I thought about calling this review, “I Finally Watched Your Name. and You Should Too!”, but analytics are telling me you guys prefer the shorter, more reasonable, titles. And well who am I to argue with highly intelligent robot statistics? Wait what was I talking about? Oh right, the hit anime movie by Makoto Shinkai that came out a few years ago, Kimi no Na wa., or perhaps better known as
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl, yearns to live the life of a boy in the bustling city of Tokyo—a dream that stands in stark contrast to her present life in the countryside. Meanwhile in the city, Taki Tachibana lives a busy life as a high school student while juggling his part-time job and hopes for a future in architecture.
One day, Mitsuha awakens in a room that is not her own and suddenly finds herself living the dream life in Tokyo—but in Taki’s body! Elsewhere, Taki finds himself living Mitsuha’s life in the humble countryside. In pursuit of an answer to this strange phenomenon, they begin to search for one another.
Kimi no Na wa. revolves around Mitsuha and Taki’s actions, which begin to have a dramatic impact on each other’s lives, weaving them into a fabric held together by fate and circumstance.
[Written by MAL Rewrite]
Now a quick heads up before I jump into my thoughts on this movie, but I’ve decided I’m going to give this review the good ole proper treatment. Basically saying that I’ll rate it on plot, character development, art/music, and general enjoyment like I used to do for reviews. I feel like the widely considered second most popular anime (probably most popular anime movie) deserves that much at least right? Moving on.
So if you’ve never seen Your Name., and maybe skipped the synopsis above, it’s a 1hr 46min long movie animated by the geniuses over at CoMix Wave Films, in the Romance, Supernatural, School, and Drama genres. However I’m not sure if this genre exists or not, but I’d consider it part of an exclusive league of anime whose visual appeal transcends the medium at large — or in layman’s terms
IT’S PRETTY AS FUCK!
Seriously though, the opening scene alone is so beautiful it reminded me of the animation in one of my favorite anime movies, Redline, and the quality is consistent throughout. This will probably sound odd, but I need to force myself to stop talking about it now so that I don’t completely spoil the breakdown later!
But before I jump into that, I want to share a few things I found while writing this post. For example while Itomori, the fictional town where Mitsuha lives, may not actually exist, you can find it’s location in Japan in Gifu Prefecture. Here’s a blog post by SoraNews24 with more info! There’s also a great post by Okunomichi about Kimi no Na Wa and Musubi that helps explain musubi and kumihimo. Now then onto the review!
While this movie doesn’t quite fit into the slice-of-life category as well as drama, there are definitely elements that remind me of parts of my life. Whether it be growing up in a boring small town, working at a fast-pace restaurant in over my head, or switching bodies with a girl from across space-time, I found this movie to be incredibly relatable minus that last one. And while the plot to this movie could be described as an animated Freakier Friday, I would feel the urge to punch whoever said it in the face for their lack of taste. The story is simple. It’s also got its fair share of clichés. But there’s also a cool amount of mythos as well such as tying in the red thread of fate (no pun intended), or that kuchikamizake is a thing (kinda gross but hey don’t knock it till you try it?)!
But what really impressed me was the pacing and the plot twists. I’ve heard this can be expected of Makoto Shinkai’s films, but as this is the only one I’ve seen so far I was blown away. The twist that Mitsuha had died three years prior to Taki’s experience, for instance, I never saw coming. And when my suspicions about the real first time that Mitsuha and Taki had met were confirmed (I’m a real genius I know) I didn’t have the usual “AHA!” moment, but a genuine drop in my heart for how Mitsuha must have felt in that moment. I was sad for her. She was obviously hurt and confused, but she still had hope in giving him the hair tie/bracelet without knowing how their fates were intertwined. Oh and having them meet at twilight only to forget each other for five years. My heart wouldn’t quit doki doki-ing until the very last moment.
I also thought it was interesting how the characters themselves seem to become aware of these dramatic events nearly in 30 minutes (film-time) intervals. It’s that kind of solid storyboarding that makes the hits I suppose. The twists may have become predictable by the end, but not unappreciated.
My only gripe is that I’m not a particular fan of time-jumps in storytelling. It feels like the easy way out, but I can at least appreciate the fact that Your Name. was somewhat consistent with the memory problem. I think it could’ve been a better story if they found a better explanation for it as well as Taki’s journals erasing themselves, but it wasn’t enough of a problem to pull me out of the story.
Character Development: 5/5
When we first see Mitsuha in Taki’s body talking to his friends at school, I completely lost it. She doesn’t yet understand her predicament and can’t find the right words to describe herself to his friends. Going through the list of Watashi (私), Watakushi (also 私 as Watashi is actually the shortened version), Boku (僕), and finally Taki’s usual Ore (俺), had a basic-level Japanese speaker like me dying from laughter. However, I went into this film with high expectations for character development… and Your Name. delivered!
In what felt like no time at all, I was already heavily invested in the two main characters. Their distant interactions were fun and comical, and eventually emotional and thrilling. I found myself cheering for Taki while in Mitsuha’s body, and tearing up for Mitsuha in Taki’s body (at the appropriate times to be feeling those emotions of course!). Even the side characters were relatable and felt necessary to the story. I was even happy for Mitsuha’s friends when they got their happy ending.
Overall I can’t bring myself to nitpick these characters too much because I feel they were all very well developed, especially considering this is a movie and not a series.
So I get to talk about the pretty artwork and music now right? YES!
Alright well first off I should probably clarify something. Earlier I compared the art in Your Name. to the art in Redline, and to be honest that isn’t a fair comparison. It’s not that Your Name. isn’t gorgeous, because it absolutely is, but the two movies shine in different ways. If Redline is an explosive punch of color and energy, Your Name. is a subtle dance celebrating natural scenic beauty. The characters aren’t dramatically drawn to look unique and intense, but like normal school kids you’d expect to see in any good anime. However the backgrounds, especially moving backgrounds, and tiny details blur the lines between reality and animation. Though you could say Your Name. channels its inner Redline in the scene where Taki drinks Mitsuha’s kuchikamizake and does his little fall through time and space. However it’s a comparison that doesn’t need to be made. Your Name. has its own distinct style that many anime strive to be compared to. And while it’s plot and characters bring a strong sense of emotion to the animation, it’s also true that the animation stands on its own as well.
I did considered docking a whole 0.1 points in this section because of the soundtrack. But let me be clear this would have been less of a critique of the soundtrack, and more of an excuse to consider myself a fair reviewer in my own head canon. I was convinced that only works like Steins;Gate and Anohana could move me to tears with music alone, and even they technically relied on the story to get me there. However in the final moments of the film, the ending song「なんでもないや」or Nothing finally won me over for good. Overall, Your Name. has an excellent sound to it.
I give Your Name. 5/5 meteorite shards
Hasn’t it been clear for a while now that I’d give this movie a perfect score? It’s funny, but going into it with such high expectations I was expecting myself to be more critical of it. I mean it wouldn’t be the first time I write a good review of something that I later think of as “just okay” or maybe even “bad”. However I think what really made me enjoy Your Name. wasn’t the outstanding art or even much of the plot. I think what I really loved about it is that it’s the kind of story that makes you feel good. I mean who wouldn’t want such an interesting thing to happen in their lives? The idea of being bound to someone by fate is awfully archaic and romanticized. But I suppose there’s a part of me, most of us perhaps, that really wants it to be true.
What did you think of the movie? Did I give it a fair review, or am I too soft on the stuff I love? ^_^