Long time since I’ve written for The Atlantic, but I returned late last week with an article about the success of “Your Name” in Japan.
A fact that will come up in nearly every review of the film Your Name as it opens in theaters across North America this weekend is how it was the highest-grossing film in Japan last year. Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature about two body-swapping teenagers has thus far pulled in over 24 billion yen (around $214 million), becoming the second highest-grossing movie in the country ever, trailing only the revered director Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 Spirited Away. It’s shattered records for Japanese films across Asia, and is now the most profitable picture from the country in China. Before even arriving stateside, it has nabbed the title of the top-grossing anime movie of all time, while also enjoying critical raves. (The Atlantic’s David Sims praised it as one of the best teen movies in years.)
Yet these numbers fail to capture just how big a pop-cultural force Your Name (Kimi no Na wa in Japanese) has become in its home country. Since arriving in movie theaters late last August, it has spawned limited-run cafes, dating events, and merchandise ranging from sake to a home planetarium. The film centers on a pair of adolescents, one living in Tokyo and the other in a town in the countryside of Gifu Prefecture. And so travel companies have organized walking tours of Your Name’s metropolitan locations, while a bus tour out to the rural areas that inspired Makoto proved popular (Gifu as a whole has seen a big economic boost in the film’s wake). Turn on the TV and many shows reference the film, while the songs from Your Name have become staples at karaoke and junior high schools across the archipelago. Traditional Japanese kumihimo (or threads) have become a trendy accessory on Instagram after playing a central role in the story.