Some of the best films where teenagers are the focal point of the moviegoers attention usually leaves me with a feeling of whiplash-at times frantic and mundane, strikingly hilarious and contemplative, and emanates a slight amount of uncanny surrealism. These are usually the emotional connotations that arise in my mind whenever I introspectively look back at that time in my life, and that’s what I got out of this movie. Your Name, is directed by Makoto Shinkai, an anime film that has broken numerous box-office records in Japan, gotten some Oscars hype for the Animated Feature category (though it was omitted), and has just recently gotten a wide release in North America. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to see this movie, and boy was it amazing!
The narrative of this movie follows two high schoolers, Mitsuha and Taki, who live within very different parts of Japan. Mitsuha resides within a quiet and serene countryside, while Taki lives in a more bustling and rowdier atmosphere in the city of Tokyo (which is where Mitsuha dreams of living one day). In most scenarios, the chances of them knowing of each other’s existence would be incredibly slim. But on one peculiar morning, Taki abruptly wakes up in a room that bears no resemblance to his. He then takes a quick gander at the rest of his body (the one he’s currently in) and notices that he has a girl’s physique. Out of momentary impulse, Taki begins fondling his upper-chest region in a state of extreme fascination, much to the disgust of Mitsuha’s younger sister. Mitsuha finds herself in a similar situation when she wakes up and soon realizes that she’s in control of Taki’s body. She’s even more taken aback by this strange occurrence, but her feeling of dread soon dissipates when she finds out that she’s in the lively city of Tokyo; this feels like Heaven to her since she has grown sick of living in the sticks.
At first they just assume that this is all a weird dream. But after awhile, Mitsuha and Taki begin to realize that some Freaky Friday s##t (body swapping) is going on through cellphone messages with each other, and through the startled responses of their fellow peers. Once a mutual feeling of understanding and trust is laid out between them, they begin to spark positive changes in each other’s lives. Mitsuha makes Taki more compassionate towards others, and helps set up a date for him since he is painfully shy towards a girl that he really likes. While Taki gives Mitsuha the courage to stand up for herself rather meekly backing down.
The later parts of Your Name, which I’ll avoid spoiling for you, might come off as more grim and mind screwy (maybe not quite as dense as Steins;Gate or Lain). But I thought it was handled quite well since the director does an amazing job of artistically capturing the fickle state of mind that might come with adolescence, which can be both an exciting and terrifying period in anyone’s life.
On a visual level, this film is absolutely breathtaking. The terrain and buildings throughout the entirety of the movie has a scrupulous amount of detail poured into them, and I loved how the facial gestures and mannerisms were expressed since it really does breathe life into each one of the characters.
All in all, I really loved Your Name. It was an intensely absorbing watch that struck a chord with me in a lot of ways. This movie made me laugh heartily, it highlights the value of empathy, and it even left me on the verge of tears at times. I look forward to checking out the other movies in Shinkai’s directorial career since this was my very first experience from him, and any movies that he plans on making in the near future.