Friday 31 August 2018

Your Name ★★★★☆

Even if you’re not into anime, if you’re a film buff then there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Your Name. The film was an absolute smash, becoming the 5th highest grossing non-English film of all time worldwide. The beauty of the animation, music, themes and writing in this film have been applauded time and time again, so for the sake of a digestible review, I’ll keep my fawning about this film light and breezy. It’s a bloody masterpiece and I could watch it a hundred times.

The story of Your Name centres around two teenagers. Mitsuha, a girl from a highly traditional family who lives in a quiet but beautiful village in the countryside, and Taki, a boy who studies and works in the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo. Their worlds couldn’t be more different, and secretly Mitsuha yearns for the excitement of city living. 

For unknown reasons at first, the two begin switching bodies at random - leaving each other messages, positively affecting each other’s lives and becoming emotionally close despite being so physically far apart. As the story develops, the two make use of their shared connection to try and prevent a devastating natural disaster, caused by a beautiful and ever-present shooting star that is flying across the sky over Japan. 

The film is beautifully drawn, and the team behind it should be enormously proud of themselves. The connection between Mitsuha and Taki gives us great juxtapositions between modern Tokyo and the more traditional Japanese countryside. The film is full of these comparisons of their two worlds, and rather than elevating one over the other, it shows us the beauty in both.

I’ll be the first to admit that the humour and character of some Japanese media can get a little lost in translation - especially in anime. But every character in this film is likeable, and many are genuinely funny in ways that we can all relate to. The genuineness of Mitsuha and Taki make them incredibly likeable even if they make choices that we might disagree with, and their differences become their strengths. Their relationship is fascinating to the viewer, likely because they are genuinely fascinated with one another. 

Although technically you could reduce it to the label of body-swap rom com, this film is no Freaky Friday. The story is a little complicated and at times hard to follow. Not all of the logic in the connection between major plot points is sound, but it overcomes this by never lingering too long on anything to over-explain it. The connection between Mitsuha and Taki that is causing them to switch bodies is never completely explained, and the film works all the better for it. It’s happening, and we’re just there for the ride.

Follow the storyline, and your investment in the characters pays off. The film has a very satisfying emotional climax, with a very open-ended conclusion. Most of your questions will have an answer by the final scenes, but those scenes will raise just as many new questions too. It’s equal parts frustrating and satisfying - reminding you that what matters is the journey, not the destination. 

Your Name is a wonderfully told story. It’s full of character, likeability and beautiful artwork. Set aside any reservations you have about animated movies, or anime itself, and watch this film.

Jake Turnbull

Your Name at CeX

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