EALC Brown Bag Series | En o musubi: Eternal ties and missed connections in the animation of Makoto Shinkai

Christopher A. Born, assistant professor, Japanese & Asian Studies, Belmont University

EALC Brown Bag Series Lecture

The third-highest grossing animated film of all time, Your Name (Kimi no na wa, 2017), is a powerful romance that depicts young Japanese people in extraordinary circumstances as they navigate space and time to forestall a mysterious cataclysm. Frustrated with her life, a teenaged shrine maiden wishes she could be reborn as a boy in Tokyo. Her wish being granted, she awakens in Tokyo, and finds herself inhabiting the body of a teenage boy. Likewise, the boy awakens at a remote shrine, stunned to be in female form. Over time, the two switch in and out of each other’s bodies. As they learn about each other’s life and coach each other through notes left on smart phones, they recognize that they are tied together in cosmic ways that neither had imagined. Punctuated with the rhythms of rail-transit and electronic communication, coupled with rich Shinto and Buddhist ideas of fate and community and the difficulty of locating the self within them, Your Name deftly bridges the fantastic, the mundane, the sublime. Considering the development of his oeuvre from 2002-2019, this presentation examines how the films of director Makoto Shinkai (b. 1973) weave together visual narratives that express regret for missed connections, longing for enduring ties and the agency to create them. 

Sponsored by East Asian Languages and Cultures

image: Kimi no na wa, director Makoto Shinkai