Hi everyone! You may remember during Oscar season I gave some massive shout-outs to the animation industry as a whole, 2016 put out some solid films! Among those I listed Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, a Japanese anime film which has since gone on to become the highest grossing film in the history of Japan, surpassing Spirited Away from the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. Well, it’s finally here! Your Name got its US release this past weekend, and I only have good things to say. I will do my best to avoid spoilers!
Your Name tells the story of two teenagers, Taki and Mitsuha, as they inexplicably begin body-swapping between Tokyo and a small village in the countryside. Mitsuha, a 17 year old girl in the country, wakes up one morning only to be questioned by her friends and family about her strange behavior the day before – hundreds of miles away in Tokyo, 17 year old Taki is given the similar treatment. Hitting the notes of comedy right off the bat, Your Name emulates Freaky Friday to a T. At the same time it sets a tone of mystery, as the audience is treated to Mitsuha as herself and in Taki’s body before we even meet Taki. Who is Mitsuha? Who is this boy she’s inhabiting? And then, after meeting Taki, why are they swapping bodies? They begin leaving each other simple notes – questions in school notebooks, messages written on each other’s arms, journal entries, etc. – and slowly learn what is going on.
Not wanting to mess up each other’s lives, Mitsuha and Taki decide to establish rules for each other while body-swapped: don’t spend each other’s money, limit changing clothing/showering and bathroom use, and leave journal entries in the notes section of each other’s phones. Despite these rules, the influence they begin to have on each other brings them closer together. As their emotions develop and their connection seems more a link of fate than mere chance, Taki embarks on a journey to find Mitsuha, beginning the emotional roller-coaster of Your Name. Unfortunately any more description than that gives too many spoilers, so you will just have to see Your Name for yourself.
Without a doubt this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, and not just anime or animated movies. Your Name is stunning! Makoto Shinkai has truly crafted a masterpiece, and has rightfully earned comparisons as “the new Miyazaki.” The story itself is well done, if a little unconventional a points. Though the story is great in its own way, it lacks some of the deeper meanings and themes that are often so present in Miyazaki’s works. The characters are likable and easily identified with. And the animation itself is something onto its own. Shinkai uses vibrant colors paired with extreme lighting to wondrous effect, allowing the contrast to almost overwhelm the screen.
Simply put, I loved Your Name. It was a beautiful, stunningly gorgeous film that tells a story of love and fate.
The Critique: The overall blending of comedic and dramatic elements not only make this a great story, but something that is very enjoyable and highly rewatchable. While I’m used to Miyazaki’s deeper meanings in his movies, Shinkai tells an excellent story in his own way. It’s not a bad thing by any means, just a little different than what I’m used to.
The Recommendation: If you’re a fan of anime in the slightest, or if you’re a Studio Ghibli fan, you will love this movie. It is also a great movie to use as an introduction to the world of anime for anyone wanting a good way in. I honestly liked it more than any animated movie I saw last year!
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome