Your Name: A Welcome New Wave of Anime
I didn’t have high hopes going into this movie.
Yes, I heard all these wonderful things and copious amounts of praise for Your Name, but I expected a well animated cliché.
I’m so shocked and pleased by how wrong I was, because this film astounded me.
At its simplest description, the plot revolves around a teenage girl, Mitsuha, in a rural Japanese village and a teenage boy, Taki, that lives in Tokyo that begin to randomly switch bodies.
As in most body-swapping stories they freak out at first, confused at what happens.
They do the usual stumbling through the first day in their new body (and yes, Taki feels his/her boobs as Mitsuha shyly touches her/his penis) and assume it’s just a vivid dream.
When they switch back, they barely remember and try to deal with the fallout from the other’s unusual interactions with family and friends.
That’s where the trope stereotypes end.
Your Name ditches the classic path right there and forges a whole new story.
Before I put a spoiler tag, if you haven’t watched this yet, stop reading now. Go watch this movie and you can come back after if you want to see someone agree with you about how good this movie is.
The first thing I liked about the changes is how simply Mitsuha and Taki adjusted to this strangeness.
There were no silly scenes about these two desperately yelling at their friends and family that something is wrong and nobody believes them.
They think of a clever way to communicate and deal with the confusing situation and manage to deal with the switching rather effectively, leaving messages and details about their days on each other’s phones.
When they try to warn the town of the impending meteor strike, they again avoid the whole, “Omg believe me and ignore the high unlikelihood that I’m just crazy and blah blah blah heart”.
When the fated pair are unable to remember each other, there’s no predictable moment of, “I remember because love”.
Instead, they forget each other as they have been throughout the movie and eventually find each other one day long in the future.
In most movies like this, I couldn’t care less if the two find each other.
In fact, I often hope that they don’t just to break away from the cliché.
But I cared about these two. I wanted them to survive, to meet, to reunite, and to just live.
They were funny and interesting and made me like them so easily.
They didn’t adhere strictly to gender stereotypes, yet still showed subtle signs that they were in the other person’s body (via language and grammar, running and sitting style, and general demeanor).
Each time the meteor descended and the audio spiked with complete silence afterwards, I felt my heart follow suit.
Of all the audio choices in the movie, and there were some good ones because the soundtrack is fantastic, those made during the meteor’s impact struck hardest.
The stark realism of the effect such a catastrophe would have is perfectly exemplified in the building crescendo to a piercing bell note followed by absolute science.
In fact, to lend credibility to the realistic sounds, survivors of Hiroshima reported that the explosion created a similar crash and then utter silence.
The movie’s usage of sound to make the viewer feel along with the characters worked.
I felt it, those I watched with felt it, and there was a palpable tension in the air as we all waited tensely to see if they would be successful.
What helped make the plot itself so inviting was the seamless and consistent switch between comedy and drama throughout.
One moment I’d be laughing at is how useless Taki’s friends were, just eating constantly as he searched desperately, and in the next I’d be blaming my allergies as I watched him desperately try to disprove Mitsuha’s death.
The way this anime played with my emotions left me mentally exhausted by the end.
It actually left me physically exhausted as well, what with my constant armchair clenches, and my attempts at restraint from jumping out of my seat and yelling.
Not many animes recently have managed to have such an impact, and Your Name comes at a time when superhero and action anime are all the rage.
Yet this movie doesn’t just stand apart from others, claiming praise that marks it equal to a Hayao Miyazaki film. Claiming it’s as good as Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro does not do it justice.
I believe Your Name is and will carve out its own alcove in the history of astounding anime, and I don’t think I’ll be able to forget it any time soon.