AKA: Kimi No Na Wa
Genre: Romance/Drama/Modern Fantasy
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 107 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: PG
Related Films/Series: The Garden of Words, Weathering With You, Your Name (upcoming American live-action remake)
For Fans Of: The Place Promised In Our Early Days, Clannad, Freaky Friday, Voices of a Distant Star, Noein
-The Japanese language track was used for this review.
-Your Name is the highest grossing Japanese animated film of all time. Want to know which movie it dethroned for that top spot even before it was internationally released? Spirited Away. That’s right. The man people have called the next Miyazaki beat out all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films in the box office records especially in the revenues in Japan.
-Why is The Garden of Words listed in the Related Films/Series section? That’s because Yukari Yukino, the female lead is in this movie as Mitsuha’s teacher in her hometown. I guess that’s where Yukari moved after quitting her job at that other school. Hopefully, that teacher doesn’t do anything stupid like trying to be in a relationship with high school boys.
-Your Name is the first Makoto Shinkai film never to have been licensed in North America by ADV Films, it’s successor company Sentai Filmworks, or even Discotek. This is also Funimation’s first time having licensing rights to a Shinkai flick.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: That Musubi explanation about everyone and everything being tied and bound by strings (metaphorically speaking of course) was funny in an unintentional way to me. Am I the only person who was reminded of Strings and that Shinkai may have seen that marionette film? EDIT: Yes, I was made aware by the connection of the red string of fate motif in Japanese lore that’s been around for centuries, but the wording of what Musubi was about was eerily similar to Strings.
-J. J. Abrams (Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Cloverfield) bought the rights to Your Name and is going to give it the live action treatment. Yeah, really.
-Ryunosuke Kamiki who played Taki also played Seta Sojiro in the live action Rurouni Kenshin films. You know, that one villain with hypersonic speed who’s total bishonen bait for all the fangirls? Yeah, that’s him.
I’m late to the party, but I finally did it. Tell me, otaku. Are you happy now that I’m finally reviewing this movie that people have been buzzing about? Are you happy that I’m reviewing a Makoto Shinkai film that even some non-anime fans have heard of? You’re welcome, everyone. I finally got the chance to watch this much-hyped film. As someone who’s followed Shinkai since not long after Voices of a Distant Star was released in America, I somehow owed it to myself to watch this film.
How will the highest-grossing anime film of all time fare with the Iridium Eye treatment? Let’s find out.
Your Name is a tale about two teenagers living in different parts of Japan. There’s Taki Tachibana who’s a boy living the city life in Tokyo who goes to school, works at a bistro, and plans on being an architect. The other one is Mitsuha Miyamizu. She’s a girl living in the boonies of Itomori (a fictional town in the Gifu prefecture) who’s is next-in-line to run a shrine in town, does an annual ritual involving a mysterious sake, and is estranged from her dad that’s also the mayor of this country town. Despite not meeting each other, the both of them mysteriously switch bodies and live each other’s lives temporarily. Once they get their respective bodies back, they have amnesia as to what happened the day before. These events are somehow tied to the Comet Tiamat that is en route towards Japan after last being seen 1300 years ago. Taki and Mitsuha have to figure out how all these events are happening as these fantastical elements also lead to something much worse.
I get bored writing about the animation side of Makoto Shinkai films. Why? It’s because I know the animation is going to be top-caliber. Shinkai and Comix Wave certainly deliver in the visuals as to be expected. There’s so much fluidity going on and the scenery is picturesque as per usual. It’s typical of him to have movies that are very pleasing to the eyes. What did surprise me was the usage of mainstream anime images like slight deformations in comedic scenes and thought bubbles. This was a surprise for me, but it was a good kind of different. One major highlight for me was the vision of the comet that Taki has when he’s in the cave with the preserved sake. That was easily the most creative and visually impressive thing I’ve seen Shinkai do as the animation has a chalk-like feel as he also witnesses elements of Mitsuha’s backstory. It was almost like he gave the anime treatment to a movie like Boy and the World, but even that comparison doesn’t do that scene in Your Name justice.
The characters were certainly faring well in this film and I also have to give props to the voice actors for the leading roles in the Japanese language track. Taki tends to have some temper issues and wants to prove that he’s good at whatever he tries. Mitsuha is the opposite as she’s quite feminine, yet has a rebellious streak in wanting to get out of Itomori. When both of them switch bodies, it was fascinating seeing how they react. Taki’s body taken over by Mitsuha involved his body language becoming more ladylike and talking near the top of his range while Mitsuha’s body taken over by Taki has her voice deepen and she has a more boyish posture. I got to credit the voice actors for trying to sound like what it would be like if someone from the opposite gender were playing them and they do a great job in subtle ways. The rest of the cast do a great job at their roles as well.
Now with all of the praise I’ve been giving Your Name so far, one could surmise that this will be an instant classic and think it’s one of the best anime movies ever given how well this movie has done with all this talk about it.
Spoiler alert: Your Name will not get the 10 point treatment. Just because it’s a box office success doesn’t mean it’s instant perfection.
As someone who’s watched several of Makoto Shinkai’s works since the mid-00s, Your Name feels like a rehash of his older movies, but with more mainstream appeal. Your Name is like a greatest hits album that features the best songs of a band’s career, but they decide to make one or two new songs extra to please long-time fans. There’s the parallel timeline/dimension aspect which is totally from The Place Promised In Our Early Days. There’s Yukari from The Garden of Words and the fact that the male lead likes to draw things which is recycled from that short film. The ending scene would’ve been borderline self-plagiarism of 5 Centimeters Per Second’s finale (especially visually) had it not have been for the characters looking at each other. There’s also the motif of distance between friends and lovers which is in several of Shinkai’s works starting with Voices of a Distant Star. Even the dual male/female unison narrations go back all the way to She and Her Cat. If Your Name is your first exposure to Makoto Shinkai, then this all would look phenomenal, but I was mildly underwhelmed since I’m familiar with his older filmography. I really felt like Shinkai wasn’t trying as hard in the storytelling department despite how amazing the animation looks. Besides those qualms of that director repeating himself, there are other things to note. Firstly, the initial body swap gags. Both Taki and Mitsuha touch the parts of the other person’s body as their mind is in each other’s corporeal vessel particularly when Taki touches Mitsuha’s breasts three times whenever his mind is in her body. That joke got old really fast and it was just tawdry since Shinkai isn’t a director who does fan service or perverted gags like that. Secondly, I thought the secondary characters were underdeveloped in the personality department. Side note about Taki’s superior Miki Okudera: I found out that she’s in college in my research instead of being an older high school student which makes the relationship tease between her and Taki a bit creepy in hindsight. Thirdly, the plan to save Itomori was unrealistic even for the situation. I refuse to believe that teenagers would have enough strategic acumen to pull off what they did and there were some obvious writing cop-out moments just to get to the ending. I shouldn’t have to spot those plot hole elements this easily.
Your Name is a very good film, but to be brutally honest, I didn’t buy all of the hype. The animation is certainly brilliant and creative as to be expected from Shinkai’s body of work. The music while not the best in his filmography was good even though one song was a bit too pop punk for my taste. The main characters were interesting and I could care about them although the secondary characters were okay. However, I found this film to be a bit of an auto-pilot for Shinkai himself as several elements of this film reminded me of his older works or like some strange hybrid between The Place Promised and Freaky Friday. It was disheartening to use bad mainstream anime cliches like the breast-grabbing gag since I know Shinkai is much better than this. Your Name is one of those movies for me where I felt that it was good, but not as good as others were making it out to be. It’s still worth watching, so don’t think I’m giving it a bad rating, but Your Name was a great albeit overrated and over-hyped anime movie.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1-2 points if you only know about Makoto Shinkai’s later works.
Add 1 point if you really care about animation.
Subtract 1-3 points if you want your anime to be more artistic.
-Wonderful and creative animation
-Good soundtrack from Radwimps
-Likable lead characters
-Shinkai rehashing his older movies several times
-The stupid body switch breast gag
-Predictable at points and obvious plot holes in the final act
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warning:Your Name got a PG rating which I believe is fair. The biggest piece of objectionable content would be Taki and Mitsuha reacting to the body swap situation as they touch certain body parts on their new bodies. There’s even additional fanservice of Mitsuha outside of the gag itself. There’s drinking and smoking, but the drugs rarely show up. One perilous element involves a destruction of a town by a meteor as seen in one of the timelines in the film. The Japanese version had a couple of swears, too.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Your Name and all related names and terms are property of Toho and Comix Wave. The DVD Image is from Best Buy and is property of Funimation.