Film review: Your Name – Makoto Shinkai’s hit anime is a body-swapping, time-travelling romance
With its stunning visuals and poignant treatment of death and forgetting, Your Name is an emotional roller coaster that everyone can enjoy
The easiest way to understand the special appeal of animated feature Your Name – currently the seventh-highest grossing film ever released in Japan, and a serious challenger to Studio Ghibli’s hold on the anime throne – is to surrender to the emotional roller coaster. While Makoto Shinkai didn’t convince the world with efforts such as Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011) and 5 Centimetres per Second (2007), the writer-director has done enough here to keep the “new Miyazaki” crown.
Tentatively a high-school romance with a playful body-switching twist, Your Name opens with amusing scenes that show sullen country girl Mitsuha (voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi) and nerdy Tokyo city boy Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) as they slowly discover that their frequent lucid dreams are indeed manifestations of a miraculous fact: although they’ve never met in real life, the pair literally wake up in each other’s body every other day, leading to much hilarity when family and friends spot their sudden changes in demeanour.
As they continue to piece together their situation by leaving notes on their bodies and smartphones on the days that they’re living the other’s life, Mitsuha and Taki soon develop enough fondness for each other to decide to seek each other out. It would be no spoiler to say that they are fated to meet, although Shinkai’s film takes quite a detour before eventually getting his star-crossed protagonists there: namely, a meteor strike that wipes out a town and a disturbance in the space-time continuum.
Rendered with stunning visual details (many of them modelled after actual locations), Your Name also comes across as one of the most poignant responses to a natural catastrophe that Japanese cinema has offered in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The fear of losing and then forgetting someone dear is urgently conveyed near the climax, which plays like a disaster movie with a time-travel angle. It may take a Japanese audience to fully appreciate its sentiments, but anyone will be entertained by Your Name.
Your Name opens on November 11
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