I don’t consider myself a fan of the romance genre. Sure, there are romantic elements within the comic books I read and shows that I watch, but a story in which the plot is solely driven by love is not something that I find appealing. Therefore, the movie, Kimi no Namae wa, or Your Name, should not have had such an emotional impact on me, but it really, really did. Beware of sweet-hearted spoilers this month, anime-niacs.
Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, Your Name begins with Mitsuha, a high school girl, waking up and acting very strangely. The scene is brief, however, and the next day, her grandmother, sister, and friends all comment that she acted weird the previous day. But with everything seemingly back to normal, the movie then features a typical day in Mitsuha’s life. She lives in a quiet, rural town named Itomori. She and her sister are Shrine Maidens because their grandmother is the caretaker of the local shrine. Unhappy with her life, however, she hates the predictable monotony of Itomori and longs to live in the bustling city of Tokyo. Much to Mitsuha’s surprise, she wakes up in Tokyo the next day, but in a different body.
Taki is a high school boy who lives with his father in Tokyo, but on this particular morning, it is not Taki, but Mitsuha’s consciousness within Taki’s body. Initially thinking it is a dream, the girl tries to act normal, but Taki’s friends notice that the boy is acting weird since he forgot to bring lunch to school and doesn’t remember where he works. Taki is a waiter at a restaurant, and when his boss, Okudera, notices her skirt is ripped, Mitsuha’s instinct is to fix it. In this way, Mitsuha gains Okudera’s affection for Taki. Mitsuha writes notes in Taki’s phone, and when she wakes up in her own body, she sees that Taki has left notes in her phone. They both quickly realize they are somehow occasionally switching bodies.
The two communicate regularly via notes in each other’s phones or on each other’s hands, and It’s very interesting to see these two develop a relationship, learn about each other, and occasionally become annoyed with each other in this way. As Mitsuha, Taki gets to walk across the beautiful and vast countryside with Mitsuha’s sister and grandmother to their God’s shrine, and in the meantime, Mitsuha manages to get Taki a date with Okudera. However, it is clear that, during the date, Taki, within his own body, is distracted, and Okudera realizes that he is thinking about someone else.
Taki tries to call Mitsuha after the date, but Mitsuha’s phone is not in service, and the two stop switching bodies. Did he dream this whole experience? Was he hallucinating?
I’ve certainly left out plenty of details, but this is as far as I will go outlining the circumstances of Your Name. Until this point, there are a lot of genuinely funny and cute moments, but by the time the movie is half over, it becomes extraordinarily dramatic and even thrillingly suspenseful. There are some very sad, but also very wonderful twists before the movie concludes. Even if you think that I’ve hinted at what actually happens, trust me, you have no idea.
The way the characters act with and as each other shows great, unconventional character development. This connection that the two share seems impossible, but ultimately, it’s what drives Mitsuha and Taki to learn and care about each other. Sure, there are sci-fi and fantasy elements of this story, but ultimately, Your Name is a beautifully crafted love story. Still, it is a sad movie, which is wonderfully supplemented by the music.
The score, composed by Japanese rock band, Badwimp, perfectly encapsulates the mood of any given moment in Your Name. The songs range from lighthearted and cheerful, to fast-paced and longingly melancholy, to downright sad. Some songs have vocals, all in Japanese, of course. Even though my ability to speak and understand the Japanese language is limited, not knowing the majority of the lyrics did not even slightly diminish the powerful impact that the soundtrack had.
Speaking of words, I watched Your Name subtitled. I cannot stand English dubs, because nearly all of the voice acting is beyond awful. If anyone reads this and decides to watch Your Name for themselves, I hope that if you watch an English dub, you can still enjoy the movie. I can’t really explain why English voice actors in anime are, in my opinion, literally painful to listen to, but subtitles have never felt like an annoyance, and the Japanese voice acting in this movie is perfect.
If you’re still reading this but for some reason don’t believe that this is a wonderful movie, it was Japan’s highest grossing movie in 2016, has a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and won multiple international awards. Not just an amazing story, the animation and visuals are incredible. It is the first anime film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki to earn more than $100 million in Japan, and if you’re familiar with that name, then you should know that Your Name achieved incredible feats to get to that position. Even the soundtrack was nominated for awards.
Your Name is about fate and love regardless of seemingly impossible circumstances. Love transcends all potential boundaries and is a conquering force of nature. Though while this is clearly a love story, it does not exactly have a traditionally happy ending and leaves the viewer at a highly emotional moment. It is nonetheless a beautiful moment, and that impression lingers as the credits roll.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I loved this movie. Because of the emotional response that it elicited both of the times I watched it, however, it is not something that I plan to re-watch again soon. Still, I implore anyone who is reading this to go watch this film because it is absolutely amazing. Even if, like me, you are completely averse to romantic movies, you may still enjoy it. I would recommend Your Name for anyone in their teens and older, supposing that you have a soul.