Movie #167 2021: Your Name. (2016)

In the western world, Studio Ghibli is by far and away the most famous name in Japanese animation. Unless you count Pokémon, of course. Enter new kid on the block, CoMix Wave Productions. Founded in 2007 (and formerly known as CoMix Wave Co., which was formed in 1998), the studio began to release fantastical genre movies like this one, and have taken the world by storm and has garnered quite a lot of attention from film fans.

Your Name. is not too dissimilar to a Ghibli production in that its topics are mainly fuelled by magic and fantasy concepts. High school students Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers who live in opposing parts of Japan, but wake up one morning to find that they have switched bodies. Unlike other body swap stories in modern media, the pair of them alternate between being in their own body and being in their counterpart’s body, and figure out a way of communicating with each other even though they have never met. It all takes an even more dramatic turn when they realise it is up to them to stop a comet from destroying the town in which Mitsuha lives, which sounds like an impossible task, but one which they both feel necessary to complete.

This Anime Movie Is What Dreams (And Ill-Advised Adaptations) Are Made Of

On paper, this all sounds like something we’ve all seen before, save for the comet destroying an entire town. I for one was extremely worried after the first 30 minutes of body switcheroo clichés that Your Name. was simply overhyped. We’ve seen all that before, right? But then the plot twists happened and the timey wimey stuff was thrown in and I realised that the entire narrative was much more unique than it initially seemed. Though confusing at times, it ended up being a neat, original narrative and the feeling that critics had hyperbolised the greatness of the movie completely went away.

Of course the 2D animation is wonderful here – I expected no less. But the hand drawn landscapes?! Possibly the best I’ve ever seen in an animated movie, and I’ve seen quite a few of those Ghibli films I mentioned earlier. The use of sunlight and water to enhance the images in Your Name. is so gorgeous, and the detail of everything down to the leaves on trees is utterly beautiful. Hell, this movie looks prettier than a lot of live action films, let’s not play it down here.

Your Name Film Movie Cinema Review | AVForums

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect movie.

Look, I really did not like the soundtrack. Visuals? Easily 10/10. Plot? Great – 9/10. But the music? Sometimes it really distracted from the beautiful nature of this movie and it became rather cartoony. If it weren’t for that, it’d be an almost perfect film. 

Aside from that, there was a moment in which I was convinced that the storyline was going down an LGBTQ+ route and I do wish they’d addressed it a little bit more. With two cisgender characters swapping bodies with the opposite sex, there were times in which Mitsuha (in Taki’s body) was flirted with by another female character, and I was so sure they were gonna get a little bit gay at one point. It did feel overall as though they could have made a really positive statement about the fluidity of gender and sexuality, but that opportunity passed them by.

Despite the film’s misgivings however, Your Name. is simply stunning visually, especially for the lesser used (these days, anyway) 2D animation. Although this is director Makoto Shinkai‘s most acclaimed work thus far, I’m still interested in seeing more of it. Ultimately, this is a flawed yet quietly brilliant movie.

Your Name. is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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