‘Your Name’ Tugs at Your Heartstrings When You Least Expect It
Makoto Shinkai‘s latest animated feature film, Your Name (or Kimi no na wa), is an incredibly sweet film about two teenagers who inexplicably swap bodies and lives. Since its debut in Japan last summer, Your Name has become one of the most successful anime features of all time. For good reason. The is a review for both the English dubbed and Japanese subtitled versions of the film.
About Your Name:
High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint. When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more-a chance to finally meet. But try as they might, something more daunting than distance prevents them. Is the string of fate between Mitsuha and Taki strong enough to bring them together, or will forces outside their control leave them forever separated?
Your Name is an endearing, loopy, unconventional romance movie about a couple who never actually gets to have the traditional “meet-cute.” In fact, none of the traditional genre tropes really apply here. Instead, our leads find themselves in a far more intimate circumstance — Taki in Mitsuho’s body, and Mitsuho in Taki’s. From there they learn about each other’s lives and almost immediately begin to meddle in them, making the other step way out of their comfort zones. Might as well since they’re beyond what is considered comfortable at this point.
Without getting too spoiler-ific here, the premise of the film almost reminds me of The Lake House, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, but with a obvious few differences. For one, Keanu and Sandra never swap bodies. Taki and Mitsuho do grow close to each other through their correspondence with one another, though.
For an animated film, Your Name has a very naturalistic tone in terms of the characters and story. It also takes a bit from Shinto mythology as Mitsuho’s life revolves around being the town’s resident priestess. The portrayals of both Tokyo and the Hida countryside are just stunning. It’s transition from something as visually complicated as raindrops dropping from a spider web to depicting the simple action of weaving brightly colored threads together by hand is a visual feast that never becomes overwhelming.
There’s a great deal of warmth coming each character as well, especially in all of Mitsuha’s segments. Even if you don’t spend too much time with many of the secondary characters, you still end up rooting for them as the film progresses. For as strange and fantastic as Your Name gets, it’s somehow grounded enough to maintain a strong sense of a slice of life story.
There are some fascinating revelations during the second half of the film revolving around Mitsuha’s town and the imminent passing of a beautiful comet, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
The musical soundtrack in the film is provided by RADWIMPS, a Japanese rock band. Their inclusion into the film’s montages and instrumental cues are pitch perfect for this film. However, I was a little put off when the same band rerecorded their songs in English to fit the dubbed version. There’s just something about hearing a Japanese song in English that just grates at my ears. But that’s me. Sometimes re-recording Japanese songs to English with the same artist works, but I think Utada Hikaru has been the only true successful artist in this respect.
That’s not to say the entire English dubbed version of Your Name is bad. The American voice actors fit the personalities of our characters quite well. The translation is nearly perfect. There are a few obvious changes in dialogue, specifically in places that wouldn’t make sense in English. There’s a scene where Taki/Mitsuho accidentally uses the feminine word for “I” rather than its male equivalent. Still the English replacements for these instances are just as awkward and funny.
Furthermore, the English dub makes Mitsuho’s little sister even more hilarious.
Your Name is a genuinely brilliant, funny, and sweet film. The third act had me balling as you began to wonder if our protagonists would ever be able to meet in real life. From there, however, it manages fill you with hope with one incredibly uplifting moment. This anime is easily one of the best films of the decade. It tugs at you in places you wouldn’t expect. Disney needs to step up their game.
You’ll be able to see Your Name for yourself when it officially debuts in American theaters in a limited release later this week, starting April 7, 2017. Be sure to check your local listings.
Disclosure: Funimation provided screeners of both the Japanese and English versions for the sole purpose of reviewing this film.