For general information on this novel: Your Name entry
This review is for Your Name – Another Side: Earthbound, a novel by Arata Kanoh. It is a short story collection tied to the original Your Name story by Makoto Shinkai. The English translation of this book was released in November 2017. The cover illustration was by Masayoshi Tanaka, and the interior illustrations were by Hiyori Asahikawa.
It was one year ago that Kastel wrote up a review for the Japanese release of this book, and now I get to share my thoughts on the English release. It’s a bit of an odd one to review in that it’s a collection of four short stories, and they’re intended specifically for those who have already experienced the original Your Name story (either through the anime film directed by Shinkai, or through the novel written by Shinkai). You can find my review for the Your Name novel here by the way, if you’re curious about that.
The first story in Another Side focuses on Taki–or more specifically, Taki while he is living as Mitsuha on random days during the first half of Your Name. A lot of this is just fluff, but it does manage to show how Taki gradually gains a better understanding of who Mitsuha is, and all the things she has to deal with in her hometown. The realization he comes to at the end of the story is particularly interesting to me, in what it adds to the topic of what constitutes an individual’s “true” self.
The second story is told from the point of view of Katsuhiko Teshigawara, one of Mitsuha’s friends. He is the son of the town’s main construction company, and his internal conflict feels right at home for Your Name in general. He loves his rustic hometown, but he is also conflicted by its negative aspects–namely how connections between the few groups in power can effortlessly maintain control over everyone. His friends all want to abandon the place and live in Tokyo, but he’d rather stay and make their hometown a better place. But the question, as always, is how? It’s a surprisingly thoughtful little story.
Next up is a story for Mitsuha’s little sister, Yotsuha. At first it’s about Yotsuha trying to figure out why her older sister has been acting strangely (she considers that Mitsuha has a secret boyfriend, for example), but by the end of the story the focus shifts to Yotsuha’s connection with not only her sister–but also with her mother, grandmother, and so on via long-held family traditions. It’s a fairly inconsequential story that I felt dragged on a bit too long.
While the first three stories were all rather “slice of life,” the fourth is focused instead on a series of flashbacks that deliver the backstory for Toshiki, Mitsuha’s father. This was my favorite story of the lot, probably because it helps fill in what I felt was the main “gap” in Your Name. My biggest gripe with the film was that we never got to see a resolution for the subplot regarding Mitsuha and her father–and though we technically don’t get that scene in full here either, we do at least get to understand who Toshiki actually is. In the film he’s more or less just Grumpy Mayor Dad™, but in Another Side we get to learn about how he came to Itomori, how he met and fell in love with Futaba, how much he sacrificed in order to marry her, and what specifically set him down a lonely path following Futaba’s passing.
Perhaps it’s because I felt I could really relate to Toshiki in certain ways, but I might like this short story even more than Your Name? At the very least, I’d say it made me like Your Name more, just in general. Toshiki’s backstory helps bring the themes of Your Name full circle. He is a modern anthropologist studying the old ways of Japan, then has to live in said old ways as a priest, and then abandons them and fights against them with modern ways as a city mayor. But for Your Name to have a happy ending, an understanding and acceptance of both traditional Japan and modern Japan is necessary. I feel that with this in mind, the tale of Toshiki and Futaba ties in quite nicely with the main plot of Your Name in regards to Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship.
As a bottom line, I’d say that I really liked the fourth story, liked the second, and was okay with the first and third ones. If you enjoyed Your Name, then chances are you’ll appreciate this collection of side stories too. And to be honest, I kind of wish there was a second volume to give insight on some of the Tokyo/Taki side characters too? Here’s hoping they’ll put one together.
Cho’s Rating: Recommended
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