Your Name (Kimi no na wa)

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“The braided cords that we make are the god’s art and represent the flow of time itself. They converge and take shape. They twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break, and then connect again.”

Mitsuha Miyamizu is a teenage girl from a small mountain town. She’s mild-mannered and dutiful to the rituals of her family’s shrine, yet she yearns for escape from her dull village life.
Taki Tachibana is a plucky high-school student in Tokyo, working a part time job in a fancy restaurant, with aspirations to become an architect.
They are complete strangers living completely separate lives until one day they suddenly wake up in each other’s bodies. The story that follows is an emotional and heart-warming journey as the protagonists unravel the mystery that has tied their fates together.

Upon its initial release, Your Name received widespread critical acclaim for its animation quality and narrative, and quickly became the Highest-Grossing Anime Film of all time worldwide[x]. It also received numerous awards, including Best Screenplay and Best Music Score at the Japanese Academy Awards. And it’s not hard to see why, because this film is truly a special experience.

Without spoiling any major plot points, Your Name’s greatest strength is Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship with each other. There’s a strong sense of the distance between them, a wistful yearning for something that’s just outside of your reach, like a dream you can’t fully recall. This dynamic is a recurring hallmark of Shinkai’s films. It’s a different take on the girl-meets-boy trope, which makes their friendship all the more unique and charming. I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotionally invested in a film before, sitting on the edge of my seat and rooting for the characters as if my well-being were dependent on it. There may have also almost been tears at some points.

Another outstanding feature was the breath-taking scenic landscapes. They border upon being gratuitous in quantity, but they are instrumental in helping set the tone of the film. The soft warm light of the Itamori countryside contrasts with the cold straight lines of the city, and the depiction of wide open vistas helps cement the feeling of space and longing between the characters. The passage of time is also masterfully depicted with a number of stunning time lapses, showing an incredible command of light and dark colour palettes. Shinkai has a preference of setting his stories in every day locations, and the detail of the artwork allows you to feel fully immersed in that world.

A recurring theme throughout the film is the transitional period of twilight or “kataware-doki” – the co-existence of two states of being, between light and dark, day and night, the tangible and the spiritual. This concept is not only applicable to the characters’ experiences, but to the film itself as it is hard to define Your Name by any particular genre.  It’s a Slice of Life, but those lives are very different. It’s a Love Story, but it’s not heavy-handed romance. There’s a lot of light hearted humour, without detracting from the narrative. We’re asked to believe in the mystical, while remaining firmly set in our world.  Ultimately, it’s a journey that focuses on the human spirit that transcends space and time itself.

The Madman DVD release has both the English dub, and the Japanese audio with English subtitles. I would highly recommend taking the time to watch the Japanese version, as Mone Kamishiraishi and Ryûnosuke Kamiki both do such an incredible job of voicing life into their characters, and there are a couple of jokes that are a lot funnier in the original context. The additional special features include an overview of director Makoto Shinkai’s previous filmography, an adorable TV Special interview, and various promotional material from Your Name’s theatrical release. The DVD also comes with two beautiful exclusive art cards with iconic scenes from the film.

Your Name is a fantastic film with breath taking animation and an endearing narrative which will find its way into the hearts of even the most diverse of audiences.  .

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