As I fall further down the rabbit hole of anime, I’m stumbling across things that other people have known about for ages. Case in point: Your Name. I had the opportunity to see this in theaters, and I didn’t, and now I’m kicking myself, because it was amazing.
Your Name is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, who has a bit of a reputation for…let’s call it less than happy endings. The story, based on the manga of the same name (also written by Shinkai), follows Mitsuha – who lives in a small town – and Taki – who lives in Tokyo – as they inexplicably switch bodies. (Raise your hand if you’ve read that fic.) The best thing about this story, though, is that it isn’t about the body-switching at all. In fact, most of the body-switching happens in montage form, and the film really picks up once the body-switching stops.
While the body-switching is just the catalyst to tell a larger story, it does introduce a lot of universal themes. It isn’t just a genderswap, although there is some humor there; Taki and Mitsuha have drastically different lives. As someone who grew up in a small town and now lives in the largest city in the United States, I really identified with both characters. I understood Mitsuha’s desire to escape a town where everyone knew everything about her, but I also understood Taki’s drudgery at basically having an “ordinary” life in an “extraordinary” place. When they switch bodies, they not only get to experience each others’ lives, they help better their own.
I don’t want to get too heavy into the plot, in the event that there’s someone out there like me who gets into things way too late, but what starts out as a light-hearted bodyswap comedy quickly takes a dramatic turn. You get pulled into a mystery that is, surprisingly, only tangentially related to the whole body-switching thing. (Seriously, it amazes me how easily Mitsuha and Taki just accept it.) And since I’m trying not to spoil things, I can’t talk about that thing you learn about halfway through – but I can point out that if you pay attention, there are clues littered throughout the first half of the film that foreshadow that thing you learn.
There is a lot about Your Name that is just incredible – from the music (which I have been listening to almost non-stop) to the gorgeous animation to the well-written and compelling characters. There’s a reason why this film is called “the most popular anime of all time“, and that reason is literally everything. I was just absolutely blown away by this movie. It’s not often that a film moves me, but this is one of those rare instances where I felt energized after watching it; I wanted to go out and do something.
So, seriously, give me one good reason why you haven’t seen Your Name yet, that doesn’t involve the fact that it doesn’t come out on Blu-ray and DVD until November.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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