Manga Review: Your Name – Volume 1

The animated film ‘Your Name’ continues to be a success across the globe, with UK anime distributor Anime Limited even offering an IMAX showing of the film later this year, and to continue this chain of popularity American book publisher YenPress have released the manga adaptation of the novel-come-anime-film. So; with this being what can one expect from the first manga instalment of Your Name? Well let’s find out!

Title: Your Name – Volume 1
Publisher: YenPress
Author Makoto Shinkai
Illustrator Ranmaru Kotone
Pages 192
Language English

Synopsis:

A story of two people determined to hold on to one another.

Mitsuha, a high school girl from a town deep in the mountains, dreams of an unfamiliar life in Tokyo. Taki, a high school boy from Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl living in the mountains. As the two begin swapping lives, a miraculous story is set in motion.

Our View:

What was originally released as a novel by Makoto Shinkai, which is also available through YenPress, soon transpired into an animated film but while the film continues to build success across the globe we get to take a look at its manga instalment; starting with this first volume. Written by Makoto Shinkai and illustrated by Ranmaru Kotone the ‘Your Name’ manga is an episodic (volume) series that sees two characters, from two different lifestyles, switch bodies.

For those who haven’t read the original novel, or seen the anime movie adaptation, the story of Your Name revolves around Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl who lives in the rural town of Itomori, and Taki Tachibana, a high school boy who lives in the city of Tokyo, whereby they occasionally Switch bodies and attempt to live out each other’s regular lifestyle without getting noticed. Naturally with such a strange occurrence taking place both Mitsuha and Taki attempt to unravel the mystery of this ‘body swap’ while abiding by each other’s requests and commitments.

From a story perspective it is a good one, but it does feel very reminiscent to Disney’s Freaky Friday movie, which saw mother and daughter swap bodies; except this time the two characters in question are not only of opposite gender but are completely unknown to each other and as such a journey of unraveling the truth begins.

Naturally there is a bit more to the story than just that; for example Mitsuha is fed up with the ‘boonies’ lifestyle and often wishes she could be a boy living a ‘rule-free’ life in Tokyo; to which a day later she finds herself in the body of a boy and experiencing his lifestyle. Meanwhile for Taki he opts for a ‘simpler’ life and reluctantly finds himself in the body of a girl and becomes confused by her lifestyle choices of being involved with a shrine and the duties that come with it.

This first volume of the Your Name manga meanwhile provides an insight into this drama-fueled story and as such is separated into three episodes, or chapters if you prefer, with each lasting around fifty pages. The first chapter focuses on the life of Mitsuha and initially begins with Taki controlling her body; but it is an event that is quickly glanced over so that Mitsuha can resume control of her own body the next day and deal with the consequences. This chapter in general introduces us to the lifestyle of Mitsuha, such as her father running for election, her duties at the shrine and her distaste for living in the boonies.

The second chapter meanwhile puts the focus on Taki and acts in reverse to the events of the first chapter. This time we see Mitsuha in control of Taki’s body and her attempt at becoming familiar with his lifestyle. Interestingly unlike the events of the first chapter Mitsuha’s control over Taki’s body and lifestyle lasts longer and we see her exchange with Taki friends, fellow students and even work in a café  – with some disastrous results– all the while pretending to be Taki. Just like with the first chapter this second chapter comes to a close with Taki trying to uncover what had happened during the previous day and as such the two characters begin to leave notes behind so that they can understand what is happening to them.

Bizarrely however the third chapter of this story speeds things up a bit and by now both Mitsuha and Taki have become familiar with each other’s lifestyle to an extent that they actively write reports for the day they were in control. What’s even more surprising is that they have even set each other ground rules on what the other person can or cannot do; such as getting changed in the girls locker room or avoiding romantic situations with co-workers. Out of the three chapters this is the most eventiful, with Mitsuha forcing Taki onto a date with a co-worker, but at the same time it’s riddled with the most dialogue that is spoken from various different perspectives and as a result can make it a bit of a chore to read and enjoy.

The first two chapters set the atmosphere of the story quite nicely with both chapters offering that sense of panic and confusion, but if you’ve seen the trailer for Your Name then you won’t see anything new here. The third chapter on the other hand potentially ruins this tone by making everything seem normal as the characters, at this point in the story, seemingly get along well enough with each other to an extent that even their friends know whats going off (although this may not be the case). As a result I feel like this moved the story along too fast too quickly; it’s as if we missed something between chapter two and chapter three.

My biggest gripe however would be the context of knowing which character is taking control at any point in time. This may be translated well in the novel, and especially well in the movie, but in the manga it can be difficult to work out which character is in control at any given time – so much so that it required several re-reads of later portions of the manga to fully understand what was being said by who. This isn’t exactly an issue with YenPress’s translation; but more down to how the novel has been adapted from the source material and how it has been presented to the reader; although one portion of the book we received did suffer from a printing erorr resulting in the text to be difficult to read.

In regards to the artwork, which has been drawn by Ranmaru Kotone, it has been drawn in a way that puts the focus onto the characters rather than their location or situation. It’s a great way of emphasizing that the characters are the important aspect of this story and not the location. However when location is key then the focus shifts; such as the time the characters first see the others home town. Simplistic, Effective and visually good throughout – which is all you can really ask for from a manga.

Unlike other YenPress releases, which usually include a bonus segment of mini-stores or singular character artwork pieces this first volume of the Your Name manga only features advertisements for other YenPress titles. In short it’s simply the first chapters of the story and then a selection of adverts; a shame really as it would have been nice to see artwork of the different characters involved within the story.

Overall my experience with this ‘first volume’ manga adaptation release of Your Name is a mixed one. Yes it is a good read and it adapts the early portions of the story exceptionally well; But I can’t help but feel that it would be best to read the original novel or – at least – watch the animated film as these would deliver the story in a much more enjoyable fashion. In short Your Name – Volume 1 is an intriguing story with great artwork throughout but ultimately let down by its pacing and progression of the overall story.

Score: review-stars-3

Your Name – Volume 1 is now available as a physical book and as a digital eBook within the UK and America.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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