Film Friday: Your Name

Your Name (if you haven’t heard of it) is an Anime movie, but you really don’t have to be into Anime to watch it.

Since it’s release in August 2016, it’s become the highest grossing japanese animated (anime) film, which is saying something considering the previous record holder was Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary Spirited Away. It’s one 10 awards and been nominated for 11 others. In fact, the movie’s director, Makoto Shinkai, is worried that the film has become too successful. Currently it’s garnered 331 million USD in the box office, and yet, it’s been greatly overshadowed at the Oscar’s in the face of western animated films such as Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, and Zootopia.

It was only available in America for one week, in a small theater in Los Angeles, to qualify for the Oscars. It’s set to release in the US on April 7th 2017. But in Japan, it’s become somewhat of a phenomenon. So what’s the deal?

Your Name follows the story of two characters living very contrasted lives; Mitsuha lives a quiet life in the countryside, bound by family traditions. She yearns to live in the city, going so far as to shout it out by the family shrine, triggering a family curse that leads her to swap bodies with Taki.

Taki, on the other hand, lives a modern if busy life in Tokyo, in his final year of High School and working part time in a restaurant.

The first time they swap bodies, the think they’ve entered some sort of hyper-realistic dream, so they end up doing some pretty weird things. They each go through a full day in the life of the other, before waking up the next day back to normal and learning about how they screwed around each other’s lives. When they end up swapping bodies again, they set up some ground rules by leaving notes and diaries for one another.

After a whilst they begin ‘improving’ each other’s lives; Mitsuha (in Taki’s body) builds a relationship with one of Taki’s co-workers, and eventually they begin dating, whilst Taki (in Mitsuha’s body)… does random things, like building a table… and becoming good at basketball…  

Sound boring? Don’t worry, the plot takes a massive twist with time travel and death and stuff, and it completely catches you off guard. (DUH DUH DUUUUUHHH)

OK that’s all I’m spoiling. So how is it?

It’s daring and provocative; it brings attention to stark contrasts and sensitive themes, whilst not being as morbid and destructive as something like the Hunger Games. Conversely, it’s light-hearted and accessible, but don’t worry guys, it’s far from being wishy-washy like modern Hollywood Chick flicks (ugh). At first it might seem like a bit of a goofy film, but it’s actually extremely serious. Your Name’s main theme of the traditional vs. the modern is most likely what gave it such popularity in Japan, where there is a major duality between the two. It probably won’t be as impactful on Western Cultures, but it’s still a fascinating issue to analyze. As an English student my hands are itching to write an essay on the topic.

But above it all, it’s a really good story about an unconventional relationship. Regardless if you are or aren’t an emotional person, prepare to be a little touched or shocked.

As superb as it is, you don’t have to be involved in the relationship between the two characters to enjoy the film. There’s a little bit for everyone, whether you’re interested in the characters, the sci-fi element, the religious/mystic element, the familial element, the artistic element, the relationship element, the philosophical element or even the action element (there are explosions!).

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the film is FREAKIN GORGEOUS? It’s aesthetic is so crisp, clear and even realistic at times. Sometimes the camera will do a pan or zoom out and you just have to pause and stare at the detail. I want every panorama in this film as a desktop wallpaper on everything I own. Go crazy, art students.

Granted, if you aren’t used to anime, you may have to cringe through one or two clichés, albeit really toned down ones.

Basically, when you can, you should really watch this film.

Your Name gets a solid 6.5/7.  


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