Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Your Name (an anime film analysis)

Your Name delights the senses with its Japanese stylized, animated near-future sci-fi fantasy flourishes. The main characters Taki and Mitsuha are reluctant soul mates in a plot that pushes an array of Freaky Friday, Deep Impact, Back to the Future and Romeo and Juliet buttons. The film manages to pull the human viewer into an imagined world where star-crossed lovers fight all odds to find each other. Despite being a swirl of derivative ideas, it is a film well worth watching...

...and contemplating upon.

I found the primary premise (two minds swapping bodies every other day) to be an interesting take on the typical Freaky Friday exchange. The dualistic belief that our bodies and our minds exist separately is completely bonkers given the modern understanding of neuroscience. Yet something primitive, perhaps primed by our cultural upbringing and evolutionary nature succumbs to the possibility of this ultimate form of empathy.

Soul switching, impossible as it is, conveys the idea that we can put ourselves in another's shoes. And when it comes to loving someone, that imagining might very well permit us to care for someone as if they were ourselves. Such duality belief leads to the two parts of the same being abstraction and metaphor. Truly, if one finds deep love with another person, the hope that both lives can be enhanced bye each other in an ongoing relationship is a compelling pursuit.

Perhaps, all our mental abstractions fall short of the reality. The perception of free will, imagining of an afterlife, wish for telepathic understanding, and the possible union of souls all build upon our human need for social fulfillment. The fact that our minds are marooned in a body and brain doesn't minimize the power of such abstraction. In truth, we are all marooned on the same planet and though imperfect we can communicate with each other, share experiences, and work together to accomplish goals. It is a bit depressing to recognize our fantasies can never be truly realized.

At one level all this magical connection is wishful think voodoo madness, at another it is delightful and entertaining metaphor. Maybe, loving someone as deeply as we can benefits from a little abstraction, encouraging us to strive for supernatural levels of compassion to max out our real life love experience. 

In Your Name, Taki and Mitsuha only find each other after weeks of knowing from a great distance and in each others body. When they finally meet face to face, it felt as if a miracle had happened. Maybe our modern human minds need a bit of training to feel the same way when we make a connection with someone real. 

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