the age of fifteen, I was vaguely aware that my future lay in the sciences, likely biology, but otherwise did not make a concrete decision until I was in my final year of high school. In my university’s bioinformatics programme, I saw a path that would leave options open: I would gain background in both health and computer science. Indecision has been one of my old weaknesses, and it was only during the final year of my graduate studies programme that I decided that iOS development was a career I really desired.

  • In order to raise funds for his aspirations, Takao works at a variety of part-time positions, including that of a dishwasher. Although he is not particularly skillful at shoemaking, his innate passion for the career provides him with his drive to practise his craft. At his age, this is viewed as an expensive hobby rather than a viable career path, but his persistence is most admirable: while his friends are out enjoying the summer, he pushes towards his objectives.

  • A closeup of Takao and Yukari’s shoes find that Takao has crafted his own shoes. With a reasonably-priced pair of shoes going around 80-110 CAD while on sale, I’ve found that good shoes should be able to last about two years under normal wear-and-tear conditions, but gone are the days when I have a single pair of general-purpose shoes for the more pleasant times of year and second pair of shoes for the winter.  In this image, minor details in the environment, such as the ripples of raindrops hitting water on the ground, are also visible.

  • During my trip to Japan last month, I did not have the opportunity to visit Shinjuku Gyoen, but we did pass by on the way to the Meiji Jinju, which was an oasis in the middle of Tokyo. The joys of large parks such as these give the sense of a sanctuary amidst a world that is constantly moving: at the heart of the park, it was calm and quiet. Here, I saw a sight that until then, I’d only seen in anime: groups of students praying for success in their exams. We later visited the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda and found groups of students eating lunch there.

  • One of the things on my mind is how the weather for the upcoming summer will be. Spring this year’s been quite nice even if it has been a bit rainy, and moving into the summer, meteorologists are forecasting that the prairies will have a summer with near-normal precipitation and temperatures. These are my most favourite times of year, when the days are long and the skies fair: I am hoping to spend a few weekends doing day trips in the nearby mountains should the weather be favourable.

  • When Takao begins cooking for Yukari and inspires her to begin cooking again, Yukari’s sense of taste is gradually restored. An improving diet is the biochemical reason why this occurs, but this is worked cleverly into the narrative to suggest that it is the act of being together with someone, to share one’s burdens, that prompts this change. It typifies Makoto Shinkai’s ability to craft powerful metaphors and symbols into his stories without sacrificing scientifically plausibility: while his stories cannot always be said to confirm fully with reality, a sufficient number of elements are accurate so that his stories’ more fanciful elements are not too detracting.

  • Images of Takao and Yukari sharing time together in Shinjuku Gyoen remain the single most enduring imagery pertaining to The Garden of Words, similar to the spectacle that Comet Tiamat yielded in Your Name. Being able to create immediately recognisable scenery has driven up Shinkai’s stock amongst fans: while Shinkai is modest and cautions audiences against comparing him to Hayao Miyazaki, I find that Shinkai’s single greatest contribution is his unique talent for making use of colour and light in highly detailed environments to assist in his narratives. Compared to Miyazaki, Shinkai’s characters tend to be stylised to a lesser extent and so, are not always as expressive as those of Miyazaki’s. Instead, Shinkai takes a different approach: expressiveness in his films is achieved through the use of the environments in conjunction with the characters’ facial expressions and tones.

  •  The expression “no man is an island” is applicable to the events of The Garden of Words, being sourced from John Donne’s “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions”, and looking back four years, the notion that we need human contact in order to maintain our mental well-being is reinforced. In Yukari’s position, it can seem a Herculean task to break out of her melancholy, and Makoto Shinkai captures this reality in a very fluid, believable manner: it is her happenstance meeting with Takao that sets in motion change.

  • Yukari is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, who has played notable roles in many of the anime I’ve seen, including but not limited to Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea‘s Manaka Mukaido, Cleo Saburafu of Broken Blade, Sonoko Nogi of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Gabriel Dropout‘s Raphiel Shiraha and Infinite Stratos‘ Charlotte Dunois. By comparison, Miyu Irino, who provides Takao’s voice, I’m only familiar with for his role as Mobile Suit Gundam 00‘s Saji Crossroad.

  • Takao measuring Yukari’s feet in the beginnings of his plan to craft a pair of shoes for her is the one of the most tender moments in The Garden of Words, attesting to how far the two have come to trust one another since their first meeting. Shinkai meticulously details the process that Takao takes in capturing the dimensions of Yukari’s foot, conveying intimacy as deeply as when Akari and Takaki shared their first kiss during the events of Five Centimeters per Second.

  • Takao’s older brother resembles Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below‘s Ryūji Morisak, Asuna’s substitute instructor whose knowledge of the mythical Agartha is extensive. Takao’s brother’s girlfriend bears some resemblance to Akari Shinohara. Of his older films, Akari and Sayuri of The Place Promised in Our Early Days look quite similar, as well. Shinkai’s exceptional prowess as an artist nowithstanding, one of the few limitations about his art style are how his characters can look quite similar to one another. By Your Name, however, his team’s craft has definitely improved: Mitsuha and Taki look unique, unlike any of his previous characters.

  • Takao explicitly notes that he’s attracted to the air of mystery surrounding Yukari, but when he returns to school, it turns out that Yukari is actually one of the instructors here. The truth is soon shown to him: she’s a classical Japanese instructor who got into a spot of trouble when a younger male student developed a crush on her, and said student’s girlfriend retaliated with a series of rumours. I cannot speak to how things would be handled in Canada if such an occurrence were to be real, but it would likely be a major news story that would certainly force the school board to launch an inquiry.

  • While seemingly far-fetched for students to go to such lengths to discredit their instructors, high school drama is quite real. I recount a story where a fellow classmate, salty about the fact that I was kicking ass in introductory science course seemingly without any effort in our first year, accused me of harassment. The individual’s parents got the administration involved and I was warned that a suspension could follow, even though I had not acted against this individual directly. I argued that without any hard evidence beyond said individual’s word, their very efforts to get me suspended was in and of itself harassment. The administration realised they’d been pranked and promptly dismissed things, leaving me with a hilarious story about how I out-played this individual, although that is only in retrospect: there was nothing remotely funny about things at the time.

  • School rooftops have featured in anime with a similar frequency as the coveted spot in the back corner of the classroom beside the window. Questions have been posed concerning this, and the answer is a very mundane, unordinary one: it is much easier to animate these locations owing to the ability to illustrate a smaller number of people, reducing the costs associated with animating busy scenes. Having said that, Makoto Shinkai is not one to shy away from incredible levels of detail in his films, so his inclusion of a school rooftop and its quiet environs is intended for another purpose: to visually convey the sort of loneliness that surrounds Yukari’s story.

  • The fellow in the red T-shirt is a big guy…for Takao. After Takao slaps Aizawa, the senior student for having caused Yukari this much grief, the big guy steps in and displays a lot of loyalty for a mere friend of Aizawa’s: he decks Takao, sending him into the floor. A fight ensues, leaving a few scratches on Takao’s face. The fight’s outcome is not shown because Shinkai feels it to be not relevant: what matters is the fact that Takao’s feelings have precipitated this moment. In the manga, the big guy continues beating on Takao, but like the film, Takao rushes him. Because his injuries are light, it stands to reason that he manages to win this fight, or at least, surprises the big guy long enough to escape. Aizawa is voiced by Mikako Komatsu, whom I know best as Nagi no Asukara‘s Miuna Shiodome and Sakura Quest‘s Sanae Kouzuki.

  • Some of my insights on The Garden of Words come from the manga, which I bought last Thanksgiving: the weather that day had not been conducive for a drive out to the mountains, but was just fine for visiting a local bookstore. The remainder of this revisitation, containing just a ways under half of the screenshots in the post, deals with the film’s final act. This is not an accident: the final act is an emotional journey that sees Shinkai’s writing at its finest. His stories are at their strongest when his characters are honest and open with their feelings.

  • When Yukari and Takao meet again under the gazebo of Shinjuku Gyoen, they are caught in a torrential downpour. I vividly remember the June 21st of four years ago as though it were yesterday. After receiving an email from the university that campus was closed on account of the flood, and having left my laptop on campus, I was unable to get any work done that day. It was an unexpected day off, and I spent it reviewing The Garden of Words, as well as playing through Metro: Last Light, which I got complementary with my GTX 660. I’d only just watched the movie the night before, and with rain dousing the Southern Alberta region, the irony of watching a movie about rain when rain waters were causing flooding was not lost on me.

  • The rains began in earnest on June 20 after the skies filled with rain clouds, and some areas of the city begun evacuations as water levels surged in the Bow and Elbow rivers. The whole of the city centre was covered in water on June 21, and the Stampede Grounds were flooded, as well. By June 22, the rains had lessened, and the flood waters began receding. Tales of courage and sacrifice to save people emerged, along with the comprehension of just how much damage the flood had caused. When the weekend ended, and the extent of the flood’s became known, I made a substantial donation to the Red Cross for Flood relief. Meanwhile, some of my friends working with companies over the summer began helping out with the cleanup effort.

  • The waters had fully retreated come late June, and the weather became the characteristic of an early July in Calgary: hot and sunny. However, even as I returned to my routine in writing simulations for my research lab, a melancholy had gripped me. The cause was unknown at the time, but the sum of extraordinarily good weather, the inability to make the most of my summer days, some love-sickness and the fact that most of my friends were going their separate ways following convocation would have likely been the reason for this melancholy. A summer later, I would go on to buy the book “The Flood of 2013: A Summer of Angry Rivers”, whose proceeds would go towards flood recovery. 

  • Slender and beautiful, Yukari is quite unlike any of Shinkai’s previous female leads. Freed from their role as teacher and student, the two enjoy their rainy afternoon together, with Takao cooking for Yukari. Their conversation is not heard, with a wistful track overlaid as background music, affording the two characters a modicum of privacy in a similar manner that Daniel Handler used in A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope, when Violet and Quigley are given some time alone halfway up the frozen waterfall. It’s a literary device that is intended to show characters in more personal, intimate moments, and while the bond that Yukari and Takao share cannot be said to be romantic love, it does count as love in a sense.

  • In my original The Garden of Words post, I had a close-up of the omurice that Takao’s cooked. I’ve made an effort to ensure that no image was duplicated from the original post, but unlike previous years, where it became difficult to do consecutive posts on the K-On! Movie because of overlap, the artwork in any given Makoto Shinkai film is so diverse that picking unique screenshots were not a challenge. Over the span of the four years that have passed since I first watched this, much has happened, and one of those things includes my having omurice dispenses with the ketchup on top in favour of a curry-in Osaka. It’s a simple but filling dish – the incarnation I had katsu, so I could say I had the equivalent of omurice and curry rice all in one go.

  • During an awkward point in their conversation, Takao declares that he loves Yukari, but when Yukari seemingly rejects him, he takes off. Not quite understanding what’s happened, Yukari runs after him. As I have experienced, Takao is confusing his appreciation of Yukari’s company, and his desire to help her, for romantic love. It’s perhaps more of a bond of friendship, or even parental love, that has come out of this relationship: Takao is charmed by Yukari’s mystery and the positive feelings he gains by helping her. This compassion and empathy for someone else is a compelling force that one can indeed fall in love with, although people can sometimes mistake this as falling in love with a person.

  • This is not to say that falling in love with helping people, and romantic love with a person, are mutually exclusive. Takao probably harbours feelings for Yukari to some extent, and she, for him, although these are overshadowed by the positive feelings they’ve developed as friends. Challenges in differentiating from between the two can cause younger people, like myself, to pursue relationships they sense to be sustainable. Sometimes, things work out for the better, strengthening the couple and allowing them to find happiness, while other times, things don’t work out so well.

  • At the film’s climax, Takao finally expresses his own resentment at Yukari’s air of mystery – the very thing he was attracted to about her becomes a source of pain when he learns that she’s a teacher, and stung by her rejection, he demands her to be truthful, voicing that his dreams are unrealistic and unattainable, that her refusal in opening up to him and being truthful led him on in a manner of speaking. The sum of their emotions build, and breaks over right as the sun comes out, washing the land in a golden light.

  • Yukari’s refusal to mirror Takao’s accusations shows that, rather than acting out of malice or spite, her unwillingness to open up to him is mainly because of her own experiences. When the sun appears, it represents the reappearance of truth. Both Takao and Yukari are honest with their feelings, as well as how they feel about one another. In this moment, Shinkai again demonstrates his masterful use of the weather to advance the story – including Your Name, no other Shinkai film ever draws so heavily on the weather in its narrative.

  • Following the events of the flood, I invited a friend out to the Calgary Stampede as a date of sorts to express thanks for having attended my convocation and helping me take photographs, as well as for having listened to my numerous grievances about the summer and unwaveringly providing support by ways of listening to me. The Stampede grounds were cleared out, and attendees wore “Through Hell or High Water” t-shirts. It was a herculean effort to clean up the grounds and prepare for that year’s Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but the event was a success, attesting to the community’s resilience in face of adversity.

  • By July, the weather had become extremely pleasant, but I had fallen into a summer melancholy, longing for the company of friends. The resentment that I was stuck is mirrored in my blog posts from the time; a hint of bitterness can be found in the writing. I concentrated as best as I could on my research project and managed to build a distributed simulation system, where multiple computers could each run individual modules representing one body system, and passed messages to one another to give the sense that the entire simulation was on one system. I also went on two road trips into open country near the end of summer (one to Canmore, and one to Jasper), lifting my spirits.

  • However, it would not be until the spring a year later, when I was asked to help with the Giant Walkthrough Brain project, that I truly began feeling myself again. Having come fresh from heartbreak during April, I entered the summer with a newfound determination to immerse myself in a new project to dilute the pain of loss. The outcome of this was that I left the summer far happier than I had been for the past year. Here, Takao places the completed pair of shoes for Yukari. After the film’s climax, Yukari heads home and accepts a new teaching position, while Takao continues studying to be a shoemaker. His promise of having Yukari walk again in the shoes he’s crafted her is seemingly unfulfilled in the film, but in spite of this, he maintains a resolute belief in finding her again once he’s made some steps in his own career.

  • Shinkai uses walking as an analogy for facing life’s challenges, and shoes become a symbol for a tool in aiding walking. Takao’s finished product represents his commitment to her well-being – the shoes are beautiful and capture the beauty that is Yukari. Here, I note that the earliest shoes date back a few thousand years. However, it is hypothesised that humans began wearing shoes around 40000 years ago, corresponding with changes to our skeletal features in the foot. This likely coincides with our migration away from warmer climates, where footwear would along us to walk greater distances without being affected by temperature extremities.

  • Thus, Yukari is back to doing what she does best, teaching Japanese literature in Shikoku. Although separated, both Yukari and Takao often think of one another. While I’ve been punching out a record number of posts today, this evening, I spent an evening with some classmates from my BHSc graduating year, and over a poutine with grilled chicken, we spent the evening catching up. It has been four years since our graduation, and it’s great to know that everyone is doing alright: some folks are becoming medical residents, while others are working. It attests to how much time has passed; conversations about buying houses and work stories have displaced talks of the conflicting definitions of health and other coursework.

  • In the manga, Takao mentions that time without Yukari has flown by, also showing that Yukari has received Takao’s shoes and is now wearing them. The movie is careful with its framing to not show this explicitly and leave open for viewers what the outcome was, while the manga implies that Yukari and Takao do end up meeting again. Yukari’s appearance in Your Name is an interesting one, conflicting with her presence in The Garden of Words, so it’s best to suppose that, à la Rick and Morty, Your Name and The Garden of Words are set in alternate dimensions in the multiverse. I’ve seen failed efforts to work this out; attempts are inconclusive owing to flawed reasoning. Ergo, my explanation is the only one that is viable.

  • I feel that, compared to my original review four years ago, this The Garden of Words review is the true review that the film and readers deserve. Themes are better explored, and even though I am reminiscing for a greater half of the post, I am using this retrospective to better frame the themes. I think I’ve succeeded with this post. In addition to being an exercise to illustrate how much has changed in the past few years, this post also serves as a warm-up of sorts for the upcoming Your Name discussion. With the concrete date of July 26 out in the open, I am very excited to try my hand at looking at one of the biggest anime films around in a unique and insightful manner.

The Garden of Words is one of Makoto Shinkai’s strongest works, matching Five Centimeters per Second in emotional impact despite its shorter length. An exquisite amalgamation of sight, sound and narrative that is neatly packaged into a concise, focused story that is very clear about its goals, my own enjoyment of the film is further augmented by the imagery of rain depicted throughout The Garden of Words. Although I did not realise it at the time, my own experiences with relationships (or at least, efforts to) stem from my falling in love with the idea of helping people, rather than being related to falling in love with a person per se. Similar to Takao, I feel drawn to being able to have someone lean on me, and at the time, it definitely did feel like falling in love; in retrospect, it is love in this form that likely manifested, and a part of the melancholy I found during the summer of 2013 was feeling so disconnected from an individual in the flood’s aftermath. However, having re-watched The Garden of Words with a new mindset, looking back, it is not such a terrible thing to be in love with helping others, and like Five Centimeters per Second before it, The Garden of Words is indeed a film that can withstand the test of time, being as enjoyable to watch today as it was when it came out four years ago. There is one important distinction: this time around, precipitation during this month has been normal, and the weather is fine, so the chances of seeing another flood like The Great Flood of 2013 are thankfully slim.