Your Name (2016) [Kimi No Na Wa] Film Review
Directed by: Makoto Shinkai
Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Masami Nagasawa, Etsuko Ichihara
Ever since I saw the trailer for ‘Your Name’ back in the summer, I hoped it would get a release. I never imagined that it would be brought to cinemas though. I was lucky to get tickets to see the original Japanese with English subtitles version (24th November, 2016) on its UK wide premiere. Over 100 cinemas screened the film last night, and I attended the screening at the Nottingham Cinema de Lux alongside my husband, another ardent anime fan.
Anime Limited really did well in bringing one of Japan’s biggest record-breaking films of 2016, ‘Your Name’ by director Makoto Shinkai to the UK for a limited release. Originally stated to play only on 24th November 2016, it expanded through excellent reviews and word of mouth to garner holdovers from many cinemas, showing there is a demand for more Japanese animated films on the big screen in the UK. The film will be playing (although for a short time) in cinemas past 24th November 2016. Click here to see details for screenings happening near you!
I have always been a big fan of Shinkai, from way back in the day when I saw the short film Voices of a Distant Star (2002). Renowned for his fantasy-romance stories usually perpetuated by lovers separated by distance, and his distinct digital art style focusing on the little details, ‘Your Name’ is no different in this regard. Sweeping skylines of Tokyo and the rural Japanese countryside are beautifully drawn and hewn with breath-taking colour palettes. However the film definitely has a twist; the lines between boy meets girl is blurrier than usual. Without giving anything away, body swapping and time travel are interspersed among symbolism of the Japanese red-string of fate which ties and binds people together.
‘Your Name’ follows Mitsuha, a high-school girl living in the rural fictitious town of Itomori. She dreams of leaving her mundane life in the countryside for the shiny lights of Tokyo; she yells out to the sky that in her next life she’d like to be re-born as handsome boy in Tokyo. This exclamation follows nightly dreams where she lives the life of a boy from Tokyo.
What Mitsuha thinks are dreams aren’t in reality. Following reactions from her friends and family, she discovers that several times a week she’s switching bodies while asleep with Taki a boy her age from Tokyo. What follows is a lot of body swapping, which is surprisingly comedic, but never contrived. Due to not remembering the events which occur during the body-swap, Mitsuha and Taki devise a means of letting each other know what the other is up to while in each other’s body by leaving messages on their mobile phones.
Everything is handled in such a way that it feels intimate and inviting. I really felt Mitsuha and Taki’s initial confusion, through embarrassment through to the realisation that while they’re switching bodies they were falling in love with each other. The film also gives enough screen-time to secondary characters, my favourite being Yotsuya, Mitsuha’s younger sister, who genuinely stole several scenes. The bonds of friendship and family are tested throughout the film.
The storytelling in ‘Your Name’ is so gentle and beautifully captivating, you can forgive some of its impossibilities. At its core, Your Name is more than just a teen romance. It effectively blends the echoes of time and space with those invisible threads binding people together in ways that aren’t usually realised. I’m not going to give away what happens at the climax, but bring tissues. That being said, Shinkai does leave clues right from the beginning…
I definitely think that even if you aren’t a fan of anime, or if you’re looking to get into the world of anime, or simply want to watch a very lovely film, Your Name would make for wonderful viewing. For those who aren’t keen on subtitled films, Anime Limited has also brought the dubbed English version to the UK as well.
Rating: 5/5 stars