Something magical tends to happen when Anime comes to the big screen.
Films by Satoshi Kon, Hayao Miyazaki, and Isao Takhata have been consistently inspiring, imaginative, elegant, beautiful, and honestly so many other adjectives apply that it’s hard to list them all. While these names are arguably the most well known directors making Anime in cinematic form, there have consistently been others crafting just as powerful films that reach a criminally small number of American viewers. Your Name, directed by Makoto Shinkai, is one of those films that is begging to be seen by audiences around the world of all ages and with a little hope it will be.
Minor spoilers ahead!
Shinkai, director of 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and The Garden of Words, once again tells a love story with a sci-fi/fantasy twist in Your Name. The story follows Taki Tachibana, a “handsome Tokyo city-boy”, and Mitsuha Miyamizu, a country girl living with her sister and grandmother in the town temple, as they randomly swap bodies in their dreams. The two begin altering the course of each other’s lives and forming a bond that transcends the distance between them.
The early stages of the film are lighthearted and fun, with moments that had me smiling from ear-to-ear and even laughing out loud. Watching Taki and Mitsuha behave in ways “unbecoming” of their gender was hilarious as well as an interesting look into the views of gender roles in Japanese culture.
Once we’ve established the nature of how these two are affecting each others lives and relationships the tone of the movie drastically shifts into a more serious affair. The moment connecting Taki and Mitsuha is the arrival of a comet on a 1,200 year orbit. Without saying too much, the comet is pivotal to all of the events in the film and sets in motion the emotional journey bringing together Taki and Mitsuha in person.
This is where Your Name truly shines. The emotional roller-coaster effect the film has is incredibly satisfying and I will happily be riding over and over again. From the moments of laughter and joy to my disheveled and hairy face knotting up as tears welled behind my eyes, it’s hard to say what my favorite part was (probably the laughing, sad stuff is sad).
Aside from the wonderful storytelling, the animation is absolutely gorgeous in this film. If there’s ever a reason that my nerdy white-ass wants to travel to Japan, it’s because of the scenery in films like this.
Rounding out this near perfect package is the soundtrack by RADWIMPS. The score settles into your mind and stays with you long after the film is over. Even writing this up I find myself listening to the soundtrack on Spotify and having a hard time not choking up as I remember certain moments connected to it. I highly recommend checking out the soundtrack even if you haven’t seen the movie (maybe just avoid reading the titles of the tracks if you hate spoilers that much).
Overall, Your Name is easily an early contender for the best animated film of the year. It truly deserves all of the praise being heaped upon it by critics and audiences alike and I hope that this might push you in the direction of seeing it if you were on the fence. If you only watch Anime once this year, this needs to be it.