Your Name is a Japanese anime fantasy film and is written and directed by Japanese director Makoto Shinkai. I’ve not seen any of his previous films, but from just Your Name alone it’s clear to see that he’s hugely influenced by Studio Ghibli legend Hayao Miyazaki.
A beautiful body swap romance, with elements of fantasy and teen comedy, Your Name is a melding of these genres that comes together to create a brilliant and extremely moving film that essentially comes down to a relationship between two High Schoolers, young girl Mitsuha, and young boy Taki. It’s such a brilliantly original on the body swap idea. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a body swap film where the two characters have never met before. It brings a brilliant new dynamic to the genre.
The fact that the two main characters come from such different worlds, Mitsuha from a rural village, and Taki from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, yet still feel the same disenchantment with their surroundings helps form the interesting dichotomy between the lives of the two characters, but also gives us a believable connection between the two.
The supporting characters in each of the protagonists’ lives are well rounded. Mitsuha has her grandmother and sister, politician father who she isn’t close to, and friends who are stuck in similar positions she is trapped in the rural town. Whilst Taki also has the close friends, a distant father, and a potential love interest Miki. They all help get us to know and understand the characters of Mitsuha and Taki, and help them understand one another when the body swaps occur.
The body swaps lead to plenty of great comedic moments. Taki’s obsession with Mitsuha’s breasts, Mitsuha’s interference in Taki’s love life, and the angry notes they leave one another when they revert back to their own bodies. But this also helps us care far more deeply for these characters, and understand how they could come to care for and love this person they’ve never met.
The path the story takes is truly unexpected and moving, managing to both break my heart watching the film and fill me with great joy. Shinkai successfully taps into that Ghibli esq magic that is both fantastical and still a close enough reflection of the real world that he can still tell an incredibly moving and emotional story.
The film looks absolutely stunning. Even without the 3D animation effects that the big Western studios have at their disposal, Your Name still succeeds in bringing some of the most beautiful animated imagery of the year to the big screen. It truly proves that 2D animation is still very much alive, and has a place in the 3D animation dominated world.
This is not only one of the best animated, but best films, of the year. Your Name does a great job of combining the fantastical romantic story with high school comedy elements. The story is shocking and the characters are great. If Studio Ghibli is really done making animated feature films, then it is great to know that Japan has anime filmmakers ready to take the mantel of creating magical films such as Your Name.