Your Name, by Makoto Shinkai
[Image courtesy of Animebooks.com]
I have no idea how to categorize this book. Contained within this not-too-long story, are stuff like young love, soul-switching, time travel, science fiction, cultural myths and legends, even friendship.
The book was originally written in Japanese, and was written in conjunction with an animation produced by the same creator. I read the version that was translated in Chinese, because I couldn’t find anything in English. Maybe this was better, because most of the time, I find that Japanese novels read better when they have been translated in the Chinese language than in English, and especially if the translation was done by a native Taiwanese. This might have to do with culture and history. (Having said that, I’ve yet to try Murakami in Chinese, and I’m not sure I’m ready to, given my average Chinese proficiency and how Murakami books tend to mess with my brain. Yes, I’m afraid I may not survive such a read.)
Anyway, back to the book. It tells of how two young people – one living in the countryside and one living in Tokyo – switched souls one day and experienced a life-changing event together (I cannot say more without giving away the twist in the second half of the book).
I’ve heard loads about how good the animated production is, but I saw this book at the bookstore before I had had the chance to watch the animation, and I’m really glad, because it left a lot to my imagination to conjure up the beautiful scenery and emotions described in the book. I couldn’t put it down.
I hope the English version comes out soon, so more people can enjoy this beautiful story. The only grouse I have is that the book title sounds kind of funny and corny in English, but it’s actually okay in Chinese.
VERDICT: If you can read Chinese or Japanese, I’d suggest you read the book first before watching the animation. Otherwise, watch the Japanese animation with English subtitles.