Country girl Mitsuha and city boy Taki, keep switching bodies randomly when they sleep, with no idea how or why. It’s a concept that has been done to death over and over again in Anime, as well as other media, but there is so much more to Your Name/Kimi no na wa than just a lame gender swap comedy.
Your Name starts stereo-typically enough. J-Rock band Radwimps play a catchy tune over a credits sequence that instantly brings to mind those of anime TV shows, with plenty of flashy (read expensive) shots panning around the main characters, flashes from future “episodes” and the characters being shown in plenty of “awesome” shots, but the rest of the film confounds expectation.
Swapping bodies, and especially swapping genders, is commonly used in anime and in wider pop culture usually for comedic effect or titillation, but Your Name takes a completely different approach. Apart from the repeated, slightly gratuitous grasping of Mitsuha’s breasts each morning, (as Taki awakes to find he has them and Mitsuha finds hers have returned), the swapping of bodies here is not used to teach each character how the other half lives. Rather Taki and Mitsuha slot into each other’s lives reasonably easily, especially once they realise what’s going on and start leaving messages for each other. Instead Mitsuha and Taki start to see each other through the eyes of those around them.
Then, abruptly, Your Name stops being a body swap film and becomes something else entirely. Something wonderful.
Surprising and Satisfying
To say any more will ruin the film but there are very good reasons why Your Name held the number 1 spot in the Japanese box office for 12 straight weeks. Even after losing the top spot to Death Note: Light Up the New World, it managed to regain it again for yet another 3 weeks.
Prime among these reasons is the expert handling of the story by director Makoto Shinkai, who also wrote the book the film is based on. All the characters come off as fully rounded, even if only appearing for a little while. He mixes humour, emotion and music brilliantly, with the eminently listenable soundtrack from RADWIMPS.
Once the major change occurs in the story, Shinkai masterfully keeps the audience on edge on whether this is going to be one of those anime with a sad ending or a happy one. It goes to show how excellent the film is that either type of ending would be completely satisfying.
True to it’s reputation you may feel the need to break out the tissues well before the climax but once again Shinkai and his team manage to tug at the heart strings, without coming off as cloying or manipulative.
You also shouldn’t waste your time trying to figure out a plot twist or looking for clues, this is not that kind of movie. Just let it wash over you.
Your Name is a beautifully surprising film and an absolute must-see and not just for fans of anime.
Starring: Mone Kamishiraishi Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Kanon Tani, Ryô Narita, Aoi Yuki, Masami Nagasawa, Etsuko Ichihara,
Directed by: Makoto Shinkai
Official Site here.