Director Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” is a heartfelt story that is magical realism infused into anime.
A “Freaky Friday” like tale that finds two teenagers that have never met before, share one thing, a gaze of the stars and that is when they suddenly wake up in each other’s body. Taki lives and works in Tokyo as Mitsuha lives in a small town whose father is the Mayor.
Taki and Mitsuha switch bodies randomly and after a couple times, they begin to set rules and make sure they understand each other by leaving notes for one another. Slowly, but surely, the two want to meet and that is when the film’s real story begins to unravel.
Early on in the film, it feels familiar, where it excels is in its ambition. Shinkai is not just satisfied with telling a great story, he wants to visually excite the audience. As Taki embarks on a journey to find Mitsuha, a cave painting comes to life and embodies just the kind of visual storyteller Shinkai is.
“Your Name” takes its time, Taki and Mitsuha do not immediately become these star-crossed lovers even though they literally are when you think about it, we get a sense of who they are as people and see their growth, which makes the film’s ending that much more satisfying.
There are few live-action films that are capable of making you feel for two characters more than Shinkai is with “Your Name.” When the film pivots into its real story, which is a story of time, its effect deepens. It is an anime that emotionally has no barriers.
“Your Name” is able to stay grounded in its character development and emotions and while it is a story with mystical elements, it never once veers off course as Takie and Mitsuha’s story takes several turns.
Shinkai’s editing also adds a unique dynamic to the story, early on the film feels like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless” mind as an adult Taki and Mitsuha start their work days and they wonder about that void they feel, a void they do not know is filled by one another. It cuts from home to train to the past and immediately plays with the audience’s idea of time and space.
“Your Name” is amazing. There is no other way to put it. The mark of any great anime is being able to feel the visionary behind the story and Shinkai’s signature is all over this film. It is the ManBearPig of anime, it is half “Freaky Friday,” half “Eternal Sunshine,” and half “Across the Universe.” Yes, it is a star-crossed lover story. Yes, two opposite people switch bodies, but it is so much more than that – “Your name” is exactly why we go to the movies.
“Your Name” hits select theaters domestically in both English dub and subtitled April 7.