Your Name FILM REVIEW
The red string of fate binds us all, and for Mitsuha and Taki this something that can be taken a little more literally as the pair unexpectedly switch bodies with each other every other day. Mitsuha is a high-school girl who lives in the countryside town Itomori, while Taki is a Tokyo boy trying to balance his school and work life. Their lives are turned upside down by the change, and they must learn to adapt to the change.
It doesn’t take long to fall in love with them both as they fumble around in each other’s bodies struggling to keep their lives on track, writing notes, and getting angry at what the other is doing in their body. They are a relatable pair, and their story is as funny as it is heart-breaking. The film is so much more than a body-swap comedy though, and it quickly becomes evident that there’s a deeper meaning to their new situation.
It’s a joy to see such a strong storyline in the film, as the narratives of Makoto Shinkai’s films haven’t always stood up as strongly in comparison to his animation. It is something that he has slowly been improving — Garden Of Words being a key highlight— and it’s clear that with this new film that everything has changed. He has become a masterful storyteller, not missing a beat and using every single second to his advantage. There are moments in the film that don’t seem significant at first but which then become key later on, and it ensures that each twist leaves you guessing until the unexpected is revealed. This is especially true in the film’s final act, as things become even more intense when Taki and Mitsuha run around trying to fix everything.
Of course, Makoto Shinkai has always been an incredible artist. He is able to make even the most every day of occurrences seem beautiful. His stunning backdrops are awe-inspiring, especially when it comes to the sci-fi themes that are present in his films 5 Centimetres Per Second, A Voice From A Distant Star, and now in Your Name. He has completely outdone himself with this animation, though, and while he has created beautiful depictions of Tokyo and events in space before in Garden Of Words and 5 Centimetres Per Second, it hasn’t quite been like this. Time-lapse animations of Tokyo show the days passing, and the comet that is hurtling over Japan is as striking a sight for the characters as it is for the audience.
Another particular highlight of the film is the soundtrack composed by rock band RADWIMPS, which features the incredibly catchy opening and ending theme tunes “Yumetourou” and “Zen Zen Zense” as well as a plethora of instrumental tracks. Their ability to create instrumental music that perfectly epitomises what’s seen on screen, as well as being able to increase the tension when needs be, is quite impressive and increases the overall quality of the animation as a result.
All in all, Your Name is a moving film, that combines Shinkai’s stunning visuals with a powerful storyline. Building on what he has done before, and surpassing all expectations for the film, Your Name is truly able to confirm Shinkai’s spot as Japan’s top animator.
Review by Roxy Simons