‘Your Name. (Kimi no Na wa.)’ movie review
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
It has been 15 years, but an anime film has finally surpassed Studio Ghibli’s legendary Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki in worldwide box office numbers. That anime is the visually dazzling Your Name. (Kimi no Na wa.) by Makoto Shinkai.
It is truly a historical achievement in Japanese cinema. The high figures set by Miyazaki seemed unbeatable considering that no other non-Ghibli anime film has achieved worldwide success. This success led to Shinkai being put on the map and being called “The New Miyazaki” by many. When he was asked about this, Shinkai told the AFP that although he is honoured to be mentioned alongside the Japanese animator paragon, he insists that he is “absolutely not on Miyazaki’s level.” However, once you have watched the film, then you start to see why Shinkai has the potential to become an icon.
Your Name. is truly a visual stunner for its lush and aesthetically pleasing animation. There is such grandeur in every piece of scenery that you can’t help but wish to be a part of that world. The film presents both rural and the urban settings so beautifully that it makes you see the visual splendour of both sides. The movie is also accompanied by a catchy soundtrack, which enhances the cinematic experience.
Without giving away too many spoilers, Your Name. has a body-swap theme in its plot. This revolves around two main characters in high school: a beautiful girl named Matsuhi who lives in the countryside, and a handsome boy named Taki who lives in Tokyo. One day, they wake up and realise that they are in a different place and a different body. The progression of events then becomes comedic and highly entertaining. For example, sexuality is portrayed humorously when the boy who has switched with the girl starts fondling the breast of the new body he’s in.
A gender-bender theme is also heavily implied from the way the two characters still act the way they would in their own body, so they are presenting behaviours usually expected of the opposite sex. This leads to interesting outcomes and reactions from the people around them. First, they think it’s a dream when they return back to their own bodies, but then they realize from other people that something unusual has happened. Matsuhi and Taki then leave each other notes, and as soon as they see the notes, the two know that this mysterious phenomenon is actually happening, so now they have to work together to make sure their other half lives naturally.
The storyline of Your Name. is extremely brilliant. A succession of unexpected plot twists take place, and once the first occurs, it becomes an emotionally impactful ride—similar to the cosmic phenomenon depicted in the movie—which could tug your heartstrings and crush your soul at the same time. At the surface, you might think it is simply a body-swap film, but it is in fact so much more than that. The body-swap element is just a thread used for a tapestry interwoven with Japanese cultures, beliefs, history, and philosophical ideas. The Japanese authenticity could be one of the big reasons why it became such a big blockbuster in Japan. Despite this, non-Japanese viewers can still relish in this beauty, the excellent story, and pick up a couple things from it.
Your Name., in my opinion, is the best animated feature of 2016 and is one of the redeeming qualities of that year. Many movie reviewers are calling it an Oscar contender, and considering its critical acclaim, it rightfully deserves a nod. Even people who do not usually watch anime will find it impressive. Funimation announced recently that both the subbed and English dub versions will hit North American theatres in April, so mark your calendars and get tissues ready.
The headline will make sense once you have watched it. It is really a movie you must not miss.