Your Name is Excellent, a wholly satisfactory piece of work which should not go unseen.
When film fans think of anime blockbusters, the director that comes to mind is Hayao Miyazaki. Yet I am not here to talk about this legendary filmmaker. No I am here to shine a light on his potential successor, Makato Shinkai. What elevates this particular new director above the rest? Well it is because of none other than his recent film Your Name. It is a film that did not receive mass media attention like many Hollywood films, yet to many of us avid film fans, that is not what entices us to watch a film. It is often the storytelling and the characters that leave an impression on our mind. It is what made Miyazaki’s films so memorable. And it seems that Shinkai might be following right in his footsteps.
To the casual viewer, this film may appear to be juxtaposing the lives of two teenagers. A boy who lives in the densely populated Tokyo and a girl who lives in a tiny village that most have not even heard off. However there is much more than meets the eye, it has all been set up in such a way for a reason. After all, is it not the perfect twist to have such different characters waking up in each other’s bodies. It may even remind you of Freaky Friday which played on the same concept. But this film puts a lot more thought into it, as it is not only two characters having to deal with lives foreign to them, but they also have the added burden of having to deal with a sex change too. How many of you could imagine waking up in someone else’s body? How would you react if this other person was also the opposite sex?
At it’s very core, anime is a product of Japan. Thus it espouses many of the Japanese cultural values that still exist today. This is still portrayed through the traditional ways in which they see the sexes. And this what the main characters, Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, find themselves having to deal with. Though they often struggle to adapt to these body switches, leading to viewers laughing in delight at how ridiculous they look. Yes we can laugh at them, but we can also pity them, as it quickly becomes clear at how they have no control over what is happening. They ultimately succeed in establishing some sort of contact with each other.
Those unfamiliar with Your Name and the genre of anime may consider it only relevant for children, but this is far from the case. Whilst Japanese animation relies a great deal on 2D animation, which most would consider a rigid art form, even with these restrictions Your Name uses animation which seems almost real. It’s use of soft palette colours have also enhanced it’s visual appeal to audiences. Audio is another significant element within animation films, though voice acting is what rises to top. Most consider voice acting to be the easier aspect of an actor’s career, to which this writer would disagree. After all, when actors act and speak in non animation films, they are already a part of that world. When actors work to bring animated characters to life, they have to work a lot harder to make their vocal input more believable. Your Name has managed to pull this off and inject a lovely dose of light hearted comedy. One that would no doubt have others laughing along.
Indeed this film seems to be a diamond in the rough waiting for discovery. After all the Los Angeles Film Critics Association went onto award it as the 2016 Best Animated Film. Most anime films fail to make a ripple in the water, but Your Name seems to have caused a lot more. It is a must watch, especially now that it is out on Blu-ray. Who knows what other surprises lie in store? After all, there now seems to be a serious contender to take Hayao Miyazaki’s place.
Your Name (2016), directed by Makato Shinkai, is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by Anime Limited, ceritificate 12a.