With a first half light on spoilers, this collection brings readers back to the characters they love.
Title: your name. Another Side: Earthbound (Kimi no Na wa. Another Side:Earthbound)
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten (JP), Yen Press (US)
Writer: Arata Kanoh
Original Story: Makoto Shinkai
Cover Artist: Masayoshi Tanaka
Interior Artist: Hiyori Asahikawa
Translation: Taylor Engel
Original Release Date: November 21, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
If you were to suddenly become someone else, would your friends and family notice? Would they even believe you if you claimed to be swapping souls with a stranger?
Even as Taki’s and Mitsuha’s lives are interrupted by bouts of someone else taking over their bodies, the rest of the world moves on. Another Side: Earthbound is a midquel to your name. with four sections (what the novel calls chapters) each focusing on a different character.
So, a few of you may be wondering: can you read Another Side: Earthbound without having seen or read your name.? The first two arcs, following Taki-as-Mitsuha and Mitsuha’s friend Teshigawara, are pretty harmless in regards to spoilers. Out of the four, the first definitely feels most like scenes cut from the movie: Taki wonders what kind of person Mitsuha truly is, and he has to adjust to the fact he is a female some days. (Fortunately, he can rub “his” chest to relieve a lot of stress.) The whole section represents the best of your name.: we get the humor of Taki versus the bra while also seeing his more caring side, standing up against those who passive-aggressively bully Mitsuha.
Next, Teshigawara’s chapter shows his conflicting feelings about his father’s construction company and his ties to Itomori. He didn’t make much of an impression on me in your name., and I think author Kanoh did a good job of showing how everyone is the star of their own story. Teshigawara isn’t thrilled about succeeding his father, but knows he has it better than the almost-princess of Itomori, Mitsuha. I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to the feeling of finding our hometown boring but knowing it’s not so simple just to break away.
The last two chapters focus on Mitsuha’s younger sister and father. This is where Another Side: Earthbound starts exposing (and later centering on) some of your name.‘s secrets and twists. Since the light novel assumes readers know how the swaps work, it doesn’t try to dance around the supernatural aspects. However, this also means we lose some of the mystery and intrigue when the how-to is explained during Yotsuha’s mystical experience. And while the rest of the stories loop back around to Mitsuha, hers just kind of ends. It’s a shame since we spend so much time reading how Yotsuha tries to figure out why her big sister likes to grab her boobs some days. (There really is a lot of that here.)
As for her and Mitsuha’s father, his shift from paranormal researcher and priest-in-training to town mayor comes across as every single “dead spouse now living away from child” manga plot in existence. A lot of people can change after the death of a loved one, but this is where I felt the light novel was the most shallow. “Life sucks, this town sucks, I’M GOING TO BE MAYOR!!”. I also wish there was at least one more subchapter set after the main events of the movie to really see if how his relationships with Mitsuha and Yotsuba have changed.
As in most light novels, some illustrations are included. Readers are likely to be familiar with the anime-style art of the movie, and the cover art has that similar style. Asahikawa’s illustrations, though, are less influenced by Shinkai’s visuals and more generic light novel style. Considering all the praise, I’m surprised someone who draws in a more anime-like style wasn’t selected. As for the text, the translator does about as well as you could expect in a body-swapping stories. No one wants to debate how Japanese verb styles and personal pronouns should be adapted in English, but the reluctance of Taki in calling Saya by her first name and Teshigawara by Tesshi will really come across as strange to those unfamiliar with Japanese customs.
your name. Another Side: Earthbound is not an essential collection. But if you enjoyed any of these characters in the original, then you will no doubt want to spend more time with them.