Written and Directed by Makoto Shinkai
Produced by CoMix Wave Films
A “minute by minute” run through
Note: Below is a minute by minute run down of the film. It’s quite brief, so we highly suggest you still watch the film: it contains many small details and contexts that we didn’t include.
1:00 – Mitsuha (main female protagonist) and Taki (main male protagonist) start the film with a short internal monologue. The way the characters seemingly finish each other sentences, gives the audience the impression that they are thinking the same thoughts, without the realization that they are sharing them.
3:30 – Mitsuha wakes up disoriented. It’s almost as if she doesn’t recognize her surroundings. After shaking out of her daze, her family member’s comment on her strange behavior the day before. As her day progresses, more strange occurrences happen:
her best friends tease her for “sloppy behavior” the day before, however Mitsuha can’t remember any of it happeningher teacher tells her that in yesterday’s class, she forgot her own name
she finds a message written in her notebook, asking “who are you?”
It’s revealed that Mitsuha is extremely bored of her life in her small mountain village, fed up with it’s normality and dullness (it can also be revealed, through context, that Mitsuha is extremely frustrated with her father, who’s re-running for mayor).
17:30 – The story now switches to “Taki”. Like Mitsuha, Taki wakes up completely disoriented, however unlike Mitsuha, Taki appears to a stranger in his own body. “Taki” seems to think his reality is a dream, and decides to ‘go with the flow’. Through a number of cinematic contexts shown throughout the day, it can be rightfully interpreted that Mitsuha is in Taki’s body. ‘She’ remembers the strange note left in her notebook the day before, decides to take a shot in the dark and leaves her own response on Taki’s hand.
27:00 – At this point, the frankly confusing beginning is explained. Both characters realize that in their dreams, they’ve swapped bodies with each other. Following is a montage of the characters living each others lives, where both characters have another short monologue, where they explain the phenomenon.
It’s a (truthfully) very straightforward monologue, here is the basic summary of what’s said:
After 2-3 body swaps, they’ve realized what’s happened
Though they can’t remember the details of their time in each others bodies, the reactions of their friends and families prove the validity of their hypothesis
To guarantee that they won’t wreck each others lives, they’ve made a set of rules as to what they can or cannot do.
Furthermore, a summary of each days events must be recorded
The characters at this point of the monologue seem to be weary of each other. Mitsuha is annoyed of Taki’s lack of manners and conservativeness, while Taki is annoyed that Mitsuha is spending all his money.
Furthermore, Mitsuha whilst in Taki’s body, is ‘helping’ Taki develop a romantic relationship with his attractive co-worker. Taki whilst in Mitsuha’s body, has made her extremely sought after (by both guys and girls).
32:50 – Taki wakes up in Mitsuha’s body once again. Today however, instead of school, Taki as Mitsuha accompanies her sister and grandmother to a shrine on a mountaintop. There, they leave the ritualistic alcohol kuchikamizake as a offering. Strangely, Taki swaps back into his own body at golden hour, when Mitsuha’s grandmother knowingly asks her if she’s dreaming.
37:00 – Taki wakes up in his own body. After reading the entry left by Mitsuha, it’s revealed that Mitsuha and Taki arranged a date with is co-worker (Miki).
After a unsuccessful date with Miki, Taki realizes that he has slight feelings for Mitsuha. As he stands on a bridge, waiting for the comet to fall, he tries calling Mitsuha for the first time.
42:00 – The story switches back to Mitsuha, the night of the town festival. Skipping the festivities, Mitsuha, along with her 2 best friends head to a valley to watch the comet.
44:00 – The story switches back to Taki, who tells the audience that after his attempts to contact Mitsuha fail, the 2 never switched bodies again.
Taki begins to grow nostalgic of his time living Mitsuha’s life, however his memories begin to fade. Sick of waiting, Taki decides to find Mitsuha. However because he has no recollection of the name of the town, he goes town to town with only a sketch to follow. A restaurant owner finally recognizes Taki’s sketch and reveals that the town he’s looking for was destroyed by a comet 3 years ago.
Remembering his visit to the shrine with Mitsuha’s family, Taki gets the idea to visit there for clarity. There, he understands that the timeliness of him and Mitsuha are gaped apart by 3 years. He drinks the kuchikamizake left by Mitsuha 3 years ago.
63:00 – Taki wakes up in Mitsuha’s body on the day of the town festival and reveals his identity to Mitsuha’s grandmother. Taki (as Mitsuha) convinces her 2 best friends to help him/her evacuate the village by broadcasting a false emergency alert. Realizing that because he’s in Mitsuha’s body, Mitsuha must be in his at the shrine. He rushes back to find her.
77:00 – The 2 meet at the shrine, however because of their parallel timelines, they are unable to see each other.
78:00 – As it becomes golden hour, the 2 are finally able to see each other, despite their parallel timelines. Both switch back into their original bodies. As golden hour is ending, they agree to write their names on each others hands, to prevent them from forgetting each other, however Mitsuha disappears before she can write her name on Taki’s hand.
Taki, left alone almost immediately forgets Mitsuha’s name (cri).
88:00 – Mitsuha rushes back to her village, her memories already fading. Upon discovering that Taki wrote “I love you” (SWOON) instead of his name, Mitsuha is distraught, However, as the comet is fast approaching, she has no choice but to rush and save the village. Mitsuha and Sayaka (one of her best friends) blow up the local power station and Tessie (her other best friend) broadcasts a false emergency alert.
93:00 – The story fast forwards 5 years after the night of the comet. Mitsuha and her friends successfully saved the villagers, causing a nation wide myth surrounding the mysterious luck of the event. Taki graduated high school and is looking for a job, however “he can’t shake the feeling that he needs to look for someone. (Note: many of the lines used in the opening monologue are used here).
99:00 – After 5 years of searching for each other, the 2 finally meet by chance one day whilst going to work. The film ends with them asking for each others names.
A few basic facts:
Directed by Makoto Shinkai
Follow up: The director and writer Makoto Shinkai is known for many other anime works, such as 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Garden of Words and Voices of a Distant Star.
Released in 2016
Kuchikamizake is a type of sake (Japanese rice-based alcohol) that is made using a slightly unusual process: someone, usually a young girl (in the movie, a miko, or shrine maiden), chews the rice before spitting it out into a container. The enzymes in the person’s saliva breaks down the carbohydrates in the rice, therefore creating alcohol.
In the Japanese Shinto religion, the miko, or shrine maiden is responsible for the daily caretaking of a shrine, performing tasks such as sacred cleansing and performing a sacred dance.
Kumihimo, Japanese for “gathered threads”, is a form of Japanese braid making.
In this film, the religion seen is Shinto, which is the worship of ancestors and nature spirits. Mitsuha gives up part of her soul when leaving the underworld to keep the Gods alive.
The clash between tradition and development (old vs. new):
The movie showcases the clash between old traditions and what the country of Japan has evolved into today through the characters of Mitsuha (country girl) and Taki (city boy). For example, Mitsuha wants to leave behind her religious traditions, saying that she wants to become a “handsome Tokyo boy” and complaining about her mundane life. Her father also leaves behind traditional Japanese culture, choosing politics over priesthood.
The multiverse is a theory that there are an infinite amount of alternate realities, parallel to ours. This theory has been incorporated in many films and shows (Rick and Morty fans, where you at?), however for those unfamiliar with this concept, we’ll provide a brief explanation.
Think about it like this: everyday, you have to make choices. Whether big or small, our current lives are built around our decisions. However believers of the multiverse state that every time we have choice, alternate realities form to accommodate all possibilities. For example, imagine a scenario like this: you are at the ice cream store, and you have to choose between chocolate or vanilla. Whichever one you choose, believers of the multiverse will argue that there’s a alternate reality where you made the other choice.
In the film, this idea is mentioned by Tessie. There are different branches of events where a) the comet hits and b) the comet doesn’t hit. This leads to very different end results.
Another interpretation of the film, in contrast to the multiverse interpretation, is that by evacuating the citizens of Itomori, Taki and Mitsuha are altering the future rather than creating a completely separate universe in which Itomori was not destroyed. Unlike parallel universes or multiverses, alternate timelines do not diverge from the universe, but instead are a rewritten sequence of events that replace the original timeline. This theme is common in many works of science fiction that deal with time travel or temporal incursions (e.x. Back to the Future). The idea of an alternate timeline and future is based on the premise that events in the past are connected to those in the present and future, and therefore manipulating the past will affect the present and future.
The symbol of the red ribbon corresponds with the legend of the red string of fate which connects people through destiny. It tangles or crosses, but it always remains connected, much like the relationship between Mitsuha and Taki in the movie.
Consider the hair ribbon that Mitsuha gives to Taki and the Japanese tradition of kumihimo mentioned in the movie. What do these two things symbolize? How is this symbolism related to this year’s theme?
Think about both the metaphorical and literal themes used in this film. How do these themes connect to the theme “Entanglement”?
How do the content and themes of this film relate to other aspects of the curriculum?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this genre (film) for exploring the theme of entanglement, friendships, human relationships and communication?
How does film / literature help us make sense of and explore entanglement?
Were the fates of the two main characters entangled from the start? Or can we influence our own fates with actions?
Discuss the symbol of the red ribbon in the film with your team – could this be influenced by any culture in particular? e.g. Yue Lao (Old Moon) from Chinese Tales
If the technology to travel backwards in time is developed in the future, should it be used? What consequences could arise from altering past events? How are events in the past, present, and future connected (or in other words, entangled?)
Think about the body swapping phenomenon our main characters experience. Does this connect with themes present in other cultures? Does the phenomenon represent anything (metaphorically or literally) to you?