Animated Movies, Indie-mation, Reviews

[REVIEW] ‘Your Name’ (Kimi no Na wa)

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It seems like every year there is an anime film that scores big with Japanese audiences that I need to hunt down in the US. However, rarely does one get the kind of buzz that this year’s Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) has received. Already in Japan and China, Your Name has made nearly $250 million US dollars and has received critical accolades like winning the Los Angeles Film Critics Association prize for best animated film. So is it worthy of the hype? Yes, my friends. Yes, it is.

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Part of what makes Your Name so wonderful is that it sucks you in with an approachable, comedic first act we’ve seen before and then becomes something richer as it moves along. The plot revolves around a frustrated teen girl named Mitsuha who lives in the country. She is fed up with her small town life and one day wishes she could be a cool teen boy in Tokyo. Well, the next day she wakes up in the body of just such a teen boy named Taki. Mitsuha and Taki have never met before and have no connection. It’s just a random body swap which could be pleasant on its own.

However, the script in this section goes deeper. The two switch back every day which is unique in a body swap comedy, and they start leaving notes on their phones, in notepads, and even on their bodies. Through these notes they become friends which establishes friendship as a theme of the film. I liked how they explore themes of class and the difficulty of meshing with new peer groups. I think most people can relate to hanging out with another person’s friends and just not gelling with those people. They aren’t bad friends. They just aren’t your friends, and Mitsuha and Taki experience this when living the other’s life. They do have some physical comedy with the gender swap which is enjoyable, but most of the time is spent learning about how the other person lives.

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All of this occurs in the first thirty minutes, and then the rest of the film takes a turn that is moving and helps to flesh out why these two people were chosen to switch places. It works so well because both Taki and Mitsuha are so likable, and we want them to be safe and happy. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the story takes creative turns that are engrossing and beautiful. It completely worked for me. Just trust me. It’s one of the best screenplays of 2016.

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Your Name is a labor of love for Makoto Shinkai who did everything from the directing, writing, and editing. I loved the way he used light to symbolize hope and humanity. I also loved the way both the country and the city were portrayed as fantasy lands because to Mitsuha and Taki, they kind of are. The side characters are great, and I honestly did not know how it was all going to end.

I know some people just don’t like anime, and that’s a real shame. By limiting your experience with the art form, you are missing out on some of the greatest storytelling of this year and in most years. Your Name reminded me a lot of Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars which I also love, but it is its own vision and creation. It’s bold and stunning with great characters and original storytelling. If something like Moana or Finding Dory feels too familiar to you, then Your Name is the perfect movie for you.

Have you seen Your Name? Put in the comments’ section what you thought of it, and what is one of your favorite non-Studio Ghibli anime films?

★★★★1/2

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel has loved animation since she was a little girl singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs. She currently works in social media marketing and loves to blog and vlog about Disney, Pixar and all kinds of movies in her free time. Her favorite movie is Up and she considers herself quite the Cinderella aficionado seeing every version she can get her hands on. She also loves animated TV shows like Simpsons, Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels and more. Follow her on twitter @smilingldsgirl

  • aLeC m.

    Yes! This is one of my favorite movies of the year! I even liked it better than Zootopia, everyone needs to see thus movie!

    • Rachel Wagner

      I agree. It’s in my top 5 of year ahead of Zootopia, which I also loved

  • I really wanna see this one!! I’ve just been hearing the greatest things about this movie and I hope the creator of this kinda does become the next new kind of Miyazaki since I heard this movie is kind of a blend of that but also really rich in embracing new tradition!! I so cannot wait to see this however I can!! ^.^
    And this review really is getting me more siked!!!

    • Rachel Wagner

      Me too. It’s certainly opened my eyes to Makoto Shinkai’s talent. Now I want to see his other films

    • Jason Hunter

      Go see it!

  • Marielle

    I thought the girl’s personality was well-established, but the boy had no personality. She wants to live in Tokyo, she likes food and cafés, she has a troubled relationship with her dad since her mom died, she feels the pressure of being the daughter of a public figure, she deals with the pressure of upholding traditions too, she’s feminine, etc. We don’t know anything about the boy except that he doesn’t mind acting out and causing a scene.

    Great movie with a great story though.

    • Yeah I noticed the boy was a little vague too, besides his ability to draw & interest in architecture, but all the effort he puts in made up for it for me. Maybe the point was that’s how he grows.

      • Marielle

        It’s true I was really rooting for him because of all his efforts.

        • Tsukiko

          Another very important part is how confident he tend to be, which goes with always going into fights despite the fact that he is “”weak”” if we are to believe other characters. Mitsuha was pretty much a doormat to everyone the whole time but thanks to their experiences, and partly thanks to him, she learns to stand for herself (which is important at the end of the movie). We also see that he’s a good guy despite being a bit of a brut; when he gets angry over people talking about Mitsuha in their art class, while he’s in her body. Basically, Mitsuha never defended herself and he did it for her, before learning to be more assertive from him, which, as said earlier, is a key point in the ending.

          • Marielle

            That was one time though. I didn’t get the sense that he was particularly assertive in his own life. His personality wasn’t really defined beyond “typical Tokyo boy”.

      • Renard N. Bansale

        It’s important that, while Mitsuha realizes that she’s a bit confined to her hometown, it is Taki who’s compelled to leave Tokyo to solve the forces behind their body-switching. She finds it difficult to escape her quaint little village, while he finds it difficult to leave the relative comforts of his Tokyo life.

    • Rachel Wagner

      Yeah I can see your point. It’s more her story but I think we get to know a little bit about him through his job and when she goes on that date for him. His friends are also fairly well captured

      • Marielle

        True, we learn that he likes a girl and doesn’t dare to ask her out, so that says something about his personality too!

    • Jason Hunter

      Other than giving some basic background I think the film’s intent isn’t to tell you the whole backdrop story of individuals. Its to tell you where they are at this moment and where they are going together. Just like real life when you meet someone new or go on a date. You don’t know the whole story going in, you figure that out along the way. And more or less the moment between the both of you is what really matters when your together.

  • I loved it! I thought it was definitely Makoto Shinkai’s best film. Some of his other films came off kind of indecisive to me, but this one unravels in such a purposeful way, it really felt like he figured out exactly what he wanted to say. Also the twist didn’t feel tacked on (why I usually don’t like twists), it felt really carefully worked into the plot, which I’m sure will make it fun to watch again & again. ^^

    • Rachel Wagner

      I so agree on the twist. I normally hate twists but this felt earned

  • Jason Hunter

    Your Name is on par with the best of the Miyazaki films. Its exciting to see someone else carry the torch of Japanese animation. Not to mention the plot and animation were solid they brought something new to the animated world such as writing on the chalkboard is something new as were many other small nuances which makes you feel surreal and realistic all at the same time. Computer animation has come a long way but it still can’t replace the creative MANGA genera converted to animated film. Its an art form and experience all its own. The story lines also go deeper on multiple levels, the descriptive detail of real life capsulized into film.

    • Rachel Wagner

      I agree! It goes so much deeper than you ever expect a body swap movie to go

      • Jason Hunter

        That’s the truth! Ironically I never thought to place the film into that genre and thankfully the film doesn’t go down that heavily traveled road.

      • Jason Hunter

        A lot of people are saying that exact same comment. I kind of hate to refer to the body swap genre. But ya, it sure does.

  • Ahiru

    This is literally the best movie ever (in my opinion) ^-^