Director – Makoto Shinkai
Screenplay – Makoto Shinkai
Studio – CoMix Wave Films
Distributor – Toho/Anime Limited
Your Name is currently the most popular animated movie in Japan, earning awards overseas for its story telling and gorgeous animation but does this actually deserve all the acclaim? What makes this movie the spectacle everyone is talking about?
The film begins with Mitsuha, a bored high school country girl who desperately wishes for change in her life and Taki, a bored high school city boy waking up to find that they have traded places. Both of them initially believe that they are dreaming but when they begin to leave notes for each other and receive replies it quickly becomes apparent that something is forcing them into each other’s bodies at various times in the month.
As they begin to meet and befriend each other’s family members and friends they decide to try and “fix” each of the faults in their respective lives leading to all sorts of misunderstandings and comical hijinks. Yet for all that they begin to actually begin caring for each other despite never having met in person and the story weaves the absurd, the comical and genuinely heart felt moments together. When the body switching comes to a sudden stop Taki attempts to look for Mitsuha using nothing but drawings of locations he witnessed when in her body, a sudden realisation throws the events into turmoil as he realises his memories of her life are starting to fade and that the same thing is likely happening to her.
Of course I am oversimplifying slightly, there are numerous events I could quote or scenes I could describe but it would be a disservice to you, the potential viewer of this excellent story. We are dropped into the deep end right from the word go with no idea who these characters are but as we live the lives along with them we gain an understanding of the world the inhabit and how two very different people from very different walks of life can become connected without truly understanding why. This story is as tragic as it is heart-warming, we never see the finale coming and it is heart wrenching to witness two people we (during the events of the feature) come to love ourselves and know so much about flailing around trying to shape their own destiny.
The quality of visuals on display during the entire movie are on par with what you would normally expect from someone like Studio Ghibli with a life like quality and vibrancy that is hard not to be impressed by. The soundtrack features some touching incidental themes which weave into the events nicely strengthening the impact of every scene.
The script itself is well written and for the most part the dialogue feels natural and never forced, we have the typical melodramatic name calling that features in most Japanese media but it is kept to a minimum and the story is able to unfold and surprise the viewer on a continual basis. The ending truly could have gone either way and when the conclusion finally does happen I would be surprised if the entire audience hasn’t a tear or two to shed.
The millage you will get from this movie very much depends on how open you are to having a nearly 2 hour long animated feature unfold in front of you that does not feature giant robots or magical girls. This film did not need to be an anime at all, it could have been shot as a live action movie with a modest budget but that would be missing the entire point of the anime as a medium. As countless other movies have proven (Perfect Blue, Anthem of the Heart) there is room for this and actually I hope to see more of it as it continues to mature and become more widely accepted all over the world. It does have some light science fiction/supernatural elements but they are almost always to push the story forward and the emphasis is on the main cast and the mystery surrounding their unexplained abilities.
The film has been brought to the UK by Anime Limited and is due to go on theatrical release from this Friday (18th November 2016) in both subbed and dubbed format with a bluray and dvd release to follow. I highly recommend that everyone make some time to go see the movie in their preferred language, you will be glad that you did. If there was a rating above five stars on our scale this would be the movie to receive it, it really is that good and I really can’t recommend it enough.
I have attached the trailer below: