Your Name.

Release: Friday, April 7, 2017

[Theater]

Written by: Makoto Shinkai

Directed by: Makoto Shinkai

To say Makoto Shinkai’s massively acclaimed anime is ambitious would be an understatement. Your Name. seems to be an opus on everything from teen awkwardness to the relationship between time and memory to astrology. At its core it’s a grand romantic tale but fastened to that are numerous other bells and whistles that make the prospect of caring more of an ordeal than it ought to be.

Your Name. tells of a country girl named Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) who’s grown tired of her adolescent life in the hills and yearns to live the life of a handsome city boy, perhaps someone like Taki (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) who lives in Tokyo. One morning Mitsuha awakens to find she has body-swapped with this boy and he with her. Dismissing the phenomenon initially as a dream, both are soon corrected with reminders from their own friends of how strange they have been acting recently.

That they seemingly can’t control when this happens, or even explain why it’s happening, is disconcerting to say the least. But as they experience the switches over and again the pair learn to establish “ground rules” so as to not leave too much of a footprint in one another’s daily lives. The opening third of the film is spent playing in this esoteric sandbox, approaching concepts like astral projection (or something like) pragmatically so that all of this, merely the set-up for the film proper, can feel both whimsical and “believable.”

Indeed, Your Name. doesn’t really get going until the body swapping stops and the perspective switches to that of Taki, who has once more become fidgety in his mundane existence. Determined to find a way to actually, finally meet this mystery girl, Taki begins exploring all his options. Understandably, his friends become concerned over his obsession. Armed with only a drawing and his rapidly fading memories, Taki makes the trek out to the fictional town of Itomori, only to find it destroyed in the aftermath of a comet that fragmented and collided with earth three years ago. For Taki, distance seems to be no object to finding true happiness. But traveling through time, well that’s another prospect entirely. Will they ever find a way to reunite?

More importantly, will anyone care by the time they do? I still haven’t really addressed the proper, metaphysical significance of that cosmic event, but at this point I’m starting to mimic Shinkai’s worst habits, I’d be stuffing more …. stuff into an already exposition-heavy review. Not that a more complete examination of the plot would rob potential viewers of the surprises in store, because quite frankly there are too many twists and turns to remember, much less ruin. Perhaps this is me not doing my due diligence here, but there’s so much about the film that I just don’t understand and have come to accept as that which I never will. Like how we make the leap from Mitsuha wanting to BE Taki to her actually falling in love with him. Or how each can forget the other’s name seconds after learning what it is.

The mental gymnastics that are required to keep up with everything ultimately make this romantic epic a chore to sit through. And it’s not enough to have a labyrinthian plot to sort through; we have to try to make sense of it alongside two prototypically “annoying” and angsty characters. It is all a little too precious and pretentious. But, to damn with faint praise here, at least the photorealistic animation makes all that mental taxation somewhat worthwhile.

Recommendation: I’ve often described my reactions to anime as something like binary code: there are ones and zeroes. I either love these films — like, really, really love them — or feel totally turned off by them. Alienated. If you are anything like me in that regard, you might do some research on the film before you buy a ticket. Shop around for similar films, maybe things you’ve seen before and make an informed decision. There’s a ton of stuff to absorb here. I can’t even say Your Name. is a “bad movie;” it’s just a little overwhelming, especially for those of us who aren’t devotees. 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 106 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.goldposter.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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11 thoughts on “Your Name.

    • I mean, there’s a lot that works in its favor but this is not one of those movies you can sit back and “just enjoy.” There’s work involved, and yet the visual spectacle of it all makes it more worthwhile. My biggest gripe with it was the characters honestly.

  1. “Your Name. doesn’t really get going until the body swapping stops…”

    So true from a narrative standpoint and yet that was where I felt the best more enjoyable vignettes lay. The leaving notes and the coming to terms with what was happening was so human. When the story shifted gears into this sci-fi astral projection mumbo jumbo it was such a leap of faith to take on this new narrative.

    Great review. Nailed it!

    • Thank you. Yeah this movie was just a bit too much for me to process. Which might say something more about me than the movie! 😉

  2. Too bad you didn’t like the movie so much. Good review though. I can understand where you’re coming from. Definitely a more complex narrative than I expected going in. 😉

    Actually, the movie was full of surprises (including all the genres it stuffs in). Aside from all the laughs and sci-fi cool, Your Name was also a great chance to leap into another culture. I love how time worked with history and we can get absorbed by all the details. Although this world is animated, it’s treated like a drama.

    While some of the references, comedy, and attitudes may feel a little strange from a non-Japanese point of view, I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Normally, not a fan of slice of life stories or a huge anime watcher, I really enjoyed this film enough to rank it 2nd in 2016 – against some seriously strong Oscar contenders too.

    I highly recommend this film to the open-minded. Not like if you hate it, you’re not open-minded 😉 What I mean is, Your Name requires an open-mind from the get-go pretty much.

    • Yeah there’s definitely that element of having to be open-minded and perhaps a relative suspension of disbelief. I mean, the entire premise is entirely fantastical so it’s not believable on a “realistic” kind of level but as the story went on, and more major events were thrown in, it became hard to keep track of everything that was supposed to be significant. It’s an extremely ambitious film, but perhaps sometimes less really is more.

  3. We are planning on seeing this tomorrow. In a weird way I’m almost more interested in seeing this now after reading your review, because it sounds so different that the standard animated movie from Hollywood. So even if it alienates me, like it did you, I think I’m going to be glad I saw it.

    • Yeah, hope you enjoy it Sean. It’s a hugely ambitious work and there’s a lot to absorb. I think it’s a bit on the over-stuffed side and it’s a little pretentious but then again that could just be a cultural difference i’m not appreciating. And maybe it’s ultimately just one of those anime’s that don’t work for me

    • It’s a film of beauty and depth no doubt. A lot of it just went over my head, I guess. There was so much to absorb and I definitely acknowledge that element of having to “just go with it”, which I tried doing but eventually there was just too many things to ignore. I would say I liked it enough to say I’m glad I saw it but I wouldn’t watch it twice I don’t think.

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