Your Name, a new love story by Makoto Shinkai, has been taking the world by storm with its charming tale and supernatural twists. Check out our official review to find out if we fell in love with this new-age anime too!
On one fateful day, Mitsuha Miyazaki, the daughter of the mayor living in a rural part of Japan, and Taki Tachibana, a student living in downtown Tokyo, start having dreams about living other people’s lives. They soon realize, that the dreams they are having are not dreams at all. In actuality, their individual consciousness are being transported into each other’s bodies. As the phenomena keeps occurring, their once-inconvenient relationship begins to bud into something more. That is, until a massive twist occurs, causing everything to spiral out of control.
Moving Love Story With Supernatural Elements
At first glance, this may seem like your run-of-the-mill “Slice of Life” anime but, by all accounts, that’s not the case. If you’re unfamiliar with anime terms, “Slice of Life” animes refer to the High School teen drama genre. While there are elements of school and teen drama, the added use of body-switching and expertly crafted twists make it a much richer experience.
Within the first 15 minutes, Director/Writer Makoto Shinkai is able to grip you with the unique way he tells this story. He does this by showing the point-of-view for each main character and perfectly capturing how any teenager would react to being switched with the opposite sex. The use of this amusing, yet realistic, character development instantly pulls you into the story. That pull deepens as you see everything they go through and how their lives are impacted from having each other live their lives. By the time you learn of the massive twist, you’re so invested in these characters you cheer and root for them, as if you knew them.
Above all, what I loved the most about Shinkai’s film is that he introduces certain elements and information early in the film, then he goes on to continue the story of Your Name. Then, when you least expect it, he goes back and explains everything, allowing the film to come full circle. My initial thoughts, while watching the movie, were that the story felt a bit disjointed. On the contrary, that’s what Shinkai wants you to think. He purposely laid out Your Name in bits and pieces, so when he came back and completed the puzzle the film felt complete. It’s a testament to him and his team on the amazing work they performed on Your Name.
Breathtaking Art Direction
While the art style in most animes are achievements in-and-of-themselves, I really like what Your Name was able to accomplish. Early on, it’s pretty apparent that Taki and Mitsuha have different personalities that they’re able to portray in the way that they walk and, of course, act. When one was inhabiting the other’s body, it became obvious, even without the internal dialogue they included.
The Animation Department’s artistic genius isn’t just limited to the characters, though. Your Name benefits from having a team that paid extra attention to the setting of this story. They’re able to accurately capture the busy, less-touristy parts of a city like Tokyo, as well as the rural landscapes that few see. One of the most breathtaking parts of the film was when you’re introduced to the shrine overlooking Itomori, the fictional rural town Mitsuha is from. The way the mountains broke through the endless sea of clouds and the setting sun glistened off their waves enriched the emotion felt in that setting. I could go on and on about each and every moment, but the point is the Art Department knocked the environment out of the park.
Mind-bending Twists, Turns, and Lore
As previously alluded to, Your Name is home to many twists and turns that few are able to see coming. During my viewing, I was so invested in what was going on that I didn’t notice the little hints Shinkai left for the audience. So, when the twist hit, I was just as dumbfounded as anyone. While most animes of this genre are predictable, what sets Your Name apart is how it is able to blindside even the most savvy viewer.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to leave the twists there, because of spoilers. Even the tiniest bit of information pertaining to the twist could ruin the surprise for our readers, and you simply shouldn’t do that to Your Name. However, I am able to speak on the lore introduced.
Your Name does a nice job of introducing us to certain parts of the Japanese culture that many of wouldn’t have known. For example, the traditional ritual performed by Mitsuha and her sister Yotsuha. They dress in traditional garb, dance in ancient styler, and then perform the ritual of chewing rice and spitting it out to make sake or Kuchikamizake. The women then, must take their sake and offer it up to the shrine above town. This becomes an important element later and provides further depth to the lore, but once again treads into spoiler territory.
Montages and Music
For the most part, everything about Your Name is absolutely wonderful. Even the love songs, included, help accentuate the story. However, there are a few times that it got too intrusive for my liking. Every now and then, I think the music came in at inappropriate times. I understand if it’s part of a montage but when they’re in the middle of dialogue, it felt out of place.
The only other blemish in Your Name came from the aforementioned montages. It’s understandable that when you have a limited amount of time to tell a story that the best way to go would be through a montage. It helps show a series of events and speeds up time. On the other hand, it doesn’t do a very good job of cultivating feelings. In Your Name, Mitsuha is helping Taki get a date with his long-time crush. She ends up planning a date for them, the kind of date she’d like to be on. Suddenly, Taki and Mitsuha have feelings for each other.
I would’ve rathered that they leaving the montages for other sequences and find the time to actually develop the love that was brewing. The love is definitely there, I just believe they could’ve spent more time cultivating it.
A Beautiful Anime That You Won’t Soon Forget
Overall, Your Name may be one of my favorite anime movies of all time, ranking just underneath most of Hayao Miyazaki's films. Shinkai deserves a lot of credit for finding the perfect balance between modern-day love story and ancient mysterious supernaturalism. With those attributes, along with a realistic approach to the writing, Your Name takes you on an incredible journey that may leave you in tears. For any anime fans out there, Your Name is a must-watch.