Original Story: Makoto Shinkai
Art: Ranmaru Kotone
Translation: Taylor Engel
What They Say
Based on the hit animated film! 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 change places in their dreams, their encounter sets a miraculous story into motion.
The front cover is a rather stunning image of our two main characters standing back to back, with a sunset behind them. The wonderful display of colors combined with the shading is what really sells it, and makes for quite a powerful and eye-catching cover. The back cover, meanwhile, shows a much more subdued but still quite nice image of the clouds from above, along with your normal synopsis. In terms of extras, it’s limited to just a handful of color images at the front of the book. Paper quality feels solid, text reads smoothly, honorifics are maintained, and sound effects are left in their original form and subtitled.
The art here is mostly solid, with a nice, smooth look to it, just enough detail, and plentiful backgrounds. It’s rarely stunning, but it also doesn’t generally disappoint either. Though it does take a bit of a hit in the smaller, less focused panels. Like, it’s never really ugly, but occasionally the layout of things look a bit subpar and just a tad off. In fact, the biggest issue for the book in general is probably the way that the pacing sometimes just doesn’t feel quite right. Like, it’s not a huge disconnect, but the way the panels flow into one another just isn’t quite as smooth as you’d hope, which is a shame. Still, all that said, these issues are minor, and as a whole the art still looks plenty serviceable and easily gets the job done.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
So, the series kicks off in a fairly interesting manner, introducing us to our heroine, Mitsuha, a high school girl who dreams of being a Tokyo boy in her next life. Now, you probably at least know that there’s body-swapping at the core of this story going in, but it actually pulls a bit of a swerve, as it almost seems to transition to her getting her wish in a way, only for us to find her body waking up and giving a very stereotypical “boy waking up in girl’s body” reaction. Before we can see much of this mystery boy in her body though, we rejoin Mitsuha as she wakes up the next day. And much to her surprise, she gets to hear all about how odd she was apparently acting yesterday, thanks to the swap. It’s an amusing way to introduce the concept, though I do have to say it plays a tad rough and fast with the switching of perspective, which does make it a little awkward in terms of flow at the start of things.
For the next part, we join Mitsuha as she gets to experience the swap more directly, and finds herself in our hero, Taki’s, body. She seems to do a bit better than he apparently did as her, even managing to improve his relationship with his crush. Oh, and of course we get to see his reaction to what she did with his life as well, which is equally amusing.
From there on out, the swapping continues, and the pair get to know each other bit by bit by literally walking a mile in each other’s shoes. It’s an interesting and well done way to flesh out both characters, as we get to see their lives not only through their own eyes, but also those of outsiders. And furthermore, it’s also pretty amusing seeing the indirect means they use to connect to one another, making for a rather amusing relationship between them. But when Taki tries to take things a step further and get more properly in touch with Mitsuha, just what will happen?
So, it’s probably important to point out that I have yet to see the movie that this manga adapts. So if you’re looking for how this manga stacks up to the original release, this review probably won’t be for you. Though I will say that there was some mild sloppiness in terms of fine art details and just general pacing, so I’d say the movie likely easily comes out on top. That said, judging the work solely on what it is, I’d still say that this is absolutely worth reading. It’s an interesting take on the whole body-swap trope that’s played very well all around, using it to great effect in order to flesh out both protagonists. Plus it has a number of great scenes in general. It’s just a fun read all around, and certainly worth a look if it’s caught your eye.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: June 20th, 2017