Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG for Thematic Elements, Suggestive Content, brief Language, and Smoking
(Japanese with English subtitles)
Directed by: Makoto Shinkai
Written by: Makoto Shinkai
(based on the novel YOUR NAME by Makoto Shinkai)
Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Masami Nagasawa, Etsuko Ichihara, Ryo Narita, Aoi Yuki, Nobunaga Shimazaki & Kaito Ishikawa
What’s the highest grossing anime film of all-time? It used to be Hayao Miyazaki’s highly imaginative SPIRITED AWAY…until that title was recently stolen by YOUR NAME. Based on a novel by director/writer Makoto Shinkai, YOUR NAME is one of the most hyped animated features to come around in quite some time and it deserves every piece of praise that it’s received thus far. This film is beautifully animated, brilliantly written and strikes a deep emotional cord. I was expecting to like YOUR NAME when I walked into the theater and I walked out absolutely loving it.
Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi), a teenage girl living in a small mountain town, is sick of her dull country life. Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a teenage boy living in Tokyo, is your typical awkward adolescent. These two seemingly unconnected people become very connected when they inexplicably begin body-swapping. Some days, Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body and Taki wakes up in Mitsuha’s body. Other days, they go about their normal lives. This unexplainable body-swapping begins to build deep emotional ties and affection between Mitsuha and Taki, but things become even stranger as they go along.
YOUR NAME’s premise sounds a lot like the anime equivalent of FREAKY FRIDAY. While it does have genuinely hilarious comedic moments, the film’s premise also opts for a more serious approach on the seemingly outlandish material. Body-swapping is only part of the major plot because this story goes into borderline genius and unexpected territory. I was floored when this film threw some complicated curveballs at the viewer and upped its stakes significantly. I’ll avoid going into further details about the plot, because I don’t want to risk spoiling a single laugh, shock, or tear-jerking second.
That’s not to say that YOUR NAME’s success functions purely on its plot twists, because the film also does a marvelous job of building up two distinctly different characters in their own lives. The viewer grows to care about both Mitsuha and Taki throughout the course of their initial body-swapping. Their lives are thrown into a disarray as their friends don’t know what to think about seemingly erratic changes in personality and everyday events become huge problems to tackle (e.g. being late for work as a waiter or dealing with town bullies). Once the film reveals just how deep and complicated its story goes, the viewer cares even more about the outcome because we already love these two characters so much.
YOUR NAME’s fleshed-out characters and smart writing are further heightened with stunning animation! This film’s visuals are gorgeous to look at and its all too easy for the viewer to get lost in this beautiful world. YOUR NAME is traditionally animated (meaning that a lot of it is hand-drawn) and was aided by certain computer-animated additions, but 95% of the film seems to be the former. This old-fashioned quality makes the film appear even more impressive, because there are big shots that feel epic in scale.
I’ve pretty much ranted and raved about this film as much as I can without giving any spoilers. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that YOUR NAME is an animated masterpiece. This is one of the best animated films that I’ve ever seen…period. It’s also the best anime film that I’ve seen, but (to be fair) I haven’t seen many anime films in my lifetime. In just about every possible aspect, YOUR NAME is heartfelt and sincere. I love the wonderful characters! I love the brilliantly executed story! I love the gorgeously animated visuals! YOUR NAME is beautiful in just about every conceivable way! If you’re a fan of fantastic cinema and treasure movies that move you on a deeply emotional level, YOUR NAME is a must-see! I adore this movie!