In the autumn twilight… our fates are connected

By: Minal Bista

Japanese Culture Club asks UF students to interpret a popular Japanese film

“ 誰そ彼と





Dr. Hiroaki Kawamura and the Japanese Culture Club hosted a film viewing open to all UF students in November. The event was made up of three sessions: the first session consisted of simply watching the film, the second session consisted of listening to a presentation from Dr. Michael Tangemann and Dr. Jessie Tudor-Tangemann, and the third session consisted of various discussions about the film.

“Your Name” (君の名は) is a mystical and hopeful animated coming-of-age drama set in Japan, directed by Makoto Shinkai. The protagonists, teenagers Mitsuha Mizumiya and Taki Tachibana, switch bodies at random and learn to live as one another until one day when Taki realizes he hasn’t switched with Mitsuha in several days. Taki sets out to find the reason he can’t switch with Mitsuha anymore and realizes the two are bound by fate. When asked why he chose this film, Dr. Kawamura, Associate Professor of Japanese, Director of Modern Language, and the University International Relations Representative and Liaison said, “Three reasons: one, I didn’t understand the movie, two, everyone thought it was a terrific movie, and three, I wanted to hear other people’s opinions and learn.”

During the presentation, Dr. Michael Tangeman said, “I started to think about this as the artist’s reaction to the March 11 disaster of 2011 Japan suffered.”

He discussed how Shinkai talks about disappearing rural communities, the trauma of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the ongoing fear of natural disasters. There were 652 earthquakes in Japan last year, ranging from magnitudes of 2.7 to 7.0, according to the United States Geographic Survey (USGS).

Then he interpreted a poem featured in a centuries old poem book, called Man’yōshū. The book is a collection of thousands of poems, or waka, that make up the longest poem anthologies in Japanese history. Here’s his best approximation at the translation of the poem featured in “Your Name”:

“‘Who is that over there?’

Do not ask that 

Of the one who waits for you?

Drenched by the dew

Of deepening autumn…”

Dr. Tangemann then asked the students what they took away from the poem. “It’s cold, I’ve been waiting for you, so don’t ask me who that is over there because I’ve been here suffering in this loophole waiting for you,” he explained later.

He went on to explain the significance of twilight in this film and introduced the student to a variety of beautiful Japanese terms that meant twilight, as well as meaningful references of the thread, called 糸 (ito) in Japanese, that bound the protagonists together.

“So these are the main kinds of ideas that I wanted to put before you,” he said, inviting the students to discuss how they felt after watching the film and digesting the various themes in it.

“Examination of Trauma at the Micro and Macro Level as Represented in the Film,” began Dr. Jessie Tudor Tangemann’s presentation. “Michael is a literature professor, I am a social scientist and clinician, so obviously I tend to take things in a little bit of a different direction than he does so I’m going to look at this film as a clinician would look at this film and I kind of have examined it with the idea that what is being represented in this film is micro and macro-level trauma,” she said.

She brought up the film’s portrayal of personal and collective trauma. She next asked the students about the traumas they noticed in the film, as well as the causes and repercussions of trauma.

“Am I right in thinking that your interpretation of this movie is synchronized in tremendous amount of believe in the power of humanity?” Dr. Kawamura asked at the end of the presentation, to which Dr. Michael Tangemann responded that the movie director is not celebrating the past; rather, he is attempting to say that we have the tools within us to work together and overcome this emotionally, physically, and economically.

Dr. Kawamura hinted that an Asian film festival could take place next semester provided the students cooperate. He proposed that we screen films from different nations, educate children about various cultures, and hold a conversation similar to this one. UF students, on the other hand, may have something to look forward to in the form of an Asian film festival.

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