The twist in “Your Name” comes when Taki and Mitsuha stop swapping bodies. The film then begins to follow only Taki’s perspective, as he discovers that his and Mitsuha’s timelines were not parallel. While he lived in 2016, it was 2013, the same year his town, Itomori, was wiped out by a comet. Taki manages to engineer one last body change and rewrite history so that the citizens of Itomori evacuate before the city’s destruction. The couple meet briefly in person, but they forget each other afterwards. Don’t worry, they meet in Tokyo in 2021 and vaguely recognize each other.
In an interview with Vice, Shinkai explained his inspirations. They ranged from Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” to a waka poem by ancient Japanese writer Ono no Komachi: “I met someone in my dream, and if I had known it was a dream, I would have stayed there.” As for the destruction of Itomori, it came from a far more tragic place: the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake that devastated Japan.
At a magnitude of 9.0, Tōhoku is the worst earthquake in Japanese history. The damage was triple; the earthquake caused a tsunami and a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The disaster is gone 18,000 dead, and the effects are still being felt in Japan today. On how the earthquake specifically influenced “Your Name,” Shinkai said:
“It was the biggest for a thousand years, and there was something similar 1,000 years ago, which we’ve all forgotten. But if you look closely, there were warnings, like inscriptions stone in the cave from the movie: Don’t live in this valley. But we forget these warnings, or dismiss them as something from “old times”. We think they are just dangers of the past. When we have a disaster in Japan, I wonder, how can we prevent our lives and our traditions and the history of the disaster?”