If, like me, you’re a fan of animation from the likes of Studio Ghibli then the chances are you’ll know, or at least heard of, Your Name. Even if you’re not into this sort of film it can’t have passed you by as Your Name has become the fourth highest grossing film of all time in Japan and highest grossing anime film worldwide.
Mitsuha Miyamizu, voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi (Nobody’s Perfect, Wolf Children) is an ordinary high-school girl living in the fictional mountain town of Itomori. It’s a beautiful town surrounding a lake in the countryside but Mitsuha finds it boring and longs to escape to Tokyo. Meanwhile Taki Tachibana, voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) is a high-school boy in Tokyo and both end up connected in an unusual way.
I’m not going to go into much detail on the storyline here as it would be difficult not to end up giving too much away. Luckily however, it’s not difficult to talk about Your Name and steer clear of the storyline.
This film is nothing short of magical. The animation is absolutely stunning. The characters are drawn and animated in the typical Japanese fashion but the scenery and cityscapes are truly spectacular. There are some scenes which look almost photo-realistic. I often beg people to watch foreign films in their original language with subtitles and I still do with Your Name. However, I then suggest you watch it a second time, dubbed, so you can take in all the truly mind-blowing artistry.
The story is beautifully told and starts out in a brave way which, at first, can seem a little disconcerting but means you’re thrown in just as much as Mitsuha and Taki. You are just as confused as they are and learn, perhaps a little before they do, what’s actually going on.
Your Name is, at its heart, a lovely, heart-warming love story between two people separated only by distance. What writer and director Makoto Shinkai (The Place Promised in our Early Days, The Garden of Words) does is add in some light comedy touches too which are brilliant and had me laughing out loud. Having said that, there are some that don’t translate that well into English but we’ll just have to live with that.
There are elements of time travel and fantasy all wrapped up in a love story with some measures of growing pains and man’s inability to see what’s in front of them. It’s truly remarkable to cram so much into a script and then a film and not have it feel bloated or a run time of that’s excessive on the posterior! Shinkai manages it wonderfully with Your Name.
There’s quite a lot music and songs going on in the movie, apparently written by the J-rock (didn’t even know that was a thing) band Radwimps, which explains that name appearing in the credits. The songs are all ballads and not really my thing but do add to the movie much like a song and dance number can in a musical film. Three (I think I remember three), is a tad excessive but that’s just personal taste.
Your Name is a wonderful film that, and this may sound odd, is to anime what Pixar are to animation. It started with a story, a little mad perhaps, a bit out there, but brought together in a way that tugs at your heart and leaves a nice warm feeling inside, in a similar way Pixar aim to do with their movies. The difference of course, is Japan seem to add a certain grittiness to things, it’s probably the anime-style that does it. Whatever it is, with Your Name it has worked.