Fair Warning: While this review won’t go deep into any plot spoilers, I do urge people interested in watching Your Name to go in knowing as little as possible about the plot. Just know that it’s a brilliant film, go and watch it if you haven’t seen it and then come back.
Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) is the latest film from famed anime director Makoto Shinkai (5 Centimeters Per Second, The Garden Of Words). In a similar vein to his previous films, Your Name is also a romantic-drama film but tells it in a way i’ve never seen any another media approach a romance story. Body swapping.
Your Name follows two main protagonists to tell both sides of an intertwining story. Mitsuha, a high school girl living in rural Japan and Taki, a male high schooler that lives in the heart of Tokyo.
Growing increasingly bored with the rural lifestyle, Mitsuha wishes to be reincarnated as a boy in her next life and live in the big city. Suddenly she finds herself switching bodies with Taki. Imagine waking up one day and you were inside the body of someone else. Now imagine the body you’re now in being the opposite sex. That’s exactly what’s at play here.
Initially they are both incredibly confused about the swap and how it’s happened. Piecing together bits of information about who’s body they are currently residing based on family members and friends and having to blend in and continue the persons day-to-day activities such as going to school, socialising and even working each others jobs.
The body swap doesn’t happen every night, and both Mitsuha and Taki don’t know what triggers it so initially it is seen as a burden, especially after getting back into their own bodies and dealing with the repercussions of what the other did in their body the previous day. But later transitions into a good relationship between the two as they begin to create diary entries for each other detailing what occurred during the swap and eventually using their life knowledge to try and make the other persons life better. Mitsuha helps Taki develop a relationship with his coworker Miki, while Taki helps Mitsuha become popular at school.
This is where their relationship begins to bloom and the drama, romance and emotions get turned up to 11. The two begin their journey to try and meet each other and results in possibly my favourite anime film. One that i’ll definitely be watching many times over.
The film heavily features area’s of Japan and Japan’s culture in general. Showing some traditional Japanese dance and sake making techniques. It also contains many real world landmarks from real world Tokyo that are so recognisable in the film that the Tokyo government have supported the creation of an official Your Name Tokyo tour that has been extremely popular with tourists. If you aren’t interested in Japanese culture or if Your Name is your intro into anime I could understand how this aspect of the film may not be to your liking. But for me I loved that it was recreated so faithfully.
The animation is Your Name is up there with the highest quality anime you will ever witness. CG is used very sparsely, just to add extra effect when needed. The remainder is all beautiful, hand drawn cell animation. It’s visually gorgeous. The city is vibrant, the character designs are great and movement is animated realistically and is silky smooth. I can’t think of any ways it could have looked better. It’s such a shame western animation has become completely CG. There’s just something about hand drawn animation that is appealing to the eyes and the reason Disney’s classic catalogue is still so popular to this day.
The characters themselves are also very well written and performed. There is a medium amount of core characters in the film and in the 2 hour runtime, you get to know a decent amount about who they are as a character. The English dub of the film has all round amazing performances. Hearing Taki speak for the first time I didn’t think the voice matched the character, but then realised that was all intentional, as it was Mitsuha inhabiting his body at the time and spoke with a more feminine tone to the voice. I found that dynamic change in the voices during the swaps to be an added touch that makes so much sense when you realise what’s happening.
One of the greatest highlights we get to experience alongside the incredible story is the background score and theme music. Japanese band Radwimps have done a brilliant job and creating the score that accentuates the scenes perfectly as well as the 4 core music pieces that play throughout the film. Since watching the movie I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. I’m listening to it right now while writing up this review. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Your Name is a masterpiece. I would recommend everyone checking out this film as soon as you can whether you are a massive fan of anime or not. The beautiful animation when blended with Shinkai’s brilliant writing and the melodic score results in a film that I personally can’t fault. If I was given the option to change anything about the film, I’d leave it exactly how it is. Now I understand that aspects of the film may not resonate with everyone the same way that they have with me but in all the years I’ve spent watching anime and films, there isn’t much on the market that can top Your Name when it comes to overall quality.
All Images ©2016 TOHO CO., LTD. / CoMix Wave Films Inc. / KADOKAWA CORPORATION / East Japan Marketing & Communications, Inc. / AMUSE INC. / voque ting co.,ltd. / Lawson HMV Entertainment, Inc.
A Bluray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review. If you want to check out Your Name for yourself (and you should) you can grab it from Madman here
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