Have you ever felt that something was missing in your life? That no matter how fulfilling life is, there is a part of you that remains empty? That you’re always searching for the one thing to complete you?
Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) is a romantic-fantasy anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai, based on the novel of the same name. The film follows the lives of Mitsuha and Taki, who live almost worlds apart, with Mitsuha living a rather dull life, rife with culture and tradition, in the small countryside town of Itomori, while Taki lives in the fast-paced city of Tokyo. Fed up with her cyclic life, Mitsuha longs to experience life in Tokyo and wishes to become a handsome Tokyi boy in her next life. Her dreams partially come to fruition when both characters swap bodies in their dreams.
Unlike other anime features I have seen, the story of Your Name fascinated me in a way that not many other films have managed to. With a basic premise consisting of love, friendship, spirituality and a beguiling twist, Your Name managed to keep me on the edge of my seat while inciting a myriad of emotions throughout the duration of the film. With such a complex plot, I found myself smiling, laughing and even crying as the story developed and the true nature of the plot is revealed.
Along with such a well written story are characters that are unique, interesting and likeable. Mitsuha and Taki, the main characters of the film, whose actions and experiences drive the film forward, are characters that viewers are able to connect with, more so in terms of their respective feelings of loss and longing. It is difficult not to want them to achieve the very thing they strive for, and as viewers, we cheer them on with the desire to see them find that in which they seek. Along with Mitsuha and Taki are a number of supporting characters who add colour, humour and substance to the film, each in their own unique way. It is their contributions to the film, which resulted in much of the light-hearted humour to what is essentially a rather dramatic tale.
Your Name is by far one of the most alluring and captivating films I have seen in quite some time, worthy of every praise and accolade it has received worldwide. Right from the get go, the visual beauty of the film and the stunning animations is highlighted. While the character animations are brilliant, it is the art style depicting scenery of the countryside and the cityscape of Tokyo that caught my eye and was simply enchanting. It is safe to say that I have not seen a fictional depiction so marvellous and enchanting as that in Your Name. To be fair, I haven’t seen any Studio Ghibli films, so it’d be interesting to compare the two.
Not only are the visuals simply exquisite, the animation within the film looked as real as the real life versions of what was being depicted. For example, the iPhones being used by the characters in the film had every bit of detail as the iPhones we use in real life, from the rounded edges to the very tone and gloss of the smartphone. Seeing such surreal animation on screen brought back many happy memories of my recent trip to Japan. This use of real life locations in an anime is not unique to Your Name, as several other anime films and shows utilise real Japanese locations as well.
When it comes to anime, visuals and plot are not the only two aspects that are important, to me anyway. Soundtrack is also key as musical cues and background music adds to the charm of a series or film, providing viewers with a sense of pace and adding to the emotions behind certain scenes. As soon as the film began, Your Name delved right into a magnificent opening theme, which for me, set the tone of the film right from the start. Your Name‘s soundtrack was simply magical as it brought to life every aspect of the film, from the characters and scenery to the climax of the film. Had it not been for the soundtrack, Your Name might have strongly lacked in charm.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed Your Name, I will admit that the cinematics and direction of the film can be slightly confusing to some as scenes appear to jump between various timelines. For example, starting from the end, cutting to the past and then continuing on to the present in which flashbacks of past events are referred to. However, Shinkai’s fantastic direction provides explanations and comprehension at the conclusion of the film, which is much appreciated. To a large extent, the film techniques and direction of Your Name should really be praised as Shinkai truly provides viewers with an exhilarating film experience. What I loved most about the direction of the film, though, is the way in which the film ends, leaving viewers with a sense of satisfaction while leaving much to the audiences imaginations.
Another reason for my personal enjoyment of the film includes the moral lessons that can be picked out from the film’s story, including the notion that we can never truly comprehend what another goes through until we live their life. In addition, it is important to realise that there are times when we need to listen to children as there are moments in which they can be wiser than we are.
Your Name by Makoto Shinkai has been garnering high praise, awards and has even topped Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke to become one of Japan’s highest grossing films. Having watched the film, I can certainly see why. A beautifully crafted film with an enthralling story, intriguing characters and important life lessons, Your Name deserves every bit of credit and is a film that any fan of Japanese film and anime will want to watch over and over again.
Should You Watch This: YES --- PROS: 1. Beautiful visuals 2. Great soundtrack 3. Unexpected plot twist --- CONS: 1. Initially confusing