Your Name: Film Review
Cast: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Mixing J-Pop, time travel,body swapping and Japan's pre-occupation with natural disasters, Your Name is quite the genre bending anime.
Already raising more at the Japanese box office than Princess Mononoke, the film's continued success atop the charts (taking around 98 million US) is leading many to claim Shinkai is the natural successor to the potentially retired Miyazaki.
It's the story of two high school kids, Taki and Mitsuha, (Kamiki and Kamishiraishi) who live in very different parts of the world. Mitsuha lives in a small village where there are no facilities (but bizarrely two pubs) and who dreams that she would like to wake up one day in Tokyo as a boy. Taki is a boy in Tokyo, whose high school life is as normal, and who dreams that he becomes a girl in a small village...
Connecting these two's lives is a comet strafing through the skyline, whose appearance only once every 122 years seems to signify something unusual...
Your Name's lushly created visuals and comic light touch make its 2 hour run time worth it.
Shinkai's world is based in the now, rather than Miyazaki's which has always lingered in the past, a touch which makes the Tokyo skyline stand out while Mitsuha's small village feels bucolic and contemporary too.
While the music interludes that hit in parts feel like a bizarre music video - they personally grated and jarred the experience, there's a degree of the body swap story landing as well as it should and feeling relatively fresh despite a tired old trope. With no real rhyme or reason given early on for the swaps, the Freaky Friday elements work well - and while there's comedy of Taki living in a girl's body (and obsessing over the parts any teen world), there's also a poignancy of Mitsuha living a life in another world.
As the two lives tangle closer together, Shinkai brings a reflective nature to the story-telling, abandoning the frivolity and levity for something all the more philosophical and elegant. While there's definitely an argument that the film could drop some of its run time, the beauty of the anime and the contrast between Tokyo and the mountain village are gorgeous to revel in.
Your Name ends up being more thoughtful than its body swap premise promises - and ultimately, it's a sign that anime continues to surprise and thrill.