Your name is a wonderful 2016 anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai that tells the story of Mitsuha, a 17-year-old girl living in the small and peaceful town of Itomori, and Taki. A 17-year-old high school student who, unlike Mitsuha, lives in a small apartment in the loud and fast-paced city of Tokyo.
Mitsuha's classmates make fun of her one night as she performs the kuchikamizake, a traditional ritual in which she chews and spits rice into a container. Mitsuha, frustrated and dissatisfied with her life in Itomori, finds herself screaming to the sky, wishing to be a handsome Tokyo boy in her next life.
Mitsuha and Taki begin having strange dreams in which they switch bodies with one another, but when a few of their friends comment on how strange they recently acted, they realize that what appears to be a very realistic dream may be much more realistic than they thought.
Soon after, the two try to communicate with one another, desperately trying to figure out who the stranger is with whom they have been randomly switching bodies. Despite their hazy memories of their experiences in each other's bodies, the two began to form a sort of relationship.
But things take an unusual turn when Taki discovers that they live three years apart and that, in his reality, Mitsuha died three years before his current time in space from a fragment of a comet that fell in Itomori.
Though this film may appear to be a beautifully animated but complex piece of cinematography that heavily focuses on the concept of finding your soulmate at first, if you truly open yourself to the emotional depth of the film, you may discover that it is much more.
'Your name' is a charming story that weaves together beautiful lessons about time, connection, and the agony of longing for something you don't know.
"Once in a while, when I wake up, I find myself crying - the dream I must have had I can never recall, but the sensation that I've lost something lingers for a long time after I wake up."
Each of our protagonists has a monologue with themselves in which they portray a feeling - a sensation that they are unable to shake. This obstinate heartache for something familiar but far away - something they can't define other than a longing - a longing for something they're not even sure is real.
"I'm always searching for something, for someone. The feeling has possessed me, I think from that day - the day when the stars came falling."
I believe we can all relate to this, especially in this day and age when we spend so much time inside our heads, which can be lonely and frustrating. To be unsure of why. Why do we sometimes feel separated, not from someone or something physical, but from a sensation - a feeling that will bring our heart peace if we can find a way to reconnect with it?
The use of strings, threads, and chords as a recurrent theme throughout the film is noticeable. Starting with the comet trail, which splits into two lines, and continuing with the red string Mitsuha gives Taki the first time they meet, and which he brings back before the festival.
The use of strings, threads, and lines has an emotional and spiritual meaning in addition to serving as a visual tool to help us identify when the characters are in their original bodies. When Hithoa explains that the cords Mitsuha and her little sister make represent the flow of time, the cords they make represent life itself.
"The cords that we make, they represent the flow of time. They converge and take shape. They twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break, then connect again."
Hithoa says to Mitsuha earlier in the film, before we learn about the hidden meaning of the chords, and during the family's traditional chord braiding ritual. "Listen to the thread’s voice. When you keep twining like that, emotions will eventually start flowing between you and the thread.." When we first hear those words, they are too abstract for us to comprehend.
Only after we understand the symbolism of the threads as the flow of time and the union of all of our life experiences will we be able to understand what Hithoa meant when she talked about tying threads.
Hithoa asked Mitsuha to concentrate - to pay attention to her feelings - because it's only by paying close attention that you can experience the magic of - connection. Paying attention to our inner experience allows us to truly savor the experience of embodying - love, passion, joy, compassion, and, yes, sadness and anger, because one cannot exist without the other.
The most important life lesson I took away from this film came not at the end, after Taki and Mitsuha reconciled, but a few years earlier. The comet was supposed to destroy Itomori at the twilight hour of the same day, when Taki and Mitsuha met for the first time in their original bodies.
Whatever is entwined with the thread of our lives. Every connection we've made, whether with a song or a person - whatever we've felt towards deep emotions of love, resonance, and connection - is not eternal. Our life string is constantly tangling, converging, and intertwining with various things and people, but the connection can unravel or break at any time, and nothing can guarantee that it will reconnect again.
Those moments of connection, those emotions that grow, are something we should treasure in our hearts as long as we have the opportunity to experience them.
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