When faced with a Makoto Shinkai work, I often find myself preparing for it in ways more than one. On the one hand, there’s the excitement of witnessing an animation spectacle that is, arguably, one of the most beautiful of its kind. But at the same time, there’s the dread of having to deal with whatever feels there are to be had. Coming from Shinkai’s previous works, I’ve always been a little confused with regard to the author’s position on human relationships and the ways in which the world conspires for or against our visions of the “ideal” (embodied in the platonic). The short film 5 cm per second, for example, serves as an elegy to a failed relationship and how unspoken words and inaction hinder us from attaining this “ideal”. In contrast, the theatrical short the Garden of Words answers the former’s lack of action with an outspoken expressiveness that challenges the societal structures that keep us apart. But even in the latter, Shinkai ends on a leitmotif of time and distance — that all relationships are still subject to the forces of a world that can ravage such emotional connections with an unforgiving arm.
And so I steel myself for yet another answer to Makoto Shinkai’s long string of spatially troubled relationships. Indeed, your name. appears to be, if anything, an answer to that same question regarding the value of relationships — of bonds and connections — in a spatially disconnected world. And it does so by opting for a more fantastical depiction of love that involves people switching bodies, traversing through different time periods, and defying fate. If you’re thinking that sounds a bit ambitious at this point, then you’re not alone. But regardless of the devices used this time around, was Shinkai’s answer to the question in your name. a satisfying one? Let’s find out. Continue reading