Your Name (Kimi no Na wa)
By Manuel Reynoso
4 palm trees out of 4
Your Name, or in Japan Kimi no Na wa, was written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. Based on the novel by the same name also written by Makoto Shinkai.
As streaks of blue and red cascade past a crimson horizon, gentle streams of light backdrop the roaring entry of a meteor as it approaches a tranquil little village nestled against a great lake. And just like that, one minute into the film, both the theme and tone has been set for the rest of the movie. At its core Your Name is a film about a budding romance between the bored country girl Mitsuha and the lively city boy Taki. While the two have never formally met, through forces beyond our understanding, the two will occasionally find themselves in each other’s bodies. Your Name is a film with powerful themes of love and fate, with gorgeous hand drawn visuals that deserve to be seen on the silver screen. Writer and director Makoto Shinkai’s tale rivals the quality of work by animations giants such as Disney or Studio Ghibli, both in writing and animation quality.
If I was to sum up Shinkai’s writing style in one world, I would describe it as efficient. As I alluded to in the beginning, Shinkai’s use of action to convey things such as plot, themes, and character development allows plot to move forward, rarely impeded by exposition. When dealing with the characters body swapping antics, the plot moves quickly enough that by the time the audience realizes what is happening, the characters have already grown accustomed to this life. While this does leave the possibility of getting lost in the details, the rare instances of exposition allows one to catch right back up. I always advocate for films to tell their story through action, and Your Name is a masterclass in this regard.
The last traditionally animated film I’ve seen in the theaters was The Wind Rises back in 2013-2014. It’s been too long since I’ve had to pleasure of seeing beautiful hand drawn visuals on the silver screen, and Your Name was easily the most visually stunning animated film I’ve seen to date. A bright palette and immaculately crafted backgrounds make each scene come to life. While the character animation is not on the level of classic American animation, the character designs are great and well detailed.
Unfortunately the film’s theatrical debut here in the US is somewhat limited, so by the time this review hits, the availability in cinemas will be scarce. But any effort expended to see this film in theaters is well worth it. I just hope this films commercial success can pave the way for more traditionally animated films finding their way back into American cinemas. Even if Japanese animated films aren’t your cup of tea, this film is very much worth seeing. There are few instances of Japanese tropes that don’t quite translate well in America, but if you look past that, we have a unique love film with a twist of fantasy. If subtitles are not your thing, the English dub is serviceable. PG 1h 52m