Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) is the latest offering from Makoto Shinkai who has also done such beautiful films as 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Garden Of Words and Children Who Chase Lost Voices. Your Name is a completely stunning film for so many reasons which needs to be seen by lovers of excellent and evocative storytelling.
The story traces the lives of Mitsuha who lives in a countryside area outside of Tokyo and Taki, a young schoolboy who lives miles away in Tokyo.
Mitsuha constantly bemoans about her boring life to her two closest friends from the lack of shops in the area to not being able to enjoy a cafe and generally having nothing to do.
Taki for the most part has the life of an everyday teenager who lives with his father. In the background of these two lives is a celestial event in the form of a comet which hasn’t been seen in 1200 years and will be visible to people as it streaks across the sky. One day, the two teenagers wake up and come to work out that they have swapped bodies. This leads to hilarious and very interesting encounters with each other’s friends. They begin to leave notes for each other in a digital diary so they know what each has done during the body swap. These body swaps are completely random and can occur when they least expect it and only happens when they wake up for the day.
The two become obsessed with finding each other but this is not without its ups and down which leads to some extremely dramatic moments in the film. The story is so well paced, it’s an absolute joy to watch with stunning bits of cinematography thrown in for good measure. Makoto san has crafted an amazing story which never bores or slows down and keeps the viewer on their toes for the duration of the film. It’s a highly evocative bit of storytelling and will have you reaching for tissues at various points. I won’t lie and admit that I got teary in no less than three parts of the film.
The scripting is very tight and so well balanced, you’ll wish that more storytellers would follow suit. It’s a very complex story at times which might leave you a bit lost in places but it always keeps the viewer hooked and picks up the pieces when you may have temporarily lost your way. This is not an easy thing to do and some films can have trouble with this but Your Name is definitely the rule to the exception.
The artwork is some of the best ever committed to film bar none. It’s beautiful, stunning, sublime and absolutely level with the storytelling. The artwork is rich and full of some of the most detailed scenes I’ve ever seen in animated film. From the sun dappled ripples across a lake to the fine details on a can of coffee from a vending machine, it’s an absolute delight. I’ve said this in previous reviews but seeing real life locales faithfully drawn is always great to see. The train carriages are all recreated with all the right colours for the destinations as well as the inside of the carriage down to the keep clear sign on the doors which are spot on.
It’s this level of detail that is a visual smorgasbord for your eyes. There’s so much going on that you don’t know where to look but despite this, even if you don’t look at what the focus is supposed to be, you don’t feel like you’ve missed anything. There are various settings in the film from the lush green countrysides, the stone grey urban sprawl with neon dipped store signs spread sporadically across the city down to the way little things like clothes blow and sway in the breeze. It’s all been done before of course but the art director and artists involved in this have added new elements which give it a new level of realism. Of particular note is the way the scenes with the comet in the sky have been animated. the way the camera rolls around and over the protagonists looking skywards unaware that each is doing the same miles away is amazingly beautiful.
The music is totally amazing and is yet another one to the add to the collection. I really like it when some films break into a song as the story progresses. It helps to break some of the drama which can be overwhelming and also helps to bring a new level of comedy to the film. For a taste of the theme song, have a look at the trailer below which highlights the track from RADWIMPS which serves the film very well.
Scenes are beautifully filled in by chirps and singing of birds, the sound of burning wood, running water and just general nature sounds and urban backdrops. It’s so good to see a film with such a strong art style, storytelling and doesn’t fall over in an area which can be looked over at times. The sound direction never comes across as artificial and only helps to pace an already well told story.
I’ll go on record and say that this is the best animated film I’ve seen so far and is easily the best from Makoto Shinkai. Your Name is an absolute masterclass in storytelling and it would be a massive disservice to yourself if you didn’t see it. Even if you think you won’t like it, it’s still worth watching just for the artwork which is worth the price of admission alone. It’s an excellent piece of storytelling and directing which doesn’t come along too often and will leave you wanting to view it again and again to get something new out of it each time. What you feel in your chest is real and unavoidable as you hope that everything tuns out in the best possible way as you connect with the characters and become completely invested with the story. Also, Madman need to be applauded for bringing this film out. It’s a feast for the eyes, ears, feelings and leaves you with an immense sense of hope, hope that everything can come together when everything seems against you. Brilliant.
Final score: 10/10