Body Swaps and Falling Comets: A Review of Your Name
By Jennellee Samkhem
What does it mean to wish upon a star? And, even if the last star falls, will that wish still come true?
* Editor’s Note: This movie review contains a large amount of spoilers! Read at your discretion. Enjoy!
In the engrossing film Your Name (Japanese: Kimi no Na wa), director Makoto Shinkai tells the tale of two high school students who consistently switch bodies after making a small wish for change. Although, after many humorous jokes and heart-warming scenes, the movie takes a dramatic shift, showing a new perspective of love and the joys of life. The protagonists are two teens living in different areas of Japan: one in a small town on the countryside and another in one of Japan’s busiest cities, Tokyo. Living as a high school student in Tokyo, Taki understands that the big city life is anything but; instead, Taki holds a weekly schedule and waits for a time where days don’t race by as fast as they do. Contrary to Taki’s aspiration, Mitsuha’s mundane life in Itomori becomes too small for her unrelenting urge for change. From cheerful and unpredictable to heart wrenching and woeful, Your Name not only leaves viewers on the edge of their seats, but straps them to an emotional rollercoaster where a five-hundred foot drop of feelings awaits toward the end.
The movie starts off as a light-hearted film, giving off an aura as if life were just a game. Time passes by, and Mitsuha grows aggravated by her lifestyle and absent-mindedly wishes to be reincarnated as a boy in Tokyo. However, as she discovered in the morning after, her prayer came sooner than expected. The duo had switched bodies. Mitsuha and Taki soon accepted the occurrence as more than just a dream and taught each other how to live their lives through notes, hoping that tips and warning would help the other adjust to life and prevent drawing attention.
Although both had set ground rules and taught the other what was usual and what was not, Mitsuha and Taki both look liberties in the other’s body. Giving each other more opportunities and making impulsive decisions, each ignored the other’s rules and carried on with the way they live in the other’s body. Fortunately, their decisions left the host of the body to face the beneficial opportunities that they had made.
As time passed and the pair learned what it’s like to live in the part of the country they wished for, Taki strived to find Mitsuha and meet her in real life. Forgetting the name of Mitsuha’s town, Taki based his travels searching for the mountain he remembered while living through Mitsuha’s body. As Taki and his two friends travel, a couple recognize his sketch of the mountain and surrounding town. Taki learns Mitsuha’s town is gone. Taki lost Mitsuha, her family, her friends, and the Itomori community due to a divided comet. Taki then travels back in time through Mitsuha’s body to save Mitsuha and the hundreds of people who died three years in the past.
Your Name is a riveting film that can make one roar with laughter and sob from an overwhelming amount of emotions in under two hours. From a personal perspective, Your Name would be rated 9.8 out of 10 in overall screenwriting, character design, art, musical composition, and giving the audience something different from what most movies hold. I believe Your Name is one of the best movies I’ve ever watched in my lifetime.
Although, I would have to admit that the some parts of the story seemed unclear once the story reached its climax when I watched Your Name the first time through. For example, after Taki discovered that Itomori had been destroyed and Mitsuha started to disappear from his memories, I didn’t understand what and why that was happening to Taki for some time. There were some scenes where Mitsuha would cry or Taki would have hesitance on pursuing his long-time crush/co-worker. The second time I watched the movie, I realized that the duo were in love much earlier than I had realized (amplifying my feelings ten times more).
As for the characters, a majority of them were loveable in some way, shape, or form. The only characters without a certain charm to them were the school bullies and Mitsuha’s neglectful father. However, these characters were purposely designed to be unlikable due to the roles they play in the movie. Although, by the end of the movie, I found myself sympathizing with these characters for their past and their deaths. I also appreciate how the movie stayed away from anime tropes most of the time and instead tried to make their characters original (in which the creators succeeded).
The art is absolutely stunning and definitely one of the highlights in the entire film. There are many scenes where the sky (as one of the many significant symbols detailed in the movie) plays huge roles as the background as well as when the comet flies through the air, enhancing the atmosphere of the moments and showing off how talented the artists undeniably are.
The music created by the band RADWIMPS fit perfectly in every scene. Although, I do believe that some songs may not rub some viewers the right way, for most of them are in Japanese. It is safe to say that the music had influenced the atmosphere, so much that through the second time I started tearing up from the song before anything had even happened.
While in the theater, people of all ages filled the rows, and while exiting the theater, almost every person was saying they had to wipe their tears away at some point or were straight up sobbing while walking out the door. Sharing stories is a common way to connect with people and show examples of how you truly act. Though, as showed through Your Name, being able to live through someone’s shoes and actually experience their life is on a whole other level of understanding who they truly are and how amazing their life is, so much that someone would want to be a part of it. Not only that, but the growth of Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship gets the viewer attached (which is common) and is unexpected. Such a special relationship proves that this movie is unlike some Freaky Friday switch.
People should give Your Name a chance. Objecting that it’s anime and feeling uncomfortable with the art style shouldn’t be the reason why someone would stop themselves from watching and appreciating such a great film. It has had such wonderful responses that J.J. Abrams is working on a live action version with Paramount. To conclude, Your Name is a beautiful film, and I without a doubt recommend it to anyone who is willing to give it a chance.