This film has been on my radar since it came out over a year ago. It had made waves in Japan, China, and every subsequent country it opened in and for some reason it didn’t come here until now. But we finally got it, I saw it, so here’s my SPOILER FREE review of Your Name.
Ignore the “in cinemas December 1” part of the above poster. If you’ll notice, it’s the Australian release as I couldn’t find a copy of the American one. But see? Even Australia got this movie before us and they get everything last.
Some of you may know people who are immediately against anything anime related. I may be a fan of anime, but I can see their point. But whats important for them, and for us all, to remember, is that “anime” is just as broad a category as “movies.” Why did I point out this fact that may be such common knowledge to so many? It’s because every so often, a movie comes around that even non-anime fans will like. Usually it’s a film by Hayao Miyazaki (whose films make Disney look like amateur hour) but every so often another one of the bigger names comes out with a movie and it’s fantastic.
This one is from writer and director Makoto Shinkai who was the man behind Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second. If you haven’t seen those movies, make sure you do, but watch his latest one first. Your Name is about two students who find themselves linked in an odd way. Every few days they wake up in each others bodies. They start leaving notes for each other as they grow closer.
Your Name was a long time coming for us here in America, like I mentioned before and I wanted to review it right away, but having a podcast kind of put a wrench in that plan. (By the way, don’t forget to check out Future Flicks with Billiam every Wednesday on the SomewhatNerdy podcast network!) So here I am now, ready to go. Lets do this.
The first thing that blew me away about this movie was how beautiful it looked. I’ve recently been watching Kill la Kill and while I like the way it looks, I prefer the more realistic style of Your Name. The style helps build a suspension of disbelief which is difficult with anything animated, but it helped me look at the story as something that took place in the real world. The animation was amazing and the only part that took me out of the movie was an ecchi-esque panty shot. The only reason that took me out of the movie was because I didn’t expect anything like that. Panty shots are usually reserved for, well, other types of anime.
The story was fantastic and I got to know and care about the characters quickly. There are longer live action movies that can’t even do that. The great thing was that I not only grew to care about the characters, but I was able to follow both their individual stories and their combined story, which is impressive seeing as it’s a lot to remember for an hour and forty-six minute movie. The film does dabble in the fantastical but not so much that this changes genres completely. I still consider this a slice of life romance with a hint of fantasy.
There were some wonderfully revealed shocking moments in the movie that came out of nowhere but never felt forced. A new plot point came out of left field, but it was okay because it wasn’t so outrageous that it dealt a blow to my enjoyment of the movie. As the story progresses it gets more and more tense until at the very end my friend and I were ready to scream at the screen. I was so close to getting annoyed but either Makoto Shinkai is a mad genius or he got really lucky because they stopped upping the tension and ended the story.
If you’ve ever listened to my Future Flicks with Billiam you’ll have heard me talk about movies that you go into knowing there’s going to be a happy ending. There are times where you can just tell. For this movie though, I knew no such thing. Makoto Shinkai has written some devastatingly sad movies as well as some that haven’t made me forget happiness was ever a thing. So this was truly up in the air and I have to admit that as I sat in the theater I couldn’t guess.
Let me touch on the music a bit. It was amazing, well… the songs I noticed were amazing. I recently bought the soundtrack and listened to the whole thing and there were some songs on it that weren’t great but for the most part it was an impressive soundtrack. The best thing was is that Shinkai knew how to use it. The right song at the right time brought out all the feels and just enhanced each scene. Music in anime is always hit or miss because you can have movies like this one or a Miyazaki film which have wonderful music, or you can have a film full of bouncy J-pop. I love J-pop, don’t misunderstand, but it can be a huge turn off for people who are gigantic weeaboos. For an idea of the music in this movie check out songs called Date and Goshintai by a group called Radwimps. On it’s own it’s pretty a cute, but add it to a beautiful scene and it adds that extra oomf that hits you right in the feels.
Because this is an anime there are things I can’t critique that I normally do. CG? Nope, can’t talk about that. Acting? Nope. I could talk about voice acting but I have a very hard time critiquing that. All I can really say is that it was good. I believed every thing they said and every emotion that came with it. I saw this in Japanese with subtitles so I can’t critique the American dub, but from what I’ve heard, they did a good job with it, but I’m an anime purist so I try to watch everything in Japanese unless the voices are so annoying I can’t stand it. So since I seemed to be all tapped out when it comes to specifics, lets wrap this up, shall we?
Your Name is a truly amazing movie that I enjoyed from start to finish. I was engrossed the entire time and I was so invested in the lives of these animated characters that I laughed when they laughed and cried when they cried. If you want an example of everything that anime can be, this is your film. If you want something great, something honestly beautiful, to watch, this is what you should get. Watch this in theaters if you can because it’s well worth it but if you can’t then buy this. It’s worth it. This should be on everyones shelf. Watch this. Trust me.
Your Name gets an 11 out of 11.