Your Name

Your_NameSTARS3Take a body switching fantasy, add a young adult romance, mix in a sci-fi time travel twist and throw in a natural disaster for good measure. Your Name is like a cross between Freaky Friday and Deep Impact. To be fair, that is overly simplifying things. Your Name is nothing if not ambitious. Ever since legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki announced his (temporary) retirement after The Wind Rises, thoughts over which filmmaker(s) would become his successor have inspired much speculation. Director Makoto Shinkai is definitely a possibility. Already a massive hit in its native Japan, Your Name is the first anime not directed by Hayao Miyazaki to earn more than $100 million at the Japanese box office. The film has now been released in the U.S. to critical acclaim.

Taki is a high school boy who lives in Tokyo. Mitsuha is a teenaged country girl living in Itomori, a rural Japanese village. Their lives become intertwined one day after they inexplicably swap bodies when they awake one morning. At first, it isn’t clear what’s exactly happening. We do know that Mitsuha isn’t happy with her homemaking duties. “Please make me a handsome Tokyo boy in my next life!” she calls out at an early point. An approaching comet might have something to do with it too. At first, it appears they’re just dreaming. That’s how our lead characters assess what has occurred. But their friends’ reactions let them soon realize this has indeed physically transpired. The body exchange phenomenon continues to take place at random intervals for brief periods. They start leaving notes for the other so that when they change back they can ease the transition and not disrupt the other’s life. Taki allows Mitsuha to become more popular with her classmates. Conversely Taki’s new personality catches the eye of Ms. Okudera, his female boss. The idea that Okudera is more attracted to the transposed Mitsuha is a subversive contemplation that is brought up but never resolved. Ditto Taki’s male pal who thought he was cute the other day.

Anime or Japanese animation is an acquired taste. One has to be conditioned to understand its rhythms and idiosyncrasies The accounts are often so fanciful or overly convoluted as to render them almost incomprehensible to viewers expecting an accessible plot. Those not already accustomed to the offbeat style of anime may find this perpetually morphing narrative a bit puzzling.  I mean I was down for the “traditional” body switching story but when it was further shuffled with time-shifting events that led to a transmigration of souls across the astral plane, I was less engaged. Let’s not forget there’s also an impending comet that promises a monumental act of God. Whew!

I find if you tinker with a narrative too much, you lose the audience’s commitment to the drama. Your Name is more comprehensible than some anime, but it’s still pretty packed with plot machinations. At one point you realize our protagonists are not even existing in the same time frame anymore. Taki drinks something called kuchikamizake, which is essentially fermented rice that Mitsuha chewed up and spit into a jug years ago.  This somehow allows Taki to have some control over his ability to swap bodies with Mitsuha in another dimension. One leap of faith and I’m still invested. Three or four and I’m reduced to a shrug.  I lose interest. I appreciate the desire to creatively tell a story, but there’s beauty in a straightforward tale of boy meets girl.  Simply put: less is more. The visuals are crisp. When the comet finally arrives it’s beautifully revealed. Your Name’s mainstream teen saga of young love is further emphasized with a modern sensibility. An emo pop soundtrack by Japanese rock band RADWIMPS underlines the production. For Western audiences, think of the pop/punk melding of Fall Out Boy. The cheesily upbeat tunes nicely complement the teenybopper romance. It’s a bit cloying, but I was rooting for these two to finally meet. Your Name is highly watchable. I was entertained, but regrettably I wasn’t moved.

I saw it in the original Japanese with English subtitles. There is also an English dub.


19 Responses to “Your Name”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Thanks for sharing your review


  2. Your Name really worked for me, completely fell under its spell. The plot didn’t feel too much for me, I can see how it might have for you though

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a tribute to the initial setup that I thought this could be my favorite anime ever. But the story grew more convoluted by stuffing too many plot developments into one story.

      I think things started to go south for me when Taki and Mitsuha stopped switching bodies. Taki’s desire to somehow reconnect with Mitsuha made sense. However randomly traveling in search of a hometown of which he knew not even the name was incomprehensible. It was but only the first in a series of chance occurrences – each additional development becoming more difficult to accept than the next.


      • I don’t really understand how anyone will not be moved by this anime, but I appreciate your point of view. I thought that the plot was straightforward enough. I have seen many films where the plot was even more complicated than this one, and they still managed to move its audience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I guess I could respond with “I don’t really understand how anyone would be moved by this anime.” However, I understand that emotions are not science and people react differently to a story so I would never say that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        You’re killing me smalls! Made sense to me but if it didnt move you it didnt move you. Bummer. Oh well


  3. Jeez, took the words right out of my mouth Mark. In fact, can I just copy and paste? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Be my guest…just as long as I get credit. 😂 😂 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really just meant I don’t even need to write my own. We are so in sync on this one. I went from confused to downright indifferent the longer this went on and the more complicated it became. Plus I didn’t really take to the really shrill characters. Anime is like binary code to me. Ones really work and the zeroes alienate me completely

        Liked by 1 person

      • I knew what you meant. I put the laughing emoji to underscore that I got the joke but sometimes tone doesn’t translate in a comment.

        Which is a good way to lead into a discussion of the nature of anime. As a movie fan, I’ve seen many of the recognized classics of the genre. I am no expert but I felt a brief discussion was in order for my review. The style has a zealous fan base. My review doesn’t come from the same place. It was an acknowledgement that I am more of a casual observer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah yes, of course. 🙂 Yeah that would explain the shared viewpoint. I’m often at odds with these sorts of movies, all while acknowledging those things that make them different and a beloved genre. Or style of animation rather. Whichever is more appropriate. I appreciated gaining some context in your review because I was going to do the same thing but I couldn’t find a way to do it without sounding so dismissive of anime. Hm. . . hopefully something will be posted up soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. There were a lot of things I liked. Humor in the switching. Communicating between the two through text messages. Then it kinda got confusing. Over all, pretty satisfying. 3 stars.


  5. I watched it last year and really liked it. I guess it’s the way how it’s drawn which made a big difference to me. Saying that though, not everyone can appreciate the Japanese animation (I watch tons of them), while my bf find the plot plain and doesn’t feel much about the it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Even though I don’t watch a ton of anime, I LOVED Your Name. It’s one of my top films from this year. Something that probably helped was not knowing much about it going in. I didn’t mind that the plot had a lot of competing elements. I think the fact that it was anime helped, because there is no way I could see this story working as live-action. Animation made me more willing to accept the multiple fantastic elements at play in the narrative. I found the love story compelling and the idea that they had to work so hard to finally connect moved me. Unlike you, I was entertained *and* moved.


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