A Deeply Human and Lovely Supernatural Tale
Soon after its 2016 release in Japan, writer and director Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name became the highest-grossing anime film ever released worldwide, making waves in both Japan and countries around the globe. With a simple-seeming story of a teenage boy and girl who swap bodies, the idea of Your Name seems like a been-there-done-that movie, but through gorgeous animation, some unexpected twists on the central concept, and two wonderful central characters, Your Name is among some of the best animated films released in the last several years. It’s a rousing, earnest, lovely success on every front.
Your Name is focused on two characters, Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi), a high school girl who lives in the rural and quiet mountain town of Itomori, and Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a high school boy in Tokyo. These two suddenly begin to swap bodies at random, waking up in each other’s forms at the start of various mornings and left to figure out their new surroundings and relationships without ruining each other’s lives. Their time spent in vastly different day-to-day lives begins to expand their worldview and opinions of one another, leading to burgeoning feelings and a very unexpected chance at falling in love.
It’s best to go into Your Name knowing as little of the plot as possible, as Shinkai has purposefully made his film into a mini-mystery that creates joy through its many gradual reveals. It’s evident from the start that there are many things to be learned throughout the course of Your Name, as the film quickly hits the viewer with a multitude of concepts and hints that won’t be revealed until later. Thankfully, there’s a deft hand behind them all, which turns what could be infuriating questions into exciting seeds that will eventually blossom for satisfying reveals.