Your Name – Movie Review

I will probably get some hate for this, but… I find it difficult to watch anime. I’m not into the type of narrative Japanese films and TV shows boast, so I rarely enjoy stuff beyond the more popular and already mainstream movies from Studio Ghibli. However, with all the praise Your Name (also known as Kimi no na wa) was getting, I bought a couple of tickets as soon as I saw they were showing it in my hometown. So… was the experience any good? Let’s find out!

An astronomical phenomenon will change the lives of two high schoolers forever. Mitsuha, a girl who lives in a rural Japanese village, and Taki, a boy from Tokyo, are total strangers until one day, they wake up having their bodies switched. They both believe it was just a dream, but as this strange happening repeats more and more often, they have to create a way to communicate with each other and establish a few rules to minimise the impact this could have in their lives.

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Makoto Shinkai directs and writes this wonderful picture based on a novel written by himself, and he manages to do so masterfully, with no detail left overlooked. The tone he sets is playful, romcom-like, and never loses a beat. It aims to create a sense of warmth and achieves that goal with ease by carefully throwing heart-touching moments into the movie. It is a teenager romantic film, but the when the more serious tone comes into play towards the middle of the movie, Shinkai proves he knows how to handle the themes that are being discussed to make the emotions transcend the screen.

Watching Your Name is such a joyful experience that it is no surprise how successful it has been in Japan (it is the top grossing anime of all time, as well as the fourth top grossing film in Japanese history). What is indeed inexplicable is how difficult they have made it to watch it in western countries. My hometown is one of the few that show the movie in the entire country!

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As a picture that plays with time-bending, it is essential that the events are properly organised and every element makes sense, and Your Name does that with a craftsmanship very rarely found in Hollywood blockbusters. The way some objects and actions have a comeback later in the film is nothing short of amazing, and the many unexpected reveals work wonderfully. Certain events that happen towards the end of the 106-minute long runtime are among the most memorable I’ve ever witnessed. The writing on a hand, a pen falling to the ground… It’s jaw-dropping how Shinkai has been able to create unforgettable moments out of ordinary actions. They will make your heart skip a beat. Fantastic to say the least.

Japanese rock band Radwimps gives the film a great soundtrack, with fun and catchy songs that will get stuck in your head for days. The songs have nice lyrics that appropriately fit the tone of the movie.

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Most animation films nowadays rely on 3D models, which is a trend that, even if I really like, is starting to get slightly tiresome. That’s why alternative ways of animation are getting more and more interesting. The stop-motion technique Studio Laika’s films boast is one of the most obvious examples, but the traditional hand-drawn imagery is slowly turning into an appealing feature, too. Shinkai’s picture proves hand-drawn animation still has a lot to offer, since the combination of the drawings and digital colouring used in Your Name creates some of the most spectacular imagery ever in animated movies. It is evident throughout the entire film, but especially obvious whenever the astronomical phenomenon, a comet visible from the earth, is shown on-screen.

I’ve been told that anime-lovers will love Your Name more than those of us who are naive in this genre. However, I can hardly imagine myself enjoying this gem more than I did. You owe this one to yourself. Treasure the experience. Dreams fade away after you wake up. 9/10

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