Your Name Review
Your Name (2016) Film Review, a movie directed by Makoto Shinkai, and starring Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita, Aoi Yuki, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Kaito Ishikawa, Kanon Tani, Masaki Terasoma, Sayaka Ohara, Kazuhiko Inoue, Chafurin, Kana Hanazawa, Yuka Terasaki, and Takashi Onozuka.
Coming from Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, Your Name tells the story of two very different people who, by a strange twist of fate, find themselves switching bodies with each other and forced to live their lives as one another. It’s a simple concept that has been explored before in films like Disney‘s fondly-remembered Freaky Friday movies as well as Rob Schneider‘s less fondly-remembered The Hot Chick, but it has never been told quite like this. Gorgeously animated, the movie dazzles with its convincing combination of traditional hand-drawn animation and three-dimensional computer graphics and pulsates with life just like the sweetly sentimental story it weaves.
An ambitious Tokyo boy and a cautious girl living in a small country town, Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) are worlds apart from each other. Thanks to their supernatural connection however, the two get to know each other in a most intimate way. Prudently taking its time introducing its central premise, the film allows viewers to stew in confusion alongside Taki and Mitsuha as they realize what is happening to them. Initially dismissing their experiences as nothing more than wistful dreams, the protagonists are shocked to learn that they are not just dreams when their friends and families tell them they have been behaving strangely lately.
Exchanges like Mitsuha’s sister (Kanon Tani) informing her that she was acting “like a demon” the day before and urging that she get an exorcism as well as a friend of Taki’s (Nobunaga Shimazaki) jokingly confiding to the other that he’s “cute” when Mitsuha embodies him advance the narrative in addition to establishing the nature of the relationships and interactions both characters have with others. The fact that they’re funny makes them all the more memorable, injecting a clever sense of humor that is woefully absent from most movies belonging to the two people-swapping bodies sub-subgenre of comedy.
But for all the laughs there are to be had, there is just as much to make you want to cry for our young heroes. After an unsuccessful date with a coworker of his that Mitsuha set up for him, Taki realizes that it’s her he loves, and she him. But sadly, he not only stops swapping bodies with her but discovers that she died years before when a comet struck her town. It’s only after Taki drinks kuchimazake, a drink fermented with Mitsuha’s saliva as part of a ritual, at her family’s derelict shrine that he is able to reconnect with her, falling into a fever dream detailing her mother’s death and her father’s subsequent estrangement from them and their grandmother. It is no coincidence that this happens after they swap – or rather, swish – spit, a novel yet family-friendly substitute for sexual intercourse. Perhaps it should have been a given that a movie about teenagers exchanging bodies would involve them exchanging bodily fluids as well.
But even at its saddest moments the movie is stunning to look at, with the gorgeously rendered animation being quite the sight to behold. This is combined with camera work that gives the film a fluid feel and keeps the audience’s attention. Some moments and events might happen just a little too fast as a result, but it never develops into a problem that detracts from the experience as a whole. The ubiquitous presence of a soft but noticeable glare effect gives the picture a dream feeling that suits the character’s initial assumption that they are only dreaming, with white light creeping in through restaurant windows and Mitsuha being basked in pure incandescence as she enters the busy streets of Tokyo in Taki’s body for the first time.
This creative arrangement is highlighted when Mitsuha and Taki watch the comet pass through the sky above them. As the meteor descends, the camera swivels and zooms behind the enraptured youths’ heads before completing the swivel and zooming back out while they watch the coming celestial body break apart and leave beautiful blue streaks in the sky as pieces of it fall to earth. It is only when it’s too late that Mitsuha realizes that one of the chunks of space debris is headed her way yet even after we learn of the role the collapse of the comet played in her and town’s doom, we still regard the sight of the two lovers gazing at the falling star that separates them from each other beauteously. It’s a mesmerizing sequence that epitomizes the film’s endearing, childlike desire to find magic in the midst of life’s melancholy moments.
In a subset of film that is already characterized by its potential for imagination and artistry, Your Name is able to stand out from its peers and chart a unique place for itself. The story may be simple, but the way it’s told and the sheer way it looks is proof positive for filmmakers that execution is as important – maybe even more so – than premise. All in all, Your Name is a dazzling tale that requires your eyes as much as your brain to recognize its radiance.
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