Alright. It’s time to talk about one of the biggest movies in the world right now. Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa) (2016).
I actually didn’t know too much about this film going into it. I had a passing familiarity with Makoto Shinkai, the writer/director. I had seen the trailer of course. Then I started hearing the talk of how huge this thing was growing. It still currently has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. 98%! How often does that happen? On top of that, Your Name was burning up the charts worldwide. It sat on top of the box office in Japan for 12 non-consecutive weeks. It was also the second largest grossing domestic film in Japan, second only to Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away (2001). Your Name was the 4th highest grossing film in the history of Japan when you include all films released there. Then it became the highest grossing Japanese film in China! How could I not see this film?
Now, one of the highest grossing films worldwide has finally made it stateside. I’m not talking about a DVD release, streaming, or even a Fathom Event. It has gotten a proper theatrical release here in the U.S. At this point there was no excuse to not see it. So it was off to the local Regal Cinemas!
Alright. Let’s get into the film. I’m not going to spoil anything though, this film is way too good for such an injustice.
The entire movie revolves around Mitsuha and Taki. Mitsuha is a teenage girl living in a remote village in the hills of the Hida region. Taki is a teenage boy living in the big city of Tokyo. These two have never met, but one day they wake up in each others’ bodies. Freaky Friday? Nah, this is way better. What’s the first thing you would do if you woke up in the body of the opposite sex? Grab the boobs? Wonder what in the hell is suddenly dangling between your legs? That is exactly what happens! It was so refreshing to see. This really is how people would act, and Makoto Shinkai portrayed that in Your Name. Score one for the film.
The body swaps are understandably confusing to the teens. They quickly figure out that this isn’t a dream, they really are switching places. Which meant it was time to lay down some ground rules. You can’t go body swapping without someone taking notice after all. It was fantastic watching the two characters bop around in each others’ lives. Helping and hurting each other. The way that Shinkai handled their rather unusual relationship was masterful. I really appreciated that they kept in mind current technology. It seems so often that contemporary films forget about the amazing advances that we use in everyday life, until they need a plot device. Your Name integrates so much of this into the story, it feels quite natural.
Then something happens. I won’t spoil it, but man does this thing kick into high sci-fi gear very quickly. Then the most impressive thing happens, as far as storytelling goes. You know how in most movies there’s some glaringly obvious plot hole that can diffuse a the situation but is purposefully ignored? The kind of thing that has you screaming at the screen. I was certain we were headed in that direction. Since I was in a crowded theater, I had a moment of self restraint. It was tough, it was rare, but I relented. Then the big reveal happened. All of a sudden what I was assuming was a plot hole became integral to the story. Not just explained away by a single line of dialogue, but literally unraveled the fabric of the story we had been watching so far. It was magical. Everything changed in that sequence. From this point on it was a roller coaster of emotion. Edge of your seat, holding your breath, grasping at glimmers of hope, to the very last frame of the movie. Wow.
The animation was beautiful. It was hand drawn for a couple years by CoMix Wave Films in Tokyo. It wasn’t ground breaking animation, but it was exactly what was needed. The most impressive part of the animation however, was the amazing details and accuracy of Tokyo. There has been a wide consensus that the scenes in the big city could have been directly lifted from photographs ue to their accuracy. High praise indeed.
The music wonderfully complimented the story and animation. There were a few songs that seemed to be amplified a bit, but I chalked that one up to simply being in a theater. The score was fantastic.
Your Name is an absolute must see. If you enjoy anime, or loved films from Ghibli Studios, try to see this in theaters. It was amazing seeing this on the big screen. It added a whole new level of interaction that you rarely get in foreign films, since subtitled films hardly ever get a large theatrical release. Go. Go see this in the theater. You will love the experience!