Review: Your Name
Japanese animated film adaptation exceeds expectations
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Making its U.S. debut on April 7th, Your Name is a Japanese animated film about two high school students in two different worlds switching bodies. Based off of the novel of the same name, the film is directed by Makoto Shinkai.
The film’s main characters are Mitsuha and Taki, in which both characters are high school students yet live in entirely different environments. Mitsuha is the mayor’s daughter of the relatively small town of Itomori, which is located near the mountains of Japan. Due to living in the countryside, she often expresses her discontent with its idleness and wishes to live in Tokyo.
On the other hand, Taki is a teenager living in Tokyo and is fairly satisfied with his life. He is depicted as having a friendly disposition and also holds a part time position at an Italian restaurant. Despite the film’s depiction of both characters living separate lives and being completely unaware of each other’s existence, both Taki and Mitsuha begin to switch bodies irregularly.
Without each other knowing, their families and friends begin showing concern at their changed behaviors and demeanors. However, they begin to communicate through notebooks and memos left for each one other while remaining in each others’ bodies. Through the memories they create with swapping their bodies, both begin to see the changes the other has made in their lives. Mitsuha helps Taki develop a relationship with his co-worker Miki and Taki helps Mitsuha become more popular at school.
However, one day, Taki and Mitsuha stop communicating in which Taki is confused about what could have happened to Mitsuha. Judging by a sketch drawn by Taki of Mitsuha’s hometown, Taki travels with his friends to hopefully find her.
While the idea of two characters swapping bodies and time travel seems overdone, Your Name makes this exchange and relationship between Taki and Mitsuha as genuine as possible. The conflict and struggle both characters may face originally is overcome by both Taki and Mitsuha attempting to help one another out. The strong relationship developed over the positive intervention in each others’ lives and differing personalities is the most significant aspect of Your Name’s plot.
The emotional aspect of their relationship is felt through the amount of communication and empathy both Taki and Mitsuha share and through the progress of their relationship. The adolescence of both characters also represents a certain type of vitality and refreshing perspective skillfully crafted by Shinkai himself. This is most evident through Mitsuha’s desire for a change from her usual day-to-day surroundings and Taki’s feelings of nervousness in starting a new relationship with his co-worker Miki.
The cinematography of the film, being an animated film, beautifully portrays both the hustle bustle of Tokyo and the idyllic landscape of Mitsuha’s hometown. The detailed and visually appealing scenes reinforce the picturesque images set in each sequence of the film. Being characterized as a fantasy film matched by the out-of-body experiences integral to both characters, the artistic portrayal of scenes makes Your Name worth watching.