Every once in awhile, you see a movie that presents the emotions of the characters within the narrative in such a strong way it is almost palpable. Your Name is a story about the emotional highs and lows that tie people together.
Your Name is an anime movie about two high school kids connected across distance and time. Taki attends a high school in the bustling city of Tokyo. He hangs out with his friends at school and desperately works part time as a waiter at a restaurant. Mitsuha, on the other hand, lives in the rural town of Itomori. She lives with her younger sister and grandmother and tends to a shrine. She wishes that she could live in the bustling city of Tokyo. As fate would have it, the two of them somehow end up switching bodies due to forces beyond their control. As the story proceeds, Taki and Mitsuha struggle to get used to their abnormal situation while beginning to appreciate the new experiences and emotions they are going through.
First things first. Your Name is an absolutely gorgeous film. The characters animate beautifully and are all incredibly expressive. Each of the main characters has such unique movements. They each are presented as being so full of life, it is quite easy to become attached to them. Because we spend so much with the two leads, their specific behaviors become hilarious and telling when the two of them switch places. The way the two of them desperately try to fit into unfamiliar roles is incredibly charming. Seeing Mitsuha struggle to interact with Taki’s friends as well as go to work at his waiting job were highlights. Likewise, there was a scene where Taki discovered he was trapped in Mitsuha’s body that seemed gratuitous at first but quickly became a hilarious running gag. The side characters had a lot of great moments as well. Two of my favorites have to be Mitsuha’s two friends Katsuhiko (Teshi) and Sayaka. Mitsuha has a great dynamic with these two. They both get to lay witness to Mitsuha’s seemingly erratic behavior and regale her with tales of her exploits. The animation and characterization play incredibly well into the humor.
The beautiful art is not only limited to the characters. The settings and backgrounds are given just as much attention as the main characters. The incredible view that we are privy to when looking at Itomori from a distance is quite breathtaking. The background music also contributes greatly to the aesthetics of the film as well. Emotional tunes and humorous notes punctuate situations perfectly. There are a few insert songs within the film as well. These did not resonate with me quite as much as they were intended to, but they did not take away from my enjoyment of the film at all.
Another thing that must be mentioned is the localization. The translators did a fantastic job writing the English script for this film. As expected, there are a couple lines that felt a tad awkward, but these amount to nothing compared to the incredible quality of writing seen throughout the film. Even scenes of exposition are able to hold the viewer’s interest thanks to excellent writing. The script is complimented very well with some great voice acting. The standouts for me have to be Michael Tremain Sinterniklaas (Bakuman, Xenoblade Chronicles X) as Taki and Stephanie Ru-Phan Sheh (Sword Art Online, Little Witch Academia) as Mitsuha. These two not only do a fantastic job of portraying their characters, but they also have great chemistry. The hilarious back and forth between them when they are leaving each other messages was not only charming but builds up both characters in interesting ways. It really shows the difference in their upbringing as well their different values. Mitsuha loves sweets and keeps spending Taki’s hard earned cash on them. Taki hates getting pushed around and keeps picking fights with Mitsuha’s classmates that tease her. The montage showing the different way they are adjusting to their new roles is a great way to get some hilarious back and forth between the two leads in a creative way. Both voice actors do an equality impressive job when they were playing each other inhabiting the other’s body.
The film’s story starts out pretty straightforward, but as events unfold, things get significantly more complicated. As Taki and Mitsuha struggle to understand the circumstances of their situation, they realized that the distance between them can be closed. The main conflict in the film becomes the two of them figuring out how this strange situation transpired as well as how the two of them fit into each other’s lives. The movie’s narrative certainly has a fairytale quality to it, but it is grounded with realistic characters that generally react in a realist way to unreal situations. When the movie reaches its climactic point, it is easy to feel invested in the main characters and their plight and the emotional stakes are very high.
As emotional and impactful the third act is, there are a few moments that feel like leaps of logic. Even though some characters and are aware of the events taking place, it was still a little difficult to fully believe they would help out the main characters so willingly. Another quibble I have is some of the slightly awkward dialogue. Again, most writing is top notch but there are a couple lines that just seemed a bit out of place. This is likely just a result of localization. These issues are so minor, the do not at all take away from this movie’s accomplishments.
Your Name is an incredibly emotional tale about two people from completely different walks of life finding each other across a seemingly impossible distance. It manages to be comical, charming, and emotionally fulfilling all at once. The emotional highs and the strong characterization make the low points so heartbreaking, it becomes hard to not cheer for the protagonists and hope for their success. This is a great film that I would highly recommend seeing. I feel that even moviegoers who are unfamiliar with anime will be able to appreciate this movie. The story is such that anyone can appreciate the themes presented. This movie can easily be a great entry point for people new to anime. For dedicated fans, this movie is an absolute must-see. Your Name is well worth your time.