Your Name is about a pair of teenagers who, with no explanation, briefly swap bodies several times. They have never met, and each has no idea who the other is. But their fate is tied to an approaching natural disaster.
When catastrophes happen, they are international news. You see pictures of destruction, the death toll, round-the-clock coverage until the news cycle moves on. And yet, many people are only scarcely aware while the story is happening. They might remember it later, or they might not.
And if something behind the scenes were going on, something supernatural, possibly no one would ever know. For instance if the village gods intervened in the lives of two people.
(Pro tip: be careful what you ask of the gods, in moments of exasperation.)
Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is really funny in places, as two teenagers have exchanged lives. Can Taki, a boy in Tokyo, adapt to unexpected forays into the life of a strange girl from a remote village? Can Mitsuha, finding that she is living Taki’s life, also find her way to school, to work, and figure out how to act like a boy? There’s a lot that people don’t know about the lives of the opposite sex. Can they leave vital instructions where the other will see them?
But it is also beautiful and mysterious and moving. Suddenly, the two displaced teens are back in their own lives, and have only sketchy memories of it all. Was it a dream? Their friends tell them about times when they acted strangely. Mitsuha asks her grandmother, who recounts that the women of their family all seem to experience such dreams. Taki cannot shake the feeling that it may have been more. He sets out on a quest to find out.
The gods probably know what is coming. Their exact involvement is unclear, but time, moving forward and backward, weaving and unraveling… is running out. Neither Mitsuha or Taki know that many lives are at stake.
Shinkai produces movies in a hyper-realistic style with attention to lighting, composition, and flow. I would call it; “Visual Affection”, the way he celebrates the world we can see. You could watch the film just for the gorgeous visuals, so:
- This fan-made trailer focuses on the mystery behind the story. I love the subtlety of its ending, after the screen goes dark.
- In The Perfect Anime, Gigguk reviews the movie, except he doesn’t. “I watched Kimi no Na Wa in theatres and it made me feel strange things. So I decided to write another brain fart and see where it took me. This is the result.”
- The movie touches lightly (heh) on prurient aspects of teenagers finding themselves in an opposite-sex body, but only for humor value. The story is much bigger that that.
- The scene where Mitsuha performs a Saki ritual will be taught in animation classes forever. But the scene, the one moment of perfectly suspended truth for me, was of Taki drawing Itimori from memories he got in his dreams. I don’t know why.
- Browntable review: “How Your Name and Anime Changed My Life“
- *Shinkai is actually tired of hearing about this movie. Hey I don’t know what to tell you Makoto; a lot of people liked it.