Summer Reading — Your Name, Hatsune Miku (June 14)

Hatsune Miku

For the first week of this year’s summer reading program, we will discuss the first half of Your Name and the first half of The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku. That means chapters 1 to 4 of Your Name, and up to the “07/05 Thur 11:30” chapter in Hatsune Miku. If you have read further ahead, please don’t spoil anything from the second half of the stories.

Your Name

(Here’s a Twitter chain of some of my thoughts on the book.)

I’m enjoying the book quite a bit so far. I saw the movie last fall, but since I was in Japan there weren’t any English subtitles. I got the gist of things, but reading the story now is definitely a more thorough experience for me plot-wise. I like the translation a lot. Mitsuha and Taki each have a distinct voice, and it’s not hard to tell the difference between the city and country voices as well.

While I believe Your Name fits with Makoto Shinkai’s other stories thematically, it’s definitely unique in terms of its plot and characters. Mitsuha and Taki are fun, and it’s nice to get their thoughts regarding all the different situations they face. At first the body-swapping premise presents some amusing shenanigans, but it’s not long before The Real Story starts to reveal itself. I’ll probably delve into the tragedy of Mitsuha’s town in the next post.

A quote from Mitsuha’s grandmother that stood out to me:

“Thanks to that fire, we don’t know what our dances or the patterns in our cords mean anymore. All we have left are the forms. Still, even not knowin’, we mustn’t ever let the forms disappear. The meanin’ in those shapes is bound to resurface someday.”

I feel this can be related to a number of things in this story. It presents the question of whether or not there is value in traditions you don’t know the origins of. I think it alludes to the intertwined identities of Japan–the traditional values countryside half, and the modern-day values metropolis half. I also think a comparison can be made between the fire and the comet… The comet brought an end to Mitsuha’s town three years ago, but “the spirit of the town” perhaps still lives on? I might have more to say on this after reading the second half of the story.

The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku

I unfortunately only got this book yesterday, so I’ve only read the first 80 or so pages. I will try to catch up and add more thoughts here in the next couple days. (Maybe in the comments.)

So far this story is very cute. I take it the plot will develop into a kind of romance between Asano and Miku, but the Disappearance in the title makes me assume things will probably take a tragic turn at some point. :(

The premise reminds me of the films Her and Ex Machina, though obviously those were more serious and darker in tone, ha ha. But it’s an age-old question of sci-fi: Is there really much difference between an extremely human-like robot and an actual human? All sorts of anime and manga have taken a stab at this topic, with perhaps Ghost in the Shell being the most well-known of them. (I personally liked Time of Eve.) I don’t believe this Hatsune Miku novel will delve deeply into the questions of what constitutes life and A.I. surpassing the human mind, but it’s an engaging setup. Robots are definitely going to play a bigger role in the near future. (Especially in Japan!)

I am curious what roles Asano’s friends will play in this story. I imagine Juhachi will inspire Miku to start singing. (She has to start singing, right?) I’m less certain about what the quirky Aika will do, which makes her stand out a bit in this cast of characters.

At any rate, the book is a nice and breezy read so far. I recommend it if you’re in the mood for a sci-fi romance/drama type of story. We don’t get many of those in English when it comes to light novels. (Also, college-aged characters.)

———

Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts on the stories so far!

We will discuss the second half of these two books on June 28th, so try to finish reading by then. :)

7 responses to “Summer Reading — Your Name, Hatsune Miku (June 14)

  1. I did see your name in theaters and loved it, though maybe not as much as the hype would say about it. Being able to relive it through this LN, which is a very close adaptation, I am starting to like your name as a whole even more. The book flew well, and it was easy to understand who was speaking despite the quick switches between characters in the beginning of the book.

    It does start off a bit like a comedy with the boob grabbing and the little sisters commenting on it, the “where do I work?,” etc. Then there are moments like the saké making where you know this is headed somewhere serious. Some of the comedy parts are a bit awkward but I like it, mostly. Now it is all serious and I can’t wait to continue…in about a week, since it won’t take me 2 weeks to finish this. 😛

    • I think the book was translated really well, since I didn’t have trouble following who was who either, despite the whole story being told in first-person.

      I hope to see the movie again, but with subtitles this time. I guess once it comes out on Blu-ray I’ll be able to.

  2. The Your Name novel seemed to mirror the movie pretty well. I was wondering how exactly it was going to translate in novel form (and I’m assuming that it was written after the movie was finished) and it turned out just fine. The first chapter had in it a lot of references to the tunes of the town and I wonder if its a 1:1 correlation with the movie’s music. Some things like the watashi/boku/ore joke didn’t seem to translate super well but I suspect that it was the same translation as in the dub’s script.

    I was expecting the novel to add in some extra bits from Taki’s perspective in Mitsuha’s body (since I heard that the novel included that kind of stuff), but so far it’s pretty much stuck to the events of the movie (with tinsy bits of expansion). I’m liking it so far, but I hope that it gives a little more than what the movie showed off. There’s some things that only the written word can pull off and I’m seeing some of that through the clearly different perspectives of the two, but I’d like to see more.

    Although with the final reveal coming up, I’m not sure how much room there is left for all that.

    • It seems the book was written while the movie was being worked on. It actually released a month or two before the film first aired, which I find interesting. Read the book of the movie before the movie comes out? A lot of people in Japan did just that, since the book sold a ton of copies.

      I feel like the book could have expanded on some things that were not covered in the movie. Novels do not have time constraints like films do, after all. Oh well, there’s always the spinoff novel that we’ll get in October.

      • Yeah I realized after reading the afterword that the novel came before. It’s still a little weird to me since it makes so many references to the music, but I suppose that the score was probably all done by then.

        I actually didn’t know that there was a spinoff novel. I guess that’s where some of the extra Taki bits I heard about came from. Looking forward to it!

  3. I personally love how your name emphasized opposites such as “boy and girl” and “city and countryside”. I also love the quote by Mitsuha’s grandma about “musubi” and about how deep down, everything in life is connected. Using Mitsuha’s bright thick ribbons is a really good symbol that connects Taki and her. The revelation about Itomori and Mitsuha shocked me, and made me feel teary. It is sad that a beautiful comet that brings joy would end up giving disaster to our characters. The character’s first reactions towards the body-switching was a lot of fun to watch.

    I’d love to live in the countryside someday. It is because I like nature, or maybe because I long for free time. I value traditions and I like learning about culture, specifically Asian culture. I’m hoping for the book version to expand from the movie as well.

    • Nature is beautiful, but also deadly. There’s two sides to everything in the world, and I think that’s one of the main topics Your Name covers.

      I’ve lived mostly in smaller towns (in both America and Japan), and I like nature as well. The countryside in Japan is very beautiful — I’ve enjoyed walking down random trails and finding all the hidden shrines. There has to be a billion little shrines and temples in Japan, but I always like seeing them.

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