Director Makoto Shinkaiâ€™s â€œYour Nameâ€ is a heartfelt story that is magical realism infused into anime.
A â€œFreaky Fridayâ€ 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 otherâ€™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 filmâ€™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.
â€œYour Nameâ€ 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 filmâ€™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 â€œYour Name.â€ 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.
â€œYour Nameâ€ 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 Mitsuhaâ€™s story takes several turns.
Shinkaiâ€™s editing also adds a unique dynamic to the story, early on the film feels like â€œEternal Sunshine of the Spotlessâ€ 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 audienceâ€™s idea of time and space.
â€œYour Nameâ€ 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 Shinkaiâ€™s signature is all over this film. It is the ManBearPig of anime, it is half â€œFreaky Friday,â€ half â€œEternal Sunshine,â€ and half â€œAcross the Universe.â€ Yes, it is a star-crossed lover story. Yes, two opposite people switch bodies, but it is so much more than that â€“ â€œYour nameâ€ is exactly why we go to the movies.
â€œYour Nameâ€ hits select theaters domestically in both English dub and subtitled April 7.