your name. by Makoto Shinkai – A Book Review

your name., written by esteemed film director Makoto Shinkai, is the novelization of the Japanese anime film by the same title. It tells a story about a boy and a girl who reside in two completely different parts of Japan. The young boy, Taki, is from the thriving and bustling city of Tokyo, whereas Mitsuha, the young girl, is from a small town steeped in cultural practises hundreds of years old. Two strangers who have nothing to tie them together, one night begin to dream of each other’s lives. Slowly they begin to share memories, friends, and relationships, creating an odd and special bond. As they grow more accustomed to their new existences, sharing a casual talk of things to come, it stops. The dreams stop. Their interwoven existences part ways and it all just ends.

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One of my favourite aspects of a Shinkai story are the relationships. It is always about two distinct individuals brought together through some magical twist of fate. The exploration of what they mean to each other as well as the profound examination of life’s simplest facets, tend to be the core ideas behind his works. It’s always done with such elegant simplicity and heartfelt brilliance. your name. is quite possibly one of his best stories to date in that regard.

As a person who does not tend to write novelizations of his films, Shinkai’s prose with this light novel is sweeping via its eloquent and refined execution. There isn’t anything extravagant about the way the stories are told. They are genuine and ordinary, yet immersive and masterful per the emotions that they evoke and the intimate connections they create between the reader and the characters upon the pages.

Speaking of, the very best parts of this novel are the characters of Taki and Mitsuha. We watch as they familiarise themselves to an existence that is wholly incongruous to their current realities. The more that they interact with their foreign surroundings, and strangers who go on to become family in one way or another—we see a soft building of chemistry and feelings between Taki and Mitsuha. It is breathtakingly honest and normal with its development. Personal interactions stirred by their bizarre connection grow friendlier and cherished. Laced in mystery of what is to arise, their relationship becomes wholeheartedly addicting.

The pacing was wonderful as we alternate between our two protagonists. In the span of a handful of minutes I ended up reading one-half of the book. I literally could not bring myself to put it down. My eagerness to learn of what’s causing their captivating connection, coupled with the curiosity of seeing how the personal choices made will affect each other’s lives, is brilliantly charming. I never questioned the flow of the narrative. It was never too fast or too slow, just satisfyingly perfect.

While the notion of changing places, even via a dream-like state, can be construed as a trope of the science-fiction and fantasy genres, the twist on it was rather unique and it left me feeling astonished. I love it when a story can surprise you, especially when you believe you have everything figured out. It’s a fantastic way to draw the reader further into the world and plot. The twist also leads to some sensationally diverse emotions. I felt myself being happy then giddy and terribly sad and anxious. Being able to imagine myself as Taki or Mitsuha, everything that went through their minds and hearts was reflected in my own. Honestly, it was such an indescribable experience. It was excellent.

Lastly, the motifs of your name. are what makes it so phenomenal. Humans, in general, tend to be afraid of two things: death and uncertainty in life. But rarely do we see the spotlight on a third fear, a much stronger and potent fear that can be just as crippling as the notion of closing your eyes to a black void indefinitely. This fear revolves around memories. Our memories are the remnants of every experience we have, whether those experiences involve people or actions. These remnants can be a constant in our lives; a way to continuously relive moments of excitement and joy, or grief and agony, which is why they are devastating. They can be reminders of what we have lost and what we must work to strive beyond. While there are other subtle themes to the novel, this is the most thoughtful. Because it is a concept that is seldom contemplated, that is what makes it utterly extraordinary, especially when explored using a bond such as Taki’s and Mitsuha’s.

your name. is considered Makoto Shinkai’s masterpiece story. I cannot think of a better way to describe this magnificent work of art. When a story can make you ponder everything that you thought you have ever known, when it can resonate with your emotions in a candid and audacious means, what else can you call it if not a masterpiece?

5 heartbeats out of 5.

7 thoughts on “your name. by Makoto Shinkai – A Book Review

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  6. What a fantastic review this was 😀 I did not even know that there was a novel for this one. I only knew of the anime movie. (Which I sadly have not been able to see yet because it still isn’t available here 😔). Will try and track this novel down at least. It sounds like something I really want to read 😀

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