Disaster and Salvation in the Japanese Periphery. “The Rural” in Shinkai Makoto’s Kimi no na wa (Your Name)

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Timo Thelen

Abstract

“Your Name” (Kimi no na wa) became the most popular movie of 2016 in Japan and also attracted the attention of anime movie fans worldwide. The body swap story of a rural shrine maiden and a metropolitan high school boy deals with their struggle to save a rural town and its inhabitants from a crashing comet. I argue that “Your Name” and its overwhelming success should be interpreted from a sociocultural perspective, especially in consideration of the Tohoku triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown) of March 2011. The movie’s alternate storyline creates a simulation that strongly alludes to real events, but in which the national tragedy is ultimately prevented. This, in turn, aims at achieving an emotional catharsis for the Japanese viewers who remember their own collective trauma after facing the sudden and devastating catastrophe of 3/11.

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