Anime director Makoto Shinkai’s newest film Your Name has been blowing up the box office charts since its release this past summer. Now the fifth-highest grossing anime movie to date, fans worldwide are gushing about the film, from its complex storyline to exquisite animation, and rightly so. This movie is sure to be considered a classic in any anime-lover’s eyes.
Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa in Japanese) follows the lives of two high school students. Mitsuha is a girl from the Japanese countryside who is tired of her habitual life and craves adventure, as almost every other young woman living outside of the city does. She constantly tells her family and friends how tired she is of their small town. She just wants to graduate high school and move to Tokyo as soon as possible.
But those who would automatically dismiss this as your typical story of teenage angst are soon given a run for their money, as this is not your ordinary tale of a teen who wishes she could be “anywhere but here.” One night, when it seems as though Mitsuha has simply had enough, she shouts up to the night sky, “I hate this town! I hate this life! Please make me a handsome Tokyo boy in another life!”
And, in a very Freaky Friday fashion, Mitsuha’s wish comes true, for the next morning she wakes up and…well, let’s just say she isn’t quite feeling herself. Or at least, that’s what she tells her new friends while she is stuck inside a boy named Taki’s body.
Enter Taki: the handsome Tokyo boy who Mitsuha wishes to be. Just as Mitsuha wakes up in his body, he wakes up in hers.
But right when the viewer assumes this will be your typical body-switching narrative (if there is such a thing), they are completely surprised and flipped upside down, just as the characters themselves are, when they find out that the body-switching happens multiple times, completely at random. Throughout the film, the two characters never know quite when they will switch places — one day, they are entirely themselves, and the next day they wake up on the complete other side of the country, stuck inside some other teenager’s body.
The complexity of the plot gets deeper and deeper just as the characters discover more and more about not only the person whom they are inhabiting, but themselves as well. Just when the viewer thinks they have the movie all figured out, they are given a new development, a new twist, and a new chance to shed some tears (this movie is without a doubt a tear-jerker).
The soundtrack and animation only enhance the depth and appeal of the story. Your Name features numerous songs that coincide with the scenes and emotions within the movie. If you watch it with English subtitles, you can read along with the song lyrics, which enhances the viewing experience even more.
The animation is absolutely breathtaking. During scenes that take place in Mitsuha’s countryside hometown, rays of sunlight, flowing water, rocky mountains, and autumnal foliage are animated beautifully. At times, I found myself pausing the film to gasp in awe — the animation was that good. Landmarks and areas found in Tokyo scenes are inspired by, and are replicas, of actual places in the real-life city, adding a realistic touch to an otherwise fantastical film.
Your Name will without a doubt take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. The story is almost too complex write about without including major spoilers, so I will leave you with this: If you are looking for a movie that will give you all the feels, take you on a trip from rural life to city life and back again, and make you believe in love if you hadn’t already, then this is definitely the movie for you. And if you aren’t looking for any of those things, well…just watch it anyway. You may realize that you have actually always been searching for them.