Your Name is an animated film from rising Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, telling the story of two teenagers finding love across space and time. The film has already received high praise and is a financial success in its homeland and abroad. With a limited theatrical release in Australia, it is time to see if it truly deserves the accolades.
The story follows Mitsuha, a girl living in the country yearning for city life, and Taki, a boy from Tokyo with a hand at drawing. The two have been having vivid dreams of another person’s life and are told by their friends that they act strangely on days they can’t remember. The pair soon realise that the dreams are real and they have been living out each other’s lives whenever they fall asleep.
The film puts a new spin on the body-swapping plot and, initially, gives little explanation about why the two are changing places and instead focuses more on how they handle each other’s lives. As they go about their days, the two slowly form an attachment to each other – despite their exasperation. It’s all light-hearted fare here, with some truly hilarious, if awkward, moments.
This introductory phase of the film takes up roughly the first half and segues nicely into the next act. It introduces a heartbreaking twist that causes the dynamic between the two to change dramatically, affirming that they truly have feelings for one another and their willingness to do whatever it takes to unite. The various ‘will they/won’t they’ moments will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering if the story will end happily or in tragedy.
The only problem with this part of the story is that it skews more towards Taki’s perspective than Mitsuha’s, making her more of a driving force behind the story than a realized character. Still, the film more than makes up for this with how it presents itself in storytelling and visuals.
The film prefers to show rather than tell its story, letting the actions of the characters do the talking, whether it be in the subtle movements or rich facial expressions. When there is dialogue involved, anything said does not feel meaningless in its delivery or reason. There’s no needless exposition either, the plot is presented in such a way that there’s no need for extra information, all while maintaining a smooth flow. This makes the film feel subdued, holding back the emotion before releasing it at just the right time for the greatest effect.
This film is beautiful. It’s well animated, it has a vibrant colour scheme and there’s detail in everything. There’s no shortage of eye candy; the sceneries will leave you gaping in awe. It’s all enhanced by a soundtrack that helps to drive home the emotion that has been held back, building to a truly emotional crescendo, making the climactic scenes all the more significant and impactful.
Your Name is a beautifully executed film in its storytelling and presentation. It’s a wonderful, flowing tale of two star-crossed lovers who connect through odd circumstances and defy the odds. The perfect balance of a touching tale, beautiful visuals and a moving soundtrack; you’ll be hard-pressed to find another film like it. It may not be Ghibli, but this movie indicates that Shinkai could rise to the same level as Hayao Miyazaki. A must-watch.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10