It’s not hard to see why Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name (Kimi no Na wa/君の名は。) has managed to captivate audiences around the world. The hype and buzz surrounding the film is well deserved and further solidifies Shinkai’s place in the future of Japanese animation and filmmaking.
Your Name tells the story of Taki Tachibana, a Tokyo high school boy, and Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl living in the countryside, who find themselves randomly waking up in each other’s bodies. They have never met in person and only begin communicating by leaving notes on each other’s phones, school notebooks and even on each other’s bodies for them to find. After a while, they grow more comfortable (as one can get) in the strange situation and begin to intervene in each other’s lives, much to the annoyance of the other.
Their situation, however, abruptly changes and everything starts to unravel as it charges toward the film’s emotional climax.
On the surface, Your Name checks all the boxes for anyone familiar with Japanese anime and even Asian romantic dramas. It is an easy story to follow, despite having several intricacies, not the least of which being the supernatural and fantastical element that is present.
But the universality of youth, love, family and friendship allow the film to be accessible and relatable. There is a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality that successfully couples with the ethereal visuals and writing.
All these qualities are very familiar to me and anyone else who may have seen some of Makoto Shinkai’s previous work. For me (so far), it is the films 5 Centimeters per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days.
5 Centimeters Per Second was especially excellent as it featured a “wonderfully moving and realistic” slice of life story. Though more fantastical than 5 Centimeters, Your Name carried the same amount of poignancy and sincerity that allows its multi-faceted story to be both quiet and adventurous at the same time.
Makoto Shinkai has showed he has a knack for such stories and he does them well. Your Name may contain familiar themes and even story beats, but it isn’t any less affecting or satisfying for anyone who’s hopped on for the ride.
The overall appeal of Your Name might be its romantic charm. Both Taki and Mitsuha believe they are dreaming at first. Your Name itself feels like such a dream. Greatly aided by the beautiful animation, the story naturally, but quickly builds around Taki and Mitsuha. Not just their relationship with each other, but the relationships they have with other people and the relationships around them. The film also touches on the relationships both have with their city or town. The contrast is another common theme in similar Japanese anime.
Ultimately, Makoto Shinkai is able to take another step forward in announcing his presence to the world. And that’s no easy task when Japan has been home to some of the best and most original storytellers, especially in animation.
Your Name‘s poignant, emotional, romantic and just pure fun story easily show why the film has become a worldwide critical and commercial success.