In less than one month, the latest anime film from acclaimed director Makoto Shinkai, Your Name, will be making its way to North America, and Funimation gave us the opportunity to get an early look at the film and its body-swapping story, before it releases in select theaters this April.
The story of Your Name, revolves around Mitsuha and Taki, two high school students that are complete strangers. Mitsuha is from a small town, helping her grandmother and sister at the family’s shrine, while dreaming of one day leaving to live in Tokyo. Taki on the other hand, attends school in Tokyo, working and just trying to live a normal life, dealing with his crush on a fellow coworker, Miki, and living with his father.
Despite not knowing one another, the pair’s lives are intertwined, as they find themselves switching bodies randomly, originally believing it to be a dream. Losing the memory of their time spent in the other’s body almost immediately, the two begin to take notes about each day that they switch, while setting some “no groping” ground rules for how they should handle each other’s lives, without causing any problems. This continues until the day that a once-in-a-lifetime comet passes by the Earth, and Taki finds that he no longer has the ability to switch with Mitsuha any longer, sending him on a frantic search to find her, and meet her face-to-face.
I don’t want to go in to too much detail about the film’s story, as I don’t want to spoil it, so I may be a little vague. Just in case I do spoil something however, I do apologize.
Your Name handles the body swap rather well, the pair both act in ways that you would probably expect someone suddenly dropped in to the opposite sex’s body would act, without going too overboard, although there is some fondling, and plenty of blushing. It is also entertaining to watch as the two work to fit these switches into their daily lives, especially as they meddle in each other’s lives a bit, making for some interesting revelations when they switch back. Some good examples would be Taki making Mitsuha seem more aggressive when it comes to her bullies, and Mitsuha interfering\helping Taki with his relationship with Miki, to the dismay of his coworkers. Their dissatisfaction with the interference is shown in some great ways, mostly in writing messages on one another, including their faces.
The film does many things right, but one of my favorite things, is that it gives you multiple characters that you like. Both Taki and Mitsuha, as well as their friends and family (except for maybe Mitsuha’s dad), are all characters to that you want to see be happy. It can be difficult to present a story, when you have less than two hours, and you are constantly switching back and forth, but Your Name was still easy to follow, and you get to know enough about the main cast to really pull for them throughout, especially once the comet arrives, and the story gets even deeper.
Visually, Your Name is stunning. The environments are all beautiful and each scene from the busy motion of the city, to the quiet small town, and especially the comet’s arrival, all offer some of the most incredible visuals you will see in most anime. This is something you would come to expect from CoMix Wave Films, after seeing The Garden of Words and The Place Promised in Our Early Days.
As far as the sound goes, the soundtrack was great. The Japanese band RADWIMPS did very well with the songs for the film, working on both Japanese and English language versions. The Japanese versions were the better of the two though. Having watched the film with both English and Japanese audio, I would say that both were about equally enjoyable to me, and either one would make for a good option, depending on your preferences. The subtitles also read well, and have good flow.
Your Name is a film that will keep your attention from start to finish. It does an incredible job of bringing out a variety of emotions for the viewer, one moment you are laughing, and the next your heart sinks, but it never keeps you feeling that way for too long, making it enjoyable and dramatic, without being emotionally overwhelming.
Stunning visuals will easily draw you in, but a heartfelt story that offers comedy, romance, drama, as well as some body swapping and even a bit of time travel, will keep you watching all the way until the end. It also helps that the characters are all lovable in their own way, and seeing how Taki and Mitsuha interact with one another, despite being total strangers, makes for some of the best moments.
Sometimes, it can be nice to take a break from giant robots, fan service, or swords and magic, and just enjoy a bit of modern slice-of-life (with a unique twist); Your Name offers exactly that. This is also worthwhile to see, if you are a fan of Makoto Shinkai’s other works, like The Garden of Words and Children Who Chase Lost Voices.
Access to digital screeners of both the English and Japanese audio versions of the film were provided by Funimation Entertainment. Your Name will be available in select theaters, beginning on Apr. 7, 2017. You can check theaters and show times, by visiting the film’s official page.