Mitsuha is a teenage girl living in a rural Japanese town. Taki is a boy living in Tokyo. When they mysteriously start swapping bodies with each other it’s both frustrating and fun in equal measure. But a disaster looms on the horizon and the duo’s body swapping may be the only hope to avert it.
If you ever meet someone who claims that anime is all about screaming warriors fighting each other show them this movie. If they don’t change their mind then cut them out of your life; that kind of idiocy will get you killed one day. No, I don’t care if it’s a family member.
Your Name is proof that anime can be elevated to an art form in the right hands. And hands don’t get much better than those of legendary Japanese director Makato Shinkai. Everything about this movie is a labour of love. The animation is beautiful, the characters are easy to connect with and the order events are revealed in works for maximum effect. There are elements of standard anime humour, but it’s played mostly low key and this folds in wonderfully with the plot. Crucial plot points and lore are brought up quite naturally early on in the story. This means it all unfolds naturally during the climax.
Your Name takes a fairly realistic approach to the body swapping in terms of how Mitsuha and Taki react to it. There are no wacky adventures; they slowly figure out who the person they’re swapping with and start leaving notes for each other. They set up ground rules and fill the other in on what happened while they were swapped. Yet what makes this movie such a superb story is that body swapping isn’t merely a gimmick to revolve the plot around. The third act of the movie contains only one body swap and focuses on Taki’s increasingly frantic efforts to track down where Mitsuha lives after the swapping suddenly stops.
Taki and Mitsuha’s changing relationship works very well, especially when their first face to face meeting isn’t actually until the climax of the movie. And the impact they have on each other’s lives is notable even before the build up to the climax begins. For example, Taki’s more assertive attitude quickly has Mitsuha’s bullies leaving her alone.
I could make a vague stab at objectivity by trying to find a fault to counterbalance all the gushing I’ve done. But, to be honest, this is superb animated movie and you can’t discount the effort and skill that put it together. If you don’t like it, that’s your personal taste, not a shortcoming of ‘Your Name’.
Director: Makato Shinkai
Starring: Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Kyle Hebert, Cassandra Morris, Ben Pronsky, Ray Chase, Catie Harvey, Scott Williams
Running Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
Release Date: November 24th