Directed by: Makoto Shinkai
Featuring the voice talents of: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Masami Nagasawa, Etsuko Ichihara
Original Release Date: August 2016 (Japan), April 2017 (US)
Review by Miriam Atkinson
Your Name is a Japanese animation (anime) film and by 2017 it became the highest grossing anime film of all time. Set to a backdrop of a comet shower passing overhead, Your Name follows the lives of teenagers Mitsuha and Taki as they wake up one day to find they have suddenly switched bodies. The pair are complete strangers and continue to switch randomly, never knowing whose body they are going to wake up in the next morning. They learn to adjust to each other’s very different lives and communicate to each other by leaving notes and diary entries. Over time they desire to meet in person however fate seems determined to keep them apart.
For me, Your Name is one of the best films I have ever seen. I went into this film only knowing that the characters swapped bodies and expecting some sort of romance story but I was given so much more than that.
Your Name is full of action and adventure as Mitsuha and Taki must work together to help people even though they are far apart. There are comedic moments – particularly in the contrast of Taki’s endless fascination of inhabiting a girl’s body and Mitsuha’s squeamishness as she realises the physical differences of being male. There are strong bonds of family, friendship and romance throughout the film. These are represented through the image of Kumihimo (a Japanese form of braid making which incorporates many different threads) as Mitsuha and Taki’s lives are intertwined and they come to care just as much about the people in each other’s lives as they do the people in their own.
Particular praise must be given to director and screenwriter Makoto Shinkai not just for creating a beautiful and engaging story but for coming up with a couple of plot twists which no one in the cinema saw coming. The film was rightly nominated and won numerous awards.
Your Name is primarily divided between two settings – the fast-paced cityscape of Tokyo where Taki lives and the fictional lakeside town of Itomori in the mountains which is home to Mitsuha. Tokyo is depicted through the use of bright sunlight and sandy colours. Gone are the stereotypical bleak grey urban buildings. Both characters yearn to make a life for themselves in this modern world so the colours show Tokyo as bright and full of hope. In contrast Itomori is more traditional – Mitsuha’s family run the temple and tradition is a key part of their daily life. Itomori is filled with natural blue and green hues and most of the scenes here take place at night. Yet it is not a gloomy setting. The landscape is filled with glittering lights either of the town, fireflies, the comet shower, or reflections in the moonlight to give these remote rural scenes an essence of magic and ancient mystery.
For two hours I was utterly and completely immersed in this story and its characters – rooting for them to succeed and anxiously hoping and waiting to see if Mitsuha and Taki would ever get the chance to meet each other face to face.
I truly believe that anyone and everyone would enjoy this film. Your Name is not targeted towards a certain gender or age group, nor does an audience need an understanding of the anime genre to watch it. The film is a stand-alone and it is easily accessible for all.
*This review was originally published in the online magazine ‘Cuckoo Review’ in January 2017*