Guys, I finally did it. I watched Your Name. My copy of it showed up on October 30th and I was so excited. It’s not like I had no chance at all to watch it. Besides illegal streaming, which I refuse to do, there were a bunch of movie theaters showing it in my area, but the catch is that they were later in the evening on a week day and at least an hour away by driving. I don’t know about you, but as some one that must wake up early in the morning to go to work, none of that sounds appealing. Being an adult sucks. I did what I thought was best in this situation and pre-ordered my copy of the movie as soon as I could and finally, it was here. I could finally watch it at my leisure, which brings me to this post.
I never talked about this anywhere on my blog, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai’s work. Before seeing this film, I’ve watched three of his films before and they all seemed to be the same thing to me. The three in question being The Garden of Words, 5 Centimeters per Second, and Voices of a Distant Star. The similarities were that all these films were beautifully animated and had amazing art design, besides Voice of a Distant Star for those who know the history of it, and were about a romance that slowly slipped away and/or was forbidden. Needless to say, when I heard about Your Name, I was deeply skeptical about it, because it looked like just yet another repeat of the same t. Then I saw it gaining records all across the world and people loving it to death, so I thought maybe there was something different about it that made it special. It looks like that thought was completely right.
The story of Your Name stars two seemingly normal Japanese high school students. (It’s anime, so basic stuff here.) Mitsuha is a high school girl living in a rural region of Japan where she dreams of one day living in Tokyo. (Mitsuha wishes to be a cute Tokyo boy in her next life.) She is raised at a Shinto Shrine with her grandma and her little sister, because her mother passed away and her father is a complete asshole who is the mayor of her town. The other character is a boy named Taki who is living in Tokyo who works hard every night as a bus boy at a restaurant to maintain his existence with his father. One day, the two start switching bodies with each other and both first think of these instances as dreams. Later on, they notice that the people around them are affected by the actions of the two in each other’s bodies too. The dream ends up as a reality. As a result of this, they start laying ground rules for each other during each body switch, though they are constantly broken, and communicate with each other through a diarry they leave on each other’s phones. One day, Taki gets a message from Mitsuha about a comet and the body swapping completely stops from that point on. I’m going to stop here, but I bet you can guess what happens next if you are one of the few people that haven’t seen this film yet.
Since this movie is yet another Makoto Shinkai work, I don’t think I have to mention how beautiful this film looks on a photo realistic level, how good the art design is, or even how great the animation is. Those are standard Makoto Shinkai film things and they are here too. You can even say that the drifting apart love aspect is here too, but somehow it works in this film. Unlike those other Makato Shinkai films, Your Name works at an emotional level for me and I think it starts with getting to know these characters. Since we see them in their own lives and in each other’s lives, we know what it’s like to be in their place every day which automatically makes them relatable human beings. The first half starts slow, but the setup is so important for a film like this, because if we didn’t know or understand these characters, what would be the point of it all? I admit that the first couple scenes were slow, but they were a spectacular set up to the necessary body swapping reveal that becomes prevalent in this film.
The second half of Your Name is where the meat is. The mystery of why that body swap stopped happening is fun and full of science fiction spectacle in its own right. Especially since it’s balanced between a random time difference between the two characters and a comet. A comet that has been prophesied to have hit a similar area around one of the protagonists a thousand or so years before hand. This is the part where a western live action adaption wouldn’t work. The solution that allows the two to connect for a short period of time and have one save the other revolves around the Japanese Shinto Religion. This is something that Your Name focused on alongside it’s body swapping humor and fun in the first half. Moving where the movie is going to take place would take away Your Name’s cultural identity. Especially in a western adaption where the creators are going to have to do something different to make the movie do similar things. If they take the film in a purely scientific direction, then all of the film’s charm is going to be lost as well. I don’t know about you, but all I’m seeing is a lose, lose situation. Why can’t they just show this film more widely spread viewing of Your Name in its dubbed form? It’s charming enough by itself and should gain a western audience by itself
As a final opinion of this film, I am going to give it a big recommendation for everyone to watch it. I do realize that so many aspects of this film could be picked apart at a story telling level, but this isn’t what this movie is about. Your Name is something that speaks to the audience on an emotional level. Usually, I am one for that all that nit picking and pulling plot elements apart, but I won’t for this film. Especially since this movie has relatable characters and a plot that speaks to the heart. In the end, I really wanted to see these characters get together. Through all the body swapping and other crazy shenanigins that happened along this anime’s way, I think they deserved it. The end of Your Name is open ended, especially since it revolves another thing that this series has been using as a plot device, memory loss. I can see why this film was so loved by so many audiences and I am sad that it took me this long to see this film.