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A meditation on ‘Kimi no Na wa’



I have been on a Makoto Shinkai binge this week. Even though I am usually
very selective and sparse with my media consumption, I had the fortune of
seeing Kotonoha no Niwa (Garden of Words) at Malinthe’s the weekend
before last, and I was hooked. 5 Centimetres per Second had been on my
watchlist ever since Dili showed me the gorgeous artwork, and I finally
got around to watching all three films over last weekend and finally watched
Kimi no Na wa today.

I know Shinkai gets a lot of flak for his characters not being 17-dimensional
and what not, but I think people miss the point a bit. Shinkai’s movies — the
way I felt them (as a complete novice) — are not about getting into the
individuals and their backstories, but rather about feelings and emotions that
transcend and are common to us all. To lift a metaphor from the movie, the
threads that bind us all.

And the feels, oh do they come in waves. At the end of watching 5 Centimetres
I felt a sort of hollowness/longing that is difficult to explain. I had never
had a “middle school girlfriend”. And yet, I don’t think that is what it’s
about. At least it wasn’t for me. It was about longing for a past that we will
never get back, a nostalgia that makes your lungs ache — for a time and place that
probably never existed. I can still remember the ocean breeze at my old school,
the golden rays of the afternoon sun, and the warm sand of the playground. We all
have our nostalgia, a fantasy world we try and escape to from our cold reality, and
I think Shinkai captures that emotion perfectly.

Festival Night

This scene. Her hair.

The two previous Shinkai films I watched, however, did not quite prepare me for
the plot of ‘Kimi no Na wa’. There were moments in the film with so much raw emotion,
sadness, and shock that my hair was standing on end. The mid-movie plot twist (which I
won’t ruin for those of you who have yet to watch this masterpiece) made me stop, get up,
walk around to calm myself, and message Dili. I thought it was masterfully executed, and
I get why Dili raves about the originality of the story.

Musubi is the old way of calling the local guardian god. This word has profound meaning.
Tying thread is Musubi. Connecting people is Musubi. The flow of time is Musubi.

These are all the god’s power. 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.

Life itself can be summed up as threads flowing through time, couldn’t it? And to me that
was the imagery that struck with me the most. Our lives intersect, connect, diverge, and
flow along with each other’s. It is a recurring theme in Shinkai’s films, and to lift a
metaphor from Kotonoha no Niwa, we are each ‘learning to walk’ in our own ways and our
own time.

Originally Posted on Medium. I have since watched The Place Promised in Our Early Days,
Children Who Chase Lost Voices, and some of Shinkai’s short films as well. I eagerly await
Weathering with You!

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