‘Your Name’ Review
From contributing film critic Andrew Gaudion
Makoto Shinkai is a name that you are going to want to keep an eye on. He is slowly but surely announcing himself as the next Hayao Miyazaki when it comes to constructing anime tales of unique artistry and emotional resonance. For those of you who haven’t seen Your Name, that comparison may seem a leap, but those have seen it will know how justified I am in such a remark.
Your Name follows two teenagers, Tokyo based Taki (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) and country girl Matsudi (Mone Kamishiraishi), who have never met each other before, but start to wake up in each other’s bodies sporadically. As they lay down ground rules and try to maintain their everyday lives, the pair attempt to deal with the situation as best they can, while they begin to get to know each other through unconventional means. But just what is causing the switch to take place? Might it just have something to do with the comet that is passing over Japan?
Your Name operates on several different levels. It plays as a broad comedy, squeezing a lot of great comedy from the body-swap concept, all the while crafting an engaging and touching romance with lashings of mind-boggling science fiction along the way. It allows for a high-concept story to keep its feet firmly grounded by telling a story about the troubles of adolescence, the pangs of young love, and just how alien you can feel in your own body during your formative years.
Taki and Mitsuha come across as two very relatable characters who end up simply being plunged into a surreal scenario. Mitsuha represents a more frustrated version of youth, a young girl bored of her small mountain town and her position in it (she is the daughter of the town mayor, meaning her every action is scrutinised). She’s uninterested in Shinto rituals and has no qualms in letting that fact be known. Her wish to up-root herself and take off to Tokyo are answered, albeit not in quite the way she would have hoped, but it helps set up the conflicting world-views of country and city life.
Taki is a high-schooler who seems to have already surrendered to the hustle and bustle of the city. He goes to school, he has a job, and barely seems to have much time to himself. When the two swap lives, it is initially hard for them both to re-adapt their lives to what is expected of them from those closest to them (as well as dealing with the whole gender swap thing). It leads to moments that make you laugh-out-loud and which make you truly care for these characters that are incredibly well realised.
This care for character is what allows for a third act twist to truly resonate. I shan’t give away what occurs here, but it is a reveal that changes the nature of the story into one which allows for a great amount of the character work to pay off tremendously.
Aside from the masterful story-telling, it is also a film which is simply stunning to behold. The sophisticated mix of 2-D characters and computer generated backgrounds blend brilliantly to convey both the countryside and the city of Tokyo in beautiful and eye-catching detail.
It is easy to discuss this film within the same breath of Ghibli classics. Some of the thematic concerns are similar; adolescents, city vs. nature, are all themes that can be found in the Ghibli canon. This coupled with the body-swap concept might make one think Your Name is simply treading over well-worn ground. Yet there is something that feels very fresh about Your Name, and it is largely down to the fact that it never takes anything for granted; Shinkai and his writers know where play to expectation, and they know the perfect moment when to pull the rug from under your feet. It leads to an enriching and surprising tale with a heart as big as its ambition.(5 / 5)
(Photos copyright: CoMix Wave Films)