“…So the braided cords that we make are the god’s art and represent the flow of time itself. They converge and take shape. They twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break, then connect again. Musubi- knotting. That is time.”
Mitsuha Miyamizu lives in the green mountains of the Hida region. She is a regular high schooler, staying with her granny and younger sister at their ancestral shrine and is quite bored with her ‘small-town’ life. Taki Tachibana is a middle-class boy living in the bustling city of Tokyo. He attends a City High School and part-times as a waiter in a posh Italian Restaurant. One day, these two teenagers wake up to find out that their bodies have been magically swapped, thus beginning the romantic story of dreams, time and fate as both set out on a journey to find each other.
In a nutshell, Kimi no Na Wa captures the essence of love as it binds two complete strangers, incorporating the influence of both- traditional and modern aspects across picturesque evergreen peaks and the contemporary concrete metropolitan of Tokyo.
Director Makoto Shinkai has marvellously blended a ‘slice of life’ with spoonfuls of fantasies and served us a warm plate of emotions that reach directly for the heart. These are further accentuated by the beautiful artwork and the splendid animation. Shinkai vividly portrays the suburban towns of Japan as well as Tokyo. He uses real life locations like the ‘Suga-jinja’ in Shinjuku for the climactic scene and the city of Hida in Gifu prefecture as the inspiration for the fictional town of Itomori. The musical reliefs and the light-hearted moments, which punctuate the 107 minutes of screen time, grants the viewers time to analyse and reflect upon the events which have occurred so far. This keeps them away from any sort of bewilderment which could arise in their minds, since the story involves dreams and overlapping timelines. But I consider these as bonuses since the storytelling itself is so simple, yet so mesmerising, it truly showcases Shinkai’s brilliance.
Each of the characters is given sufficient attention. From the lead pair to the middle-aged noodle shop owner. Not once will you feel that any particular character was left out. Although the voice acting of a couple of characters, including Mitsuha, felt quite off and unbecoming for her, the expressions and the animation were able to compensate for it. It’s also worth mentioning that the delivery of the dialogue was up to mark and perspicuous being neither weak nor overdone.
Coming to the structuring, Kimi No Na Wa opens with Mitsuha waking up confused and fondling her chest as her younger sister Yotsuha scornfully wakes her up. This action is frequently peppered along the initial scenes as the couple discover their bodies are swapping themselves mysteriously thrice a week. As the story progresses, each tries to settle in their swapped lives, meeting new people and coming to many novel realizations.
Like every romantic drama, Kimi No Na Wa also comes with a problem as well as a twist and it is worth seeing them fight against their fate and race against time to be able to find each other before it is too late. Although the ending scenes will be perceived as a fitting climax by most of viewers, it was quite predictable (yes, I wanted the movie to end in an anti-climax but oh well). This film packs the gentlest of punches and can throw you off guard with its simplicity in narration, enchanting animation and magnificent music. It almost feels like a blissful dream that you want to cherish forever.
After all, Granny Hitoha rightfully said;
“Treasure the experience. Dreams fade away after you wake up.”