I wish I could aptly express in words the impact 2016’s smash anime hit, Your Name, had on me, but this movie was so unbelievably stunning in every way that I feel slightly lost for words altogether. I’m a long-standing and huge fan of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki’s near-perfect gems, but when the end credits rolled on Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, I just had to sit back and take it all in for a few moments to truly appreciate how perfectly it was crafted, despite tackling tricky body switching and time travel elements, which can sometimes be a story’s undoing. I’d been meaning to watch this film since its release, and I wonder why the hell I waited so long because for me, it completely blew anything Ghibli have ever produced out of the water. I thought From Up On Poppy Hill was my all-time favourite anime movie – but not anymore. In short, this film is an absolute must-see, and I urge anyone and everyone to experience this emotional rollercoaster of sheer beauty for yourself.
The story is a rather complex one, following two teenagers, Mitsuha and Taki, who have never met but who are magically tied by a mysterious bond. They periodically find themselves switching bodies in dream sequences and living each other’s lives, which at first is just bizarre but soon becomes very poignant as their unconventional relationship grows and the stakes are raised to life-threatening proportions when they attempt to track each other down. I had no idea where the story was going to go, but while it did begin to lose me in parts, I was not disappointed, and the ending left me in floods of tears as I just simply couldn’t keep my emotions in check any longer. It’s hard to really think very critically about something that touches you so deeply, though parts of the story are admittedly a little confusing or at least slightly flawed. Yet somehow, as long as you’re paying enough attention, which you naturally will as it draws you in, especially if you watch in Japanese with English subtitles, you can get around these slips.
The main characters are charming in their own unique ways, and the supporting characters are equally interesting. They don’t get much in-depth development, but they complement the leads beautifully, both in the small rural town of Itomori and the bustling streets of Tokyo. Another beautiful thing about Your Name is the animation itself, and of course the impossible love and tension these kids are feeling throughout. It’s mostly romantic drama, but while the plot becomes pretty harrowing at times, the film isn’t without its humorous moments, such as Taki’s embarrassment when Mitsuha sets him up on a date with his crush, or his obsession with her breasts during his phases in her body. There are some incredibly touching scenes too as they try to understand and engage with each other’s lifestyles, so it’s easy to see why this movie has received so much media attention and was rated the number one film in Japan last year – a title very much deserved!
Look out for Your Name on DVD this November. You won’t regret it.